2021 is almost behind us, so it’s a great opportunity to look back at the Year in Gear. Our affiliate partner Thomann has provided us with some fascinating data about its guitar sales over the last year – what were the best-selling guitars 2021? Was your favourite guitar among the most successful? Spoiler: the top spot didn’t go to Fender or Gibson…
A note: This data is based on the revenue on individual models – and not the number of each instrument sold. That’s important, because it takes into account the value of the volume sold, giving an idea of how much manufacturers earn across the various price points. A list only using units sold would be heavily weighted towards the cheapest guitars, practically excluding any premium instruments. Now that’s out of the way, let’s check out the year’s top-selling electrics!
Best-Selling Guitars 2021, 20-16
20. Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s UB €2299
19. Harley Benton HB-35Plus Lemon €249
18. Gibson Les Paul Tribute STB €1099
17. Harley Benton Electric Guitar Kit T-Style €89
16. Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s IT €2148
Setting a precedent for the rest of this list, places 20 to 16 were Gibson and Harley Benton. Now bear in mind that Harley Benton is Thomann’s inhouse guitar brand, so can only be ordered through the online store there. So that skews these numbers slightly, although I found it interesting that one of the most successful guitars 2021 was actually a DIY kit. Evidently, Thomann is selling a lot of these kinds of kits, so there’s a lot of people interested in building their own – perhaps as a lockdown project.
Best-Selling Guitars 2021, 15-11
15. Gibson Les Paul Studio SB €1389
14. Fender SQ CV 50s Tele MN BB €388
13. Gibson Les Paul Slash Standard AB €2598
12. Gibson SG ´61 Standard VC €1666
11. Harley Benton TE-20HH SBK Standard Series €99
At last, a Fender guitar in this list! The Telecaster is still as popular as ever, then. And the number of Gibson guitars proves – as expected – that the Nashville-based maker is still a market powerhouse. An SG creeps in here at number 12 – the only double cut in the list. Unexpectedly, no Epiphones so far.
Best-Selling Guitars 2021, 10-6
10. Yamaha C40 €139
9. LAVA MUSIC ME 2 Freeboost BK €799
8. Harley Benton D-120CE BK €79
7. Gibson Les Paul Standard 50s HCS €2199
6. Gibson Les Paul Custom EB GH €4495
The big surprise for me is the Lava Music ME 2. I find it astounding that this unusual carbon-fibre guitar sold so well. Props to Lava Music! The company recently announced the app-powered ME 3, with a built in touch-screen and FX, so it’ll be interesting to see how that fares in 2022. Otherwise, no surprise to see two Les Pauls in there. The LP Custom was the most expensive model in this list, just edged out of the top 5 by Fender’s CD-60SCE budget acoustic.
Best-Selling Guitars 2021, 5-1
5. Fender CD-60SCE Blk WN €258
4. Fender SQ Strat Pack SSS BLK GB €239
3. Gibson Les Paul Slash Standard AA €2875
2. Gibson Les Paul Standard 60s BB €2222
1. Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series €159
While I expected a lot of Fender and Gibson guitars in this list, I was surprised to see that it was so heavily dominated by the Gibson Les Paul. Why so few Fender guitars? I think because Fender has more models, ranges and price points on offer for its flagship Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. The overall sales will be more spread out, pushing the individual Fender models out of the top 20. I’m certain that Fender will have sold bucketloads of Strats and Teles this year, but with all the ranges on offer – Squier, Player, American Professional II, American Ultra, American Original, Vintera, Noventa to name a few – you have more choice of what flavour of Strat or Tele you can buy.
Also interesting: the single-cut rock guitar is as popular as ever. The Les Paul evidently still has a huge fanbase in 2021. And while the top slot going to a Harley Benton might raise a few eyebrows, it’s worth remembering that the TE-52 has very good customer reviews and a price way below €200. Also, it’s only available at Thomann, so that pushes it up this list. But the TE-52 was miles ahead of the number two slot in terms of revenue, so Thomann seems to be on to a good thing with its Harley Benton brand.