I was just reading Guitar Player's "New Products 2011" issue, and I came across an article that may feature the least amount of useful information per page in the magazine's history. It's on Pg. 146. Part of the ongoing "5 Things About..." feature, which is always one page and attempts to explain some aspect of guitar gear in five long paragraphs, each with its own column on the page. This one is "5 Things About Pickups." Here's how the article breaks down -- a summary of each column: 1) The pickup is a very important part of an electric guitar's sound. Wow. Thanks for that. 2) Magnet materials -- alnico, ceramic, etc. -- affect the sound of a pickup, but they're just one factor, and pickup makers can get just about any type of sound with any kind of magnet. Okay, so magnet material tells me nothing about the sound of a pickup. Thanks. 3) There are lots of different variables in the coils of a pickup -- wire gauge, tight winding, loose winding, tall and narrow, wide and thin, potted and un-potted -- and all of these factors affect a pickup's sound and performance. Okay...but how do they affect the sound and performance? 4) Pickups with magnetic polepieces are snappier and crisper than pickups with steel polepieces and a magnet running underneath, which tend to sound thicker and "perhaps a tad grainy." I don't know what you mean by "grainy," but fair enough. 5) Pickups with higher output tend to have more pronounced mids, but softer highs and lows. Okay, good to know. So...out of a full page about pickups, we get this: Magnet material doesn't really tell you anything about the sound of a pickup. Pickups with bar magnets have a thicker sound than pickups with individual magnetic polepieces, which are crisper (i.e., humbuckers sound thicker than single coils -- news flash). Higher output pickups boost midrange at the cost of highs and lows (another news flash). And a whole slew of variables regarding coil construction can affect your tone...but we're not telling you how. And this article was written by Dave Hunter! I think part of the problem is that, ever since the last redesign, the art department has been running the show at Guitar Player, and function has taken a back seat to form. This article could've been useful if its word count weren't so restricted by design concerns. First, the design of this series dictates that it's always one page; that's a major limit on the amount of information it can contain. Worse, each of the 5 points has its own column on the page, regardless of its length...so there are several column-inches of wasted, empty space on the page that could've been used to expand on some of the article's points, even if it kept to the one-page limit. I was editor of a national magazine for several years, with a readership in the hundreds of thousands -- not a guitar mag, but I'm not just talking out of my butt here. I know from experience that you can't let the art department dictate word count if you want to put out a useful magazine. This article on pickups is just one symptom of Guitar Player's decline as a source of practical information, and I think it's because the editorial department has taken a back seat to the designers. End of rant.