Lately I’m quite busy recording, and writing reviews… And this got me to address a question ! I am interested in your opinion about this topic. I want to know how do you perceive guitar reviews, guitar test or guitar demos? The question does not necessarily concern my reviews, it is more of a general question about what can be found on the internet. Let me explain further!
I am making a distinction between a test, and a demo because I think there is a major difference :
- The review is here to give an opinion about a guitar, an effect or an amp.
- The demo is here to show how good is a guitar, an effect or an amp.
Both contents are interesting but don’t have the same goal.
Several months ago, I’ve made a series of videos about the Pod HD500. In these videos, I’ve made a radical decision : I wanted to show only the dry amps simulations without any effect. It was a rather straight forward test. These videos are viewable on my former Youtube channel (by the way, you can subscribe to the new Muzicosphere Youtube channel : youtube.com/muzicosphere ).
On the long version of the video, I’ve had a troll who weirdly enough had an interesting point… I call him the constructive troll which is something of an oxymoron I reckon! Well, I actually think that he wanted to hurt my feelings but he didn’t know that I’m very good at the following : I always accept the consequences of my choices !!
For the Pod HD500, I thought it was useless to shoot a video with saturated sounds chaining X effects just because many did that well before me ! Hence that decision to show only the dry amps simulations ! It resulted in my most impopular series of videos that collected many thumbs down, and some disparaging comments like the following :
“You just dont know how to adjust to the tone under fingers. You bring nothing out of any of the amp models. Im not trying to be mean, but your hands dont understand the sound underneath them”
When I read this comment, I thought in a Dirty Harry style i.e. I don’t care about the opinion expressed here. However, I’ve been interested in the bold part of it. The goal of my video was not to bring the best of the Pod HD500, au contraire! I intended to show how the amps simulations sound on such simple things as a E chord or a basic riff !
This lead me to think about the difference between a guitar test, and a guitar demo !
A demo is mostly about the guitarist…
I don’t think this is a bad thing per se ! For instance I love to watch the Phil X demos for Fretted Americana ! Phil X is a performer who demos some of the most amazing guitars that exist. The problem with Phil X is that you watch him fooling, and jumping around, and though he seems to be a nice guy, you can’t help but think that he could take the worst piece of guitar ever made to make it sound like a vintage goodness !!
… A review, it’s all about the guitar not the guitarist!
At least, that how I see it! The goal of a test is to give an opinion not to show how great a guitar could be. Mind you, I’m not saying that you have to be a bad guitarist to do guitar tests, but in a way the best guitar test ever will always be a straight forward E minor chord that you let resonate !
In a demo, the demonstrator sells the guitar…
In the best case, he is not selling the guitar but he is paid to speak high of the instrument. He got the talent, and the aura to do that, and he does it well. That is his role, and I have nothing to say about this. A demo aims to convince you that this is the guitar that you need !
… In a review, the tester reviews the guitar !
So it can be a positive or a negative review. It has to give an opinion, and raise the negative aspects if there are such issues to raise. The test aims to help you decide whether a guitar is worth looking for your use or not.
The demo is entertaining…
And this is good… I can then grab some pop corn to watch a nice guitar, and a good guitarist! Entertaining!
… The review is evaluative !
Obviously, it can also be entertaining as no one would get bored watching your video but this is not the goal! That’s why lately I standardized the tests I make for Guitare Live. In general, I do the following :
- A couple of chords, and arpeggios in a clean tone
- A couple of riffs on the lead channel of the amp with the gain set low
- A couple of riffs on the lead channel of the amp with the gain set higher
- If needed, I show the special features (such as a kill switch, a varitone,…)
- I never use effects (though lately I was thinking about getting my hand on an overdrive pedal to only work with the clean channel of the amp)
To make it short, I am not a guitar demonstrator… I don’t have the talent nor the will! I make guitar tests in which I try to illustrate the opinion I had about a guitar that I play(ed)! This is why the review is mostly an article with a side video. Some things can’t be made clear other than in an article but a test without sound samples is stupid.
My opinion is quite clear but I would like to know what you think : Do you prefer gear tests or demos? What are you expecting of a guitar, effect or amp test?
Addendum for those who wonder why the blog is quite slow lately… Here is an up to date list of the guitars, and amps that I tested (bold) or are still under test (italic) or are planned (the others):
- Zitto Design 44th
- Egnater Rebel 20
- Dr Z MAZ Junior 18
- Burns Cobra
- Yamaha SG 1820A
- Yamaha SG 1820
- Yamaga SG 1802
- Eagletone ST100 SSH
- Eagletone Raging 5c
- SR LP Study
- SR LP Origin
- SR LP Luxe
- Samick JTR Linda LN30
- Samick JTR Marie MR10
- Samick JTR Elvira EV30
- Yamaha Pacifica 120H
- Yamaha Pacifica 212VQM
- Fender Mustang IV
- Fender Super Sonic Twin
- Fender Road Worn Series (3 models)
- Fender Pawn Shop ’51
- Fender Pawn Shop ’72
- Fender Pawn Shop Mustang Special