Monday, July 11, 2011

Every Bunny Gets Drunk After Easter #15

Update from trailbreaker John Harwood:
While I am still back at it and working again by starting over with Justin's lessons, my excitement of the previous week has been tempered by Strait Music declaring the guitar un-tunable. The guy was very nice about it and said that he worked at it for several hours and while he could get the open strings tuned fine, he couldn't get it tuned to a harmonic on the same string. He said the strings were fine and didn't need to be replaced, it was more about the construction of the guitar. On the one hand, that makes me feel better, since that's the exact problem I was having that made me bring it there in the first place, but on the other hand... shit. The guy was very cool about it and said he wouldn't charge me for the service since he wasn't able to tune it, so I spent some of my Father's Day gift certificate on a very nice gig bag instead. So Strait Music remains awesome in my book, but the guitar just lost a few marks.

While that really sucks that the guitar can't really be an all-in-one solution, I don't think that negates the worth of it and I'm still very glad I have one. Granted, that's because I have my wife's acoustic guitar, which is quite nice, holds tuning fine, and is great for working through Justin's lessons. If I only had the Squier, that would be pretty frustrating. The Strait guy's opinion was that due to the weak anchor at the bridge and half of the neck being the plastic inlay that has the electronics, it's just not sturdy enough to remain in tune. He didn't feel I had a lemon one, that was just something they'd all be prone to and while I might get lucky and get a really solid one, they were all likely to have that problem to one extent or another.

I still think it's a fantastic learning tool, I just don't think it can be your only guitar. If you do actually manage to learn through RB3 or other lessons, you're going to quickly get frustrated when you plug this into an amp and try to play for real because you're always going to be wondering if the reason a note sounds off is that you're not being precise on the frets or that's just the way that string is. Biggest shame is that you can't really tune the guitar to itself because you can't get even one string completely in tune. But if you use the Squier in RB3 to learn how to play songs that you then use a real guitar to actually play, it's a phenomenal learning tool. The wonder and power of real-time on-screen feedback of what frets you're hitting really can't be overstated. I grew up playing sheet music, and I've managed to wrap my brain around guitar sheet music notation, it's just not as natural a way to learn as strumming away to an on-screen note layout that you can stop and start from anywhere along with the full music track. That's huge.

Harmonix is more or less doing Pro guitar charting as a non-profit public service at this point, so as long as they're still doing that, I'll gleefully slap down my extra dollar on every song they put out.

It's worth noting that a separate theory about the difficulty of tuning has emerged via e-mail, but we'll discuss that next week.

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