Saturday, December 15, 2007

What shits me about the internet

I work as an electronics technician specialising in valve (tube) technology in the music industry. I have been involved in this technology since I was in my early teens learning from my father who was a "radio mechanic" in the 50's and from my fathers colleague's, most of whom have passed away now. I learned from an early age how things were supposed to be done in the world of valves and how to be a tradesman in general in the electronics industry. I have a passion for valve technology, weather that be restoring radio's, TVs, HI-FI or musical instrument amplifiers. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to now own an iconic Australian name in guitar/bass amplifiers from the past that I am resurrecting with a line of hand made products that I am truly proud of. I love doing thing the "old" way.

Having said all that, on to what shits me about the Internet.

Every day I deal with customers in my repair business that have been severely misguided by the Internet. Some of them can be set straight quite easily and are usually happy there is someone locally that can look after their prized amplifier, some are far more misguided or far more stupid than that. I get really pissed off that someone would willingly believe what they read from an anonymous source on the Internet over what I am trying to explain to them face to face with my direct experience in this industry.

People seem to think the shape of the wheel has miraculously change with the latest generation of people to adopt valve technology. Some examples include, Harmony Central says if I use this brand of valve I will sound like............., I must only use NOS (new old stock) valve that are worth a fortune now or I won't have good tone, don't touch valves with your bare hands or it will blow prematurely, this brand of component sounds better than that brand, the diameter of the pots in your amp changes the tone, you have to use speaker cable as thick as welder leads or that one metre lead between your amp and speaker cab will degrade the tone of your 18 Watt amplifier, aircraft grade aluminium chassis sound better that non aircraft grade, and the most popular at the moment..........cryogenically treated valves give better "tone" than ordinary valves. Give me a break, I understand how cryogenics affect crystalline structure, but the valve is a device that runs at hundreds of degrees Celsius each time it is heated up from room temperature.

I tell these nut jobs every day that I will expertly repair/service their amplifiers, but all I hear is "but the Internet says............." or worse still being told I am wrong because of what they read on the net, probably written by a snotty nosed geek in a bedroom who has never so mush as played one note in front of an audience. I wish these dickheads would realise that the Internet is just full of information NOT knowledge. The only way you get knowledge is to work in a particular field with a passion that drives you to find the truth from people that have been down the same path generations before you and practice what you do and expand on those skills and knowledge with your own abilities.

Don't get me wrong though, the Internet has made my life easier as I can access a service manual in second, or discuss with colleagues a problem I am having, or order parts for a repair etc.

I suppose the the problem I face is fuelled by the fact that a large percentage of musicians are very insecure within themselves and are willing to grasp on to any advice of what might make them sound "better" or give them more "tone". What is actually wrong with your tone? How do you quantify tone? What tone do you want. I guarantee you that if you could play through the exact same rig that Jimi Hendrix used, you would be unable to capture his signature sound.

What all this comes down to is that there is nothing wrong with gathering information from the net but when you need knowledge about your rig, consider believing the advise you are given by a skilled person face to face.