Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Berlin, Germany
Re: Who is the Guitar's most valuable endorser?
I don't have numbers to back it up, but I would imagine there are two profitable market segments:
- Low-end/entry-level, where teenagers save up pocket money or get their parents to buy them a guitar that's similar to what their favourite bands play. This is a low-value, high-volume market segment.
- The high end, where (usually) men in their 30s, 40s, and 50s with white collar jobs and some disposable income decide to finally get "pro-level" equipment that they couldn't afford when they were younger and are generally inspired by guys they listened to in their teens and 20s. If you look at the first wave of boutique gear, some of it catered to "contemporary" players (Soldano, Bogner, Tom Anderson etc.) but a lot of it (Fender Custom Shop, Fulltone) was very much directed at people who grew up on Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, and Page. This is a pretty big group of people that does have money. It is changing, slowly, as those raised on EVH, George Lynch, Vai, Metallica or even Grunge slowly enter this market.
To whoever has said that they don't think anyone buys Clapton Strats compared to Jems and EBMM JPs, I wouldn't be so sure. When that guitar was introduced Clapton was still a charting pop artist but at that time far from a guitar god to teenagers (in '88 kids wanted Charvels, Kramers, Jacksons, RGs) and that guitar was already targeted at the higher-end older market. I don't think that has changed drastically since and given how much of a household name Clapton is and how widely recognised Strats are, I would imagine its sales still dwarf those of signature Ibanezes.
To answer the question - a valuable endorser has to either shift a huge volume of guitars in the first low-end market or attract steady sales in the high-end market. I don't think many of the contemporary artists who help sell the cheaper guitars have enough staying power, so my bet would be on some of the big older names: Clapton, Hendrix, Page or some of the big hitters from the 80s and 90s (SRV, EVH, Hetfield). I think in the big scheme of things, compared to these names, guys like Satriani, Vai, and Petrucci are still a bit "niche".