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Open Letter to the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Dr. PhunkyPants, Aug 12, 2004.

  1. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    I just thought I'd share with you a letter I sent earlier today to James Rotondi, Editor-in-Chief of "Guitar World's Bass Guitar Magazine". It obviously reflects my views and no one else's, and if you think James should be told something different, I'd encourage you to write him at: BGEditor@guitarworld.com


    I'm going to keep this note short in hopes someone on
    your staff will actually read it and share it with
    you. I'm not sold on your publication and here's why:

    1. Your content needs to stop being a watered-down
    version of last month's Bass Player. The Geezer
    Butler cover is a lamentable case in point and this
    issue is full of similar re-hashes. If you care about
    your magazine and your credibility, KNOW what's out
    there already.

    2. Your reviews are pathetic. Not every critical blow
    needs to be softened. I no longer read BG's reviews
    because they ALL come to the same bottom line: "It's
    not for everybody, but if you like it, you like it!"
    Gee, thanks for the value-added analysis.

    3. The Editor's Letter is too much about you and too
    thin on message. Compare yours to Bass Player's Ed's
    Letter which neatly occupies a full page--NOT one-half
    ad, one-quarter face, one-quarter message. That
    letter is where you should be articulating a vision
    about the community BG serves. So far, that vision is
    "Hey look at me! I played keyboards with Mr. Bungle!"
    No one cares, son.

    4. Stop allowing publication of readers' letters that
    slander other magazines. I hope Rolling Stone sues
    you to drive that point home. It makes you look, and
    your staff look, like petty trailer trash.

    5. Please. don't. ever. let me read again that
    something ought to be part of an on-tour survival kit
    because it doubles as a "roach clip" (pg 49). And
    don't even try to say that was in jest--nothing else
    in that column is keyed to humor. Encouraging illicit
    drug use, or any illegal activity for that matter, is
    about the most journalistically irresponsible thing I
    can imagine. Shame on you, for real.

    6. Few things say more about BG's attitude toward
    music than the decision to go tab-only. While the
    immensely respectable Tommy Shannon uses his column to
    encourage readers to obtain and learn Bach's Sonatas
    and Partitas for Solo Violin--three pages later, hello
    Tab City! Does one extra page of that litter
    box-ready newsprint cost THAT much?

    7. The Sarzo outro piece was spot on. Too bad it was
    marred by at least one grammatical error unacceptable
    in an undergraduate term paper. Doesn’t MS Word have
    a spellchecker?

    8. I'm wondering if you are aware how quickly
    “Bassdom” has coalesced into a vibrant online
    community in the past two years. If you've missed it,
    check out www.talkbass.com. Check out www.bgra.net.
    And check out Bass Player! Love it or hate it, that
    magazine's emphasis on a worldwide playing community
    and on solid musicianship has sparked a minor
    revolution in the history of the instrument.

    Bottomline: I want to see your magazine succeed and I
    think everyone else does, too. If you asked me to
    help somehow, I would do so in a second—-because the
    bass instrument and the bass playing community embody
    a spirit of inclusion, honesty, and above all, mutual
    support. But in the end, it is up to you, or your
    successors to create something original to offer that
    community. The day I see you rise to that challenge
    is the day I renew my subscription.

    Best regards and good luck,
    Brian Kaye

    P.S. I've cc'ed Bass Player on this note because I
    mention them extensively in the body of this letter,
    and it just seems appropriate
  2. Lackey


    May 10, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Wow, they've gone to tab ONLY? THAT's regressive.

    Bold letter, hopefully it'll do some good.
  3. I wrote a letter to BP about two years ago (the one with the Rob DeLeo cover) and lambasted them on quite a few issues, and tho I was a tad "mocked" by the editor per se, in the past year or so that mag has gotten a bit better...more pages, better reviews, interviews with people that can actually play, diversity, insight.

    I dare not claim it was my doing, but my letter was the embodiment of quite a few people's frustrations from the Fenderforum boards.

    I think your letter, if the editor has the balls to publish, will open some people's eyes, and in a way may improve it.

    But then again, Guitar World is a ccrap mag, as is their bass version.
  4. Zirc


    May 13, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I remember when I used to subscribe to that magazine. What a crock.

    Good for nothing comes to mind. And it's especially useless (like most mags now) because of the internet.

  5. +1
  6. SlavaF


    Jul 31, 2002
    Edmonton AB
    I bought the one with Geddy Lee on the cover, and while that interview is decent and there are a few other good ones, it isn't nearly as interesting or informative as the "Bass Guitar" that's published in the UK (I own the one with Steve Harris on the cover). Now THAT is an excellent bass magazine, and I would gladly pay $7 for it. Not so for Guitar World's mag.

    Also, did anyone notice that the John Myung scale lesson in a previous issue of GW's BG mag was EXACTLY the same as what he did in his instructional video? There was nothing different!

    I agree with you wholeheartedly though. IMO BG is a third class bass mag (Bass Player is a bit better and the UK published BG mag is worlds ahead of GW's BG).
  7. keb


    Mar 30, 2004
    Yeah the few times I've thumbed through GW's bass mag I wasn't too impressed. I've never been impressed with Guitar World to begin with though.
  8. cosmodrome

    cosmodrome Registered User

    Apr 30, 2004
    ****town, Netherlands
    i bought that issue for the first time in 4 years and the word 'geezer' pretty much defines my opinion. i remember it used to be better.
  9. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    I completely agree. Is there a newer one than the one with Duff McKagan on the cover? I've been looking all over for it. The lessons in that mag dominate.
  10. tappel


    May 31, 2003
    Long Island, NY
    Dr. PhunkyPants,

    Don't be too surprised if you don't get a reply, or if you get a canned reply, from BG Mag. It will take them about 5 seconds to realize that you are not in their readership demographic. As such, why should they care what you want?

    Quite frankly, their circulation is pretty strong and they market the magazine accordingly.

  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    That raises my question: "What is their target demographic?" Dr. PP, you don't write like a 14-year-old and, if that is the magazine's target demographic, you and I are destined to dislike it. Someone's got to exploit the teeny-boppin', slab-slappin', plank-spankin' wanker market.
  12. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    I believe you are correct in this regard. It is all about product differentiation--Bass Player is clearly for a more sophisticated market. The Guitar World product is aimed at the same market Guitar World is aimed at, with the only difference being that the readers play bass. My guess is that the demographic is primarily young males.

    All that said, I do feel an "all tab, all the time" approach is a mistake. Guitar World did used to have a combination of tab and standard notation. In fact, their notation helped me to learn to read music and showed me how much more informative standard notation is than tab, because with the tab right under the standard, it was plain how useless tab was in comparison.

    Now their readers won't get to see that. They will also get the notion tab is the legitimate notation and the standard form is just an archaic style for orchestra and jazz snobs.

    That is a mistake. Maybe I will be inspired to write to them also and express my concern.
  13. BlasphemyArise


    Jul 15, 2004

  14. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    FWIW--If I DO get a response, I'll be sure to include it here.
  15. Sonorous


    Oct 1, 2003
    Denton, TX
  16. Coutts_is_god

    Coutts_is_god Guest

    Dec 29, 2003
    Windsor, Ont, Canada
    I'm not going to lie. The number 1 reason I buy Bass guitar world or Bass player is because I get to go to the Guitar store and PLAY with the basses.

    Reason 2 I like the pictures.

    Reason 3 I like trying to learn the songs in the book

    Reason 4 The interviews.

    I've actualy got to like a few bands because of the books. (Living Colour, Rush, Primus, Velvet Revolver,)

    My 2 cents
  17. I concur with your letter-I've often thought of writing something similar- but agree with the others who say, "why bother?" If you read their letters page, you can SEE their demographic...

    The only reason I even look at the mag is that they have some of the greatest photos in the biz (Kim Gordon, The Dead Kennedys' bass player come to mind), but that's all.

    Plus the fact that BP is superior because they cover both bass guitar and upright bass.

    I guess that's all I had to say.
  18. Way to stick it to the man, Dr.! :cool:
  19. Corbis

    Corbis Guest

    Feb 19, 2003
    Wamego KS
    I've noticed that they rip off BP a whole bunch too. All I have to do is see who was on Bass Player last month and.......its on BG cover THIS month. With a crappier interview, cappier reviews, and dissing other mags. Its like a bunch of bitter middle schoolers wrote it.

    Also whats this about about LOSING HALF AN INTERVIEW!!! In Geddy Lee issue they lost half an interview with someone. (19 points to whoever knows).

    I am in their target group. (16, white, male) and I was really looking for to Bass Guitar since I figured with just focusing on Electric Bass they're would be more about new up and coming bands with bassists to check out.

    All I got was mag with bad reviews, bad interviews, and horrible horrible lessons filled with nothing but TAB. Trying to tell me that a bass part thats all plam muted slaps is worth a page lesson.

    wow the more I typed the madder I got :meh:
  20. modflea


    Apr 26, 2004
    Lafayette, LA
    For the 19 points:

    The Kim Gordon interview says (continued on page 54). However page 54 is the end of the Stefan Lessard interview.

    As I said in a topic when the issue first came out:


    1. Whoever proofread this magazine was not paying attention. On page 28, it says the Kim Gordon interview continues on page 54. Well unless she has turned into Stefan Lessard, I don't think that's right. As a matter of fact, the end of the interview is nowhere to be found in the entire magazine. I looked cover to cover!

    2. In the Geddy Lee interview on page 40, it says (see sidebar page 39). Well p. 39 is the picture of Lee, but no sidebar is in sight! On p. 44 in the same interview, it says (see sidebar 38). However p.38 is the first page of the interview, but voila no sidebar! Now since the question was about Geddy's $200 Jazz bass, I'm assuming it refers to the sidebar on p. 40.

    Way too sloppy work for a "professional" magazine.