Guitar Historians: QUALIFY Your COMMENTS... (Poll Response)

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Tidewater Custom Shop, Mar 11, 2015.

  1. Tidewater Custom Shop

    Tidewater Custom Shop Performance Enhancing Guitarworks Supporting Member

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    I've been steadily learning more and more about guitars and amps for the past 7-8 years. I take great pride in what I've learned. One thing I know for sure, the more I learn, the less I realize I know. Furthermore, the more I learn, the more skeptical I become of what I read or hear (books, internet, forums, dialogue).

    I've come to this conclusion - I don't know squat... maybe <10% in general knowledge... maybe 20% of specialty knowledge (Fender Strat/Tele & Gibson legacy products). If I don't know an answer, especially regarding historic significance/accuracy, I never ever seek general population advice on a guitar forum. Opinions do matter, and for less significant things have some value.

    There is a MASSIVE amount of product knowledge available. There are some trusted purveyors of fact. There are FAR TOO MANY 'subject matter experts' who openly discuss seemingly accurate topics of value... whether broad-brush comments regarding a specific manufacturer's production processes during a distinct period, or the minutiae of metallurgy in the 1956 Gibson ABR-1 and its affect on the sonic signature combined with other materials & electronics that make the Les Paul of the day.

    Admittedly, I'm one who used to place value on unqualified opinions. No longer. Not since about two years ago when I began to see discussions regarding guitars/amps/pedals and the incessant bickering between two or more SME's, all insistent their opinion is correct WITHOUT QUALIFYING themselves or divulging their references. It was then I realized someone here doesn't know what they're talking about - which one should I believe... there's only one truth here.

    So, that said, what do you think people should do - those who comment on: other peoples FOR SALE threads; burst the happy bubble on NGD threads; etc.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
  2. AParrotLooksAt4O

    AParrotLooksAt4O Member

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    If you're looking for truth in subjective opinions relating to items considered non-essential luxuries, you may end up lost, disappointed, frustrated, or all of the above.

    If you're talking about modifications or getting someone to work on your guitar, its good to check references and make some calls.

    If you just want to know which low gainer is the most transparent, just start a new thread like everyone else does.
     
  3. Deed_Poll

    Deed_Poll Member

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    Yeah I think a lot of what we do is about opinion and experience, which is no bad thing taken in context.

    The problem is that false ideas often circulate and become fashionable, and the system feeds on itself. Complete nonsense becomes common sense: and I blame PR / marketing and the sales techniques (particularly in larger stores) which propogate this; I blame an understandable unwillingness to admit money has been spent badly on hyped product; and most of all I blame confirmation bias (particularly in context of the previous point).

    In your example a particular problem presents itself when people try to extrapolate opinion from fact. So when someone details the precise metallurgy of this or that Les Paul bridge, that's fine - the problem is then when that is used to suggest "that's why it sounds like x, y, z". I am personally very sceptical regarding most claims, for instance I don't think fretboard materials really impact the sound of a guitar in any meaningful way. I don't think a set neck sustains better than a bolt neck. In many cases I am quite happy to pay the extra money for a nitrocellulose finish purely for the sake of vintage correctness or historical accuracy, even though on some other guitars I will prefer to use a poly finish for better durability. I am happy to admit when I have made a decision based on aesthetics or just because and don't feel like I need to justify myself to others and feed the rumour mill.

    I think what I have learned is that you have to have the confidence to just say "I like things this way" and not feel like you need to come up with some pseudo-scientific reason for it. The problem is, that kind of kool aid / snake oil stuff is pretty much what sustains the industry, so it isn't going anywhere.

    I actually find this place can be a refreshing break from that stuff, and I think people are more skeptical and open to changing their opinions on here than in other places. Whenever I'm on a flight I tend to buy Guitarist magazine, or Guitar Player as a bit of fodder, and all that stuff seems to be on a different level. The number of times I've read in such rags that this or that has a "light nitro finish" when it is just a top coat over a thick urethane I despair. When I read reviews of "premium" tone caps, or hear that a neck contour is "fast and comfortable", I die a little inside. So much in that world is non-cognitive. And that's hardly surprising considering where all the advertising money comes from. Places like Harmony Central etc are full of people who take all of this at face value, on balance I really don't think TGP is too bad in the scheme of things, especially since the subject matter is intrinsically linked with opinion and many of the terms we use, purposefully or not, defy rational explanation.
     
  4. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

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    it IS an interesting topic. And has changed as the internet has become more pervasive. An example that's relevant to me: JBL speakers. When I first became interested in them a decade ago, there was basically no information available from primary sources. Now we have the history of JBL with many original documents available at the JBL site, plus Mr. Gerst? here who was a contemporary of many of the innovations JBL and others put in place, plus way more original documentation. And I've read a lot of it. And still I get caught out! There's a few places that suggest that JBL D120Fs were all 14 ohm impedance and listed as 8 or 16 depending on what the customer wanted. I've been told since that that was untrue and separate 8 and 16 ohm versions were released. The latest I read on a thread here was that SOME 16 ohm speakers were relabeled as 8 ohm for convenience in selling.

    The lesson from all of that is that, no matter what your source, detailed information about what happened 60 years ago is going to be fuzzy, subject to revision and possibly inaccurate! If you want to see that in action, go follow some of the threads over at the Les Paul Forum. Between them those guys have owned more than 1/2 of the Bursts ever built and there's still controversy about what happened and why!

    I guess most of my comments will fall under the "citing my references" or "my experience" categories. If it's straight up opinion, I'll usually state that caveat.
     
  5. RRfireblade

    RRfireblade Member

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    Everyone who opens their trap in the first place, already think they are qualified to do so. The only true qualification would have to come from an outside source.

    That being said... It's the internet, just start off assuming everyone out there is wrong and you'll be much better off in the long run. You'll also be correct 99% of the time or more. ;)
     
  6. sliberty

    sliberty Member

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    Isn't STHU mis-spelled? :)
     
  7. qblue

    qblue Member

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    I primarily spout facts of my experience and my newfound skills as a information finder on the internet. But an opinion is only result of both: information and experience. I hate saying negative stuff online, so only if I can prove some of the ridiculous opinions wrong, I'll pipe into the discussion. Just sayin'....
     
  8. Tidewater Custom Shop

    Tidewater Custom Shop Performance Enhancing Guitarworks Supporting Member

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    Yeah... We can't post bikini appreciation threads anymore here, so I figured mis-spelling STFU intentionally was apropos.
     
  9. Rumble5

    Rumble5 Member

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    In my real life as an ed psych professor, I always cite references, occasionally to my own published research. As a guitar hack I speak from my limited experience and try not to give the impression that my views are definitive, but if that's not good enough then they can STHU.
     

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