Something Danosix said in a post has re-sparked something me and my musical friends have frequently discussed. Back in the 70's and 80's when I was playing a lot of gigs, there were a LOT more places to play live music... a LOT. We had a regular rotation of five or six different clubs in the area where we could get booked just about any weekend. There were also comparitively few good music stores, we had to drive 30 miles or more to get to any (like Ye Olde Music Shoppe in Marissa, IL), so choices were kinda limited in gear. Mostly mom-and-pop stores that MIGHT have an American Fender bass or two. I bought more equipment from older musicians than local stores. And mail-order was pretty much non-existant. But, these days, most cities big enough for a Starbucks seem to have a big-box store Guitar Center (or Sam Ash), the internet and mail-order can get you just about anything you want in days (like from Sweetwater) and gear choices are plentiful. My local Guitar Center (45 milees away) has a WALL of basses to try out, probably 20 good amps, and all the accessories you can ever need. Even the BRANDS have proliferated. There are just so many more good instruments at all price ranges (Squiers didn't exist in the 70's AFAIK) and so many more brands that it's amazing. Which brings me to the point: I'm surprised that while there are so many hundreds (if not thousands) of more guitars and basses being sold these days, the number of places to play them (live music venues) has actually shrunk. And due to this (and musician's pay not keeping up with any realistic pace) there are less musicians actually capable of making a living out of playing music only. Less pro Musicians, but more guitars being sold? So, the driving force in the music industry MUST be the amateur/hobbyist market. We think it's us guys with the Foderas and Alembics who are the most desirable demographic/consumer, but I'd bet we aren't... it's the thousands of kids with the Squiers and Ibby's who REALLY power the industry. Right or wrong?