#CoffeeAndKlon 13: Where To Get Advice From

This conversation was originally posted to my Twitter feed.

Good morning! I’ve got something on my mind that I want to share with you, in this week’s #CoffeeAndKlon.

But first, coffee. Because coffee always makes my day better. I’m drinking Jamaican Blue Mountain today. It’s got absolutely no bitterness to it at all. A special coffee as a rare treat.

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So, what’s on my mind this morning? I want to share my opinion on where to get advice from, both about guitars and gear, and about how to use them. It’s been bugging me for awhile now.

I think that the best people to get advice from about guitars and gear are professional musicians who also do their own recording and producing. There’s a wonderful community of them on YouTube.

Folks like Pete Thorn, Shawn Tubbs, Rhett Shull, Tim Pierce to name but four to get you started. Alongside folks like Henning Pauly, Shane from In The Blues, and of course That Pedal Show.

That list is very much just the tip of the iceberg. If you start there, you’ll come across so many others who you can learn from. It’s a great time to be into guitars and music.

Internet forums and Facebook groups can be great sources of learning too. I learned a lot about the Les Paul from there, and it really helped me discover that low output, vintage-voiced pickups are my thing.

Forums and groups are a mixed bag. It can be difficult to tell the good advice from the posturing, and you need a thick skin to deal with the pros who really don’t like home players at all.

It takes ego to perform on stage, and it’s not always accompanied by kindness.

Guitar shops can great places for advice too. There are some great shops out there, where they don’t care why you want a guitar or how well you can play. They want you to walk out with what’s right for you, even if that means you walk out empty-handed.

These are exactly the shops I’ll tweet about, and give shoutouts to whenever I can. Not just because I think they’re fantastic and deserving, but because I’ve had more than my fair share of the other types of shop too.

On the flip side, you also get:

  • shops where the sales staff have targets to hit and specific gear to shift, and
  • shops who treat home players very differently to gigging musicians

Thankfully, they’re dying out, and not a moment too soon.

And don’t overlook product demos from manufacturers either. They’re often showing you how they intended a piece of gear to be used. That’s important. A lot of gear disappoints because folks try to use it for something it was never designed for.

All this has been on my mind because of where the HomeToneBlog.com fits into the landscape. Because I’ve realised that I’m uncomfortable when I’m asked for advice about gear.

Like the vast majority of people who play guitar, I play at home for fun. I have a day job, and this is one of my hobbies. I have recently started gigging, but again it’s just for fun. I’m definitely not a pro at all.

I’m very much a confidence player. If I’m not happy with the sound, my playing goes to pot. Always has. Even from the very early days of playing, I’ve always been after guitar tones that help me deal with that.

When I started sharing my experiences with gear here on Twitter, I realised that I know a lot of people just like me. Only difference between us is the variety of gear that I get to spend time with.

People started asking me questions about gear, because they saw me talking about it. And that became the HomeToneBlog.com. A community specifically for us home players.

The blog’s all about opinions formed from hands-on experience with guitars and gear. Not trying to review gear for anyone else other than me.

It’s personal, and it’s meant to be.

And if it helps you, that’s great 🙂

But if I am talking about a piece of gear that you’re interested in, please use what I’ve said about it as a starting point only. Go to the folks I’ve mentioned earlier in this conversation. Look at what they can make the gear do, and how they would use it.

And if you want to do what I do, and share your experiences with your fellow home players, I’d love to have other people also writing blog posts for the HomeToneBlog.com.

If you’ve made it to the end, do let me know. And I hope you have a great rest of your weekend.

Tuesday Talks: Falling Back In Love With The Guitar

Mary Spender’s latest Tuesday Talk is all about her ups and downs with the guitar over the years.

She also talks about the fast-approaching 100th episode of Tuesday Talks, and the special guest she wants on that landmark episode.

Watch the video to learn who she’d love to interview for the 100th episode, and join the discussion on YouTube to help Mary make it happen.

Some Thoughts About Gear Opinions

Whenever new gear comes out, people ask about it on forums and Facebook groups. Money is tight for most people these days, and many people aren’t covered by the great 14-day return distance-selling laws we enjoy in the UK.

The new Fender pedals are an interesting case in point.

Fender’s put a lot of effort into getting the word out and promoting these from launch. Not only have we seen demos appearing on YouTube, but they’ve also been running online ads for them too.

So when someone recently asked for opinions, it wasn’t a surprise to see people quickly respond with their thoughts. But how many people have actually played them?

At the time of writing, I’m the only person who posted in there and said “yes, I’ve played them.” That’s 1 out of 28 responses.

And that has me thinking. I joined forums and Facebook groups to learn how to get more out of gear, and to learn how to solve some of the problems I’ve run into over the years. Just how many people are offering their opinion (often with complete confidence) without having ever tried or owned the stuff they’re talking about?

It’s something to be aware of, as you look for helpful advice on getting the sounds you want at home.

Wampler Q&A

Brian Wampler – the genius behind Wampler Pedals – has posted a Q&A video up on his channel. He talks about the hardest circuit to work on, collaborating with other pedal builders, introducing midi to future Wampler pedals, and what makes him decide to revise a pedal circuit.

One of the great things about the music world is how accessible people like Brian are. He talks about how everyone’s comments online and via customer support reaches him, and is a major influence on what he does.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed Brian’s video,

Spectre Sounds Viewers Comments

Over at Spectre Sounds, Glen has posted his latest answers to comments left by his viewers. This week, instead of answering the questions himself in his own inimitable style, he’s asked a bunch of his friends and famous YouTubers how they would answer instead.

The question that caught my eye was about whether or not to go with Apple for recording music (rather than use Windows). A lot of Apple’s decisions in the last few years have been very unhelpful to creatives in many fields, including music. On Twitter, I see a lot of people talk about moving away from Apple when it’s time to buy their next computer. Over the next couple of years, I guess we’ll find out how many people actually take that step.

Please head over to YouTube to leave a like and a supportive comment if you enjoyed Glen’s video.