Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!


Monday, February 01, 2010

 
Strings and picks, a minor irritation

Just thinking idly about buying a guitar, and consequently picking up a couple of guitar magazines. I note that something that irritated me about them fifteen years ago is still a problem. That is to say, that when writing about an guitarist with a distinctive tone, they will go into loving detail on the amplifiers, speakers and effects pedals used, but will (often) neglect to specify the make and gauge of strings he uses and (nearly always) omit the kind of plectrum.

Not only that, but they will actually discuss this amazingly annoying ommission in a jokey way, implying strongly that only the world's worst anorak could possibly care about it. If you think about it for a minute, though, it's crystal clear that while different electronic components are more or less interchangeable in their effect on an electric signal, the type and thickness of the actual guitar strings is going to make a massive difference to the signal itself, which no amount of subsequent processing is going to be able to reproduce. It's somewhat less obvious that a plectrum is going to make a big difference, but when you think about it, a) a string is going to make a different sound when plucked with a hard item than with a softer one, and b) you attack the strings and hold your wrist very differently when playing with a large plectrum from playing with a small one.

Not only that, but guitar-magazine journalists will swoon in mystical awe about the fact that good players sound "like themselves", even when playing different instruments through different amplifiers! Of course you can "hear their distinctive tone from a few notes", fool, they're playing with the same strings and the same plectrum!

I presume that the reason for this policy is that plectrums cost 50p, and so it would be economically ruinous to the advertisers to accidentally let it slip that you are never going to sound like Yngwie Malmsteen if you don't use the thick bevelled plectra which are to his taste. But even so, grrr.
30 comments this item posted by the management 2/01/2010 12:43:00 PM


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