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Posts Tagged ‘dogma’

The Problem with Dogma

I’m a cradle Catholic, so Catholicism – and its associated dogma – are a large part of my life. But while I fully accept and believe in my religious dogma (for instance, Jesus is the Son of God and there is only one God), what I have always had a problem with is how that dogma has often gotten translated into rigidity in the practice of said dogma, or used as a way to demean, destroy and take advantage of others who either may not be aware or fully versed in the knowledge of the dogma.

So what does this have to do with guitar gear?

Lots, actually. I’ve been playing guitar for close to 50 years now and one thing that has always annoyed me is the dogmatic perspectives I’ve encountered during that time. You’ve all heard them:

A modeling or solid state amp could never be as good as a tube amp.

You pay more for a piece of gear because it’s better.

Gibsons and Fenders and other brands have a signature sound.

People say this stuff all the time. And they believe it so fully that they become demeaning and dismissive of anyone who may disagree with them. The way these people interact with others is with something akin to religious zealotry.

In the past, my more confrontational self would love to engage with these people. But I have to admit that my reaction was just as militant and dismissive. Now I just roll my eyes and say, “Whatever, dude…”

The problem with rigidity or fundamentalism in general is that it prevents people from seeing or even accepting; much less tolerate, alternative viewpoints. And from the perspective of gear, there’s so much fantastic gear out there that often gets overlooked because people can’t see past their personal dogma.

I’m writing this because I too can be accused of having been dogmatic. But especially since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve had to be much more open to the different ways people approach gear.

For instance, I used to be of the belief that I had to have a big pedal board with lots of effects to create great sound. As a result, I have lots and lots of pedals, especially overdrive pedals. Now, I just use three, maybe four pedals to get my sound. Admittedly, part of that is that I’m older and don’t want to lug around a lot of gear, but a large part of it is that I’ve found my sound, and only need a few pedals to enhance my sound as opposed to define my sound.

But I also know that others will differ with my approach. I have a friend who plays with no pedals whatsoever. He plugs directly into a 50 Watt Marshal Plexi and lets his fingers do the talking. On the other hand, I have another friend who has 20 pedals on his board and stacks overdrives and distortion boxes and has three different delays.

Look, we all have our personal truths, and they’re all valid. For me, I have a very “you do you, I’ll do me” attitude about gear. Where I have a problem is when those truths are used to exalt over others. I’m a firm believer in ecumenicism – there are many paths to God. So too with gear. There are many ways to make music.

Rock on!

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