Guitar sales rise as UK gets into lockdown groove

Guitars at the Gear4music showroom in York

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Guitars are in demand, big amplifiers not so much

Life under lockdown has seen a surge in amateur musicians and podcasters, says the UK’s biggest online retailer of instruments and sound equipment.

In the April-to-June period, Gear4music saw the value of UK sales rise 80% on the same time last year to £21.2m.

Among the big sellers were electric and acoustic guitar starter bundles, which contain all the accessories required for a budding player to get picking.

Digital pianos also sold particularly well, said chief executive Andrew Wass.

“People are interested in having a really good hobby that they can get into,” he told the BBC.

“Maybe they played music at school and have found themselves indoors and decided to come back to it.”

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Mr Wass said home studio equipment, including microphones and recording software, was popular as well.

“It seems everybody wants to be a podcaster and they’re buying into really professional set-ups at home,” he added.

Sound systems

Founded in 2003 and based in York, Gear4music employs 460 people and exports all over the world.

Including international sales, its quarterly figures were up 68% year-on-year to £37.3m.

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Rob Cook

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Andrew Wass of Gear4music says more people have turned to music as a hobby

Mr Wass said the first three weeks of lockdown had been “the most difficult weeks of my business life”, as the firm adapted its working environment to the new coronavirus conditions.

“But the staff were very keen to continue and it’s thanks to them we’ve been able to do so,” he said.

Mr Wass said that sales rises had come “across the range of what we do”.

The only items that have not been so popular during lockdown have been PA systems and speakers for gigs – “anything to do with live performance in a venue,” he said.

With live music events falling victim to quarantine, demand for ear-blasting amplifier stacks has dried up, but Mr Wass is hopeful that things are about to change as restrictions ease.

“That’s coming back a little bit now, but it’s been very difficult,” he added. “Fortunately, we’ve made up for it in other areas.”