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Can You Trust What's In Print? I Think Not

This little missive I am putting together here is something that I have resisted doing for a long time.
Partly because I have been guilty of some of the exact same things myself. 

I have personally been in several situations (Tell ya about it later) where I have personally benefited financially from magazine reviewers.   Potentially this little story may serve to alienate some of them away from helping me in the future.  Oh well !!!

It occurs to me, that if you write a book on something you are then supposedly considered an expert.  That is not necessarily true.  I believe if some moron like myself, or any other person writing something, can say it with enough authority & enough self confidence--people will take it as Gospel.  I have been writing my evaluations and opinions on guitar products for over 35 years.  When I look back at some of the older ones I printed in my earlier catalogs, ads or magazine reviews, sometimes I cringe at some glaring misinformation.  For example, I had & still have a lot to learn about headstock angle geometry.  I am only really familiar with about 60% of the hundreds of different pickups available.  On several occasions this did not stop me from commenting on both those features on some guitars that I evaluated over the years.  For this I am sorry.  And it won't happen again.

Ok, enough with the self recrimination.  Let me get to the real reason why I am writing this page.

The main reason for this commentary is because I am trying to enlighten my readers about some dirty little political tricks that are played on them every time they go out and pick up a magazine.  I don't just mean guitar magazines, the same is true for photography, automobile, motorcycle, golf, or widgets.

Most magazines won't give any credence or review any of the new, low production, high quality guitars because there is no potential advertising revenue.  Plus, these smaller companies could potentially harm the sales of one of their big advertisers, making it harder for their advertiser to make a profit.  This in turn makes it harder for the advertiser to pay his advertising bills, which boils down to lesser advertising budgets and less money for the magazine.

Less money for the magazine, means no Christmas bonus, no raise in January, and tighter budgets on the travel & entertainment credit card accounts.  

That of course means the advertising salesman can't afford to buy his girlfriend expensive dinners, jewelry, and furs.

That boils down to the most basic of all human instincts (Why We Do Everything We Do)

I am going to do my best to try to keep this as clean as possible.   When little Johnny is bugging his mom for a " GI Joe" with the Kung Fu Grip--Daddy just can't afford it because of a pay cut, or no Christmas bonus!! The wives & girlfriends tend to be more tired than usual.  And, as we all know that causes lots of stress.

That is the scenario that drives all human greed.  I wonder, can we ever trust magazine reviewers? 

 Uh Uh,  I don't think so!!!


Still More Pontification

Sad but true, at least 98% of all the major magazines have advertisers to whom they must answer to.  I personally have been a freelance writer for numerous magazines, and not just in the music industry.  I have written articles on such diverse items as motorcycle accessories for several motorcycle publications to reviewing sleeping bags and mountaineering gear for an outdoor publication.

Normally when I would write these articles they would be edited for spelling & punctuation etc. etc.  This was perfectly acceptable to me.  I never claimed to be an expert on punctuation anyway.  What would really get my blood boiling is whenever I wanted to make any negative statements about any products that were being advertised.  There would be comments from the editor like, "Please don't be so negative about that item after all they do pay us  $168,000.00 a year in advertising."  OR  "If you insist on printing that I will insist that you no longer write for us."  Well screw them!!!

Many times I agree wholeheartedly with some reviews & comments but many times I can see right through their BS.

How can I be so sure of this?

About 14 years ago when I was still the owner of Eastcoast Music Mall,  I was also producing a line of exotic high quality 4, 5, and 6 string Bass Guitars.  These instruments were truly great quality.  They were all handmade and they played and sounded excellent.  I decided to run some full color full page advertisements.

To make a long story short, I contacted 4 different publications.  All 4 of them offered to do reviews on my instruments.  One of the magazines actually wrote their review before they had received the sample instrument.  Another of the reviewers actually made overtures to me regarding him keeping the sample instrument in exchange for a glowing review.  One magazine never printed their review, and in fact when I never did run the advertisement in their rag they actually asked for the copy of the review back.

On another occasion,  It was my purview to play host in my own home to a dozen or so guitar luminaries.   Members of the Cars, Blue Oyster Cult, Steely Dan, Mountain, Genesis, Joe Jackson, Aerosmith, Deep Purple, and a number of well known studio musicians.  This  was to be a cover story and was intended as a summit meeting in regards to the old original no longer available Steinberger guitars.  These guitarists were all going to be interviewed by a well known guitar magazine. 

In preparation for the interviews, I was contacted by the chief editor of the magazine.  He informed me that they intended doing a large story on tape recorders in the upcoming issue, and they wanted to tie the two subjects together.  He asked me to try to make available some tape recording equipment to be positioned around in my living room for background effect and so he could try to start a small dialog concerning tape recorders. I told him that I would be glad to provide these Items.  After all I did happen to have on my property a working studio that employed two Fostex 24 track machines synched up.  During the conversation the Editor/Interviewer made it quite clear that the equipment to be used should be Tascam and not Fostex.  I was a little slow on the uptake here. It took me about 2 minutes to realize that the magazine, or the interviewer, probably had a sweetheart deal worked out with Tascam.

Well to make a long story short,  I brought in Fostex gear, the tape recording subject was never even broached. There were many pictures used in that article including the cover of the magazine.  Not once do you see a Fostex machine anywhere in any of the photo's.

For these reasons,  I cannot believe anything that most magazines print. I know the information might very well be tainted.

Some of the reviewers are very cool and manage to stay relatively honest. But I can only think of several off hand. I must state for the record that I almost never read any reviews anymore. I simply don't trust what I am reading.

I have been in the market for a good camera lately, I have found myself reading reviews on Nikon, Canon and Minolta.  Then I find myself being worried because I suspect the camera magazines of similar treachery.  Have you ever noticed these reviewers rarely say anything bad about any product and when they do I'll bet you won't see advertising from that company in the magazine.

A couple of years ago I got a subscription to Consumer Reports, I felt like what they were reporting was 100% true. The only problem I have with them is they only test the low end consumer products. they don't seem to bother with the high end boutique products that I like.  So it did me almost no good at all.

I will be adding to this page when I get the time.

Ed Roman

Additional Note From Ed Roman

Gene Baker (Baker Guitars) has chosen to advertise in publications like Guitar Player, Guitar World Etc.  Consequently he will be treated the way they treat all their advertisers. He will get reviews and mentions in the magazine. This will help Gene sell guitars because it will add credibility to his product. It won't make his product better it will just help to sell it.

These reviews came as a surprise to me. I refuse to read the industry publications because I usually don't trust them.  I was attracted to Gene's product by the look feel and tone and of course by some of Gene's colorful diatribes.

All my parts suppliers were telling me about the product. while many companies like Warrior & Brian Moore were switching to Japanese Gotoh Bridges people like Gene Baker were using Tone Pros bridges.  They cost more but they sound better.

If you read the magazine reviews you will immediately notice that Gene is being compared to PRS, Hamer, McInturff & Gibson.  Believe me it's not because they don't know  JETPearlcaster and Quicksilver exist. These magazines simply don't want to give any credibility to these companies because that will potentially harm sales for the companies that they represent.

I just think it's so totally transparent of these magazines to leave out some of the best builders in the world just because they don't advertise with them.

Ed Roman
April 2001

Update 2003 Gene Baker goes Bankrupt and Ed Roman buys the company at auction for 7 cents on the dollar.

Update 2005 Gene Baker goes to work as a magazine reviewer (Unbelievable but true)

Reprint Of a Letter From Greg DiBenedetto  Guitar World


In the Feedback section of its May 2004 issue, Guitar Player prints a letter from a reader, congratulating the magazine on its new design and the "high standards of its content."

As it turns out, Guitar Player's standards have fallen considerably closer to the gutter.
We have learned that the letter-the lead item on the page-was written by one of GP's own employees, a fact not stated in the magazine.

The writer, Damien Castaneda of San Francisco, California, is a free-lance designer currently working for Guitar Player and its sister publication Keyboard. Both magazines are published by United Entertainment Media.

"The content in GP is consistently superior to that of magazines like Guitar World, Guitar One, and whatever other piece of fluff you might find out there," writes Castaneda. "Hats off to GP for elevating its design to the high standards of its content."

It's one thing for your audience to praise you. It's quite another to deceive your audience by passing off the comments of an employee as accolades from your readership. By stooping to such low-ball tactics, Guitar Player undermines its claims of legitimacy and casts a shadow of doubt over every letter it prints. Surely, there is a better way to make a mark in the publishing world. 

Greg DiBenedetto


Guitar World Magazine, Guitar One Magazine
New York NY

Note From Ed Roman

A little mudslinging and pandering to people like myself who already mistrust most of the magazines anyway. However it does bear out my opinions totally. I have known Greg DiBenedetto since he was a youngster who came into my store to buy guitars. Greg is a great guy but sometimes he has a tendency to go over the top a little.

I can say this because, I am guilty of the same crime.  Ha Ha
Hats off to Greg for exposing those pricks

Still another note from Ed Roman

To all you people who read Harmony Central. Be careful what you believe.  Harmony Central has been acquired by Guitar Center.  The possibilities here are endless..... 


Guitar players,  I am very sorry to say are for the most part very much afraid to experiment with anything other than Gibson or Fender. There are exceptions of course but when I ask someone what kind of guitar they play I will invariably get an answer like "2 Stratocasters and an SG". To which I will reply to with something like "Gee that's original"

Industry people have said that the vast majority of guitar players are stodgy, old fashioned & brainwashed. I certainly hope not !!! 
When I got into this business 34 years ago I was hoping to deal with creative, innovative forward thinking people. Not to say that all new products are better, because that simply is not true. But there are some great products on the market that go unnoticed simply because of ignorance.

Magazines and other publications are supposed to educate people, They are supposed to enlighten people to new products and explain why the newer designs are better. In the guitar & bass business this simply does not happen.  Editors are more concerned with advertorial stories instead of editorial stories.  Magazines are not to be trusted because they ignore any innovative new young builders so they can promote their big advertising corporate clients.

I have a problem understanding how Gibson commands so much product loyalty, their product is only fair to decent , their prices are way too high, their attitude is for the most part unconscionable and they never seem to have anything that is new. Fender on the other hand is a good solid company with good products at good prices and a warranty department that will treat you with a modicum of respect (Unlike some others) They still haven't come out with much that is new for a long time though.



After all the magazines won't give any credence or review any of the new low production high quality stuff because there is no potential advertising revenue. Plus these smaller companies could potentially harm the sales of one of their big advertisers, making it harder for their advertiser to make a profit which in turns makes it harder for the advertiser to pay his advertising bills which boils down to lesser advertising budgets and less money for the magazine.


OK, Now I Am Gonna Piss Directly Into The Wind !!!!!

A couple of simple rules that will improve the conditions in our country.

1,   Don't Believe Any Thing In Any Magazine, Most Of It Is The Purest Bullshit Known To Man.

2,   Don't Deal With Huge Faceless Corporations like Walmart, Costco, Guitar Center, Office Depot, Sam Ash, Home Depot, Best Buy Or Any Chain Store.  The few dollars they will  save you won't be worth it when all their independent competitors' are out of business. Then they will raise their prices till you choke.

3,  Support your local independent hometown business.

I'm pissing in the wind because it's already too late,

I think we have already screwed the country and now it just may be too late to save it..

A.  It started when Americans insisted on buying foreign cars. Because they read a good review in a magazine,
B,  It got worse when Walmart became the store of choice
C.  Then Ebay put the final screws to the country by serving to devalue all of our intrinsic memorabilia and limited edition products.  ebay killed the vintage market, lots of people lost a lot of money !!!!