When nerds try to out-nerd a guitar nerd

By day, I’m a mild-mannered IT guy, wrangling servers for a living. It pays the bills. But by night (well, twice a week and on the weekend) I lead the glamorous life of Guitar Shop Guy.

Yes, it’s as amazing as you’re thinking. Rockstars, industry heavyweights, studio pros, all shuffling through seeking MY expertise in the world of guitar.

Yeah okay it’s mostly not that at all. But I did get a guy in last night that apparently knew everyone in rock, as long as the period being discussed was 1979-1981. 🙂

So while I often do comment on various comical circumstances on Facebook, rarely does a “customer” (quotes used, because he didn’t so much as buy a pick) merit an entire blog post. This guy last night, however, most definitely did.

You see, this gentleman was, according to him, an electrical engineer. I have no reason to doubt him, because his statements, whilst often heavily wrong or misguided, at least indicated he wasn’t lying about his chosen profession.

The first indicator was an interesting comment, and could be brushed off as a misunderstanding of what a product was.

Did you know that ‘BOSS Wazacraft’ pedals are just like the regular models, but made in Japan and cost more? The circuits are the same.

“Well, not exactly”, I said. I explained while that’s partially true, most have additional modes that set them apart from the standard units, like a “custom” setting that provides a different sound. Whatever, simple mistake.

What is with the current obsession with buffers? All you need is one buffered pedal on, and your signal is buffered. You don’t need to spend money on buffers!

Well, except not all buffers are created equal. Some sound better than others. Some are just plain awful. I would have thought an EE would know that different circuit designs yield different results. Guess not?

Ha. [points at overdrive pedal] They’ve printed the schematic on the top of the pedal! Now I can clone it!!

“No you can’t.” I couldn’t help but grin a little.

Yes. I. Can. As I told you, I’m an Electrical Engineer. It’s trivial for me to build an overdrive pedal.

“Yeah, I know. However that schematic isn’t the actual schematic of the pedal. They changed it slightly.

Oh, so no one can clone it?

“No. Because the actual schematic didn’t print on the case as nicely. :)”

He started asking about switchers. I explained that we had a Voodoo Lab PX-8+, and could get (and often carry) the ES series from BOSS, as well as the Super Switcher from EHX. I explained that all of them had a cool insert so that you could insert your amp’s preamp, and use it in conjunction with an effects loop.

I WOULD NEVER USE AN EFFECTS LOOP! Ew. It sucks the tone, because you never know what kind of loop is in there, and how well it’s buffering the signal.

“Er, okay. Unless it’s a Mesa Boogie, which is a tube-buffered effects loop, a Marshall, a Rivera, Fenders (which we don’t carry, but I know are buffered), etc. In fact, most popular amps these days have loops that take pedals well, because surprise! Pedals are super popular. If you really have any actual issues with a loop, you can use a good buffer. :)”

This sort of back and forth continued for awhile, with him condescendingly explaining how things I already know how they work, work, showing me a guitar that in his opinion needs to be set up better, etc. with me doing my best to not nerd out in nerd retaliation, for fear of a negative Google review or something.

I don’t get where this dude was going with all this. Was is it positive confirmation to himself that he’s smart? Was he trying to show he’s smarter than me? He might be, in electrical engineering. But he most definitely isn’t with guitar gear. I’m also willing to bet he isn’t with information technology either. So why the pissing contest?

The reality is, there are a lot of people like that. Some worse than others, of course. But to an extent we’ve all done it a few times, because it selfishly feels good. Maybe it was just this dude’s night to do so.

Regardless, he should have picked a different nerd to mess with. 😀

Whenever you have a discussion about a topic or particular area of expertise, when you are an expert or very knowledgable, do me a favor: try not to be a condescending twit about it.

Know that you very well be the smartest person in the room about that topic, but that person you’re being condescending to most likely knows WAY MORE about a different topic than you do. Very few, if any people are brilliant in everything, so treat people equally and with respect.

I am a decent IT guy, and know quite a bit about guitar shit. But I don’t know a damn thing about most things, because I just can’t. So I make an attempt at remembering that when discussing my favorite topics, so I don’t come off as a know-it-all douche. Sure, I fail sometimes. But it’s the thought that counts. 🙂



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