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Are guitar mag reviews just worthless ?

billyg121

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,312
Do they really mean anything? I understand that most of the stuff they review..is potentially advertising dollars ...but do they ever really get critical and slam anything? I'm not thinking of anything in particular..just seems every review I read is pretty bland.
 

Tuberoast

Member
Messages
3,347
Well, it's not like they recommend every pedal. I've avoided buying certain gear due to their lackluster reviews, but yes, there's nothing scathing.
 

83stratman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,217
Really? Why not try the gear in question for yourself and then decide. A Mags comment is only one persons opinion, much like a review on TGP. Not all opinions agree. You would trust the opinion of a stranger?

Well, it's not like they recommend every pedal. I've avoided buying certain gear due to their lackluster reviews, but yes, there's nothing scathing.
 

reo73

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,266
I don't think they are worthless, in fact I have bought gear off of Mag reviews and been pleased.

Here's the thing...they tend to review products that are already fairly good quality so at worst they are going to give luke warm reviews. I have recently seen reviews where they were critical of some aspect of a piece of gear, but I have never seen them "slam" a piece of gear all around like people do on internet forums. I actually appreciate this. They seem to take a more professional approach to gear assessment and don't act like every guitar player out there is a boutique only cork sniffer.
 

guitarrhinoceros

Senior Member
Messages
2,543
I think bad reviews could become libel lawsuits as well. I used to think the guitar publications were all crap, but I'm starting to not think so anymore. Here's a hypothetical -- what if a guitar magazine came out and said an amplifier was not worth buying, due to reasoning X, Y, and Z? At the end of the day, those opinions are exactly that -- opinions -- and what if those opinions resulted in lackluster sales. The results of such judgments would surely end with lawsuits and other guitar companies being too fearful to want their gear reviewed by such magazines. I think guitar magazines reviews, consequently, are usually very careful in how they detail any potential issues they come across when reviewing gear.

I find it tough to fault guitar magazine reviews due to the slippery slope of legal action that could come from any highly negative reviews.
 

StompBoxBlues

Member
Messages
20,140
You note that in the lions share of them, they don't even bother to get technical specs on pedals (input/output impedances, true-bypass or not, power consumption (tested), harmonic distortion, etc.).

Often if they have a plus/minus section, it's a lot like the famous job interview question "what is your worst quality?" "um...some say I pay to much attention to detail, am a perfectionist"

There are some that are INTERESTING...and I read them. But yeah, generally speaking all things they review are from potential advertisers, so no...you don't see any reviews advising NOT to buy an item.

But they aren't "worthless" if you know that going in. They are good for a couple of things, sometimes they do have some good info, they tip readers off to new pedals often, or a bunch of some type of pedal (I'm mostly mentioning pedals here) and when read knowing they are being extra kind, if interested, you go and ask here, and other places about the pedal. So...still not useless.
 

rowdyyates

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,335
Then why review at all? Reviews are pretty much worthless and it's not because of liability, but advertising revenue.
 

StompBoxBlues

Member
Messages
20,140
I find it tough to fault guitar magazine reviews due to the slippery slope of legal action that could come from any highly negative reviews.
I don't believe they are at ANY risk of that. It costs a ton of money to sue, and honestly, the media has the right to test, and give opinions. A lawsuit would cost tons of money, drag on for a long time, I don't think they count
on winning even if there was a scathing review, and even if they did, not certain it would recoup the money they spent on doing it AND time lost...it's too much hassle.

Also, it would just be a slippery slope, if what you say is true, they could then be open to being sued for not giving "en enthusiastic enough" review, etc.

They make their money off of sales, somewhat, but mainly advertising. They need all the advertising they can get, so they aren't going to diss Boss, or the others, and not even smaller guys.

Here's the best way to tell also....check out reviews (online or if you have old mags) of equipment you actually have played or own. See where they are on the money and where they either play down a negative, or even tout it. See how closely the reviews match what you know of the item.

Do this a few times and you see that they don't lie, but they do by omission sometimes, or by downplaying negatives.
 

splatt

david torn / splattercell
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
26,450
yes, of course they're all worthless.
to everyone.

and, all current music sucks; rock, jazz, country, metal, electronica & pop etc. are all dead.
and, everything else in the world is become simply colorless:
Black/White:
0's / 1's:
love / hate:
life sucks, and then you die.
there are no grey areas, & no exceptions, anywhere, ever.
 

EricPeterson

Senior Member
Messages
48,875
Well I take it more that there are a lot of products they check out and then dont publish a review, I look at it this way, if the review is published then the product is good, bad products just dont get published reviews. At least that seems to be the way Premier Guitar does it, everything they review tends to get a good review, but the stuff they publish reviews on tends to be of high quality.
 

blackba

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
11,888
I think guitar magazine reviews are close to worthless, but I kind of expect that. If you read between the lines you can usually tell how much they like the piece of gear.
 

xjojox

Tardis-dwelling wanker
Messages
5,733
I've been reading GP for over 40 years. I don't really read many others other than an acoustic rag once in awhile because they tend to be more trendy than GP. So my experience is more with GP's reviews. I agree with the assessment that in general they don't slam stuff because they don't review a whole lot of garbage in the first place.

I'm old enough to have some perspective on this. My first gutiar, an $18 silvertone probably made by Kay or Harmony, was made of plywood, had a slab neck with a flat fingerboard, iffy fretwork, and action that required a muscle-building course. That was a typical inexpensive entry-level guitar in those days (60's). Nowadays, mass-produced cheap guitars from China or Indonesia are still laminated but look far nicer, and in generall are actually playable. I've played $100 guitars that have quite nice action and playability, something I didn't get till a couple of guitars later when I was starting out.

Once you get into pedals and amps, I could make the same generalizations regarding what was available "then" vs. now. We are standing on the shoulders of giants, and have all been lifted up to some degree.

I have found that GP is generally pretty fair. They call out sloppy fretwork, cheap-feeling hardware, inexact tuning, etc. They try to accurately describe tones acheivable. They are not going to say "this sucks" because with some historical perspective to season the opinion, most of it actually doesn't "suck" when compared to something at the same price point, and certainly most of it doesn't when compared to stuff at the same "level" many years ago.

When reviewing one item, culled from the herd by the manufacturer for review, obviously consistency within the brand and among like models or similar models is not something a reviewer can address. There's no way to know if the company just sent the best example. This applies more to guitars than electronic stuff obviously.

One important thing to remember is that certain gizmos work for some kinds of music and not others. And they sound different with different guitars and different amps. So ultimately, you still need to know who you are, and try stuff in the way you plan to use it before spending your hard-earned coin.
 

WornFrets

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,943
yes, of course they're all worthless.
to everyone.

and, all current music sucks; rock, jazz, country, metal, electronica & pop etc. are all dead.
and, everything else in the world is become simply colorless:
Black/White:
0's / 1's:
love / hate:
life sucks, and then you die.
there are no grey areas, & no exceptions, anywhere, ever.
Probably my favorite post ever on this forum. If it wasn't so big I'd sig it.
 

Blue Light

Member
Messages
7,456
I have indeed seen some negative comments in reviews, but it's been occasional. I think if they really had a POS, they wouldn't bother reviewing it.

I'd actually like to see the reviews be more ambitious. Get a few players, for instance, to make comments. It's no fun to see a review just writing out of habit ("Oh, jeez, I gotta review another guitar") and just bullshitting the reader.

On the other hand, there are times when you can tell they flat fell in love with something. That's when you make a mental note.
 

Chiba

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,830
I haven't written a ton of gear reviews, but when it comes time for it, if I can't write a positive review, I don't write one at all.

A bad review is different than a critical one, though, and I've written a few critical ones for products which I like but felt had addressable deficiencies.
 

Jon@Home

Member
Messages
758
I stopped reading guitar mags when the Bruno Underground 30 first came out. I knew I wanted one, couldn't afford one. So why do that to myself every month!
 






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