The Musician's Room: Sneer Periods

Just as in the world of clothing, in the world of guitar, styles come and go. And just as you can end up on the wrong end of a disparaging look if your clothing is out of fashion, you can be sneered at in the guitar community. Okay, here are some “sneer periods” I’ve survived:

1. You are still playing a single-coil pickup guitar? You’ll be really hip when you get a Les Paul.

2. How can you still be using a 50 watt amp? Really, now. You need at least 100 watts.

3. You are still using a Fender combo amp? Oooo… Uncool. You need a Marshall stack. Or maybe TWO.

4. You are still using the factory guitar case? C’mon, real men need a REAL case (toe nudges a 50 pound black Anvil monster with 20,000 nicks, two handles, and the ragged remains of all-access passes from 42 states, though it has never left this one).

5. Are you still using the factory saddles and nut? No, no. You need BRASS for that extra sustain.

6. You aren’t really still using those stock Gibson humbuckers are you? I feel sorry for you. DiMarzios have so much more gain!

7. Still using a Les Paul Standard? You know, my CUSTOM is so much nicer! It’s got THE tone and low frets and action.

8. You are still using a solid-body guitar? No, no, you need an ES-335 or ES-175. More character!

9. DiMarzios? They’re for metal-heads. So brash and dirty! You need EMGs or Seymour Duncans!

10. If you don’t play a Rick, you’ll just never fit in.

11. I can’t believe you like to play that ancient, drab guitar. Get with it! You need something with rad, splashy colors and cool points and angles!!!

12. You are still playing a hard-tail guitar? No, no, laddie! Where have you been for the last ten years? You need a Floyd! It can dive-bomb, squeal and whine!

13. Face it, if you play a guitar, you are a fossil. MIDI is IT! (1983)

14. Well, I can tell you that the only way you are going to get the flexibility you need is by tossing those old amps and building a custom stereo system into a rack. You’ll need loops out to a chorus, flanger, two delays, and a digital reverb to be complex enough. You’ll want to get a MIDI controller for it all.

15. I’m sorry, we need a Strat player. Those humbuckers are just so DARK. You know, Gibsons are passe’.

16. All your gear is so new! How do we know how long you’ve been playing?

17. Those rack setups are so cold. Only vintage, low-wattage combos get the really warm power amp distortion sound. What you need is to go out and find a late’50s tweed amp or a booteek reproduction.

18. I think pointy guitars are soooooo ugly, don’t you? And every time you break a string on that Floyd it takes ten minutes to retune!

19. I can’t believe you sold all that cool stuff you had in the seventies!

20. Single-coil pickups are so shrill. You need a Gibson with humbuckers. Preferably a Les Paul Standard with fat frets. I never could handle those LP Customs with their slinky frets.

21. Can you believe that some turkey replaced the original saddles and nut with BRASS and the pickups with DiMarzios, for cryin’ outloud? It took months to restore this thing. Stock EVERYTHING is the way to go for that authentic sound.

22. You know, I’ve never liked the quality of mass-produced instruments. To really get THAT tone, you need a hand-built one-off from a small shop. This beauty only cost me $9300.

23. Humbuckers are too dark and single-coils are too clean! You've got to have P-90s pickups to get that sound. And not those awful modern humbuckers - you need to track down a set of vintage Gibson P-90s.

The list goes on and on. The moral: PLAY WHAT YOU LIKE AND LIKE WHAT YOU PLAY. Oh, and hold on to the good stuff. It'll be back in style before you know it.



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