Is Guitar Overrated And Outdated? | Has Music Moved On?


Guitar is everywhere through modern music history, featuring in an amazing amount of bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Melissa Etheridge, Foo Fighters, and Jack Johnson.

There are tons of great instruments including the human voice, so why is it that so much emphasis has been placed on guitar in modern music, and is it actually overrated as an instrument?

Guitar is not necessarily overrated or underrated, it really comes down to the audience. One group praises guitarists for the intricate skills needed to play and the range of sounds they can produce, while other groups with other musical tastes may see an emphasis on guitar as overvalued.

Guitar isn’t as interesting to many Millennials or Centennials as it was to older generations and makes many wonder if the guitar was always overrated, just becoming popular due to clever record label marketing?

Look online today and you’ll see endless guitar videos and lessons, so if guitar isn’t that important in popular music, then why is there so much talk about it?

woman kissing guitarist in crowd

During the covid quarantines of 2020-2021 guitar sales rose rapidly as tens of thousands of people decided it was time to become a guitar player.

But just look back before 2020 and guitar sales were down 30% showing that at least for the new generations they either don’t think about playing guitar, or maybe they just don’t buy new guitars?

There’s tons of hype on social media about the ‘death of guitar’ and on the face of it maybe it’s true in some respects, but let’s have a deeper look to see what people really think of guitar, whether people rate it too highly, and if it’s worthy of the cult status placed on it.

Are Guitar Playing Skills Overrated?

Let’s face it, anyone can pick up a guitar, learn a couple of chords and bash out a song around the campfire, but do people overestimate how hard it is to be a good player?

Most people agree that it takes many thousands of hours practice to become great at any instrument, and guitar is certainly no exception to this rule.

If you’re in the ‘guitar is nothing special, it’s easy to learn’ camp, then try picking one up and spend a month or even a year playing it and come back with your opinion then – it may well be a bit different!

“Having recently picked up the guitar I have to say I have found a new respect for it. I realized how difficult it is to get really good at it. I now listen to guitars in music in a whole new way”.
forum guitarist

Becoming good at any instrument (apart from the gazoo!) takes massive amounts of time and effort, and in my opinion the skills needed to master guitar are at least as difficult as any other complex instrument.

If you think the skills required to play guitar are overrated, then you might think this of all instruments.

Is guitar the hardest instrument to learn? Read this article to discover more.

Anyone who has taken the time to become an accomplished musician understands that guitar is no easier to learn than other instruments – each is unique and requires different skills to master.

Modern chart-topping songs don’t feature guitar so often, as musical tastes change to some degree with each generation and focus moves to a new sound that defines their difference from previous generations.

With the rise in popularity of good looking singers in provocative music videos, music production companies simply sell what sells – and guitar doesn’t sell songs like it used to.

Current generations just want something easy to sing along with, and ‘switches off’ if the music is too complex as in the case of a guitar or saxophone solo.

As a result, you will only see basic guitar playing in modern music that follows a simple melody, and people will see guitar skills as overrated since no great talent is required to play a few chords in time with a modern song.

Is guitar overrated in ‘Everlong’ played by Dave Grohl?

Is Guitar Valued Too Highly In Music?

There are different ways to look at this, however there’s no denying that guitar has been a main force in the development of modern music.

There are many musical genres and it’s fantastic that there is so much music with a focus on other instruments, including electronically generated music which is a huge force in modern music.

If we think that guitar has been placed on a pedestal for many years, then this would certainly be true, and there have been a large number of songs composed on guitars.

Guitars are still an awesome song-writers tool, and without them modern music would not be what it is today. You won’t generally sit around with a drum kit, violin, saxaphone, or bass guitar and write a song like you would with a guitar or keyboard.

It’s undeniable that a great emphasis has been placed on guitars in music, and in many ways it’s well deserved.

  • There aren’t many instruments in the world that can carry an entire song without the need for any other instrumental backing, and singers in particular love being able to perform solo with just a guitar.

Is guitar becoming the most popular instrument? …take a look

Are Fast Guitar Solos Overrated?

We’ve all seen that guy in the guitar shop who shreds like crazy to scare other guitar players into submission, but does it really sound good? Maybe you would have rather listened to some chords strummed with a melody that you enjoyed than watch some jerk inflate his own ego?

  • Whenever many people think of great guitarists, they think of artists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Eddie Van Halen – and instantly the thought springs to mind of their blisteringly fast solos.

Many people rate a guitarists skill by how fast they can play. While it takes great skill to play fast, clean, and with accuracy, is this playing style placed on a pedestal above slower melodic rhythm playing styles?

There’s probably merit in this since soloists get the spotlight, while the driving rhythm of a song – the thing that really makes you love it, is the rhythm section provided by the guitarist somewhere off to the side of the stage.

Is Guitar Losing Popularity?

If you look at mainstream music today you don’t find guitars featured so regularly, but you’ll still find plenty of them in the background music, they’re just not out front any more as big business makes more money peddling singing stars.

On smaller live sound stages guitar is at least as popular as ever, and there’s loads of guitar festivals held each year around the world.

If you’re into rock, metal, blues, country, jazz, flamenco, indie or whatever, then chances are guitar is a main feature in the music you love.

While guitar sales are down over previous years, maybe it’s due to the sheer volume of guitars available second-hand, and that new players want to get that magical aged guitar that will instantly make them sound awesome?

If you think about most memorable songs over the last 50 years, there’s a good chance that a guitar featured in the song.

  • At the height of amazing mainstream guitar songs through the 70’s to the mid 2000’s hearing driving rhythms and sizzling solos made everyone want to be a guitar god, and no one questioned the importance of guitar.

With a focus now on voice, electronic music, and video, the guitar songs of the past may seem overvalued to Gen Z.

Guitar – Is This The End?

Guitar has been an instrument that has inspired generations of song writers and gave a voice to African Americans through their blues guitar playing roots that became mainstream around the world.

Guitar has helped music technology move forward through electronic development and the desire for new sounds, and for many years has provided iconic players that have united many in their love of unique sounds and playing styles.

To become a truly great player takes many years of commitment, and if anyone thinks it’s easy to learn then pick up a guitar now and see how long it takes you to emulate Steve Vai, Santana, or Tommy Emmanuel.

There is still an army of amazing guitar players in the world, probably more than at any time in history, but due to guitar not being featured in modern chart-topping music this talent doesn’t get seen like it was in the past.

This could lead many in younger generations to believe that guitar is seen as more important than it should be.

Certainly we should not underrate other instruments and their importance in creating the music we love, and guitar sits amongst them equally with a special place in the hearts of many.

In this writer’s opinion, guitar although it’s had great importance placed on it for many years is not overrated as an instrument, it’s just not as popular with Centennials as it was with previous generations.