Les Pauls, Stratocasters, Telecasters, Oh My! Do Guitarist Suffer From Cenophobia?Posted: March 12, 2012
All industries, except one, embrace change. Or is it all consumers, except one, demand change? Customers no longer demand cars with 8-track players or VHS tapes; or wonder what happened to all the plaid polyester suits? Good companies do market research and know what their consumer’s demands are and act accordingly. Companies that don’t recognize new demands go belly up or get tax payer dollars in the form of a bailout. Seeing that Gibson and Fender are not only the top two guitar manufactures, but also the most copied, I have to believe that they are giving the customer exactly what they want, more of the same. Do guitarist have cenophobia, or the fear of new ideas and things? Or is it a case of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it?
Over the years there have been subtle changes such as using Mylar instead of paper tone capacitors, acrylic paint in lieu of nitrocellulose, sealed tuners instead of Klusons, but even these slight changes are considered undesirable by many guitarist. In fact there is a market within the guitar industry for making things the old way (reissue) or even more extreme, beating the crap out of it (relic). Even when they use such “ground breaking” technology such as noiseless single coils and modified super switching, a Paul is still a Paul and a Strat is still a Strat. Seriously, if I put a GPS into my 1971 Ford Pinto would that car be transformed into a breakthrough automobile?
What made me contemplate whether or not I had guitar cenophobia was an article I read about a guitar builder in New Zealand. His guitars are anything but traditional looking. The best description I can come up with is that they look as if a spider spun a very ridged web into a 3-d wedge and then someone put a neck and pickups on it. At first I was like, who is the target market, especially at $3000-$5000? Certainly not guitar purists that have been more than content with designs dating back more than 50 years. The only people I can see spending that kind of money on one are those who are serious collectors that must have one of everything. This isn’t to say I don’t respect what he is doing as far as following his passion and creating something truly unique, but it makes me wonder if there will ever be a day when guitarist have finally had enough of the old. Sure companies like Ibanez put fancy monkey grips on some guitars but in essence it is still a wood Strat influenced body with a wood neck and magnetic pickups held together with screws. Companies that do make really crazy guitars usually offer them in very limited supply, if not as a one-off. It seems to me that the majority of guitarists will be forever relishing in the past.
I posted the link to the article I referred to. http://guitarwtf.com/2012/03/12/theres-a-spider-in-my-guitar-olaf-diegels-beautifully-detailed-3d-printed-guitars/