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Old 17th December 2014
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by Hot Vibrato View Post
I've seen a lot of goofy "innovations" by relatively unknown luthiers, which actually do nothing to improve upon traditional designs, and in many cases, the "innovation" actually makes the instrument worse than the traditional designs. Again, traditional designs exist because they worked better than anything else that has come along. A clever and intuitive luthier can refine traditional designs in such a way as to make an improvement. For instance the steep headstock angle of a LP can be reduced to improve the tuning problems caused by the too-steep headstock angle. But any radical departure from traditional designs will not be an improvement, and will at best (if they're lucky) be a marketing gimmick. The Parker Fly is a perfect example. Many aspects of its design seem to be different just for the sake of being different. In my opinion, despite their clever marketing campaign, those guitars are just weird looking and ergonomically awkward, and they offer very little in the way of improvement over traditional designsr.

That's the problem with innovations--they often fail. Failure is in fact required. Should we just keep making strat clones, forever?

I'm not a luthier (though I have built a few guitars) but I am a historian, and the idea that things which prevail today prevail because they are the best is just highly highly dubious. You could easily argue that the key to fenders success, for example, was don Randall's sales force, not anything intrinsic to fender's designs. Are fender amps better than, say, ampeg amps? They are certianly more popular, but if you want to advance popularity as your foundation for the claim something is better, then the best musician in the world is taylor swift.

Similarly, things that are "traditional" aren't necessairly traditional because they are better: they're tradiotional because they are customary. A good example would be be fender, which prevailed in the market despite being not at all traditonal. Tradition said you could not screw the neck on, etc etc. a great modern example would be taylor guitars. I don't like the way they are voiced, but I'm constantly amazed at the level of quality they manage at all price points, and their consistent pattern of innovation. Bolt on guitar necks were considered the Devils handmaiden a decade ago, a horrible break from tradition, now they are everywhere. Tradiotionally, people took baths every Saturday night, whether they needed it or not. Does anyone think this traditon should be clung to because it's better?