So you think you can do a gear demo?

For a musician today, and especially a guitarist, Youtube has become an absolute goldmine of sound samples and demonstrations of applied gear. Guitars, effects and amplifiers are being demonstrated with various degrees of expertise and usefulness. I have found it very helpful – mainly to rule out pieces of equipment that sounded like good ideas on paper. However, there are a few aspects to these demonstrations that start to become rather tedious once you have seen and heard them ten or twenty times.

1: Talking. Long, winding and ill prepared explanations of the features of the demonstrated piece of equipment that no one really needs to hear. The viewer is very likely to be more or less fully informed about this and does not need a step by step runthrough, one or even two minutes of length.

2. Omitted information. The talking that is not done, this is actually an even worse offense. Hopelessly common is that of stompbox demonstrators not saying what guitar they are playing or through which amplifier. To make a good assessment of whether or not the demonstrated piece of equipment may be of value or not, the viewer also needs a good reference to how the signal chain sounds without the item in question affecting the sound.

3. Low quality of sound. When I come across a 240 video and/or one where the sound is recorded with only the camera’s microphone I immediately click “back” these days. It is simply not worth the time.

4. Not tuning up. Seriously, this is very common: guitar players not tuning their guitar, recording a gear demonstration, and then posting it on the internet for all to see and hear. It never ceases to amaze me that someone can do this.

5. Dull playing. Constant repetition of the same old tired blues “licks”, extremely predicatable bends and double stops – or nonchalant metal legato runs, good grief make it stop make it stop

6. Not giving different examples. Trying to correct this can easily backfire and lead to far too many examples of settings, I have noticed this with distortion pedals especially. Something that I have found very helpful is to play through the same setup using two or more different guitars, but this is time consuming and unless you have some pretty varied guitars, pointless.

7. Unboxing. Seriously, this is no joke. On one channel every single video begins with a complete unboxing of the stompbox in question, made by a person who describes what he is doing as we look at him doing it. It is unfathomable.

To end on a more positive note, the ones who do the very finest demonstration videos are, in my opinion, Strymon. They build very high quality digital effects for guitar and bass and make amazingly good videos for them. I find myself watching these videos just to hear this guy being excellent at what he does!

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