Do you spend a lot of time on guitar forums? I do. They can be a great resource for information, networking and secondhand gear deals.
But there’s a downside too: forumitis.
This is when you spend so much time on one particular forum that you begin to develop an unnaturally skewed view of the guitar scene.
If you spend 100% of your guitar forum time on The Gear Page you might start to feel a bit inadequate if you don’t happen to have a 50s Goldtop, a Suhr, or at the very least a Tim Shaw Gibson humbucker that you removed in the 80s and reinstalled years later when players realised they were actually pretty good. But go to Jemsite and you’ll want to hurl yourself off a bridge if you haven’t got a Jem77FP and a Darren Johansen swirl. Tell those folks that you’re thinking of putting a Shaw in your guitar and you’ll probably hear crickets. It’s just not something that comes up very often in discussions among fans of superstrats.
Is it the fault of the forums? Hell no! Each of these sites (and the hundreds of others like them) are great locations for fans of particular types of gear to discuss their passions with like-minded individuals. But if you ask the folks on TGP for advice on Ibanez Jems or some other kind of 80s-style superstrat, you’ll probably get a bit of gently anti-superstrat sentiment (and sometimes even a friendly suggestion to check out Jemsite – TGP is cool that way). Ask a question about Les Pauls on Jemsite and you’ll get a few replies from folks who love LPs but certainly not as many as if you’d asked about when the Jem 7VWH switched from ebony to rosewood fretboards.
These are just examples, of course. There are plenty of other great forums out there too, and you should join several to get a real sense of what’s actually happening in the guitar world. What’s important is that you use these forums to learn and discuss what’s important to you. It can be very easy to slip into the trap of thinking you need a particular piece of gear or that you have to set your guitar up a certain way just because that’s the prevailing trend on whichever forum you spend the most time on. If you spend a lot of time on Jemsite you’ll start to believe that the only acceptable neck size is ‘paper-thin,’ and that anything else is a design flaw. And y’know what? To players who love that kind of guitar, that’s absolutely true. But it’s equally true that for some players there’s nothing better than a humungous neck, fat strings and single coil pickups. Neither style is better or worse than the other, and the most important thing is “What’s right for me?” Don’t go cleaning out your PayPal account in pursuit of amassing a collection that makes you feel like ‘one of the guys.’ Play what you love, love what you play, and never forget that guitar is meant to be fun.