I’ve done these before. I get a lot of the same types of questions.
Sometimes, these are questions of fact and many are actually questions about opinions. “What do you think of …”
Because of some time constraints, I’m going to try to answer just one of ’em. It’s a pretty long answer. I’m hoping I don’t make it too long.
A common question is something like, “What is the best guitar?”
I also get variations such as, “What guitars do you prefer?” (People think they’re being clever with that one!)
And, that’s what I’m gonna answer. Because I get asked with so many variations, it might be a longer answer than I think it’ll be. I never actually know how long these will be when I start them.
What is the best guitar?
Some jackass is going to jump up and say, “The one you have in your hands!”
That’s a really simplistic way to look at such a complex subject.
Well, it is from my perspective.
I can state, with some certainty and maybe even a wee bit of expertise, that shitty guitars do exist. Some are just terrible and not fit to even be called instruments.
A terrible guitar may be your favorite – but it is not objectively the best. And, there is no single best guitar. It doesn’t exist.
If there were a best guitar – don’t you think I’d own only one? If there were a best guitar, we guitarists would all own only one guitar. ‘Snot a whole lot of us that own only one guitar, now is there?
The best guitar is the guitar that best enables you to make the sounds that you intend to make – and tones that you find pleasing.
You’re gonna get bored with just making that one sound – more often than not. You’re going to want to make different sounds. It’s gonna happen. There’s another guitar that makes that easier to produce that next sound. It’s a horrible curse, really.
Hint: Use your favorite search engine and look up ‘chasing sound.’
It doesn’t even matter if you’re a professional or a student. It doesn’t matter if you’re just going to strum for a few friends around the fire – or even just in your living room and only for yourself.
Your guitar is a tool. It’s a physical device that enables you to move air. Some are better at moving air in specific patterns. ‘Tis the simple truth of the matter. If you pick up the guitar to learn it, you will have begun a never-ending quest to move air in different ways. It happens.
While we are here, the next time someone tells you that ‘It’s a bad craftsman who blames his work on his tools.” You can go ahead and smack them. I don’t mind.
If I hand a smart craftsman a box of shitty tools and tell ’em to build me a replica of the Statue of Liberty, he’d tell me to fuck right off and that contemplating such is a retarded idea.
“Why didn’t you build me a nice box?” Because you gave them a screwdriver, duct tape, and an empty box of staples to work with. I’m telling you, that’s the dumbest adage ever. Ever!
He’s a skilled craftsman, he’s not gonna use shitty tools. He’s not going to waste his time and effort with shitty tools that do less refined work. Well, not if he’s smart and there’s even a wee bit of demand for his services!
You use the best tool that you can afford for the job. You use the tool that best enables you to perform a specific task.
That’s the best guitar. It’s a very personal thing.
You won’t find it. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!
You’ll find some that you appreciate for the tones they produce – and they’re horrible at really getting other tones out of them. It’s gonna take a whole lot of effort for you to make a Les Paul Traditional sound like a Fender Stratocaster Classic Series.
Let’s unpack that last statement. This article is still fairly short.
You can probably make that GLP sound like that Strat – but you’re gonna need a ton of gear and it’s going to be so needlessly complicated that it’s just a horrible idea. They are fundamentally different instruments.
Fortunately, many musicians have agreed that they like guitars that are capable of producing a wide variety of tones. So, when it comes to the Strat vs. GLP question, my answer is, “Why not both?”
Which is, I suppose, where a lot of personal preferences come in. Do you want to compose? Do you want to replicate? How faithfully do you want to replicate? How wide a variety of noises do you want to make?
Anyhow… Still kinda short…
I heard an interesting quote recently. It said that electric guitars move more air than any other instrument. Unfortunately, the quote came from a famous guitarist – and I’m not actually sure of the accuracy of the statement.
That seems logical, at face value. But, have they seen those giant pipe organs? Those fuckers move some air.
I haven’t done the math yet, and I probably never will, but I wonder how many watts it’d take to move as much air as one of those giant pipe organs.
I’m pretty certain that it’s possible for an amplified guitar to move as much air as a pipe organ – but I want to know where that threshold is. It’d be pretty sweet to give units of measurement in pipe organ equivalents!
No, no my search of Google for “watt equivalent output pipe organ” was not fruitful. I kinda expected that.
~*checks word count*~
Yeah, I’ll answer another one.
Should I learn to play guitar?
No. It’s a horrible idea. It takes all your time, money, social life, and pride. If you try to do it professionally, it’s going to suck and you’re going to be poor.
When a guy tells you, “I’m a guitarist.” That’s a big red flag. That right there is indicative of a person who has made a whole series of bad choices!
Trust me! “I’m a guitarist” is equal to “I make bad life choices.”
Fortunately, this site isn’t for the sane people. No, this site is for the crazy people who decide to learn to play a guitar, regardless of the outcome. This site is for the people who have a history of bad choices. My kinda people!
This site is for the moron that risks life and limb to play a small gig that’s 50 miles away. This site is for the moron that spent the rent money on a sweet, sweet used guitar – only to never be happy with it and still chasing the tone. This site is for the dumb son of a bitch that has more pedals than they can count. This site is for the idiot who can best measure all their cord collection in units of miles.
This site is for the people who get itchy if there’s no guitar available – just in case an idea crosses or the mood strikes. This site is for the moron who gets to a new city and their first thoughts are finding a gig so that they can ensure their hotel is nearby. This site is for the people who window-shop at music stores.
Yeah, we’re not very bright. We are, almost universally, passionate. So, there’s that. Still, I’m pretty sure it’s a disease – an ailment of the mind. Hell, that might even be something we should tell OSHA about!
Alright. I’ve got shit to do. Until next time…
Shut up and play us a song!