Let’s Get Frank About It: One Guy’s Gripes About Guitars and Tech


Alright, I’ve been stewing for a while over what irks me. I am not big on mixing new technology and guitars. There, I said it.

First off, I know Guitar Hero is just a game. The game teaches the masses nothing about playing a guitar. It might as well be in the shape of a plastic armadillo with buttons on it. It would get the same job done. The Johnson Smith Company is selling a contraption called an E-Z Chord device that clamps on your guitar neck and you can play chords with one finger? At least do that. It involves a guitar AND teaches you nothing. Go to skymall.com and pick up one of those for under $50. That’s right, a Swap Meet guitar and one of those is still cheaper than Guitar Hero, and you will instantly be fully qualified to join SMG.com as a guitarist. Please post a picture of your new axe and that awesome alien device clamped to its neck, which renders the guitar unplayable.


Guitar Effect Pedals – Photo by BTBAM

There are folks in the industry who dream up stuff that is unnecessary and market it to the masses as mandatory equipment. Like what you ask? How about guitar tuners. I took a few, and I mean a few lessons when I was a kid. On my first lesson, the instructor showed me how to tune a guitar by ear. On my second visit, he twisted all the tuners up and down in different directions and handed the guitar back to me and said “fix this”. I did, and lesson #2 began. It didn’t require a $99.99 tuner from the mega guitar store (I don’t need to say the name, do I?).

How about guitar pedals? What? Seriously, I have a couple I like. The gain and tone knobs do it for me most of the time. Some guys I know have a suitcase full of them for gigs that takes up as much space on the floor as a drum kit. I watch these guys during shows and most only step on a couple, maybe three the whole night. The rest are brightly colored “flair” that serve as a shoulder rotator cup irritant for the person who has the honor to lug that suitcase around. I remember how Great Grandma had an organ in the parlor that had some settings that made weird sounds. I would mess around with them. I also remember that after 5 minutes of playing with those switches it made everyone in the rooms’ pupils turn red as they all contemplated my early demise! Enough said about that. Besides, I never saw live or on video, B.B. King , Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck standing on a mountain of pedals.


Fender Road Worn Strat

Road Worn guitars also drive me nuts. Sorry Fender, I love you guys but the whole idea of selling “pre-damaged” guitars at an extra cost does not sit well with me. We used to call new guitars with flaws “seconds” and they were sold at a substantial discount. The guy or girl that came up with that idea should get a Nobel Prize in AUDACIOUS MARKETING. I am not intentionally hard on my guitars, but most dings, cracks and finish fades I have inflicted on my guitars were not only accidental, but were so sickening to me when they happened, I actually was grief stricken and felt nausea coming on. Why not throw $1,500 bucks out your car window the next time you are on the freeway and call it a “pre-stolen” guitar? Rather than make up stories about world tour gigs where your guitar got banged up, you can tell a wild one about how your guitar was stolen out of your Lamborgini while you were dining with Jimmy Page. You can be a Guitar Hero master and pull that one off. No guitar playing required. Ah, but what about the Lamborghini you ask? Stolen the next day. Who would have guessed?!

I didn’t mention the Gibson Robot Guitar. Why? Because I want one! The thing about me not liking mixing technology and guitars? As it turns out, I lied. To my friends at Gibson, I like the blue one the best.

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