There was a bad taste in my mouth while changing pickups on Saturday, and it wasn’t from my beer. The bad taste lingered from some online exchanges I had with other guitarists about non-guitar related topics, because most guitarists are so cool they don’t need to know the difference between uncool things like subjects and topics or journalism and social media. Or even more critical important stuff like overdrives and distortion.

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The article pictured above is a specimen of click-bait that I preserved after finding it on an acquaintance’s F_c_book feed. I was hoping that it would share some new opinions on whether the volume levels of amps was becoming as unwelcome as second-hand-smoke in clubs. This is a very sensitive issue about something I love which is in danger of becoming prohibited, or worse, socially unacceptable (uncool) like cigarettes have become. And my opinion on cigarettes is that the are no more really harmful than car exhaust until smoked in excesses like a pack or more a day, and that this is an education problem more than a public health epidemic. (BTW, inhaling too much car fumes will kill you more efficiently.)

After reading through the article twice, I could find nothing to do with political correctness, and began to suspect that the author does not really know what it is. It also made me suspect he has deal with Ibanez. No one needs to read anything more about Tube Screamers that hasn’t already been written and easily accessible on the internets. If there was a point to the article, it’s “Get your @$$ back to G.C. to keep buying and trying gear, consumers!”

My comments about this on F_c_book were not well received. I was worried that maybe I offended Albert, because I guess maybe the author (I’m being generous here) was a personal acquaintance of his. Probably I crossed the line when I called the writer a, “tone-somellier.” Maybe he just doesn’t like having his thread hijacked, but that’s how social media works. Else turn off comments.

Articles are constructed specifically to say nothing thereby forcing readers to have a discussions. It’s actually the users creating the real content in the comments. I respect those other posters as professionals and musicians, but after seeing their knee jerk reactions, maybe my respect is too cheap.

Guitarists are not a very clever tribe. We love inefficient 50s technology. Progress of the instrument seemed to stop in the 80s when the music, technology and especially the fashion became too complicated. Meanwhile, the generation of kids that paid for the first consumer boom of the 60s grew up, became doctors/ lawyers/bankers/engineers; and then used their money to buy all the stuff they wanted back in the 60s and new CDs of music that merely pays tribute of the music of their youth is considered fresh. That music from a Golden Age when gear, politics and personal relationships were simpler. There was no AIDS, draconian DWI laws, Muslim terrorists, credit crunches or political correctness back in the 60s and 70s. There was the establishment vs counterculture. Racism was indeed black and white, and it was easy to choose the right side of that fight, in spite of the risk imprisonment, beatings, bombings burnings and even assassinations. Most importantly, the minimum wage was still enough for you to buy a house, a guitar, and have some left over to buy an electric guitar.

Now, facts have been replaced with social media discussions which fail because in a world where any lie can be presented as journalism, anyone can blog, and no one is accountable for any of it, opinions become the next best thing become the currency of discussions. This was the subject of one of the BBC documentaries I watched while installing a new set of ____ pickups in my guitar.

Honestly there was really nothing objectionable about that PG article. Of course experimenting is great fun! I spent my weekend installing new Microcoil pickups and a Q-filter in my guitar. Then used Boss’ new dual-expression pedal on my delay and envelope filter at the same time at a jam session I hosted where I also learned that a F$$$$R Twin turned up past five was a bit too loud for some there. (Sorry, no Tubes Creamer on my board, but I love my Barber Custom Cool.)

Excessive volume is topic of extreme importance to me and all electric guitarists now more than ever. Smoking isn’t allowed anymore in many clubs. So how long before some invisible social power or maybe even the PoTUS calls for a ban on tube amps if not only because they damage hearing, but because they’re too power hungry and contribute to global warming? I particularly don’t want to live in that world.


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