When Internet Forums Are A Waste Of Time I am old enough to remember when the only resource for guitar building and repair information was Don Teeter’s books. Fortunately, most cities had at least one of the two early manuscripts in the 686 sections of the main library branch. These days the amount of information immediately available is, indeed, staggering. My recommendation to budding guitar builders (especially our new apprentice) is to take full advantage of all the great information on line but use caution when taking someone’s word for it. Reading about things is fine but if you want to know how to build guitars you have to put in time in the workshop. It’s as simple as that. One of the biggest time wasters in the world is the internet forum or chat room. Regardless of the industry or topic the conversations are universally asinine exchanges between yes men. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know and I can’t be the only person who has noticed this. The larger the forum the worse it is. There are always a handful of respected shot callers that set the standards for what is cool. They are what I call “Keyboard Commandos”. Without these folks, there would be no forum because they establish the flavor of the month as well as how many days are in that month. These elite ranks are always occupied by people with well-known industry back stories and credentials… or at the very least take the best pictures. The rank and file participants spend an inordinate amount of time idly lurking, like hungry sharks, ready to spew marketing hyperbole and catch phrases. The most popular include “USE THE SEARCH FUNCTION!!!” or “Oh no, not this question again.” Anxious to cling to the identity they get from their beloved forum these basement dwellers know exactly what can and cannot be said. Their status depends on them daring to be the same as all the others. What would an internet forum be without the very unpopular minority of novice participants? These are the least prominent members and just like Rodney Dangerfield, they get no respect. They often seem desperate and habitually seek validation by asking questions about “THE BEST” this that or the other. They are constantly reminded that they need to use the search feature.
This group think is what the free exchange of information has degenerated into. Who knows what great innovative ideas never get off the drawing board or, worse, get criticized, berated and shot down by the members of an internet forum hell bent on maintaining the status quo? In moments of weakness I have sent messages to the people on these boards and in some cases, had very nice phone conversations with people who were internet tough guys at first but turned out to be very civil. The anonymity provided by the dim light of the screen changes a lot of people. Like I was saying, this can be tricky for any industry but guitar making seems especially susceptible as no one is interested in quantifiable metrics. Vague terms are ballyhooed back and forth, colors are used to describe sounds. I have seen what was considered standard practices in my 8th grade shop class shrouded in myth and treated like ancient wisdom. Finally, the image sharing site Photo Bucket has recently begun charging for photo hosting and, I hear, has begun charging an annual $400.00 membership fee. For all intents and purposes, the cool pictures of everyone’s tools, jigs and gear are gone unless you are willing to pay for a service that was free until July 2017. I’m sure some type of service will step in to fill this void eventually but for now most of these chat rooms are a wasteland of arguing and trash talking. I urge you to use your time wisely, after all, you have a finite amount of it. Seek out the good stuff that is at your fingertips and give it a try. Resist the temptation of spending valuable shop time goofing around and build something.
The romance of building guitars is that through hours of work you spare another man labor