There is a great history and tradition of the exchange of information, or more specifically in the case of music, the passing on of knowledge. In the music community we have never been so fortunate as we are now to have access to so much information and people willing to share what they’ve learned. This takes on many different forms, be it YouTube or tabs shared online, lessons being taught by an instructor at a music store, music school or college. Magazines like PG have expanded their exchange of information to include video reviews, lessons and podcasts. We sit on online forums and trade information on amp building, guitars, pedals… you name it. It’s a wonderful time to be a musician. Currently, I’ve been attending a guitar building class where two gifted and generous luthiers (George and Dianne from the Phoenix Guitar Company) are sharing their knowledge with me and five other enthusiasts on a weekly basis as we go through the process of learning to build our own acoustic guitars.
If you’re reading this you probably have more than a fair share of playing experience, or at least have been around the instrument in one way or another for some time. No doubt you have friends who share the love of the guitar and obsess over the exciting details of everything from NOS tubes to pickup choices, cable quality and every boutique and vintage pedal under the sun. This is exciting stuff, and we love to talk about it. What I’m getting at here is that we all have something to share… something to pass along from our vast, collective library of experience and love of the guitar.
Maybe you’ve learned a technique about refinishing that makes the process simpler for a first-timer. Maybe you’ve figured out how to keep your guitars in tune by stringing them up properly. The thing is, what may seem like common knowledge to you can be a hidden gem of information to somebody in need of an answer. I’m fortunate to be asked questions every day, especially from new guitarists who have been turned on to the instrument via Guitar Hero. Like it or not, that game is turning out the next generation of players as I type this, so don’t be fooled that it’s a flash-in-the-pan, appealing only to gamers with a thirst for instant gratification and dreams of becoming video game rock stars. I’ve helped young players choose guitars, shown them one or two methods of vibrato, how to hold a pick and dozens of other bits of information. Those bits are part of my mental fabric, but to these young players they’re pure gold, helping them to achieve that next level a heck of a lot faster than they would completely on their own.
Most of us partake in online discussion or gear forums and trade information and knowledge on a daily basis. Sometimes it gets downright nasty, and people abuse the forums, but for the most part they’re a wonderful place to exchange knowledge. But outside of that—in your daily life—I urge you to go out there and help spread the good word, the wisdom you’ve gained through your own experience. Heck, they’ve cut music out of a lot of the school programs, so why not do your part to keep the guitar world turning. Maybe it’s your own child, or maybe it’s just somebody you bumped into when you were buying strings at Guitar Center. And if you’re at the store and hear the salesman (or temporary employee) feeding a line of B.S. to the uninformed, step in and offer up some of your lifetime of knowledge. It could save them a lot of headache.s
Not totally off-topic, I need to share a story of giving sight to the blind. I went into the local big-box music store looking for a Dr. Ferd’s Wall Wart Remover (you know, to be able to actually use all six of the six outlets I have on my power strip, with all these crazy adapters in my studio). I hung out in the accessories department for far too long waiting for the salesman to finish his lunch. He finally came up and asked what I was looking for. I told him and immediately realized he had no idea what I was talking about. We made an Abbot and Costello routine out of me trying to describe what the product did. It wasn’t until a few minutes later that I realized he wasn’t trying to understand what the product was, he was trying to understand what a wall wart was! Common knowledge, right? Well, I picked my jaw up off the floor and let him in on the knowledge of wall warts, and even what the Dr. Ferd’s product was. Suffice it to say they didn’t carry them, but I left knowing the poor kid now knew a bit more about things we use every day in this business. I make the point because though it seems like there are some thing everyone should already know about, that’s not always the case... an extreme version in this instance, but a real case nevertheless.
So, the next time you’re at the local music store and that kid’s playing “Smoke On The Water,” let him know that Ritchie plucked the two notes rather than strummed them. Or better yet, be aware that you are a treasure chest of information, and that “giving back” can be as simple as offering up some helpful advice to those in need. You’ll feel great, and you’ll be helping to bring out the best in somebody. OK, I’m off my soapbox. Can you hand me the Wall Wart Remover?
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