The Big Spend: Strings attached ...

Everyone wants to be a guitar hero, says Sam Dunn, and some models make long-playing investments
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The Independent Online

The feedback is clear: there has never been so much music in guitars. More than a million were sold last year, according to the latest industry estimates - well up on 2005's 970,000 electric and acoustic models - and more high notes are set to follow.

Demand has soared in the past couple of years as guitar manufacturers target girls and schools, as well as catering for the eternal market of young aspiring rockers and middle-aged men who still dream of rock stardom.

"We see a lot of parents and schools now pushing their kids to learn to play an instrument - increasingly the guitar - to stop them playing video games all day," says Ian Rhodes, managing director of retailer Ukguitars. "As for girls, Fender has launched its 'Hello Kitty' pink guitar and there's the Les Paul 'Goddess' too."

"Packages" have become popular, starting at around £100 for a basic guitar, leads and small amplifier - rising to over £2,000 for a big brand such as Gibson.

"Axes" make good long-term investments: Jimi Hendrix's famous Flying V, now worth more than £1.5m, was bought by Isaac Tigrett, one of the Hard Rock's founders, in the 1980s.

Today, your best bet as an investor might be to convince the guitarist in a local upcoming band to sign his instrument and give it to you for a small fee; he could be the Next Big Thing.

Know your guitars...

Yamaha Acoustic, APX900, solid spruce with a rosewood fingerboard, £679

Rickenbacker, famous for its ringing sustain and treble punch, £1,495

Gibson SG 'Standard', in 'heritage cherry'. A classic since the 1960s with versatile tone and plenty of sustain, £1,200

Epiphone Les Paul 'Standard', an icon of rock 'n' roll, £389

Ibanez, new 2007 model, limited edition, £179

Fender James Burton Telecaster Red Flames, features a special 1960s U-shaped neck, £1,399

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