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Guitar Magazine Reviews--everything is 5 stars

ch willie

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Jun 7, 2007
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1,119
For one reason or another, I love each one of my 22 guitars and basses. Major brands, Gibsons, Fenders, Rickenbackers, Martins, Epiphones for the most part. And as much as I love them, I'd rate some of them as 3.5-5: and that comes after decades of weeding out the 1-2 star guitars.

And yet, the music mags give almost everything a rating of 4.5 or higher. How bought are they by the companies that send them gear for tryouts, or in a few cases, I'd suppose, gimmies? I also hate the practice of including a link to the company or to a retailer. Highly suspect.

As a news journalist, when I'm reporting the news, I do so as objectively as I can. Buy me a drink? I'm still going to publish the facts, and I'm not going to color it either way if possible.

I realize that complete objectivity is impossible. We are ideological animals. We believe in freedom, and right or wrong, that colors the way we think and communicate.

Still, I never trust the reviews I read in magazines. And that's a pity. When journalism is under attack, the guitar mags aren't doing anything to make folks trust the press again.
 

jb_abides

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Apr 6, 2005
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5,472
Very bought, I'd say. As is the majority of all media to include what was once news. But for product reviews, very very bought. One can argue there was always an element of this, but a few meritorious editorial boundaries were obeyed and product placement was made obvious. 'They gave us this [guitar, unit] to review and...' maybe certain critiques, but on the next page an ad from the company had to make the company's case via marketing.

The exponential increase in the number of 'channels' coupled with the displacement and dissipation of ad revenue [via the Google model, etc.] makes it extremely difficult to maintain a profitable enterprise of any integrity.

It's hard to toe the line these days. I think The ToneQuest Report doesn't [or didn't...] run that type of ad or accept in-kind articles, and rely on subscriptions but how prevalent are they, compared to the magazines and now the YT channels and influencers...? So many no longer attempt to win when the game has not only changed, but the board has been blown away.

And there's a Twas Ever Thus or cyclical aspect, too. Remember Rock N' Roll and Payola go way back!
 

ch willie

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Jun 7, 2007
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It's a sad state in any case. I like to think that I write news, not infotainment such as the crap on CNN and FOX--that's not journalism. That's fairgrounds spectacle, and it's sad that it has so much influence. I miss the Cronkites and Murrows et al.

As for mags, years ago I wrote for a business magazine in Nashville. It had its issues with the town's elite. But there were hard and fast rules, including, you don't place ads for a product next to an article discussing that product. If I interviewed a bank president, we weren't going to place an ad for that bank anywhere even close to that interview. Not only were the journalist set on this, management were adamant about it too.

The only honest reviews I've seen of gear has been private dudes who aren't getting payola in some form or other and who are doing little youtube things so that they can illustrate the good and the bad.
 

Ed Driscoll

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Apr 24, 2002
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4,694
As for mags, years ago I wrote for a business magazine in Nashville. It had its issues with the town's elite. But there were hard and fast rules, including, you don't place ads for a product next to an article discussing that product. If I interviewed a bank president, we weren't going to place an ad for that bank anywhere even close to that interview. Not only were the journalist set on this, management were adamant about it too.

The only honest reviews I've seen of gear has been private dudes who aren't getting payola in some form or other and who are doing little youtube things so that they can illustrate the good and the bad.
A few months ago, there was a fun YouTube video in which its maker rifled through old music magazines* to remind us just how chockablock filled with ads they were:


Given their dependency on ads to pay the bills, naturally, they're not going to bite the hands that feed them. QED: When it comes to recording gear Sound on Sound often has incredibly hyped reviews about new products, such as their 2007 review of Peluso's then new clone of the classic U47 microphone. It has the subhead, "Peluso set out to replicate the classic performance and style of Neumann's legendary U47. Could the result be even better than the real thing?"

In actuality, it's a pretty good mike, but it's good to see that Betteridge's Law also applies to subheads.

* Print-based, aka, single-edition analog Kindles, for those younger readers out there.
 

GlassSnuff

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Jan 30, 2002
Messages
3,683
As one of the editors of Stereophile put it, "There are hundreds of new products every month. We review 4 or 5. Do you really want to waste your time reading about the second best?"

Then again, Car and Driver, the magazine that made reviews fun and trustworthy, once did a performance review of a Greyhound bus. Did not do well on the skidpad. :(
 

jrgtr42

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Mar 24, 2005
Messages
2,311
I've heard that for every product that they review (or publish the review) there's dozens of pieces they get that don't.
I would suspect they wouldn't publish the bad ones - whether they provide the feedback to the manufacturers is a different story I have no idea about. There's obviously bad stuff out there, but I would suspect that if a builder consistently puts out bad products, either in quality control or just in concept, they won't last long.
Also keep in mind that a lot of gear opinions is subjective - something I like doesn't mean that everyone likes it.
As a guy I worked with once put it, in response to a pink and green plaid sportscoat, "there's a used car salesman somewhere."
I'm not a fan of reviews that rate something by stars or whatever. I do like Premier Guitar's policy of putting pros and cons in every review, even if the con is something so minor (like mentioning an amp doesn't have built-in attenuation) it's barely worth mentioning.
 

RhinestoneStrat

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Aug 27, 2019
Messages
296
I think a lot of gear reviews are like advertising...another form of BS. And it's not from just a few certain sources but it's everywhere just like George Carlin explains meticulously in this clip. ?

 

gmann

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May 26, 2003
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6,180
It’s how they pay the bills. Write honest (bad) reviews and the bills don’t get paid.
 

J T

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Oct 20, 2005
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10,519
If the products in question were made better with more attention to what a customer wanted they wouldn't have to create false reviews, would they?
 

J T

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Oct 20, 2005
Messages
10,519
Oh man. Putting Gibson neck on an ugly body. Whatever.

Wonder if that guitar was put up for sale as a real Gibson.
 
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