Hundreds of guitarists gathered in Sydney this week to break the world record for the most electric guitars playing the same song simultaneously.
A record number of 457 people strummed the AC/DC hit 'Highway to Hell' in the famed coastal city Down Under last Sunday afternoon. The Guinness record-setting event was part of the Sydney Guitar Festival.
The previous world record under this category was set in 2013 when 368 people in India gathered to belt out Bob Dylan’s 'Knocking on Heaven's Door' as covered by the iconic rock band Gun N’ Roses.
The guitarists in Sydney used small, Marshall battery-powered amplifiers to make the collective sound even. They plugged their guitars into the tissue-box sized device to impress the Guinness observers.
Players picked away together to recreate the famous riff in 'Highway to Hell', ranked by Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time. The song partly became famous by capitalizing on the double tracking acoustic guitar sounds popular at the time.
While the attempt was well-publicized by the news media, the Guinness World Records have yet to formally recognize the record-breaking event. The organization may take up to six weeks to officially recognize the participants’ effort.
The aim of the event was not merely to set a world record. The participants emphasized that the funds raised would go to the Australian Children's Music Foundation, which offers free music lessons to underprivileged and indigenous children in the country. Participants each paid a registration fee of 45 AUD to play for the notable event.
Non-guitar playing attendees described a jovial atmosphere. Many were glad to see women and children participating alongside the majority of male guitarists.
The local band “The Choirboys” accompanied the guitar players on stage. The band led the rendition of the 1979 classic.
The record-setting playoff was just one of the many events being held at the Sydney Guitar Festival, which will continue until August 19. This year’s festival will feature famous local guitarists such as Albert Lee, Tommy Emmanuel, the Grigoryan Brothers, Pedro Javier Gonzalez, and Kaki King.
The news from Sydney comes in the wake of the electric guitar bouncing back after a decline in popularity in the American market. The status of the electric guitar—once an iconic symbol of rock music culture in the west—has been waning in recent years.
As music tastes shift toward rap and hip hop, electric guitar sales have suffered. Guitar Center, one of the largest electric guitar retailers in the world, recently announced an astounding debt of a billion dollars.
But the sector saw a rebound this month. Guitar retailers told news media that sales have been the highest since the financial crisis hit in 2008.
The resurgence of interest in electric guitars has been fueled by the skyrocketing music streaming numbers, Andy Mooney, CEO of the classic guitar brand Fender, told Forbes. The demand for recorded music has been the highest in recent years.
Millennials and younger generations are largely driving the demand for music consumption. Young people are also the most likely to purchase electric guitars.
Until very recently, analysts believed that the electric guitar was as good as dead, according to the COO of PRS Guitars. Earlier this year, the famed guitar maker and retailer Gibson Brands filed for bankruptcy.
The doom and gloom for electric guitar retailers have halted thanks to recently released sales numbers. The total unit sales of electric guitars made in the U.S. is up by over seven percent, according to data compiled by the National Association of Music Merchants.
On top of that, the overall retail value of electric guitars has risen as well. In 2017, the industry was worth $1.3 billion. The value of American guitars is poised to go even higher this year.
American-made electrical guitars are highly valued around the world. The design, including the type of wood and metals used, down to the magnets, make American guitars a unique product sought after by musicians all over the world.
Industry observers are highly positive that American guitar sales would increase in the near future. Already, the guitar sales at Gibson, who filed for bankruptcy sometime back, have grown by 10 percent over the last 12 months.