some pretty meh guitars get an average of 4.5 or 5 stars on their reviews. does that mean they're great guitars? probably not. what it means is that people are getting what they expect - and sometimes that a lot of newbies buy cheaper guitars, and don't have a basis for comparison.

take a look at this page of martin backpacker reviews, especially the second one on sound.

he's giving it an 8 NOT because it sounds good, but because it sounds good for what he feels a small travel guitar would sound like. another guy gave the sound a 9 (!) because, as he says "SOund is great for what it is." the martin backpacker sounds pretty crappy compared to the little martin or baby taylor. the backpacker has a thin sound with no bass, and don't get me wrong - if you're saving on weight because you're hiking, it will do the job. but it doesn't sound good. yet some people are giving it 8's and 9's based not on its sound but its sound compared to their expectations in its size and class.

there's one last group whose reviews i keep an eye out for - the ones who wanted a better guitar but couldn't afford it. they are posting for one of two reasons - one, they want to validate their purchase, or two, they were expecting far worse. in both cases, it's basically because they couldn't afford the brand or guitars they felt were really worthwhile and want to feel good. these people tend to either compare to martin and taylor ("sounds as good as a martin" and similar comments) or tells us how their $300 to $500 guitars sound better than a $3000 guitar. believe me, they don't. really. which makes these reviews not all that useful.

so when you see reviews of a guitar - or anything else - read carefully. take a large grain of site for the newbies comments, and watch for comments like "considering its price" or "for what it is". this is always a clue to either skip it or make sure to try before you buy.
Last edited by patticake at Dec 6, 2009,
I also want to add a little bit to this.

There's a 3rd reason why someone might give ridiculously high reviews -- buyer's high. When you first buy a guitar, you'd naturally be quite excited(enough so to go around and write reviews for it). It's a new toy for you to play around with. If someone is excited and quite happy with their purchase, they often have selective hearing and/or turn a blind eye to the negatives of their purchase. They'll like to focus on the positives, but none of the negatives.

After a few weeks though, they'll start to see the little things that their guitar could improve on, but they won't be writing an updated review because they just won't care as much anymore.

This is how a lot of user reviews go.

Great write-up patticake.
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I agree. When recently researching prior to buying a new acoustic, I came across very few bad reviews. No-one wants to admit they made a bad buy, and many people hear what they want to hear to try and justify theuir purchase
Agreed. At the risk of exposing a weakness in my undying love for Martin, when I needed a guitar that would fit in carry-on bins, I bought a Washburn Rover. Solid top, action was a little high but the store practically begged to fix it for me (I declined), and a bit cheaper. Not impressed by tone, but each note rang clear and distinct, and the volume was impressive.

Reviews depend on the assumption that the writer has knowledge of the subject. With guitars....well, dealers make a good living.

Baby Taylor is better? Heresy... (kidding, Patti)
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