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

Tone_Terrific

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
31,871
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.
 

makeitstop

Old dude with guitars
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
1,144
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.
 

spencer096

Member
Messages
668
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 family...is 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
 

neastguy

Member
Messages
15,034
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
 

smallbutmighty

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
9,101
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.
 

OHSOFUZZY

Member
Messages
1,308
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.
 

zul

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,315
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.
 
Messages
17,654
vacuum cleaner...tool
toilet snake-tool
hammer-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

p.s.
some more tools for your perusing pleasure
rectal thermometer
putty scraper
jackhammer
Alec Baldwin
brad nailer
drywall knives
chisel
 

Ripthorn

Member
Messages
538
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 :)
 

Terry McInturff

40th Anniversary of guitar building!
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,863
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.
 

Ripthorn

Member
Messages
538
vacuum cleaner...tool
toilet snake-tool
hammer-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

p.s.
some more tools for your perusing pleasure
rectal thermometer
putty scraper
jackhammer
Alec Baldwin
brad nailer
drywall knives
chisel
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...
 
Messages
3,877
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.
 

milli vanilli

Member
Messages
4,907
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....
 

DeadLazy

Member
Messages
1,170
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.
 

Gclef

Member
Messages
2,312
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.
 

-speakeasy-

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
31
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.
 

rickt

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,007
Mine are Noble Tools, except for my Grosh, which is just one great guitar!
 




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