Poll: Do you think all guitars have unique personalities or a 'soul', so to speak?
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View poll results: Do you think all guitars have unique personalities or a 'soul', so to speak?
Yes
75 54%
No
55 40%
Other (explain)
9 6%
Voters: 139.
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T00DEEPBLUE
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#1
Of course, not in a literal sense, but in the same way that you can say a human being has a metaphorical 'soul'.

I think this would make an interesting debate because some people on this forum have conflicting opinions on the topic.

I have an inclination to think that a guitar does have a metaphorical 'soul'. Every single guitar, even if its the same model sounds very slightly different to one another as wood is a natural, inconsistent material. You notice things such as the flame on the top being slightly different or that one may have an imperfection somewhere that doesn't make it any less of a guitar, but instead gives the guitar almost a unique personality that makes the guitar special to you.

What i'm trying to say is:

Do you think that a guitar is nothing more than a piece of a dead tree with strings on it and growing emotionally attached to an instrument is stupid and irrational?

Or do you think guitars have more of a human quality in which they all have their little foibles and temperaments which give each guitar its own personality? And that having emotional sentiment to an instrument is understandable?
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hminh87
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#2
If I paid good money for something I'd expect to be very protective of it. Soul or not soul.
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JKHC
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#3
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE

Do you think that a guitar is nothing more than a piece of a dead tree with strings on it and growing emotionally attached to an instrument is stupid and irrational?


Yes.
I never understood why people name their guitars and treat them like they're a pet or something.
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Sunshine86
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#4
I don't know that "soul" is the right word—I'd say it's more personality or character.
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#5
Quote by JKHC
Yes.
I never understood why people name their guitars and treat them like they're a pet or something.

IMO i think its a bit of a narrow-minded view.

I think the reason why people get emotionally attached to their instruments is for the same reason they get emotionally attached to music in general.

On a cold, rational level, music is nothing more than a bunch of frequencies at different volumes and for different durations. And yet it makes all of us feel good, or feel sad, or feel liberated- that's why we wanted to become musicians in the first place.

If music makes us so emotional (nobody scientifically knows why music does this) when it is nothing more than a bunch of frequencies strung together, why not guitars?
Quote by Sunshine86
I don't know that "soul" is the right word—I'd say it's more personality or character.

My interpretation of what a 'soul' is (as it is a very subjective idea) goes hand-in-hand with 'personality'.

I think the reason why people in this thread are scared off from the idea of a 'soul' is because the word has been stigmatized by religion. That's not what i'm getting at.
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jeleopard
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#6
I name my instruments and I get attached to them. I treat them like my children (wouldn't want them broken now, would I? I spend money on them!).

My Amps I don't, but my instruments, yeap.
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sonny bb
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#7
^^ actually music, especially pop music with simple, repetitive melodies, has a scientific explanation for why we enjoy it. I won't go into it fully, but it has to do with our brain feeling a dopamine rush similar to uppers and sex except much less concrete and a lot more subjective when we are able to predict the melody in a song.
....anyway, I think guitar have more of a personality from the things that a luthier might not be able to replicate each and every time. Especially if a guitar is second hand. I feel like you get a bit of the essence of the previous player. When I got my Schecter used from guitar center, it took a while for it to feel like mine because in my mind it was fighting me because it wasn't "mine" yet.


Of course that's just my superstitious guitar mojo ideas


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T00DEEPBLUE
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#8
Quote by sonny bb
^^ actually music, especially pop music with simple, repetitive melodies, has a scientific explanation for why we enjoy it. I won't go into it fully, but it has to do with our brain feeling a dopamine rush similar to uppers and sex except much less concrete and a lot more subjective when we are able to "predict" the melody in a song.

That's the thing isn't it? There is no concrete measurement or explanation behind why we 'feel' music and yet we do. And even if there was a concrete explanation, that wouldn't invalidate the idea of a guitar having a personality or a 'soul' because we still feel that emotional something from music whether we know why or not. There is no reason why that idea can't be elaborated onto guitars.
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sonny bb
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#9
I see what you mean. I meant that someone might not like repetitive melodies while some people like deep bass and others like blast beats. It affects the brain the same, though you're right, there isn't a definitive "this is why we like music" explanation. I think it goes back to our early history as humans and digging chants and drum sounds. That's pretty much what pop music is now.
but that's a topic for another day
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ThrashUnleashed
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#10
Quote by JKHC
Yes.
I never understood why people name their guitars and treat them like they're a pet or something.


While I don't think that individual guitars have soul or personality or anything, my guitars do have names. That I refer to them as. Only in my head though.
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Heideck
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#11
I dont play the same on two different guitar, even if they would have same pick ups. Just the look and the feeling of the neck makes me play diffently
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#13
I think the "soul" of the guitar comes down to if you put your heart and soul into the music you play...I think a 180$squire can have soul if you put your soul into the playing.Damn this while post sounded cheesey:/
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#14
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Do you think that a guitar is nothing more than a piece of a dead tree with strings on it and growing emotionally attached to an instrument is stupid and irrational?

This. Some people become emotionally attached to cars, collectible toys, fictional characters, ect.. It's ok if you realize and accept the truth that it's not as "human" as you perceive. Otherwise it's kinda creepy and can't possibly be too healthy.
metalhead983877
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#15
I think they do have a soul, which makes more attached to them.

I can't play a song the same way on different guitars. And I always thought that a guitar chose you and not the opposed. When I walk up in a guitar shop (they are pretty small where I live), I try all of their guitars, except those that I already tried. I take one and I play. I can play on it for 10 seconds and it feels like shit, then take the next one beside it and I could play that guitar for hours and hours. I know that the electronics/material makes a lot of differences, but I think there is more. Where I bought my Hagstrom, there were 3 Ultra Swede. A black one, a red one and the Nitro edition (which I bought). I tried the 3 of them, and they all played differently ( not a huge difference, but enough to feel it). The best one was the Nitro (not because of the design, I actually preferred the black one design wise) for me. It plays like dream, even though they all had the same material.

And also, I would never modify one of my guitar, except for a project that I will do (a Bare Knuckle pickup on a Hello Kitty guitar XD), for the simple reason that I think it loses it's vibe, even if it sounds better. I also don't like to play on used guitars, because it just doesn't play like it is MY guitar. My best friend has the EXACT same Damien Elite 8 that I have, and his guitar doesn't feel as good as mine in my opinion.

And I do give them names, it just give them even more uniqueness. I feel like there is only 1 Oscar Schmidt by Washburn OX10 like mine, only 1 Schecter Damien Elite 8 like mine and only 1 Hagstrom Ultra Swede like mine. It's just how I think it is.

TL;DR : Yes.
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Seanthesheep
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#16
Ive noticed this a fair bit and have thought about it a fair bit, especially when it comes to my PRS.

I dont think I personally would describe it as a soul but when a serious guitar player find a guitar that suits them in a lot of ways, theres like a bond/connection. this sounds cheesy and cliche but its like at that point its not just a guitar, its an extension of yourself. when you have that, it isnt just about writing and playing guitar anymore, its like a new level.

the best way I can put it is this: you know how when you decide to get up and walk, its a semi conscious decision but you're not conscious of every muscle moment, just the general overall movement? its a similar thing, where you dont think about fretting notes but letting the music breathe from your guitar. dont know if anyone else sees it that way

btw it doesnt have to happen with a 3000$ instrument. Ive seen it happen to guys with like 300-400$ guitars to. it can happen with any guitar at any price point IMO
kratos379
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#17
There's going to be small differences in all guitars no matter what. They can't all be made the exact same way down to the smallest detail. In that way, yes there's always a small level of uniqueness in every single guitar no matter how much effort is made to make a guitar exactly like another one. I don't quite see the word soul fitting your description, but that's based off of my own definition of what a soul is. A soul isn't a real thing anyway, so I don't like using the term, except for when making fun of gingers of course.
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#18
It's not that guitars themselves have a soul, it's that they GAIN a soul through the constant hours you put into them. They simply become an extension of who you are as a person and as a musician. I tend to pick different guitars for different styles of music, just based on what I've put into the instruments themselves. For a metal tune/hard rock tune, I'll grab Cherri (my Washburn). For rock/pop, I tend to go with Archie, my Ibanez ARC model. Those guitars just sound the best to me in those genres
GibsonMan321
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#19
Quote by hminh87
If I paid good money for something I'd expect to be very protective of it. Soul or not soul.

Pretty much this. I don't name any of my guitars, but I paid a bunch for them and have invested a lot of time and effort playing them. I value them as possessions, but I don't believe they have anything like a 'soul' other than that they sound different.
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#20
Quote by Seanthesheep


I dont think I personally would describe it as a soul but when a serious guitar player find a guitar that suits them in a lot of ways, theres like a bond/connection. this sounds cheesy and cliche but its like at that point its not just a guitar, its an extension of yourself. when you have that, it isnt just about writing and playing guitar anymore, its like a new level.


This. Soon as i pick up a guitar, i have a good idea if I will like it or not.


Quote by dash-rendar
It's not that guitars themselves have a soul, it's that they GAIN a soul through the constant hours you put into them. They simply become an extension of who you are as a person and as a musician. I tend to pick different guitars for different styles of music, just based on what I've put into the instruments themselves. For a metal tune/hard rock tune, I'll grab Cherri (my Washburn). For rock/pop, I tend to go with Archie, my Ibanez ARC model. Those guitars just sound the best to me in those genres


This pat II. But i need that inital spark, even if it is tiny.

I also think strings add to this. When I put D'Addario's on my electric, it doesn't sound as good. When I put Ernie Ball's on, it comes to life. I know people who think the opposite of me, and I hear what they hear in their strings on their guitars.
Last edited by Shadowofravenwo at Oct 4, 2012,
Offworld92
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#21
I used to think so.

But then I graduated from high school.

Some guitars are better than others, some pieces of wood and metal resonate better, some cuts and layering of paint feels better. No doubt about it. But you don't have to be overdramatic and immature about it.
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griffin888
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#22
No, I don't. Guitars made of same woods, hardware, electronics, etc will all sound different because wood is a natural material. It's not consistent. There will always be subtle differences, I don't consider finding certain ones pleasing means that the guitar has a "soul."
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#23
i didn't read through it. i voted no, because they are just a tool, however i believe that your soul transverses through the guitar. so no they don't have a soul, but it channels your soul to the world.

its hard to phrase but that is how i look at it.
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#24
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
My interpretation of what a 'soul' is (as it is a very subjective idea) goes hand-in-hand with 'personality'.

I think the reason why people in this thread are scared off from the idea of a 'soul' is because the word has been stigmatized by religion. That's not what i'm getting at.


Except that one can't simply change a word's meaning based on "interpretation".
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#26
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE


My interpretation of what a 'soul' is (as it is a very subjective idea) goes hand-in-hand with 'personality'.


The 'soul' may be a subjective idea, but only to a certain limit. It can mean the immortal essence of a person, or the spirit, mind, psyche or self, but it always implies something that can experience emotions, basicaly trhe soul is supposedly a living entity. Infact, the ancient Greeks used the same word for'alive' as they did for 'ensouled'.

When you say 'personality', I suspect that what you are actualy referring to is 'distinctiveness', one guitar sounding not only different from other makes of guitar but also different from another guitar of the same make and model. Being distinctive, on it's own, doesn't imply something that can be considered alive or can experience emotions, therefore it doesn't imply a 'soul'.
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE

I think the reason why people in this thread are scared off from the idea of a 'soul' is because the word has been stigmatized by religion. That's not what i'm getting at.


Dude, the 'soul' is a religous idea, the word was invented by and belongs to religion, that's like saying that the word 'god' has been stigmatized by religion and from now on we should all start calling random inanimate objects 'gods', which obviously wouldn't make any sense whatsoever. You can't just hijack words that have a particular meaning or implication and use them for completely different meanings, it just ends up as gibberish.
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#27
Quote by trashedlostfdup
i didn't read through it. i voted no, because they are just a tool, however i believe that your soul transverses through the guitar. so no they don't have a soul, but it channels your soul to the world.

its hard to phrase but that is how i look at it.


I agree, its sort of like a tool you can channel your emotions through. I think some semi-famous guitarist said something like that..
Mad-Mike_J83
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#28
To me, it really all depends on "what level".....

Pretty much any machine can have a "soul"...frick, I also tinker with outdoor power equipment and I can tell you one Lawn-Boy mower has a different sound, cut, and happiness to start from another? The difference could be anything from who set the carburetor adjustments that day to what particular batch of (and the molecular stucture) of the material the carburetor is made out of.

Same with guitars.

Also any machine will be "happy" with you if you treat it nice. For example, I have a FREE Epiphone Les Paul that was thrown in a dumpster covered in mold, beer, and rain. Now, as you can imagine, and guitar that has sat in a damp environment, had beer thrown at it, piss poor mod-work, and likely had a horrible teenage brat throwing it around because it seemed "cool" at the time, of course the instrument is going to try and cut your fingers off with it's rusty strings and scratched up hardware. I bring the poor thing in, disinfect it, clean it off, polish it up, fix the electronics, put on new strings, and give it a proper setup, now it plays fast, and sounds like a far more expensive guitar, and does not want to kill me.

Now here's some spice for the thread at-hand, I once read a thread on the Telecaster Discussion Page where some guy was listing off certain guitars like characters of a boot..

http://www.tdpri.com/forum/bad-dog-cafe/25162-guitar-personification.html

In a way, via aesthetics and sound, they are a bit like individual characters, both in as broad a way as model to model, or even from guitar to guitar. Call it a Soul, call it what you will, but it's just what makes that piece of gear special to the person who feels it's their axe-mate or whatever.
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PsiGuy60
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#29
I do believe every guitar has a different 'character', because despite the manufacturer's best efforts no two guitars will ever sound completely the same. There must be something there, though I wouldn't call it a 'soul' per se. A soul implies that something has emotions of its own, which I doubt in the case of guitars.

However, I do think a guitar is a tool to show one's own soul to the world, and in doing so it colors the soul slightly. Because of this, when a guitar doesn't match your 'soul', it won't sound and/or feel good to you, and the soul won't be shown as clearly.
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#30
I believe that an instrument has "character" since you could make two of the same instruments with the amount care and time but ultimately both would feel and sound different to each other.

Differences of the woods and metallurgy has a part in this but it mostly comes from the craftsman or the lack thereof.
T00DEEPBLUE
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#31
Quote by Sunshine86
Except that one can't simply change a word's meaning based on "interpretation".

Its a grey area because a 'soul' is a subjective idea.
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The 'soul' may be a subjective idea, but only to a certain limit. It can mean the immortal essence of a person, or the spirit, mind, psyche or self, but it always implies something that can experience emotions, basicaly trhe soul is supposedly a living entity. Infact, the ancient Greeks used the same word for'alive' as they did for 'ensouled'.

When you say 'personality', I suspect that what you are actualy referring to is 'distinctiveness', one guitar sounding not only different from other makes of guitar but also different from another guitar of the same make and model. Being distinctive, on it's own, doesn't imply something that can be considered alive or can experience emotions, therefore it doesn't imply a 'soul'.

Dude, the 'soul' is a religous idea, the word was invented by and belongs to religion, that's like saying that the word 'god' has been stigmatized by religion and from now on we should all start calling random inanimate objects 'gods', which obviously wouldn't make any sense whatsoever. You can't just hijack words that have a particular meaning or implication and use them for completely different meanings, it just ends up as gibberish.

I guess so. If you're going to look at my view on a strictly rational level, it will be gibberish. I suppose the concept of an instrument having a 'soul' isn't exactly the correct word, i just use the word 'soul' because 'soul' is sometimes used in the medium of music. You can describe a kind of music as being 'soulful'- that's the kind of 'soul' i'm talking about. You can describe music as being 'soulful' without really referring to religion whatsoever.

..Unless you start going into the whole "MUSIC IS MY RELIGION" affair; that's another kettle of fish.
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I do believe every guitar has a different 'character', because despite the manufacturer's best efforts no two guitars will ever sound completely the same. There must be something there, though I wouldn't call it a 'soul' per se. A soul implies that something has emotions of its own, which I doubt in the case of guitars.

However, I do think a guitar is a tool to show one's own soul to the world, and in doing so it colors the soul slightly. Because of this, when a guitar doesn't match your 'soul', it won't sound and/or feel good to you, and the soul won't be shown as clearly.

This is why the topic is interesting because some people romanticise the idea of pouring ones 'soul' into their own music, thus giving the guitar a 'soul' onto itself. I would consider myself a fairly romantic person, but in a way that's at least somewhat justified or identifiable to most people.
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you don't have to be overdramatic and immature about it.

You don't have to be overdramatic about music, yet most of us choose to, do we not? If we feel so much emotion from something as innaminate as music, why not guitars?
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Blompcube
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#32
This is an interesting discussion.

No, i don't think guitars have souls by any definition. They are made from pieces cut from a living organism which may or may not have a soul depending on what you believe, but that piece of wood is no longer alive.

That being said, because wood is an organic material, each piece is going to be slightly different to the next, meaning each guitar is going to have a slightly different feel and tone to the next - each one will have a certain unique character. Moreso when you get into hand crafted guitars as the craftsmanship will add to that character too.

I don't think there's any need to get philosophical about it though - As a few others have said, i think that guitars are tools to do a job, and what we interpret as soul, mojo, emotion, whatever you wanna call it, comes from the guitarist and not the guitar.
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#33
If you love something enough and care for it enough, use it enough and treasure it enough, it gains a soul through your love. It becomes part of you and your soul.
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#34
Quote by JKHC
Yes.
I never understood why people name their guitars and treat them like they're a pet or something.


+1. Yes, every guitar is different, that doesn't mean they have a "soul..."

One of my friends gets on my nerves a bit because he is always naming his basses various different names. Quite annoying after a while.
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Shotgunmerc
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#35
I think the guitar's personality is a reflection of our own. Unless "piece of shit" counts as naming my guitar, I haven't actually named it. But if it has a personality, it's a reflection of my own. I'm "generally" pretty upbeat and positive about what comes my way, and those types of melodies really come out well with this particular guitar
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#36
I think it depends. That's a total cop-out answer on the subject, but I'll explain...

My dad and I put together a guitar years ago, a one-piece Les Paul style of guitar that he had gotten the parts from a Detroit luthier back in the 70's. This guitar has survive a garage fire, been finished and refinished by each of us, gotten countless electronic repairs done, and generally been gigged to death (probably above the 300 gig mark now). This guitar is, and will forever be irreplaceable to me. It's got character (blood stains in the natural finish from my gig accidents) and few chips from general use, and tarnish on the bridge and machine heads. It's wired backwards, so no one wants to take the time to figure out how to make it sound good, and has custom parts from various local dealers in the places I've lived. This guitar has a soul because I can look at it and remember a musical family history, gigs that I've played, and my learning process about fixing and changing out parts on a guitar.

I have several other guitars that may sound "better" than this guitar, but none of them quite feel as good as this one does. They all feel somehow less personal and therefore less substantial in comparison. If a tornado tore through my house, this guitar would be the one thing I grabbed before shit hit the fan (probably my dog too), as I know that there will never be another like it.
Shadowofravenwo
Recent tube convert
Join date: Feb 2012
1,676 IQ
#38
Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Its a grey area because a 'soul' is a subjective idea.

I guess so. If you're going to look at my view on a strictly rational level, it will be gibberish. I suppose the concept of an instrument having a 'soul' isn't exactly the correct word, i just use the word 'soul' because 'soul' is sometimes used in the medium of music. You can describe a kind of music as being 'soulful'- that's the kind of 'soul' i'm talking about. You can describe music as being 'soulful' without really referring to religion whatsoever.

..Unless you start going into the whole "MUSIC IS MY RELIGION" affair; that's another kettle of fish.

If 'soul' isn't the right word, MOJO definately is.

This is why the topic is interesting because some people romanticise the idea of pouring ones 'soul' into their own music, thus giving the guitar a 'soul' onto itself. I would consider myself a fairly romantic person, but in a way that's at least somewhat justified or identifiable to most people.

You don't have to be overdramatic about music, yet most of us choose to, do we not? If we feel so much emotion from something as innaminate as music, why not guitars?


Because he is clearly too mature for this discussion. Remember, he graduated whatever, yet still felt the need to contribute.
Mephaphil
No empty frets.
Join date: Apr 2012
1,956 IQ
#39
No.

A guitar is a tool for you to express yourself with. It allows your soul (if you like) to extend itself.

It's nothing to do with the guitar, its you.

Same with some people and a paintbrush or a camera. A paintbrush does not have a soul. It's a ludicrous notion.

Only humans and dogs have souls.

FACT.
Quote by Shredwizard445
Go ahead and spend your money, I don't care. It won't make you sound better.


Quote by Shredwizard445
Sure upgrading your gear will make you sound better.


M.V.
Registered User
Join date: Jun 2010
299 IQ
#40
Guitar definetily has soul, except if you are a lame player or have a guitar for a short time. I would probaby recognize that a guitar is different from mine, even if it's the same model. I played so much trough my guitar, I'm so psihically attached to it, it's worth very much to me and i wouldn't replace it