In this June 3, 2016, file photo, Haze McDougal IV fingerpicks an intricate instrumental piece on his guitar in Portland's Tommy's Park. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Instrument sales have soared in Maine as people search for ways to stave off pandemic fatigue.

Despite many music venues closing their doors over the past year, shop owners across Maine have seen instrument sales rise dramatically as people seek new and creative ways to battle the monotony of working from home.

Some buyers are first-time hobbyists who are looking to learn a new skill, but others are picking up an instrument again after not playing for years, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Tim Emery, co-owner of Buckdancer’s Choice in Portland, told the Press Herald that interests range from basic guitars, keyboards and microphones to home-recording equipment. Recording at home has become more accessible as technology becomes more user-friendly, and people can record themselves directly onto a personal computer or laptop without the hassle of expensive and bulky equipment.

“I can’t keep [computer accessories] in stock,” he told the Press Herald.

Mike Fink, the owner of guitar-centric pawn shop Guitar Grave, said he has seen a 500 percent increase in sales this spring.

Business owners also noted that sales reflect a wide range of interests and skill levels, and customers are looking at basic low-cost guitars as well as higher-end products.

The only item Emery has not sold a lot of are speakers, which reflects the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on live performances.

Customers aren’t just interested in learning a hobby for themselves — people are also looking to teach their children new skills.

Ryan Heffernan, who was looking for a guitar for his 6-year-old daughter, found that guitars were in high demand when shopping at Buckdancer’s Choice.

Jeannine D’Addario, the senior vice president and chief marketing and communications director for Guitar Center, told the Portland newspaper that despite high interest in instruments, inventory remains steady and people shouldn’t worry about supplies running out.

Sales at Guitar Center’s nearly 300 stores across the country have doubled since the pandemic began.

As demand for instruments increases, shops are considering the importance of being able to offer lessons. While Buckdancer’s Choice offers lessons over Zoom, Emery told the Press Herald that in-person lessons are preferred.

But his store isn’t offering in-person instruction until it’s clear how increased vaccination rates will affect the opportunity to open things up to the public.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.