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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA ENTERPRISE

Getting Back to Where They Once Belonged

Music: Instrument industry is sounding out middle-aged boomers still harboring rock fantasies.

January 29, 1996|GREG JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The top-of-the-line equipment is expensive. Guitars from Fullerton-based G&L Guitars--which features designs influenced by guitar hero Leo Fender--run from $900 to $3,000, while Groove Tubes' amps retail for between $1,800 and $3,500.

"These amplifiers obviously aren't going to be some kid's first purchase," Benson said. "Not unless daddy loves him a whole, whole lot."

Economist Lester Thurow said music shops should steal a marketing page from the golf industry, which is enticing boomers with a combination of innovative products and the social trappings that make golf appealing.

Bob Morrison, director of marketing for the music industry association, said Thurow's message was clear: "In the past, we've just been trying to sell them clubs. What we've got to do is sell them the driving range, the 18-hole golf course, the whole experience."

Morrison doesn't expect the weekend warriors to hit every note: "Hey, it's just like golf. You go out there and play miserable all day, but you always hit that one shot that makes you want to come back. And it's the same with music."

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