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Pennsylvania's Most Interesting Blog

07 Februar 2006


Welcome to the Lisaopolis First Ever Blog Contest Question! Most creative answers will be rewarded with cash* prizes, blog props and enough yin and yang to last a lifetime. Step up and try your luck today! More contest questions pending popularity, aka YOUR responses.

Today's question drawn at the suggestion of Our Sister Who Doesn't Have Her Own Damn Blog Yet, "Alpha":

QUESTION: "What's grosser than gross?"

Your responses, below the following segment, see-voo-play:

*from the Monopoly box and/or Slovak 'halier' coins, the smallest denominations made of aluminum, worth at least USD $0.025/each. Sure to be (dust) collectors items after Slovakia gives the crown the 'ole heave-ho in favor of the euro!

and from the Useless Trivia Department: As a background: Here is something I keep within eyeshot of my desk. See it?

I present to you this guitar, a Larrivee LV-03E, crafted in Vancooouuver, B.C. Specs are here. Because believe it or not, sometimes playing a little while reading stuff online actually helps me (or so I think). I have to have it in my hands for a certain amount of time each day. It's a bit crack-like.

So somehow I got to thinking, you know, the way guitars are marketed is a LOT like how cars are marketed. They all drive. And some are crafted better than others. And wow, there is a lot of extra crap they can add on and charge you for that you don't really need but are just lured into wanting. On a side note, it is my humble opinon that you get what you pay for, and in the case of instruments (or anything, really), it's just not worth doling out less cash for a "P.O.S" (= piece of ... ) model that you will end up cursing because it's just ugly and feels weird instead of getting something you will want to keep near your work area like you know you want to.

So today's Most Interesting trivia is on 'select' or 'studio': which to choose? When trying on guitars, it is my humble opinion that TONE is a number-one factor you want to look for, as evidenced through (a) craftsmanship and (b) woods used. For example, the Larrivee above features a solid spruce top; solid mahogany sides/back; maple binding; mahogany neck; ebony fretboard + plain old satin (matte) finish. All very fine materials for any instrument like this, and all crafted by Jean Larrivee and his people to sound super dee-lish. I was skeptical about Larrivees, as I was first introduced to them when looking at Pennsylvania's own Martin Guitars, thinking that nothing but nothing beat a Martin guitar...but I stand corrected: Larrivees are killer too.

OK, note that the above Larrivee is NOT fancy at all. Meaning NO SPARKLES! (Malfeasance, 2006a). It's what the guitar maker calls a 'recording' model. I know other manufacturers have so-called 'studio' models.

"Hmm, studio, recording, Alex, I'll take 'things you do inside where no one has to see you and your guitar can be plain-jane-no-frills-same-quality-but-won't-turn-any-heads-that's-fur-shur' for 2,000 points!". So if you are guitar shopping, consider these categories, as you may be led to believe that 'studio' models are somehow not as high quality as their sparkly counterparts, usually known as 'select' or 'artist' or 'custom' or 'insert name here that says 'I'm out, I'm proud, I'm decorated!', because you may end up paying for just cosmetics. These more sparkly models usually feature the very same woods and construction as their ho-hum 'studio' counterparts, but with fancier appointments such as high gloss finish, special tuning pegs, bone saddles and nuts, mother-of-pearl inlay, gold hardware, your name emblazoned on the fretboard, flames or racing stripes on the body, it goes on and on, etc.

As an illustration, this guitar below is something which might be called a 'select' or 'custom' or 'sparkly!': It so happens that this instrument features a gorgeously grained spruce top and solid rosewood sides and back to die for, a hand-poured pickguard, amazing inlay work, as well as a killer pickup, so it's my BABY:

D-202, handcrafted in 'The Big Van', B.C. by the Legend Guitar Company. I got this on the day I received a settlement check from an auto accident resulting in neck injury, which led to not being able to play for longer than I care to remember. I got it because I was so mad that something like physical strength I'd taken for granted had been taken away through no fault of my own. I love this instrument because it's beautifully crafted but also because it came at a price.

So there you go, 'studio' versus 'select'. All in a name. What can I say, I pay attention to such things. Linguists ROCK!

By the way, I love how they employ these model categories, like you are going to be really 'recording' in your 'studio' as an 'artist' or 'custom' player. Yeah! I say it's a way to move more amps and acoutrements out of the store and into your home. Isn't that RIVETING information? Just say yes.

So if you want to save yourself a few hundred bucks, don't be hoodwinked into thinking that 'glitzier' means 'better'. Sure, I'd love to have this Larrivee model that has the high gloss finish and pickguard and better nut and saddle because I've seen it and it's deep-dish-dee-lite. But the sound quality is about the same as my plain-jane (OK, the high gloss vs. satin finish can affect how sound vibrates with wood and...I'll stop pretending that I know what I'm saying...) and it all goes back to my budgeting framework of 'you can have one or two of the three things you want, but not all three (dammit!)'

I guess what I mean is: gold-plated tuning pegs do not a better player make. Something like that. But by all means, if you've got the extra dosh, treat yourself, because a beautifully made instrument is...just that.

Gut. Further guitar buying tips will be saved for another day. Back to work. It's been real! Don't forget to respond to the contest question if you have tid-bits to add;)