I read an interview with Antonio Gallardi, “The Wine Advocate” magazine’s new California critic in which he responded in the comments section following the interview, “A pro has to be able to tune out everything and focus just on what is in the glass. I have had several instances where wines showed better in my office than they did at the properties.”Mr. Gallari was speaking in reference to a question that was asked him about maintaining his objectivity when he tastes wine at an estate.
Since I write about both wine and guitar gear, objectivity has always been an important factor for me. I started writing about gear primarily because I felt that the mainstream gear rags seemed to be beholden to their advertisers; giving more than favorable ratings to gear that my own personal tests didn’t favor as much. With wine, though I don’t feel as if – at least for the ones I regularly read – wine critics don’t fall into this trap. But even when reviewing wine, whether at home or at a winery, having no predisposition towards a wine is absolutely important to me. For instance, I went to a local winery near my home this past weekend, and ended up tasting with a friend who just happened to be there at the same time. He and his wife are wine club members, and they were looking to get a bottle. Though the winery’s Cabernets were popular, and something they mildly pushed, I wasn’t all that impressed with them, so instead recommended the Tempranillo, Terolgego, and their lower price, non-library Zinfandel purely based upon the merits of the wines’ characteristics which appealed to me.
Congruently, with gear, I’ve spoken to lots of manufacturers over the five years I’ve run this blog. Many send me gear to review, but you’ll notice that while there are lots of reviews here, there aren’t nearly as many as I’ve actually reviewed. The reason is that I like to play nice, and I’ll never publish a review that’s less than 4 Tone Bones. When I do review something that I don’t like, I notify the manufacturer, give them feedback, and make suggestions on what could be better. I’m also absolutely honest with them when I talk to them the first time and communicate my process. I do realize that I can get pretty excited in my reviews, but I only publish what I consider to be the best gear.
The point to all this is that objectivity goes a long way. Especially with gear, you hear and read about so much hype that it’s difficult to maintain your objectivity. I know I’ve succumbed to the hype several times, and I have a lot of gear that I just don’t use or have sold off. Luckily I never went so far as to sell everything to get a Dumble amp. Though it is truly impressive (and I know my videos didn’t really capture the sonic and dynamic magic of the amp), my own amps and several others I’ve tested come close enough to those dynamics that there’s no reason to spend over $40k.