I've often thought that the big musical instrument manufacturers may make musical instruments, but what they sell are dreams. I've written sparingly here about my own dive back into guitar, the resumption of an interest interrupted for 20 years. When I started again in 2010, it had been longer since I played than all the time that I played put together. While I'm sure I know much more of what I'm doing, the realistic fact is that everyone in my age group is faced with declining abilities in the pure physical aspects of playing, and guitar is an instrument with a lot of physical requirements. Any of the musicians of our youth will tell you that. This simply not the time in life to look for new speed and flexibility, although that's no reason not to try.
The companies find themselves in the position of marketing to the dreams of younger players; 20-somethings or teens who have the hunger to play for other people and the drive to ... perhaps ... make something of a mark in that business. On the other hand, guitar makers sell the most expensive models in their lines to people who play as a hobby, all sorts of professionals who work a daytime job and are doing alright; they just maybe get together with friends once a week. I'd bet they sell hundreds of "entry level" guitars for every top end model.
What prompts this is an emailed article that I got from Fender. As an owner of a couple of low end Fender products, they regularly try to tempt me with more. Today it was centered on one of my favorite musicians, Mark Knopfler, and Dire Straits great first hit, "Sultans of Swing". Specifically that what made Sultans into the monster song it became was their Stratocaster guitar.
The fingerstyle master originally wrote it on a National Steel guitar in an open tuning, he once explained to Guitar World.
“I thought it was dull, but as soon as I bought my first Strat in 1977, the whole thing changed, though the lyrics remained the same,” he said. “It just came alive as soon as I played it on that ’61 Strat—which remained my main guitar for many years and was basically the only thing I played on the first album—and the new chord changes just presented themselves and fell into place.”
“Sultans of Swing” was initially recorded as a demo in 1977 and soon got some play at BBC Radio. A bidding war amongst record labels ensued, and Dire Straits signed a deal with Phonogram Records, who had them re-record it for their eponymous debut 1978 debut album. “Sultans of Swing” was officially released internationally as a single in January of 1979.
Of course, they're trying to imply that if you, yes you, get a Strat and work hard at it, you can sound like Mark Knopfler. Chances are, you can't. But there is a real chance there's some kid out there who is rabidly playing all evening instead of doing his homework that might be "the next Mark Knopfler". As Mark Knopfler himself said in a BBC interview I saw (but can't remember enough to give you a link) that before Mark Knopfler became Mark Knopfler there were "lots of nights falling asleep with the guitar on my lap".
So now that I've whet your appetite for the real thing, while not the "album version", going almost 11 minutes vs. not quite six, they call this the most famous of the live performances captured on video.
This video has a mere 86 Million views on YouTube.