Art Collectors Are Not Artists

After 30+ years in the business I am of the opinion that in the world of music, musical instruments, guitars and guitar players, there are two basic types of people that like and own guitars:

  1. Those who like to play music to express their creativity and impart some sort of message, or whom just like to play for pleasure,
  2. Those who like to call themselves a “guitarist” or an “artist” but who buy and collect guitars essentially only as ornaments for display in their own private museum.

I call any person that plays guitar and enjoys playing for whatever reason an artist. I call those that say they are artists and players but don’t really play at all an Art Collector.

“Art Collectors” are not Artists.

The number of guitars a person owns is not a sign of whether they are an Artist or and “Art Collector.” It is how they perceive their instruments and what they do with them that separates the two.

Artists play their instruments. Players have something to say. They enjoy communicating to the audience via their music. Those who like to play simply for enjoyment do just that: play for their enjoyment. Simple. It doesn’t matter if they are playing in a huge stadium in front of thousands of people or in their bedroom by themselves. They are players.

“Art collectors” try to attract and win over their audience by trying to impress them with their display of guitars, in much the same way as how we as the audience perceive artifacts at a museum or the animals at a zoo. They don’t really play.

The Artist is not so worried about looks and appearance of their guitars as much as they are about sound and playability.

When Artists try out a new guitar they play it, listen to it, feel it, compare it’s capabilities with what they are trying to do with their music, and determine whether it matches their creative needs. If it does not, they try something else until they find the instrument that does. With the instrument of their choice they feel better equipped to create and play the music they want to play and be the artist that they truly are.

To the “Art Collector” looks and appearance of their guitars are more important than sound and playability

When “Art Collectors” try out a new guitar the first thing they do is inspect it for it’s appearance, it’s physical attributes, and how “nice” it looks. They check for flaws, marks or blemishes and pour over specs lists and wonder such things as “where is the wood from?” or get upset because “there’s a little dent in the headstock” or “I see some swirls in the paint.” Whether it plays or sounds good is secondary to it’s appearance.

They treat the instrument as an ornament rather than the tool for their creativity. They go crazy if they get a little mark or scratch on their guitar. They criticize new guitars for their finishes or appearance rather than their electronics or sound. Their ignorance is in full display when they make such uninformed comments like “this can’t be made of mahogany because it is too light weight”, or “there is not enough/too many layers of lacquer on this guitar”, etc.

The Artist’s guitars get used.

Active guitarists usually have many guitars. And they play them. Each guitar has it’s use. Different guitars are required for different songs, styles of music, gigs, environments, and recording requirements. One guitar is not enough to satisfy the working player’s requirements or demands. A selection of guitars is necessary for the active player.

The Artist’s collection of guitars get knocked around, bumped, chipped, dropped, exposed to the elements, dirtied, broken, repaired, etc, Guitars go through frets, tuners, pickups, pots and jacks when they are used. This is supposed to happen.

The “Art Collector’s” guitars don’t get used.

The “Art Collector’s” guitars never get properly broken in, never get the required setups or care required, and deteriorate naturally through the passage of Time. They are merely ornaments. They are not being used for what they were made for and they get wrecked from disuse. Guitars that don’t get played get destroyed by Nature.

“Art Collectors” are not Artists.

Here at Gaskell Guitars we welcome all people that have an interest in left handed guitars, collectors included. Our Custom Shop guitars are not only works of art in themselves but they are the best left handed guitars in the world for quality, sound and playability. We are judged on the playability and reliability of our instruments, not just how awe-inspiring they are to look at while hanging on the wall. Any guitar that is played a lot is going to get all banged up and bruised eventually. It’s going to happen. You can’t keep it looking perfect … unless you don’t play it.

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