Something I love to talk about almost it seems on a daily basis is theoretical reality Vs Practical reality!! The two are not quite the same....
In theory, when I wake up in the morning and make my way to work, any number of theoretical tragedies could unfold from slipping over on the soap in the bathroom through to crashing my car on the 1 mile trip to my shop. In practice however I don't let these details overshadow my day! I am mindful of the possibilities, am aware of their existence but I allow my practical mind to stop me worrying and getting bogged down in all the "what ifs".
So.... how does this all pan out in the Wold of Guitar Buying? Here is how...
Theoretical Reality #1
" Wood types govern the tone of the guitar, so I will opt out of certain acoustic instruments due to the wood used in production. "
In practice there are so many variables that effect the overal tone of the guitar that you cannot exclude ANY wood type when trying/experimenting with guitars. I have witnessed so many rules of tone being broken over the years that anyone who focuses on "theoretical reality" will not benefit from one of the greatest experiences which is "testing your own pre-conceptions".
Theoretical Reality #2
"I wouldn't buy an acoustic with a cutaway as I have heard it destroys the tone"
I would like to believe I have a good ear for acoustic tone after the many years (nearly 2 decades) of testing thousands of them pre sale with the desire to expand my experiences. I have to say hand on heart that I would like to believe I COULD tell you which brand of guitar is being played in my store - blind. I should be able to get close on the model too. However, if you put 6 Stonebridge GS23 CR models and 6 GS23 CR C models (cutaway option) I could NOT tell you which is which. The reason? Each guitar will have its own personal sound cutaway or not - although every guitar will share the tonal VOICE of the GS23CR. Trying to differentiate between the tonal variance caused by the guitars personal characteristics and that of the cutaway - well that would be beyond my ear for sure! So once again, the theory is sound - of course the cutaway has "an" effect on the tone but its not one we should practically allow ourselves to cloud our judgement.
Theoretical Reality #3
"An all solid wood acoustic is the best"
Whilst once again the theory is sound, manufacturers prey on the uninitiated by providing "specification" that sells the product without even having to play one. Just remember that a poorly manufactured instrument will always sound poor regardless of what it said on paper (the theory). Transversely a well made acoustic built from knowledge and experience can sound fantastic even from basic materials. This is another reason to focus on practice IE the practicality of playing! Trying and exploring. Being mindful allows you to experience a moment without prior judgement - sometimes this is essential to get a true picture. If your mind is full of theory (theoretical knowledge / "reality") these can be totally at odds with the practical reality you are experiencing and you must not allow these "theories" to overshadow your own reality in practice (practical reality!). What is real is what you are experiencing NOW.
This list of theoretical Vs practical realities is almost endless - I would be writing all night if I gave you all of them. This post is really about getting you to challenge the theories and be aware that in practice even something that is theoretically "correct" is not always worth worrying yourself over and certainly not worthy of changing your chosen path or worse still - stopping you from taking the path at all.