Video Demos of Musical Instruments: Guitare TV – Roy Letayf Interview.

And it’s about time to come back (finally the short break is over) to the overview of the ressources available on the internet to musicians willing to get video demos of musical instruments. I didn’t yet clearly identify the main categories of websites that you can find, so here is a first categorization which is kind of obvious:

  • Generalists non-musical websites: These are websites which are not focused on music but users and professionals use them either to share (users) or for communication and marketing purposes toward their potential customers (professionals).
  • Specialists websites with a generalist editorial policy: These are musical websites that offer a very large number of services to amateur and professional musicians.
  • Niche specialists websites: These are pretty similar to the previous category except they’re focusing on one particular musical instrument.

The website I’m going to talk about now belongs to this latest category. It’s a French website that is focused on guitar: guitare TV.com.

Guitare TV :

When you land on Guitare TV, you are sure to be in a dedicated place so if you are looking for some exotic instrument or something else, this is not the place for you. Guitare TV offer is focused on videos about guitar… I’m not kidding you!!

You’ll find there:

  • Coverages and interviews.
  • A music TV with a selection of video clips and concerts.
  • Guitars and effects video test drives.
  • A community section to allow Guitare TV users to interact.

I will limit my overview of the website to a few remarks because a lot of answers and highlights will be brought by Guitare TV founder, Roy Letayf, who answered some of my questions in the following interview.

The visual aspect of the website is clearly guitar oriented (as expected) but I think the ergonomics could be optimised. Indeed, the different blocks of the homepage are clearly identified and separated: content and advertisment (and this is good considering the number of website which voluntarily don’t clearly identify ads). However, I think that the homepage would be clearer and will have a better usability if the ads blocks were smaller and the category blocks were bigger.

The navigation bar is clear and indicates the category you are about to select. I regret that there is no search function to browse the website in a different way. However, navigation via the menus in the tests category allows you to find what you are looking for among the 84 tests available to date.

Last remark is about the tests. Sometimes they show just one aspect of the tone of a guitar. This is sometimes restrictive  ‘though I know it’s quite hard to find the balance between what you can do with the guitar, what people expect from it and the tester, and the envy to show how it sounds in its expected field or genre.

Interview of Roy Letayf, founder of Guitare TV.

– When and how did Guitare TV started?

I was the owner of a musical instruments store for 10 years. Despite the gear I had in stock, I’ve always had people asking me about guitars or amps that I didn’t have! I also had a lot of people contacting me to ask for an advice because they were far from any music store. I used to have an e-commerce website and I used to receive emails from all around Europe. I remember a young man who used to call me often because the closest store was 300 km from him! No need to say that it was impossible for him to try any model before purchasing.

That’s when I had the idea to create a video database on musical instruments that would allow to have good quality tests and free access. GuitareTV was born… I wanted to share my experience to help young enthusiasts. It was then important to find the best way to do gear test drives videos. Back in 2005, we were the first ones to do this in the world! My editorial policy was to produce good quality videos and consequently big files to be viewed on the web. High speed connexions were barely starting back then. That was the right time to get started. The project development was long. We worked hard with Denis Rémanjon the webmaster to elaborate a website and a server that could support all those hi-res videos and a fluid player. A few months after the official release, as the trafic was growing, we migrated on more powerful servers. Today, Guitare TV uses 3 Terabytes bandwidth a month for 40000 registered users! We are currently using servers that are among the bests in France.

– Who are Guitare TV testers?

They come from differents spots in France. They are indepedent guitarists and guitar enthusiasts. Anyone can apply to be a Guitare TV tester but this requires to have a good diction and a good general level on guitar. We also had some artists who came to exclusively present us their signature models, Patrick Rondat, Jean-Felix Lalanne, Michel Haumont or Johnny A .

– How do you record the videos on Guitare TV ?

All the videos are recorded in full HD with professional cameras. The HD production chain is a heavy investment and it’s quite heavy to manipulate and stock. I buy a one terabytes hard drive each month just to stock the videos.
We have several microphones like the famous Shure SM 57 to capture the amp sounds and some valve microphones in case we need them. We capture the voices with SM58 microphones or wireless Shure systems.

As for the amps we use a Marshall JCM2000, a Fender CyberTwin, a Line6 Spider Valve 212 and an Ibanez Thermion. However, the testers often bring their own amplifiers.

I also have several guitars and effects pedals available: Ibanez Steve Vai JEM77, Ibanez Mick Thomson MTM1, a rare Gibson M3 with 3 humbuckers, a Gretsch, a Jackson and Takamine super Jumbo semi-acoustic. But most of the testers bring their models.

– I saw a link ‘english’ on the website… Is the english version coming soon?

Actually, this version is ready for a few months but we delayed the release because of the events that you all have heard about. With the crisis, we had to analyse the possible long term evolutions to adapt our strategy. We’ve decided to wait before the official release because we don’t want to just translate the articles and videos. I really wish to have an ‘office’ in the UK to be able to have news from international bands and to offer a real international website.

– At this point, did you reached your objectives?

I wanted to create an informative website with a a good quality, 100% video, totally free. So this objective is reached. My biggest pride is the support that we offered to several musicians in building their professional career.
Beyond the website, GuitareTV has become a real audiovisual production company and we produce and realize several video projects in music industry.

We are offical partners of the Salon de la Musique et du Son in Paris. Thanks to our partnership with Solidays festival we had the chance to meet Sean Lennon, Paolo Nutini, Trust or Xavier Deroin (Yannick Noah’s guitarist). We’ve produced and realized several concerts shooting at the Olympia and La Cigale: Popa Chubby, Johnny A., Neneh Cherry, Cirkus and the legendary Ange.

I just finished the creation of the new DVD of Jean-Felix Lalanne “Double Je”. It was a 6 months project to realize the videos integrated in the show, the capture of the show, the DVD production. It was a nice musical and stage project that highlights the career and the brilliance of this French artist!

GuitareTV is now a reference ,after 3 years of activity. We’ve developed a good expertise on the way to fim musicians and instruments. As a musician, I am proud of what we’ve accomplished.

– What are the projects and evolutions to expect?

The website is still evolving as ideas occur and depending on the time we need to implement them. We launched the beta version of the community space that is extending Guitare TV. Users can create a profile and integrate their HD videos, their music and photos. The interface is flexible so that they can personalize their space with some unique graphical features!

Reaching the 3 years old is a big step for us. Now we have to build a durable website. Since we’ve created GuitareTV we brought some innovations and we still have ideas! We are preparing many evolution and some will come soon.

As for the audiovisual production we are preparing for the next Salon de la Musique et du Son in 2010 with Reed Expositions. We are also preparing video clips with French rock bands in the next few months. I also now produce all the video of one of the best DJ today, John Revox. We are preparing for his August tour in Portugal with David Guetta. And last, this week I am starting to shoot the advertisment campaign for the Casio musical products. It will be 10 videos for their next musical instruments generation.

Roy, thank you for answering my questions… And I wish you all the best in the music industry audiovisual production landscape…

Previous articles in the Resources Overview series of articles:

Instruments Reviews: Virtual Tour of the Resources.

Video Demos of Musical Instruments & Generalist Websites: Youtube & Dailymotion.

Video Demos of Musical Instruments: Overview of the 440 Network & 440 TV.

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