[sdiy] Getting over eBay (rant)

Batz Goodfortune batzman at all-electric.com
Thu Jun 13 10:04:57 CEST 2002

Y-ellow Don and all.

At 10:44 AM 6/12/02 -0700, Don Tillman wrote:

>I don't believe this.
>The only non-wood acoustic guitars made in any quantity are the
>Ovations, and those are built that way for efficient manufacturing,
>for gigging ruggedness, and for resistance to temperature and
>humidity changes.

Yes I recall them saying something like that.

But then... Why do you think that was?

And Ovation weren't the only ones. They were just the only ones successful 
enough in marketing the concept.

And just before anyone becomes too much of an apologist for Ovation, I 
never said they sounded bad or were a bad idea or anything like that now 
did I? Just that the impetus for them to even do the research was due to 
the same kind of paranoia about dwindling resources that drove xerox to 
invent the GUI.

One of the main reasons for curing wood in the time honored traditional 
method was for exactly the reasons cited above. So why would anyone in 
their right mind jump through the hoops that Ovation did if there wasn't a 
received resource crisis? Ovation spent about 5 years overcoming the knee 
jerk reaction to plastic guitars. And my guess is half of their stating 
their reasons along these lines so adamantly is to get people to overcome 
their skepticism and just jolly well try the things. Because as should be 
obvious, acoustics is acoustics. You get the properties right and it 
doesn't matter if it's made out of compressed horse manure, it's still 
going to sound good. (even if the music stinks)

I'm no big fan of guitars. As a synthesist I've played second fiddle (no 
pun intended) to them all my life. But there are so many advantages to a 
plastic guitar it would be beyond the scope here. The point is NOT what 
ovation achieved but why they felt the need to achieve it in the first place.

And if it came to that, I'd be happy with a plastic piano if they got the 
sound board right. And I'm sure they could. The bottom line though is that 
getting hold of instrument grade materials these days is becoming rapidly 
more difficult with the depletion of the natural resources that provided 
them. So other technologies need to be found to satisfy the market.

There are a couple of guys in Country Victoria at the moment who've got 
themselves a rep for being the best viola crafts-persons in the world. I 
saw a segment on TV about them once. They were saying that they only use a 
particular kind of wood but even though they adhere to the traditional 
methods as much as possible, they have to use more modern techniques 
because some things just aren't possible any more. And of course some 
techniques are simply superior anyway. But this is still far from the 
production-line approach used by Yamaha.

And don't get me wrong about that either. An old girlfriend of mine use to 
play the viola and she had one of yamaha's up market models and said it was 
pretty damn good.

>I don't believe this either.  Roland knew, as does everybody else in
>the business, that the price of digital memory has been dropping by
>roughly two orders of magnitude every decade.  That's steep, and it's
>been steady for at least four decades.  A sampler-based piano becomes
>implementable at some point, and forever dirt cheap after that.

Yeah. That's true. You are absolutely correct. But this is not the only 
approach. Before that, Yamaha were trying to do it using FM. Kurtzweil was 
using some hybrid adaptive sampling technique which looked quite 
interesting. There's even some VST instrument that's supposedly very good. 
But if this was the only reason, why would Roland and other's also try to 
emulate the look and feel of a baby grand piano? Why not stick to something 
a whole lot more convenient. Why make big, heavy parlor models of digital 
instruments if the only reason for making digital emulations of these 
things is because the cost of doing so has become affordable?

It all kinda reminds me of those imitation log fires. They stick them in a 
real fire place and you have to look real closely to realize they're not 
real perhaps, but "Not real" they are. Because burning wood is fucking 
expensive these days and the whole process, though perhaps more romantic, 
is less than convenient these days.

And that's the basic argument they used from what I remember. Obviously the 
whole situation is far more complex than this. When you take into account 
marketing and technology and affordability and all those other factors. But 
all the bottom line in this argument is, that if you think the world hasn't 
been raped of natural resources, go ask a master crafts-person instrument 

Be absolutely Icebox.

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