Skip to comments.Guitar heroes: When the magic transfers from rock stars to instruments
Posted on 02/15/2011 4:39:17 AM PST by decimon
Budding guitarists seek the magical powers of rock hero instruments, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
"Like people from the Middle Ages who sought saints' relics, modern consumers like the budding rock guitarist desire fetishes (objects perceived as magical and possessing extraordinary power)" write authors Karen V. Fernandez (University of Aukland, New Zealand) and John L. Lastovicka (Arizona State University).
"We live in a world where anybody with a modest amount of money can buy a close copy or a replica of a desired object," the authors write. "We wanted to know why consumers who desired a particular rock star's instrument would settle for replicas of it; and how those copies became perceived as special, magical objects in their own right."
The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with sixteen men who owned more than one guitar and resided either in New Zealand or the United States. They found that many participants believed in the idea of "contagious magic" (the idea that two entities that touch can influence each other). For example, many fans want to have rock stars sign their instruments, and one established performer explained how he used another rock star's discarded guitar strings.
The research also revealed that replica guitars appeal to participants' belief in "imitative magic" (things that look alike are alike). "They often bought the best possible copy they could attain, and then if needed, made further changes to it so that it resembled the desired object even more closely," the authors explain. For example, some consumers switch out knobs on their guitars to more closely resemble the instruments of the artists they admired.
When players acquire new instruments, they play them often and become bonded with the objects. "A guitar then often becomes perceived as a player's confidant, companion, collaborator, wife, girlfriend, or muse," the authors write. And guitar players act out their fantasies by playing their guitars in private and in public.
"A fetish object does not guarantee a hit recording, a major league record, or a safe return home from battle," the authors write. "However, fetish objects increase confidence and reduce anxiety and hence increase performance."
Karen V. Fernandez and John L. Lastovicka. "Making Magic: Fetishes in Contemporary Consumption." Journal of Consumer Research: August 2011. Further information: http://ejcr.org. To be published online soon.
They call it GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) and it’s discussed ad infinitum on music forums.
I own three Stratocasters and God knows what else so I’m happily unaffected by the phenomenon....
Strats. Arguably the most beautiful solid body electric ever created.
He looks at it, shrugs, and drops it on the sidewalk and leaves. Someone waiting for a bus notices this, goes over, glances at the guitar neck, shrugs, and decides not to pick it up.
Because it's junk.
I have about 12 guitars. Did I say "about"? Do I really not know exactly how many I own? Aaaah, life is good.
I’m a Tele man. I don’t know why I never liked the feel of Strats. Weird, because most people love the contoured body. I like the square body of a Tele. I do like the 3 pickup, 5 position configuration of Strats. Both my Teles have that setup. One has a Bigsby. Rosewood fretboad. The other is a hard tail with a maple neck. Love em.
There are two kinds of guitar players, Fender guys and Gibson guys. Now you can like both Fender and Gibson, but nobody likes them both the same.
Personlly I’m very fond of my Squier ‘51, arguably the best cheap guitar ever made. Strat body, tele neck and a split coil humbucker in the bridge. Best of all worlds. If only Fender would make a top quality version.
“Now you can like both Fender and Gibson, but nobody likes them both the same.”
Not totally true.
I like both my Strat and my Les Paul just as equally.
It really all depends upon what you are playing as to which one is the most desirable for the song.
Different sounds require different instruments.
they play them often ... "fetish objects increase confidence and reduce anxiety and hence increase performance."
Key points there, played often and reduced anxiety means practiced and relaxed. It's not the object, per se (although it IS easier to correctly play a quality instrument than a crap one), it's the state of control and mind that make the most difference.
Schecter here - duly noting that the pickups suck. Anybody starting a child out on an electric, I recommend the Ibanez Mikro. Great sound, decent hardware all around.
I’ve owned most of the Fenders and Gibson/Epiphones over the years (if I still had them all I would be darn near rich), and I liked one more than the others, just not always the same ones. But I didn’t say you weren’t allowed to change your mind. Still, there’s usually one that you pick up to noodle around on day in, day out.
Everyone knows this...
“There are two kinds of guitar players, Fender guys and Gibson guys. “
Tell that to the PRS players.
“Still, theres usually one that you pick up to noodle around on day in, day out.”
Actually, I don’t.
I usually don’t touch my guitars unless I need to learn something new.
Over the years (47) I do less and less ‘noodling’ than I used to.
I’ve been very fortunate that I seem to able to retain most everything I learn. Even if it’s been years.
Hasn’t really gotten me anywhere, but at least I still remember it.
I should mention that’s 47 years of playing.
I’m older.. :0)
Yeah, me too (sigh).
But I still like to noodle around and try to come up with something new for fun. And I usually pick up a fender.
“Researching” guitarists is like grasping a handful of air. You’ll never get it. Fuggeddaboudit. And go stick your probes and meters somewhere else.
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