Guitars have become big business in Zheng'an, a small county in Guizhou province in Southwest China, where locals are not only manufacturing and exporting the instruments globally, but also cultivating related talent.
In 1995, Zheng Chuanjiu and his brother, natives of Zheng'an, went to Guangzhou in Guangdong province to work at a guitar plant, where they were later promoted to management positions. In 2013, the two brothers started their own factory in Zheng'an, and the guitar business in the county started to emerge.
Last week, 20 guitar enterprises from Guizhou and other provinces signed deals with Zheng'an with a total investment of 840 million yuan ($122 million). The agreements involved the production of guitars and parts.
"We sell more than 3,400 guitars every day, and the supply is inadequate to meet the demand. We also cooperate with e-commerce shopping platforms like Tmall and JD," said Zhao Shan, general manager of Guizhou Beijiaer Instruments Co Ltd, which is located in Zheng'an's international guitar industrial park.
Last year, Zheng'an produced 5.06 million guitars, and the output value reached 5 billion yuan. The instruments were exported to more than 30 countries and regions globally, including the United States and Brazil, making up nearly one-third of the export value of guitars made in China.
This year, Zheng'an aims to achieve an annual production volume of 6 million guitars and output value of 6 billion yuan. By 2020, it is expected to achieve annual production of 10 million guitars and output value of 10 billion yuan, according to the local government.
"In the next few years, Zheng'an plans to establish the world's largest guitar museum, the most high-end guitar concert hall, the best guitar studio and the most comprehensive guitar production line," said Wu Qi, head of Zheng'an county.
"We will push forward the transformation of the guitar sector from production to self innovation, and upgrade the product structure from low-end to middle and high-end," he said.
The county has developed more than 20 guitar brands, as the local government has encouraged enterprises to strengthen technological innovation and brand building.
So far, Zheng'an has attracted 37 guitar makers and 17 related enterprises to set up companies there, and the county has become a center for guitar lessons, bands and performances.
Zheng'an is endeavoring to cultivate more guitar-related talents. Some vocational middle schools in the county have launched professional training programs, including classes focusing on production and playing, and all middle schools and primary schools in the county include guitar playing on their curricula.