Surprising new COVID panic buy
It's said music soothes the soul and it seems to be proving the perfect tonic to being in lockdown due to COVID-19.
Australian are creating a music-making boom with guitar-makers reporting a 300 per cent sales surge while stores across the country are experiencing demand not seen outside the Christmas period.
There has also been a rush on keyboards, pianos and drum kits, with many stores now struggling to secure instruments due to manufacturing and shipping delays caused by the virus outbreak.
Brisbane's Revolution Music owner Mark Richter said the rush to make music had come in waves since March: first with keyboards, then guitars, and now electronic drum kits.
"While people have been in lockdown, there's been a huge spike in interest to try a musical instrument or go back to playing music," Mr Richter told News Corp Australia.
"We're flat out fielding phone calls.
"Things that have been popular have been portable keyboards, electric pianos, electronic drum kits, guitars - and acoustic guitars in particular - and there's been a run on home-recording equipment and mixers.
"You can watch this progression where people get out their keyboard and then want to start recording themselves," he said.
Guitar enthusiast Harry Frank, from Sydney's Big Music, said store staff expected sales to disappear when lockdowns were announced but "business went the other way".
"A lot of people who haven't played for a long time are picking it up again and other people are deciding now is the time to learn because they have extra free time," Mr Frank said.
"Last month, we were doing Christmas-level sales, which is normally double what we'd expect to see."
But the unexpected demand is causing problems too: the closure of Chinese manufacturers hit supplies from many brands and caused nationwide shortages for some instruments from Yamaha, Roland, Fender, and Taylor Guitars.
Mr Richter said foreign musicians were also hit by the shortages, and he'd been fielding calls from desperate buyers as far as South Africa and Indonesia.
Business director Simon Hunter said he worked around stock shortages by renting a stage piano during the first lockdown.
Mr Hunter said his plan was to build on piano lessons he'd taken as a 10-year-old using an app for guidance and practising for 30 minutes a day.
"It was a great decision," the 44-year-old from Barwon Heads in Victoria said.
"When I was a kid, I was playing the theme songs to TV shows but, maybe it's to do with the lockdown, I've been playing much more dark and moody tunes. Mad World was a bit advanced but I stuck with it and now I'm starting to learn Skyfall by Adele."
Mr Hunter encouraged others keen to take up music for the first time to put aside "the fear of messing up or not being very good" and give it a try.
And, while new musicians may have to wait longer to buy instruments, stock was returning.
Roland marketing team leader David Whitehead said the company's manufacturing side was now "back to full operation" and was only being held back by transport issues.
"In August, we are receiving a record amount of stock and the warehouse staff are struggling to keep up," he said.
Originally published as COVID pandemic fuels musical boom