Least informative Guitar Player article ever?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by elicross, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. elicross

    elicross Poster Extraordinaire

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    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. :)
     
  2. Agave_Blue

    Agave_Blue Friend of Leo's

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    Well, I can't comment on that article, the "5 Things About" series or the magazine.

    But I will say that was a dog-gone good rant. First class.
     
  3. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

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    going to the current guitar player magazine for information is akin to going to hooters for good food and deep conversation.
     
  4. nasonm

    nasonm Friend of Leo's

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    I am still an avid reader/subscriber of GP but I will say purely on the merits of the
    "5 things" feature that I don't read it, all they could tell me I've either read or can search here for.
     
  5. 4514

    4514 Tele-Holic

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    Haha, that's pretty hilarious. I find most of their stuff irrelevant to my style, but I have both copies of GP with Brad Paisley on the cover, the one with Sonny Landreth on the cover, and the one from the 1990's where they did the Telecaster shootout.

    I'm pretty happy reading any guitar magazine, but some of the stuff does seem really condensed and dumbed down at times. I wish they'd go into artists rigs and playing techniques more.
     
  6. Anchoret

    Anchoret Friend of Leo's

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    Remember: Magazines work for their advertisers, not their readers.
     
  7. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    I remember that GP used to be a pretty good magazine. The last few years I have bought a few (they cost about $14 each over here) to read on plane flights and the like. And it is virtually useless. I don't think I have learned anything useful for years. It's a lot of fluff and some ads. The reviews are all so non-commital - you'd think every product they ever tested was good if not great. The tech info - well it's like th OP described it. And all those features and interviews of "guitarists" ... ha-ha-ha!
     
  8. elicross

    elicross Poster Extraordinaire

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    Understandable. I realize GP is certain to have readers who are new players and don't know some of the things that strike us as obvious in articles like this one, so I don't think the "5 Things" feature is completely useless to all readers. But there's just no excuse for listing a bunch of types of coils, saying they affect your sound -- and not even attempting to describe how they affect it.

    I still enjoy reading GP. That's easy for me to say at the moment, because I've got a free year's subscription (thanks to whoever posted that link here a few months ago). But I do still like reading interviews with players I admire, and I like reading about equipment, looking at photos of guitars and amps -- gear porn. :D I even enjoy the ads, most of the time; they keep me up to date on what's new out there.

    But it also pains me to watch another magazine I really loved decline as it attempts to compete with the web by somehow *becoming* the web, instead of playing to the advantages print has over the Internet. Guitar Player should be leveraging the strengths of the medium by offering *more* depth, *more* information...and instead, they've let form lead the way while content suffers.
     
  9. elicross

    elicross Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thanks for telling a veteran of the magazine business how magazines work. :lol:

    Here's the reality: Smart magazines work for the reader. Without readers, there are no advertisers.
     
  10. Dr. Bill

    Dr. Bill Tele-Afflicted

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    I used to be a regular subscriber to GP, but about ten years ago I got disgusted with the lack of interesting content and did not renew. I thumb through it occasionally when I see it on the newsstand, and it hasn't changed for the better.
     
  11. sonserve

    sonserve Friend of Leo's

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    Did someone wake up on the wrong side of the bed?
     
  12. elicross

    elicross Poster Extraordinaire

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    You'll have to be more specific than that. :D
     
  13. elsewhere

    elsewhere Tele-Holic

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    I'm a relatively new player (a bit more than three years now) and I had a subscription to The Guitarist, Guitar World and Guitar Player. Even to my pretty low standards of knowledge, all three were mostly useless. All three were filled with ads, endless interviews of the same boring players over and over again and tabs to songs that did not interest me at all. I'm not that interested in gear either, I have my Tele and my Jazzmaster and my bass guitar and no plans on getting anything new, and if I did, I'd go to the local shop instead of reading stuff on a paper magazine.

    Well, to be completely honest, I did learn a really nice fingering of a D6 chord from one issue of The Guitarist and composed a song around that. I still didn't renew any of the magazines though. Maybe Guitar Techniques would be more into actually playing and less into buying and selling things, maybe I'll try that.
     
  14. Shidoin

    Shidoin Tele-Holic

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    I have subscribed to Guitar Player since the '70's. If you look at an old issue, the interviews are really in depth, with questions about practice regimen; outside influences, and playing advice. Interviews in current issues seem to me to always be about "what pedal did you use to get the sound of the background guitar of track 3 of your new CD?" and not much else.
    I agree with elicross, GP should try to quit being a website and be a magazine.

    OP: Great rant and valid point; we expect more from Dave Hunter!
     
  15. jjkrause84

    jjkrause84 Poster Extraordinaire

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    The internet.....use it!
     
  16. Bolide

    Bolide Friend of Leo's

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    Good point.
    In the Crocket years GP built itself up, without the help of a major publishing house backing it, by providing articles that were well edited, having a brevity that has been sorely lacking in the "Data Dump" articles that were until recently the mainstay, but at the same time were very informative.

    Crocket did seem to have an iron law that only the cover article could run more than two pages, and that columns could only run one page, but this was handled by making every word count.

    Rule #17 with a vengeance, and it worked.
     
  17. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    I have recently unearthed my collection of GPs from issue no. 2 to 1978. Re-reading these, I see how much of my knowledge, attitude, and aesthetics came from that magazine. I don't see how any magazine could keep appealing to me as I grow and learn. Where are the articles on group theory that would totally captivate me now? Would those articles push aside articles on pick-ups? But where else would a budding musician learn the nuts and bolts about pick-ups? Well, the internet, OK, but reading about it in GP means that it is something important to know.

    I love re-reading the oldies. The ads are especially interesting.
     
  18. elicross

    elicross Poster Extraordinaire

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    I wish I'd kept my old ones. Every time I change strings, I think of a 1980s Ted Nugent interview, where he said "You gotta stretch the f*ck out of 'em." I think it stuck in my young mind because it was one of the first times I'd ever encountered the F-bomb in a magazine -- but it's not a bad tip for making sure new strings stay in tune.
     
  19. Post Toastie

    Post Toastie Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good thing guitar world didnt do the article, they would have used 3 D photos to spice up the article.
     
  20. detuned

    detuned Tele-Holic

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    What he said.
     
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