Guitars are big business in the U.S., but you might be surprised at just who’s buying. Fender Musical Instruments Corporation has done a little math on their customer base and they estimate that nearly one out of every three guitars sold in the country is bought by a person in a praise and worship band.
As Ultimate Guitar notes, the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. Playing in a church band is a guaranteed weekly gig, far more reliable than the bar and nightclub circuit. Plus, many churches continued to operate over the course of 2020 even as other venues were shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ultimate Guitar reached out to Matt Watts, Fender’s Vice President of Marketing. He told the site that the team at Fender has “recognized the importance of [praise and worship] for quite some time now. Given our mission to support artists at every level and on every stage, we are determined to serve as a major supporter of the Worship community.”
For years, church music was associated with organs and pianos, but the Jesus People Movement in South California started to introduce guitars to church music in the 1970s. Churches like Vineyard and Calvary Chapel grew enormously popular by wedding Christian lyrics to folk and rock music and while initially controversial, guitars soon became the worship instrument of choice in the U.S., aided by musicians like Larry Norman.
These days, guitar rock isn’t the mainstream force it once was, as pop and hip-hop are the dominant music genres. But if it’s true that nearly 30 percent of all guitars are going to people who play in church bands that means guitar rock, once seen as an enemy by conservative churches, may now be seeing the Church as its savior.