The Jaguar Kurt Cobain Incident or What is the Purpose of a Guitar Review ?

Weird question… What is the purpose of a guitar review? Are they made to present the very best aspects of the instrument or are they made to show the naked truth about the guitar? I have my own idea… But it doesn’t seem to be shared by everyone which is good in a way!

The quick test of the Jaguar Kurt Cobain induced some comments about tuning issues in the video (and these were the most diplomatic comments). This issue is not due to a tuning problem (i.e. I tuned the guitar before the shooting) but most probably it is the consequence of a problem in the guitar’s intonation setting. Some people told me that it was not the first video with such an audible issue. They found it in some previous videos too.

Unfortunately for me I can’t always blame the intonation… There are other factors, and I probably have my own responsibility.

However, am I the only one to see (or hear to be more accurate) an important information in this kind of issues though I tend to rank them as minor issues because they are easily fixable? Thing you need to know is that I always tune the guitars before a shooting!

A virtual friend pointed out that this kind of lapse in my illustrative videos are neither good for the brands nor for me

The fact that it is harmful for me, and my image is true! I tend to think that it is not as bad as it looks for several reasons, the main one being : That’s who I am! I know my guitar skills, and I don’t lie to myself. I won’t range over the comments about my abilities with a guitar because I certainly don’t care about these judgmental comments. Reviewing a guitar is a very special exercise, and my personal editorial policy is to avoid any attempt to create art and/or any attempt to bluff the audience with nonsensical run through scales kind of playing. Instead, I bluntly expose the instruments by almost removing the guitarist from the frame. Too bad for me if an important part of the audience don’t find what they are expecting in test videos… I still think that there is an audience for my kind of approach though.

What about the fact that it is harmful for the brands? I’ll say it frankly : So what? If an instrument is not set before shipping, it is an important information for the potential client!

Guitar medias, and instruments reviewers, and bloggers are not meant to do the job of the brands, and distributors, and stores, right ? Am I meant to do their job? Clearly not, I think! This whole ecosystem is not made of demonstrators hired by brands to demo their instruments, right? Our role is to analyze, and criticize either positively or negatively if required. Our role is not to hide the bugs! If I hide, if I lie, if I purposely miss an element, guitar buyers won’t!!

Some will say that I don’t always mention these kind of problems in the articles. True. Mea culpa… I rarely mention these issues in the written reviews because I’ve almost never received a perfectly set instrument (I mean as a client) either because of a lack of settings or because of shipping! Moreover, guitar is not exactly famous for being the most precise, and in tune instrument. I’ve never been too fussy about that matter, and always tried to compensate a way or another unless the issue makes the instrument unusable! Yet, for review purposes I often had to do some adjustments, and settings when they didn’t require the skills of a luthier! In the case of my incriminated reviews, I simply didn’t make any adjustments because the conditions didn’t allow any action.

So, what choice do I have? Should I refuse any instrument that would be poorly set if set at all? Theoretically, I should ! But in real situations, the pressures from both sides as well as my own pressures (I’m not going to talk about this obvious pressure) make it sometimes hard to say no. Sometimes I’m just stuck between a rock and a hard place! Breach of professional ethics ? I certainly hope not but maybe! Or maybe not at all…

With respect to the audience, I hope that I am approaching things in the most authentic, and honest way. If the instrument that I am testing didn’t receive any particular treatment compared to the instruments that buyers would get, so the audience will see it in my reviews should that be positive or negative! If the instrument receives a special treatment, and setting in order to make it perfect, I won’t have any mean to know it. Then I’ll just have to say that brand X treats their clients as they should be treated i.e. with perfectly made, and set instruments.

So for a certain fraction of the audience… I am sorry that I am not Phil X or Gearmanndude or Andy from ProGuitarShop… I don’t have the same role anyway…

As for the brands… Yes, I bluntly expose, and show the instruments because if I don’t, your unsatisfied clients will do it anyway!! And believe you me, they won’t do it the way I do… Unsatisfied clients won’t be constructive as I am most of the time!!

Too bad if this rant brings me some criticism but I had to write it! If you tink that I am all wrong… The comments section below is your forum for debate!

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