6-String Diplomacy

I recently returned from a week in Beijing. Hearing folks like this gentleman casually fiddling in parks and alleyways was a highlight. While out on the town one evening in the Houhai neighborhood, I was also heartened to see just about every bar on the lakeside strip featured a guitar-strumming songster or songstress. A local cover band was even belting out an admirable rendition of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” a la Guns N’ Roses. What’s that about a U.S.-China trade deficit? I guess some exports are less easily monetized.

Local music shops were also packed full of guitars — mostly Asian brands like Fernandes, Ibanez, and Yamaha (not surprisingly), though one shop (below) boasted a sweet selection of Fenders. A luthier friend once had the opportunity to visit a Chinese guitar factory, where the guide noted the facility was cranking out several thousand instruments per day. Granted, most of those were probably destined for foreign markets (including the United States), but clearly a significant number of China’s youth share an affinity with Americans for all things guitar. I like to think that bodes well for U.S.-China relations; if nothing else, at least we can maybe agree that Use Your Illusion II was GNR’s high water mark.