At the NAMM show I stumbled across a guitar company’s sign. In bold letters it said “THE AUTHORITY ON ACOUSTIC SOUND”. It was even all capitalized.  It continued: “The pursuit of acoustic perfection is the driving force behind why we do what we do. With our Sound Optimization TM process … where design meets science…. where craftsmanship challenges the status quo, where age old wisdom is expressed and quantified, engineered & channeled into acoustic perfection. Doing it the right way. This is the future of guitar.”

By now we all know the words to use. Put ‘authority’ and ‘perfect’ and “pursuit’ and ‘finest” etc etc etc in there somewhere.  We can all take really great pictures and get them out to whoever we want to. Really all that stuff has never been easier.  Character is what you do when you know you can get away with it.  Words mean things.  You can get away with putting the above words on a sign and convincing some people of that, but is that a right thing to do?  I could dissect the ad line by line but that may get a bit negative. I don’t mean it as a smear campaign, they make great instruments.  They are just misdirected.

You see, when it comes to instruments it’s not about perfection. It’s not even about you (the builder).  Fellow guitar players, when you pick up a guitar are you looking for perfection? Or are you looking for connection? If the salesman walked over and said, “You know, the makers of that guitar are the AUTHORITIES ON SOUND” and “they have a Sound Optimization process” and “they hook microphones up to their guitars to measure the different frequencies” would you be convinced to buy it? It would actually be kind of an awkward conversation.  Who decided this authority? Are there medals? What does ‘perfect’ mean? Why should I care what you say? Then why isnt everyone playing it? It can be proven wrong because it’s wrong.   

In instruments we are actually looking for connection – connection to sounds and songs in our heads, the experience of writing them, connection to the people who are involved in that process of making and exposing us to the instruments that become part of what we love to do.   That’s the important stuff, and the “driving force behind why we do what we do.”

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