Posts Tagged ‘cell phones’

…or reliability is more important than all the whiz-bang features you throw into a gadget.

I was driving up the San Francisco Bay Peninsula this morning, along Highway 101. As usual, I was talking to my good buddy Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps. It’s a great time to chat since I’m on the road. Invariably we talk about gear. This morning, the conversation revolved around Jeff’s favorite topic: Les Pauls. He’s a Les Paul nut, and has several original and re-issue LP’s and LP Jr.’s. And as I love guitars, period, this is a subject about which we never tire conversing.

One would think that down a major thoroughfare such as 101, cell coverage would be good. But NOOOOOOOOO!!! I’ve got AT&T Cellular whose motto should be “More Dropped Calls In More Places.” This morning, we set a record: FOUR dropped calls between Palo Alto and San Mateo: That’s 10 miles – generously! Usually, it’s one or two, but it shouldn’t be ANY. F%&king AT&T!!! They respond to all the complaints about dropped calls by spending millions on how widespread their service is. It’s widespread, but it’s spread thin, and cannot take the volume. So instead of fixing the damn problem, they counter with a marketing campaign. And BTW, I use a Blackberry, not an iPhone. For some iPhone users it’s even worse!

Okay, flame off… what the hell does this have to do with guitar gear?

As I stated above, in my view, reliability is much more important than how good something may sound. I’ve gotten rid of (read: literally thrown away) more gear due to reliability issues than because of bad tone. Actually, I’ve never thrown any gear away because of bad tone because I only buy it if I like it. But it’s in the electronics recycle bin if it repeatedly breaks down. Once or twice, I can live with, as long as I can fix it. But beyond that, I have no patience for it, no matter how good it may sound.

Don’t buy into it? Imagine playing a gig. You’re in the middle of a song, and it’s time for the lead break. You click on your overdrive or booster, pick your first note and your amp issues – NOTHING! Tell me you won’t first: panic, then second: get pissed! That’s exactly what happened to me with my favorite drive pedal that I use with my Tele, the GeekMacDaddy Geek Driver. Turns out that the switch was loose and a wire worked itself loose. That was an easy fix, and I’m a happy camper. Since the pedal’s a boo-teek pedal, I could call Jeff, send him the pedal and he’d fix it. But for mainstream gear where you don’t have a personal relationship with the manufacturer, there’s not much else to do other than to recycle the electronics; especially if the gear’s past its warranty period.

This is one of the reasons I read a lot of reviews before buying something; even cheap gear. If I detect that there are reliability issues, I won’t buy it. There will always be “lemon” stories; that’s to be expected. But if there is a prevalence of them, caveat emptor!

Now circling back to AT&T. I think what pisses me off the most about them is not the dropped calls, though that’s certainly annoying. What makes me furious is that instead of fixing the problem, they do a “look at how good we are” marketing campaign. And the worse thing is that they have people by the short hairs – especially iPhone users. While I don’t have an iPhone, I pay for two of them on my cellular plan. I can tell you this: As soon as the iPhone is available on another carrier, we’re leaving AT&T!!!

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