Guitar Isn’t Dead Research Shows Learning to Play Helps Us Live Better Lives

Fender Research Confirms Guitar Isn’t Dead - The Twelfth Fret

Guitar Isn’t Dead

Fender research findings revealed that, much like the instrument itself, the archetype of the “guitar god” in music and culture has evolved. Guitar isn’t dead – musicians are playing guitar now more than ever, but in new, innovative ways in today’s diverse, popular music landscape. With the rise of streaming and sharing platforms, artists around the world have even more access and empowerment to create and share music. In tandem, Fender consulted with award-winning neuroscientist, musician, record producer and author Daniel Levitin, who is best known for his New York Times best-selling book This is Your Brain on Music, to dig into the physical, mental and emotional benefits of playing an instrument.

While the “Illuminating the State of Today’s Guitar Players” research revealed a plethora of educational benefits reflective of Fender’s brand mission, six key insights emerged:

  • Women continue to define the emerging guitar market, accounting for 50 PERCENT of all beginner and aspirational players
  • 72 PERCENT of respondents cited they picked up guitar for the first time to gain a life skill or as a means of self-betterment.
  • Players in the U.S. and U.K. cited differences in where they play, with 50 PERCENT of respondents in the U.K. listing “playing privately” as their preferred environment, 18 PERCENT more than U.S. players.
  • Respondents had humble aspirations and were not looking for rockstar status with 61 PERCENT of guitar players simply wanting to learn songs to play by themselves or socially. In most cases, new players are looking to play favourite songs for their friends and family, with 46 PERCENT wanting to make music with others.
  • 42 PERCENT said they viewed guitar as part of their identity.
  • Beginning and aspirational guitar players ranked online, video-based tutorials as the “most-effective resource to learn guitar,” even over private lessons.


The research found that the guitar players of today are more diverse than ever before. Women continue to define the emerging guitar market, accounting for 50 percent of all beginner and aspirational players. The growing diversity of players expands beyond gender, as well. Both African-American and Hispanic consumers now represent a significant and growing share of new players: African-Americans account for 19 percent of aspirational players, while Latin players make up 25 percent of beginners.


The evolution of the players themselves leads to the question, “Why are people today picking up the guitar in the first place?” Fender’s research found that currently, new players’ motivations are intrinsic, with 72 percent of respondents citing they picked up guitar for the first time to gain a life skill or as a means of self-betterment. To dig deeper into the insight, Fender consulted Daniel Levitin who shared, “Playing an instrument can certainly improve a person’s overall well-being. Playing even five minutes a day can lead to a range of physical, mental and emotional benefits.”


Research participants confirmed that they experienced obvious emotional benefits, such as increased creativity and self-expression, but also cited less obvious benefits like increased patience, confidence in self and skills, work ethic and persistence over time. Beyond the emotional component, playing an instrument also has proven physical benefits, including enhanced hand-eye coordination, a boost to the immune system and enhanced brain development, especially in youth and older players. Learning an instrument can even help stave off Alzheimer’s disease,

Other mental benefits associated with playing music with others include increased feelings of compassion, bonding, empathy and generosity toward others, as well as heightened self-efficacy. The mental benefits of playing an instrument extend to all types or players – from beginners to artists


Players in the U.S. and U.K. cited differences in where they play with 50 percent of respondents in the U.K. listing “playing privately” as their preferred environment, 18 percent more so than U.S. players.

The type of music most played also differed between the two countries with Rock, Classic Rock, Hip-Hop, and Country more prevalent in the U.S. and Blues, Indie Rock and Reggae favoured among U.K. players. The lifestyle of players in both regions is also contrasting, with U.K. players inhabiting more urban areas than their U.S. counterparts, who tend to live in more suburban settings; however, both have humble aspirations and are not looking for rockstar status, with 61 percent of players simply wanting to learn songs to play by themselves or socially. In most cases, new players were looking to play their favourite songs for their friends and family.


The research did reveal challenges around learning to play guitar, with lack of free time and the long process of acquiring skills cited as the primary barriers. Nearly half of beginners stated they quit learning an instrument due to time constraints, and 33 percent of beginners shared they were not growing skills fast enough or as fast as they thought they would. The reality is that it’s much easier for a person to binge-watch a Netflix series in their free time than learn guitar, but the rise of digital technology also has an upside, especially for specific types of learners.


Ultimately, in this digital age, people find themselves with less time than ever before. In addition, worldwide technology has changed the way the general population functions, and as a result, the way creators are learning and using guitar has evolved.

While, the majority of today’s players may not be looking to become the next rock star, the health and social benefits of music are long established. Whether digital learning apps like Fender Play could help inspire the next guitar hero of our generation—or simply help improve daily quality of life—one thing is for sure; the way we learn and play musical instruments will continue to evolve, and the benefits, access and convenience of digital tools open up a rich learning environment for today’s players and generations to come.

*Source, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC) Press Release