2019 Review: The Guitar Community

When I was growing up and first getting into guitar, all we had was word of mouth and the odd album tab book with dodgy transcriptions in it. Things are so different today. We’re not just living in a golden age of guitars and gear, we’re living in a golden age of access to information, demonstrations, opinion and actual professional experience.

As you go through the lists below, you’ll spot that everyone I’ve listed here is someone that I follow because they’re people that I’m learning from in one way or another. Right now, it’s practically all educational content. I hope you don’t mind; it’s an honest reflection of where I am at the end of 2019.

One of the things I want to do in 2020 is expand this list to also include people who are just out there to make and release music: bands and artists.

Special Mention

Before we get into all the different resources I’m recommending, I want to give a special mention to @lisaplaysguitar on Twitter. She’s the inspiration for this blog post.

Most weekends, she tweets out a list of guitar-related Twitter accounts to follow. Please go and give her a follow, and check out all of the different folks that she tweets out every week.

YouTube

Over the last five years, YouTube has become the home for so much of the guitar / rock / music community.

I’ve found it hard to sort them into useful groups. Some of them do specialise, but many of them cover other music-related topics from time to time. Putting them into any sort of order is hard too.

Just Great Tones

When I’m interested in a piece of gear, these are the places I go to find out just how good it can sound. The only downside? There’s no way I’ll ever come close to getting those tones myself. But hey – at least I’ll know what’s possible with talent ๐Ÿ™‚

In Depth Information

Although how a piece of gear sounds is important, it’s not the whole story. A lot of gear can be great in one context, but not in others. That information doesn’t always come out in shorter, tone-driven demos. Sometimes, it only comes out in longer demos.

Henning was one of the first to do gear demos on YouTube, and he’s still one of the very best. And Trogly? One of the definitive sources for information on Les Paul guitars – and gradually Fender guitars too.

Learning About Music And/Or Playing

It’s not all about the gear, right? No, really, it isn’t. No point having all the gear if you have no idea. Trust me, I have plenty of first hand experience at that!

All of these channels are great places to go to learn more about music and/or playing your guitar. As Rick Beato would say, check them out!

Gear Demos

Okay, so many it is about the gear more often than it should be ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s a lot of channels out there that are focused on gear demos. Some of these channels do paid-for demos, and some of them simply do demos because they’re content creators.

Either way, they’re all great places to start if you’re thinking of buying a new piece of gear.

I do want to give a special shout-out to Shane at intheblues. Along with Henning (who’s already had a shoutout above), he’s one of the folks who started the YouTube guitar / gear community. It’s great to see that he’s still going strong.

I also want to give a shout-out to Mike Hermans. He used to do pedal demos for Prymaxe many years ago, and his demos of the Mad Professor pedals are the main reason I started playing Mad Professor pedals myself.

Recording / Mixing / Mastering / Production / Studio

One area where the gear revolution has arguably had its biggest impact is recording gear. Today, just about anyone can record and release their music entirely from home. We’re very lucky to have so many professional audio engineers and producers who take the time and trouble to share their experience with the wider community.

In this list, there’s quite a mixture of experience, covering folks working at all levels of the music industry.

The one thing to be aware of is that YouTube does its own processing to the audio tracks of uploaded videos. This audio processing can make it difficult to hear the difference in some of the audio engineering demos. And, of course, let’s not forget that we all hear different things anyway!

Music Shops

Yes, music shops have stuff to sell to us. That doesn’t mean that their videos are simply trying to sell us gear we don’t already have. Honestly, most shops aren’t as good at demoing gear as the full-time “content creators” you’ll find elsewhere in this list.

One thing I like about the music shop demos is that they’re a great way to hear the same guitar, amp or pedal in a variety of hands. How different does the same guitar sound when played by lots of different people, into different amps? There’s a rawness, an inconsistency to these demos that I find really helpful.

And yeah, sometimes music shops are the only folks who have a useful demo on a piece of gear.

I want to give a special mention to Andertons and Sweetwater here.

Andertons were one of the early YouTube channels, and the whole reason I play Les Pauls today is because of those early videos. Today, they put out more content than practically anywhere else. They’re a great choice just to learn about stuff you might otherwise have not heard of. And their NAMM coverage sets the standard.

Sweetwater have started shifting their content from just sales demos to also include some great educational stuff too. I think they’ve figured out that most of us simply have no idea why we’d want a lot of the gear they sell, so they’ve starting releasing videos that serve as good introductions to types of gear. I found that really helpful when researching my home studio upgrade back in the summer, and I hope that they do a lot more of it in 2020.

And a special mention to AStrings. They’re my local shop, and I maaay have helped nudge them into starting their YouTube channel (I’m sure they would have done it anyway). And, if you know where to look, I’m actually in one of their videos, appropriately playing the Fender Troublemaker ๐Ÿ˜‰

Content Creators

These are the channels I find hardest to categorise, so I’ve lumped them together. I hope none of them find this a disservice. They’re all fantastic, and incredibly talented.

For a start, whether or not they’re professional musicians, everyone on this list is a musician, and often a great musician at that. You simply can’t be a “content creator” around guitars without being one.

These are the channels who mix it up the most, in my opinion. You’ll find demos, reviews, vlogs about life as a musician, educational material and a lot of fun on these channels.

Manufacturers

Most gear manufacturers have a YouTube presence, but not all of them put out regular, high-quality content (*cough* Gibson *cough*).

All of the channels in this list are great, and well worth watching. I do want to give a special mention to Wampler Pedals for being very educational, PRS Guitars because I could watch Bryan Ewald all day long, and JHS Pedals for their “The JHS Show”.

If you only watch one, watch Fender’s channel. They’re literally the gold standard in product demos made by the manufacturer. If you want to learn how to script a sales demo video, there’s no better to study right now.

Facebook

The main place to go on Facebook is the Wampler Tone Group. Thanks to the group administrators, it’s by far the friendliest discussion forum online right now bar none.

You’ll need to search for it on Facebook, and then click the button that says something like ‘Apply To Join’.

Twitter

Iโ€™ve created two public lists that you can subscribe to, or simply look at and manually follow the individual accounts.

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