Harry's Guitar Shop, Raleigh. Owner Harry Tueting is seeing a unique trend in his numbers: He's selling many more high-end acoustic guitars and fewer beginner packs. Pricey Taylor and Martin models costing more than $1,000 account for much of the store's early sales. Tueting believes these numbers come from more experienced players looking to advance their passion for acoustic guitar. Harry's is also selling a lot more songbooks after widening its selection.
2112, Raleigh. In what is becoming something of a tradition at 2112, parents are buying out the Ludwig drum set. The set, priced at $419, is about $200 less than the other brands, but it's still a name brand that won't fall apart. For themselves, kids are buying accessories, mostly cymbals. But the more innovative buy this year are new DVDs and videos like Neil Peart's two-disc Anatomy of a Drum Solo and the 3-DVD Modern Drummer Festival 2005 with Jason Bittner, Rodney Holmes and Keith Carlock.
The Music Loft, Durham. The Music Loft in Durham is having a pretty standard season, owner Tony Wrenn says, with the top seller the Squier SA-100 beginner's acoustic guitar pack. The pack goes for $219 and includes a tuner, an instruction booklet, a pick and a strap. Acoustics generally trump electrics as first-time guitars, Wrenn says. Drums are also selling well. The most popular set is the Tama Stage Star, a less expensive and smaller set that's better for students, but still good quality.
High Strung, Durham. While an acoustic guitar is hard to beat out for the number one spot in holiday gear, two new additions to High Strung--ukuleles and the girls-oriented Daisy Rock guitars--are seeing a lot of interest, according to manager Christine Spiak Della Maggiora. At $129, ukuleles have been a surprisingly big seller.
The Music Loft, Carborro. Home-recording devices are a major trend, according to Jim Dennis at Carborro's Music Loft. The top seller this year is the Tascam US-122, a professional audio interface device for home computers. The multi-track recorder is priced at just $200 (five years ago it would have started at $500.) The next big sellers are electric guitars. After O Brother, Where Art Thou? hit the theaters in 2000, acoustics were hot, but now electrics are back, Dennis says. --Paula Lehman