State of the Nation
I've been at this cigar box guitar thing quite a long time now, over ten years, and it's interesting to see what's happened over the years; who's come and gone, who's flavour of the month and so on. That's only just observing what is happening on the internet, which is quite a different thing from what is happening in the real world, and the internet can do strange things to people's perception and behaviour, that's why I tend to stay away from a lot of discussions, especially when it turns to matters of opinion rather than technical matters relating to how to make or play an instrument.
It seems that there's is a thing called the "cigar box guitar community", or the "cigar box guitar movement", and goodness me, for some folks it has become a platform for some opinionated and self righteous rants and moans. That's a real shame, because when I got into this scene way back, generally speaking it was a very open and supportive scene. How things have changed. Sadly, there are small number of people who seem to feel they are the true holders of the eternal flame, and anyone with a different approach or view is persona non grata..it's like watching religious sects form and become antagonistic to oneanother.
People in the "community" seem to throw rocks at oneanother at the slightest provocation and adopt the position of some superior moral high ground and it saddens me to see that. I try not to shout someone down over an opinion. On technical matters I'll try and offer some advice based on my experience. Having said that, even this well-meaning advice can attract criticism from the overnight expert. Someone who's made half a dozen instruments will have learned some valuable useful stuff, but surely we all need to listen to what others say, and the wisdom of experience should always at least be given some credence.
I've just seen a posting that exemplified this. A newcomer asked for some advice on using a particular box to get the best acoustic sound, and someone else responded at some length. All fine and dandy...but the person responding says "I was told by a luthier". This is a reply by someone who has no practical experience and just can't help but make sure he's seen to have an opinion about everything. The other month the same person was advocating removing the earth (ground) from an amplifier as a method of testing to see what was causing an electrical buzz in a guitar. This and other suggestions were potentially lethal, so rather than starting an unpleasant scene online, I contacted him privately to tell him he was broadcasting some very unsafe ideas. He just told me that he had got the information from a"reliable source"...from the internet. I gave up in despair, and fortunately it seemed that very few people had read or added to the discussion and it's subsequently got buried by later postings about other subjects.
I knew there was no point in raising this with the site owner/administrator, because I raised the issue of the moderation of discussions some time ago. I was told that he had a policy of not interfering at all, it was an open forum and anyone could express any view or opinion.
In my view, this "laissez faire" approach isn't entirely healthy, so by and large I'll try and keep away from it for fear of becoming infected or attracting the ire of others. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than speak and remove all doubt. With that...I'd better shut up.
- John Wormald