Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Electric Guitars in the USA: Join the Futile Debate

I’ve just had a pointless, though vehement, discussion with my colleague Mihai.

Mihai asserts that electric guitars sound better in the US because that nation has “different electricity”. I countered, with astonishing rhetorical acuity, that he was “talking toss”. We then asked an American woman in the office what she thought, but she could not venture a definitive opinion as she only ever played acoustic guitar.

Does my meagre handful of readers have an answer? DO electric guitars sound better in America? Leave a comment if you can be arsed…

11 comments:

mihai said...

Right, where do we start. How about the basics: the electricity supply in the UK is 230V / 50 Hz, while in the USA it's 120V / 60 Hz.

Ever noticed how American TV shows have that different look to them? It's the same principle. It's all down to the electricity supply.

This isn't some kind of barcode-theory bullshit - it's science!

Why do you think Americans are so much better at guitar music than us? I could go on...

Tristan said...

Utter, utter bollox.

Better guitar music? Er...the Beatles, the Stones, Clapton, Led Zeppelin...I could go on.

US TV shows - does American Electricity explain Frasier's bizarre mullet in Cheers? Anyway, you don't own a telly! What the fuck do you know?

mihai said...

Granted, all those bands were excellent. But they all made their classic music before the frequency of electricity in the UK was changed in 1976. Notice how guitars started sounding all nasty after that? Apart from Swell Maps that is...

Tristan said...

Try telling Johnny Marr or Bernard Butler that, daddio.

mihai said...

With great respect to both guitarists - I grew up with and still love The Smiths although actively disliked Suede - when it comes to guitar sounds, neither of them would make my Vauxhall conference.

Marr generally fell in with the nastiest 80s chorus and reverb sounds, a notable exception being that pioneering triggered gating effect on How Soon Is Now? which was probably not his idea anyway.

Suede, on the other hand, are not even worth discussing from a sonic point of view. Their greatest quality is that at least one of them came from Haywards Heath, which just happens to be the setting for some of my most cherished childhood memories.

Teenage Fanclub managed to make a reasonable guitar sound up in Scotland on their first record, before they became a pastiche band, but none of the noisey indie pop brigade ever made a nice sound. My Bloody Valentine had that 'Is this tape chewing up?' sound - but it wasn't actually very pleasant.

The proof of the pudding lies in the fact that great sounding American guitar bands always sound shit when they play live int he UK. Which is probably why you don't like guitar solos Tristan.

Tristan said...

*Sigh* Essentially this comes down to personal taste, my friend, as opposed to some form of scientific evidence. Hopefully someone more technically informed can resolve this debate. Like famous producer Rick Rubin, for instance - he often visits my blog and leaves comments.

Rick said...

Hi dude! Long time no blog!

Just took a look at your little discussion with that mihoid guy.

He's completely fucked - the British guitar sound rules!

You say you work with that shmuck? Who would hire a jerk like that??

Later

Rick

Tristan said...

Thanks Rick, you're the MAN, man.

mihoid said...

[rubbing hands]
Right, now to lay into Tristan's taste in films...

Steve said...

Presumably British guitar bands must sound absolutely amazing in the US then? Just think, Status Quo in NY - they might finally reach their guitar-god potentials.

DJ HELLO! said...

Thankfully, bullshit sounds the same everywhere making it easy to spot.

Mihai is a fool.