Is your guitar a noble musical instrument, or just a tool?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by p6x, Dec 2, 2019 at 9:21 PM.

  1. Robert Libutti

    Robert Libutti Member

    Aug 22, 2015
    Somewhere in the middle. I'm a hobbyist. My guitars make me $0. So when I look at or think about my rig, there is always a 'cost' associated with it. My Les Paul is X hours, months, etc. of working and saving. I don't bash my stuff around, I know it will get dinged if I use it. But I do try to take care of them. I treat my LP Classic with more care than my Studio. Similar to my car. It will get scratched and worn; some jag will hit it with a cart. But I still wash and wax it, and ArmorAll the interior.
  2. plaintopper

    plaintopper Member

    Jan 19, 2011
    One of the (many) things that is totally overdone on forums like this is that people fetishize everything.

    Yes, historic Les Pauls in particular make me feel warm and fuzzy. Playing them, holding them, looking at them. But they have no soul. No guitar does. I assign them no nobility, no names, and I don’t personify them in any other way.

    In the end, like all guitars, they are just wires and wood.
    Thumpalumpacus and -speakeasy- like this.
  3. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Supporting Member

    Dec 26, 2004
    There are guitars that are true exquisite artwork and I suppose they should be respected as such.
    However, the utility value i.e. their functionality, as a tool, is independent of beauty or exotic material provided there is strict adherence to basic structural requirements.

    Instruments deserve all the care and respect needed to maintain them in a pleasingly functional order but you will find that they can endure FAR more use, in far worse conditions, than those who treat them as precious snowflakes might believe.
  4. makeitstop

    makeitstop Member

    Jul 25, 2019
    Somewhere in New York
    When I got my first Stratocaster, I looked at it with total reverence and adoration. I used to prop it up next to my bed so it was the last thing I saw before sleep and the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes. But I was young, the Strat was the first guitar of any real quality I ever owned, and I was awestruck that I actually owned one.

    Long time ago.

    Now I own a lot of guitars of equal or higher quality to that Strat. I'll still have moments of just looking at them with admiration of the design, the amount of wear on the older ones, and even a bit of awe that I own some of them. But there's been a lot of water under the bridge since I got that first Strat and I'll cop to being pretty jaded at this point. I do love all of my gear and take reasonable care of it, but not to the point where I'm walking on eggshells when I play them. I've added wear to the older ones, and given the newer ones their inaugural scratch and/or dent. I do look at them as tools - ones of great beauty, but still tools, and tools are gonna get a little banged up if you use them.
    Thumpalumpacus and DeadLazy like this.
  5. spencer096

    spencer096 Member

    Sep 12, 2005
    cleveland, OH/denton, TX
    interesting to think about...

    my mjt tele is a tool. it's just a guitar, one which i wouldnt feel any compunction towards changing parts or even the neck. it's the one i'll likely take to run of the mill gigs, since i dont really care if it gets beat.

    my EJ strat is more family. it was with me through music school, when i played it in a store it spoke to me immediately, i have it signed by a hero (allan holdsworth)...when i went thru my burned out/depressed period, i couldnt imagine letting it go despite not playing. when i thought about selling it to fund my p-bass, i felt the same emotions i felt when deciding to put down a beloved dog...which is why i couldnt sell it. it's the guitar i pick up almost every time at home, and i do feel hesitation about bringing it to gigs because the potential for theft or damage.

    that said, my EJ strat is beaten to hell. it means a lot to me, but natural wear is going to happen, and im not losing sleep over dings and scars. the most important part of this...that applies whether a guitar is a tool or that essential maintenance is always done. neck, intonation, clean pots, lubricated nut, etc...that's more important care than no dings or scratches, imo.

    tldr...prob little of both
  6. neastguy

    neastguy Member

    Apr 14, 2004
    whenever I hear or read someone calling a guitar a tool.. I roll my eyes... I can't help it... I know we are all fine craftsmen making joyous music but give me a break.. I dont baby my guitars.. I just play them
  7. smallbutmighty

    smallbutmighty Member

    Oct 13, 2004
    PNW, USA
    I do my best not to personify, assign human traits to, or get emotionally invested in inanimate objects.

    I do love playing guitar, but if I lost them all today I would get others and be equally happy.

    That is not true of the people in my life.
    Thumpalumpacus likes this.

    OHSOFUZZY Member

    Dec 1, 2011
    There is no magic.
    Its an engineered instrument made of engineered components.
    The person is the operator.

    There is skill, experience and ability level differences.

    Passionate, magical or spiritual expression is a sales and marketing tool for your musical art.
    rizla likes this.
  9. zul

    zul Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2007
    I grew up in the third world and was conditioned to care
    for the little we had religiously. Lend me a fish hook and
    I'll probably return it to you polished and shiny ten years
    later. It's not the metal; rather, respect for the initial
    gesture shown. That boy became father to the man.

    I learned to maintain and repair my own guitars on tours.
    For the past thirty years it's been a HSS and a backup tele.
    I know every inch and curve of my main workhorse since I
    I enjoy having that level of familiarity with my main squeeze.
    Sunk every small morsel I learned from the many I met and
    whatever I learned while on the road, from shutting up and
    listening to those much wiser than me. I still have shoe boxes
    full of notebooks collected; some still relevant, some debunked.

    Love and respect all the tools of our trade, big and small, and
    care for them like a borrowed fish hook, not because of the
    sentimental value I force into them, but for the amount of respect
    and joy that this musical journey has afforded me and the amazing
    people that lay out a friendly and welcoming hand to my curiosity.
    Swami Asango, Gclef and rizla like this.
  10. semi-hollowbody

    semi-hollowbody Member

    Sep 18, 2007
    Metro Detroit Burbs, MI
    vacuum cleaner...tool
    toilet snake-tool

    a guitar is an instrument...I love the look and feel as much as the sound...a les paul sg or 335 strapped around someones shoulder playing and entertaining
    I don't like relicd or beat up guitars...I love the whole package

    some more tools for your perusing pleasure
    rectal thermometer
    putty scraper
    Alec Baldwin
    brad nailer
    drywall knives
    Imerkat, Funky54, Gclef and 1 other person like this.
  11. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Member

    Sep 28, 2018
    I build all my own guitars, have only bought two in my life, but built nearly 30. For this reason I try to treat them well, but I also have kids and have always encouraged their curiosity with the instrument so that it feels accessible to them. That has resulted in some painful dings and other damage, but they all still play just fine and still look fabulous. Thanks to them and the brittle lacquer I used on a '54 GT style build, it now looks a lot older than it is and it is all genuine.

    I personally see guitars as a tool, an instrument, and a work of art. I always build something new to try new things and to see what I can discover. If you think that thinking of a guitar as a noble instrument is weird, wait until you find yourself in front of a slab of wood asking it what it wants to be. People start to think you need professional help, then :)
  12. Terry McInturff

    Terry McInturff 40th Anniversary of guitar building! Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2003
    Pittsboro NC
    My two cent's?

    When I design a TCM guitar, it's utility as a musical tool always takes precedence in my thinking, initially. I'm thinking about sound and ease of use, and from there I turn my attention a bit more to the cosmetics of the design.

    As you know I spend an inordinate amount of time building to the best degree that I can, and I'd not particularly enjoy seeing my work intentionally abused; but over the years countless TCM owners have been sheepish about showing me their TCM if it shows scratches, dents, and the like.

    Actually nothing makes me happier than seeing my older work showing the wear and tear of being used as I intended. I consider these things to be "Marques of Honor" and at in the end, I suppose that this is why I get up in the morning!

    When I see one of my guitars showing the signs of being used for hundreds of shows, tours, etc, I am absolutely delighted.
  13. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Member

    Sep 28, 2018
    You've never used a really fine chisel or hammer, have you? :) Yes, they are tools, but they can inspire every bit of awe, satisfaction, and creativity as a fine guitar can for me. But then again, most on this page probably don't have their entire garage dedicated to woodworking and machining...
    semi-hollowbody and WordMan like this.
  14. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Member

    Jan 27, 2010
    Fayetteville, NC
    They’re the tools that I use to pursue my hobby. I own one with value above that, but that’s entirely because it was a gift from my wife and cannot be replaced in that sense.

    All of them, save the gift, can be replaced as soon as something I like better comes along. San Dimas: lighter version with same feel and sound. Standard 24: that’s a little tougher because that’s pretty close to perfect for me, but maybe a hotter bridge pickup? Or maybe not. That one my be a keeper.
    Thumpalumpacus likes this.
  15. milli vanilli

    milli vanilli Member

    Mar 3, 2013
    I love my handful of guitars and take immaculate care of them but they are all replaceable tools. My one violin is a musical instrument that I'd run into a house fire to pull out....
  16. Jimmy R

    Jimmy R Member

    Feb 15, 2011
    Why do the two have to be mutually exclusive?
    Thumpalumpacus likes this.
  17. DeadLazy

    DeadLazy Member

    Apr 21, 2018
    I’m sentimental about my guitars. I take really good care of them but I also live with them.

    My dad got me first electric and my mom my first acoustic. I’ll never part with them. Then there’s the first one I got for myself. I prefer new guitars. They’re mine.

    So I don’t leave them laying around but one might be out all day, or for two days, and it’ll get sat down on the couch or propped next to a chair.

    I was in school for Jazz and gig’ing and I’d have my guitar with me all day and a Boss Katana Mini. I’d jam outside or wherever. For like 14 hour or 16 hour days. I’d be at school all day and out at night.

    I don’t take **** care of them but they get lived in.
  18. Gclef

    Gclef Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    They are posessions.

    Valued posessions, but posessions nonetheless.

    I used to leave them all over, and my older guitars reflect that.
    I know have an 8 spot rack they live in, so my newer guitars are in really good shape.

    But I mod them, play them, look at them, adjust them, tune them, polish them, etc. at will
    But most of all, I MAINTAIN them.
    Elixir strings make that easy.

    Go ahead and pick up any of my guitars. Chances are that it is clean, with good strings, and pretty much in tune, ready to play.
    Thumpalumpacus likes this.
  19. -speakeasy-

    -speakeasy- Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2016
    An instrument is a tool. Its a piece of wood with strings. I'm going to take care of it and treat it with respect because if I don't, I'll have to replace it. I don't get precious about them though. All but one of my guitars - if you offered me 10-15% more than its worth, I'd sell it to you on the spot.

    I think it just gets weird when people start fetishizing them. "She" doesn't "sing". You're just playing well.

    BIG Ol' Caveat - Rare guitars like pre-war Martins or 59 LPs, yeah - you should probably should treat those like the finite resources that they are.
  20. twotone

    twotone Member

    Apr 20, 2010
    For me it's a toy to play with, not an ego machine.
    Jay Will likes this.

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