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Goliath
Through my morning ritual of sitting on the can and catching up on ultimate-guitar.com and the forums here, I finally had it after seeing another $300 guitar get reviewed as a 9.5, which leads me to this statement that I wish many people considering doing reviews would consider:

Not every guitar on the internet is a 9 or a 10 or 5 star worthy.

I have a Schecter Gryphon. While it is a decent low end guitar, I know very well it is not a 4 star guitar, let alone 5. The neck has tiny imperfections that you can feel when you run your hand down it (I was the first one to play it and it was maintained very well, they’re not nicks). You can see the visible scarf joint at the headstock. The low end Grover tuners do not hold tune as well as their high end brothers and with aggressive bends/vibratos, I can make most of the strings go a quarter flat after 15 minutes of play. The sustain on this guitar is average for a bolt on neck, and is absolutely destroyed by set/thru neck guitars. The playability is high as the frets are very good, actually, and the deep cut away gives you great access to the higher registers. The satin finished maple neck lets your hand zip up and down the neck. The sound is ho-hum at best. Sure, the coil tap opens up the versatility of the instrument, but it goes from sounding like a dodgy humbucker to a dodgy single coil. Of course, I’m unfairly comparing it to much higher dollar pickups in my other guitars (DiMarzio Evolutions, IBZ V7/V8, and Seymour Duncan Live Wires) but it’s that kind of perspective that is necessary to really give any sort of benchmark on something as subjective as sound. The finish on the flamed maple cap is decent. The action and intonation out of the box were very good, intonation was dead on. Action was nice and low with out buzzing or fretting out on 1.5 step+ bends. The banding is not as thick as it would be on a higher dollar guitar but it is VERY attractive for the money.

This is an honest review of a low end guitar. I got it for $400 from guitar center just over a year ago. I would give it a 3 star rating or about a 6.5 on a 10 scale. I believe it to be of higher quality than Epi LPs/SG or Squiers at the same price and more versatile, but this guitar is rightly dwarfed in comparison to higher end guitars.

Why, does every vendor I see this guitar appear on currently have it reviewed as a 5 star guitar? Why is EVERY guitar a 5 star guitar? My guess would be naivety and a desire to justify their purchase. I know I am not alone in wishing there was a veritable “Consumer Reports” or such of a non-biased reviews on a broad spectrum of gear. GuitarWorld does a fantastic job, but they maybe cover a guitar or two a month.

So how do we help combat this affliction of dishonest and naïve reviews? Well, I guess the first step would be education.

When test driving a guitar, put it through it’s paces. Look at the neck; first, see if there is any bow to the neck, meaning there is too much relief and the strings float really high at 12th fret. Next, run your hand up and down the back of the neck, does the finish grab the skin of your palm? Do you note any imperfections in the wood? If the guitar has binding, trace the binding with your eye, are there any gaps or bubbles in the binding? Now look at the neck joint if it’s a set neck, this is likely to be where any glaring finish flaws will be. Now play it. I recommend having a repertoire of different licks you can play to put it through it’s paces. I play “Swamp Music”/”Fade to Black” to test cleans, “Fight Fire with Fire”/”Cowboys from Hell” to test the responsiveness/clarity of pickups, I play some Maiden to really get an idea of the tone of the guitar since their music has a lot of mids/highs, I’ll attempt some Friedman Deth solos to get an idea of the highs (I said “attempt” meaning played as neatly as I can, but still sloppy tongue.gif). Then I’ll just bang out some major chords to see how it sustains. While the chords are ringing, I move my right hand around to different areas of the body to see if the whole body is vibrating with the instrument. Now pull a much higher end guitar off the shelf (A Gibson or JEM or Soloist or American Standard) and do the exact same thing with that instrument. You now have perspective on your test subject.

What other tips can you offer the community to help improve the strengths and impartiality of the reviews we see on this and other sites?
OrganisedConfusion
I only buy top class guitars tongue.gif They have to pass rigurous testing for me and I have to class them as 5 star quality to buy it. But you're right. Anyone who gives an Encore guitar 5 stars I instantly ignore every other review they do biggrin.gif
Guitarman700
here is the worst review i have ever read, its for the jackson KV2 on musicians friend:Omehgah!!! This Guitar rox my sox and it is great! You can do the ALEXI LAIHO thing and WHOA!! It is great! The action is great and also rox my sox and is great!!!! Buy it! OH!! Better than a Paul!!! " this is the god of bad reviews, so we can use this as an example.
Marcus Lavendell
QUOTE (Guitarman700 @ Mar 5 2008, 02:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
here is the worst review i have ever read, its for the jackson KV2 on musicians friend:Omehgah!!! This Guitar rox my sox and it is great! You can do the ALEXI LAIHO thing and WHOA!! It is great! The action is great and also rox my sox and is great!!!! Buy it! OH!! Better than a Paul!!! " this is the god of bad reviews, so we can use this as an example.

LMAO laugh.gif laugh.gif
Yep, that must be the worst review ever!!
Spreedmaster
laugh.gif What a terrible review! Guitars really should only be reviewed by very experienced guitarists who have run the course of all guitars, from crap to great. A lot of people can be completely wowed when he get a $400 axe after a $100 beginner guitar and give it a review based only on their previous knowledge, hence the great review.
blindwillie
Can't agree with you more Goliath.
I prefer reading a review in your style G, and like the rescent one on a pedal, I think ...
I want to read an honest review that informs me of this gear strengtness as well as weaknesses.
OrganisedConfusion
I really like Trond's pedal review as it is very honest smile.gif
Toni Suominen
I think you Goliath make a very good point, I also see lots of this kind of reviews, and you can immediately tell that the reviewer hasn't spent much time with the instrument, or hasn't even generally played guitar for that long.


QUOTE (Guitarman700 @ Mar 5 2008, 03:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
here is the worst review i have ever read, its for the jackson KV2 on musicians friend:Omehgah!!! This Guitar rox my sox and it is great! You can do the ALEXI LAIHO thing and WHOA!! It is great! The action is great and also rox my sox and is great!!!! Buy it! OH!! Better than a Paul!!! " this is the god of bad reviews, so we can use this as an example.


I wanna guitar that rox sox too!!! I bet that dude never played a Gibson smile.gif
Duncan
To be fair I don't think all guitars can fit on the same scale. When reading a review of a £300 guitar you have to take into account that it is only worth £300. Therefore the reviewer isn't expecting it to play as well/sound as nice as a guitar that costs £1,500. If it fills all the requirements that the reviewer is expecting from a £300 guitar then why not give it 4/5 stars?

You can't give a £300 guitar 2/3 stars and then say something like 'it doesn't play as nicely as a £1,500 Ibanez' because it is a completely unfair comparison. The reviewer is judging it on what he expects from guitars at that price range.


I really hope that made sense.
mattacuk
QUOTE (Duncan @ Mar 5 2008, 03:39 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
To be fair I don't think all guitars can fit on the same scale. When reading a review of a £300 guitar you have to take into account that it is only worth £300. Therefore the reviewer isn't expecting it to play as well/sound as nice as a guitar that costs £1,500. If it fills all the requirements that the reviewer is expecting from a £300 guitar then why not give it 4/5 stars?

You can't give a £300 guitar 2/3 stars and then say something like 'it doesn't play as nicely as a £1,500 Ibanez' because it is a completely unfair comparison. The reviewer is judging it on what he expects from guitars at that price range.


I really hope that made sense.


+ 1 here.

Although I agree, Goliath has raised some very important things - and I agree to an extent with what he is trying to say.smile.gif

The thing is, many of us cannot afford to spend more than a certain budget and so we need to be able to rate from 1-5 stars and state that the score is based against other guitar in that price group. I would still stand by the fact that my Cort axe is worthy of 4-5 stars out off 5, despite the fact it is not nearly as well equipt as much more expensive guitars smile.gif
Goliath
While I get what you're saying Mattacuk, there still needs to be some continuity between high end and low end guitars. Admitting your experience with the guitar helps draw a frame. Comparing guitars in a similar price range is also beneficial. I don't understand the psychological need to give something a perfect score. My favorite guitar I own I feel is only worth a 8.5 probably probably a 4-4.5 star review.

Bottom line is you can use your words to really highlight the strengths of the guitar, the number needs to be a little more honest.

Edit; perhaps the fairest way would be to add an "Expectation" parameter when reviewing it. Value also accomplishes this as well, but the Duncan Designs in my Schecter sound nothing like the Distortions they're supposed to sound like.
DeepRoots
QUOTE (Goliath @ Mar 5 2008, 03:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Admitting your experience with the guitar helps draw a frame. Comparing guitars in a similar price range is also beneficial.

I think any reviews from now on should include this ^^.

Very good points being put up here, but i think confusion can be dodged if reviewers can include that info^^.
Chris Evans
yea I think theres some good points stated here, and also a great topic to discuss from Goliath smile.gif

I agree with both points to a degree, but I lean towards Matts point in general to be honest, I think that a review of a $300 - $400 guitar can be worthy of a high rating, its being pitched as Matt says at an audience that can only look at guitars in that price range, if they are all given 1 or 2 star ratings simply because thay are lower end and "cheaper" then no one is going to get an idea if the $300 odd they are about to spend is being wasted on a really naff guitar.

You could say something like, for a guitar aimed at the $300 - $400 market I`ll give it a 3.5/5 (just for example)
Juan M. Valero
well the most important is the quality not the quocient between quality and price. Maybe for a cheap price that's the best guitar...
mattacuk
QUOTE (Goliath @ Mar 5 2008, 03:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
While I get what you're saying Mattacuk, there still needs to be some continuity between high end and low end guitars. Admitting your experience with the guitar helps draw a frame. Comparing guitars in a similar price range is also beneficial. I don't understand the psychological need to give something a perfect score. My favorite guitar I own I feel is only worth a 8.5 probably probably a 4-4.5 star review.

Bottom line is you can use your words to really highlight the strengths of the guitar, the number needs to be a little more honest.

Edit; perhaps the fairest way would be to add an "Expectation" parameter when reviewing it. Value also accomplishes this as well, but the Duncan Designs in my Schecter sound nothing like the Distortions they're supposed to sound like.


I like your thinking Goliath (if that is indeed your real name unsure.gif laugh.gif wink.gif ) I can see you have put alot of thought behind your "argument" and I agree that alot of ratings are too high - indeed not every guitar rated 9 out of 10 really deserves that rating. smile.gif

Thus a more mindfull approach of rating should be taken into account, perhaps paying more attention to detail when giving an over all score.

I like smells approach - "You could say something like, for a guitar aimed at the $300 - $400 market I`ll give it a 3.5/5" - taken from the book of smells 2008 laugh.gif

So maybe a mix of these ideas may be a viable solution for new and improved reveiws in the future biggrin.gif
Goliath
Perhaps there should be a "star color" system to go with a price range... but that becomes tricky because we have such an international community that folks overseas pay $2300 for what would cost about $1400 in the US. I guess they could be standardized to US prices for that purpose, but then I guess it'd be like short changing someone on their purchase. I'll let someone else fine tune the international system, but what i had in mind was something to the effect of standardizing it to the US price NEW.

Then maybe having a couple brackets.

Blue stars 0-$600 USD
Orange stars $601 - $1200
Silver Stars $1200-$1800
Gold Stars $1801+

Obviously the dollar amounts are negotitable, but I picked a price point where the quality really starts to (in my opinion) take off. You start seeing better woods and electronics once you break that $600 barrier. You start seeing custom shop build quality once you pass the $1200 mark, and once you get into the $1800 range, you're pretty much in the "professional equipment" range. This obviuosly would be for electric guitars, as hollow bodies are more expensive and require more precision craftsmanship.

That way if you bought a guitar used for like $500 and standardized it to it's new price you could rate it two ways, the first attempting to be a touch more objective and the second in the area you actually paid for it.

Another idea would be coming up with a consensus for what different tones sound like. "Warm" is thrown around quite a bit and I'd really be surprised to see if anyone could verbalize that je ne sais pas of what "Warm" is. That way we could equip users with a vocabulary to help describe their equipment. "Sterile" would be another. Perhaps recording sound clips upon what a "warm" tone is then descriptors of why it is that way, have perhaps a clean one and a dirty one as a basis of comparisson.

As for other equipment, you're on your own there, I mainly buy guitars as I'm a hobbyist and I enjoy collecting them.
MickeM
I'm too tired to the the entire post so maybe this was covered already.

Two points. A magazine depending on income from commercials will stick to positivism about brands from their customers. If I read a review I put my value in the sum up, if there's one single negative word about the item tested in a magazine/website depending on this brand I will take it there were more negative to say but they reviewer had to refrain from it. A freelancer could do it to easier get published, a paper could for it's survival.

Reading private reviews I concider the reviewers experience? An experienced user could give an item score of 2 while a newbie would rate it a perfect 10. So without knowing the knowledge the reviewer has the scoreboard renders rather useless. If the reviewer would state his or her knowledge that parameter would be as important as the score itself.
I mean... if a Marshall MG gets 10 points and a Mesa 5:50 gets 9 points that would actually mean something if we also know the tester.
Testers experience, 1, Marshall MG = 10 points => 1 x 10 => 10
Testers experience, 10, Mesa 5:50 = 9 points => 10 x 9 =Z 90

If the 10-tester runs the Marshall it may end up on 10 points still (10 x 1)
If the 1 tester runs the Mesa we'd still get 10 points (1 x 10) but we can draw our own conclusions.

I've thought about keeping that information (testers experience) in the Gear review forum here to make reviews more relevant. I'll be happy to accept suggestions on a easy to maintain but still clear to view system.
blindwillie
I was in a hurry in my last post so it got a bit stumped.
I was refering to this review by Trond. I liked it: http://www.guitarmasterclass.net/guitar_fo...03&hl=pedal

Anyway.
It's hard to come up with a fair pointsystem.
As a reader I want to know both how it compares relative to it's closest competitors ie in the same pricerange.
But I would also like to know an "absolute" comparision so I can decide if it would be better to put up more money and go for better gear.

For example:

Beginner/Intermediate judgement:
This beatiful little amp plays perfectly on the bedroom level. You don't get better blues for the money.
This one is well on par with a Blues Junior to half the cost.

Experienced/Pro level judgement:
This is great amp, but it simple doesn't cut it outside the bedroom. Not even if mic'ed.
You really need to go for heavier stuff like a Switchblade.

Kinda like that info I want, hope you understand what I'm getting at.


BTW would it be possible to have ready-made templates for different gear groups? Like guitar, amp, pedal, pickups...
Templates that contains some preformatted fields as guidance for the reviewer, to keep the layout consistent between reviewers?
Paul Coutts
very good point to make, man
I notice the same thing, reviews are pretty unreliable smile.gif
MickeM
QUOTE (blindwillie @ Mar 6 2008, 10:27 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was in a hurry in my last post so it got a bit stumped.
I was refering to this review by Trond. I liked it: http://www.guitarmasterclass.net/guitar_fo...03&hl=pedal

Anyway.
It's hard to come up with a fair pointsystem.
As a reader I want to know both how it compares relative to it's closest competitors ie in the same pricerange.
But I would also like to know an "absolute" comparision so I can decide if it would be better to put up more money and go for better gear.

For example:

Beginner/Intermediate judgement:
This beatiful little amp plays perfectly on the bedroom level. You don't get better blues for the money.
This one is well on par with a Blues Junior to half the cost.

Experienced/Pro level judgement:
This is great amp, but it simple doesn't cut it outside the bedroom. Not even if mic'ed.
You really need to go for heavier stuff like a Switchblade.

Kinda like that info I want, hope you understand what I'm getting at.


BTW would it be possible to have ready-made templates for different gear groups? Like guitar, amp, pedal, pickups...
Templates that contains some preformatted fields as guidance for the reviewer, to keep the layout consistent between reviewers?


I was looking for templates earlier but right now there's so much for Kris staff to do (i.e back then, now it's even more) I have to stick with what I can come up with. I made a general template to copy and paste. Better owuld be to select amp/guitar/pedal etc and get different templates per automatic. But I don't think that will happen any time soon.
But templates for copy and paste, that's always possible. Now I olny have the general but of you have ideas we can make something of it.
Ivan Milenkovic
For example in a review you can say "this guitar is great, I give it a 9 out of 10 in it's price range" but be very specific about it.
Unleash-The-Shred
QUOTE (Milenkovic Ivan @ Mar 6 2008, 04:19 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
For example in a review you can say "this guitar is great, I give it a 9 out of 10 in it's price range" but be very specific about it.


Yeah exactly, but then say...If you were to compaire this to a PRS Custom 24 I would rate this -10.
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