Going back a few years, people had to communicate by calling each other on their landlines. If you go back a few more years, people had to actually go to the trouble of writing on a piece of paper, and sending it in the mail.
This was a problem for ancient guitarists, imagine you'd just travelled 70 miles back to your village after jamming with a friend in the forest. You get home and you've forgotten the third chord in the second song you wrote on your Harpischord, without it there is no way you can remember the tapping solo you transposed for your Lute.
You had to write a letter to your friend and ask him what the chord was, and about two weeks later you'd get the reply, your worst suspicions were confirmed - it was a G minor... you thought it was an E major, fool.
Thankfully, such tragic circumstances will never again plague the modern guitarist, for a young man named Mickey Richardson has created a social network purely for guitarists. It's like a virtual utopia, there are no profile pictures of people taking photos of themselves in the mirror whilst pouting, or looking upwards into a webcam like on MySpace, almost every profile picture is a guitar, or two guitars, or ten. Need help learning a scale? Just write a status update about it, and just watch the notifications pour in as people post helpful comments, most importantly, without being trolled to high heaven.
I was so impressed with ShareMyGuitar.com, that I had a chat with the site's Editor In Chief, Mr Mickey Richardson, to find out more about the social network...
RB: Mickey, Hi! Share My Guitar is a social network for guitarists; could you explain to our readers how this is different from existing guitar forums and blog sites?
MR: "Hi Rich, first off, it’s great to speak with you and your readers. I have to admit that I didn’t set out to recreate the wheel with Sharemyguitar.com. As with most social networks, forums and blogs that you look at, you can see similarities. With SMG, I wanted to take the best features from other websites and create the very best social network for guitarists around."
RB: Would you say the site is aimed at any particular type of guitarist? For example; are there more shredders than classical guitarists on the site?
MR: "Well the site was created for all guitarists of any genre, style, etc. But SMG just so happens to be dominated by electric guitarists, more so than acoustic players. With that, yes a lot more shredders than classical players. But the cool thing is that there is a mutual respect for everyone no matter what skill level, genre or type of instrument they play. That’s another great aspect of SMG, in that it is a very positive environment for musicians because everyone shares the love of guitar and understands the dedication it takes to play the instrument. On SMG, people are genuinely interested in helping each other. We all know the type of juvenile and mean-spirited comments found on YouTube and other similar websites. The opposite is found on SMG, and we aim to keep it that way!"
RB: Have patterns in how members use the site shaped the evolution of Share My Guitar, have you added any sections to the site that weren't there to begin with?
MR: "Yes, sure. The way our members use the site has completely shaped the flow and functionality that you find on it today. I definitely pay attention to how members most use the site and I listen very carefully whenever members contact me. For example, someone recently asked if we had a ‘Fan Pages’ feature like you might find on Facebook. We didn’t at that time, so we just added this to our site a few days ago. Since it is such a new feature, we will keep our eye on it and see how it goes. If it needs any tweaks or enhancements, we will make necessary updates. This is a good example of how the site has morphed from the original release of SMG to what you will find today."
RB: Within 24 hours of signing up to SMG, I had 50 friend requests - they were all from people I'd never met! The site seems to be great for networking with people with a range of different skills, is this something you intended?
MR: "That’s awesome! That’s exactly what I was hoping for when I created SMG. Since I’m a guitarist myself, I was looking for a way to connect with people who play guitar in order to learn answers to the tons of questions I had about playing guitar like: What kind of strings should I use? What is the correct way to hold a pick? What songs should I focus on learning? What scales should I practice? The list goes on and on. The thought process was that if I could find a community where I could exchange questions, ideas and so forth in a format much like Facebook but just for musicians, it would be the perfect way for me to connect, network and progress on guitar. I was fortunate to find that as soon as the site was launched, members joined SMG and were extremely knowledgeable, friendly and willing to share answers and advise to anyone with questions about playing guitar."
RB: What's the dream with SMG, do you want to be the first place guitarists go to on the web for all resources?
MR: "Our goal is for SMG to become the social network for all musicians. Right now, there are a lot of website choices for guitarists that appeal to a wide range of people, not only musicians. SMG aspires to offer musicians their own place to network and share their guitar!"
RB: Are there any plans for harnessing the power of more recent developments in social networking such as live streaming, or video conferencing (could be great for communal jams/guitar lessons)?
MR: "Oh yeah for sure. We looked into that and the problem is that with technology as it stands, it isn’t possible to jam with other musicians online and hear each other in real time. There is always a bit of delay in live web streaming due to various Internet connections, bandwidth, web browsers, etc., and timing is so vital when playing music. But we are looking into adding a feature so that students and teachers can connect for online lessons, so keep an eye out for this feature on a future release of SMG."
RB: How steep was the learning curve in setting up SMG?
"Very steep, the Grand Canyon as a matter of fact! Yeah, but just like a musician's approach to learning a new instrument - you can attempt to prepare yourself by reading a lot off material, listening to a lot of music or taking to friends and thinking it all makes sense. But its not until you actually start trying to play that instrument that you realise how challenging it is. At that point you have to work really hard, and not be afraid to get help when needed."
RB: Other than your own site, what's your favourite guitar website?
MR: "Well obviously sonicstate.com is one of my personal favorites! But I also dig the forums on Gibson, Fender, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and many others."
RB: Have you had any celeb sign-ups yet? Who would be your dream acquisition as a member for Share My Guitar?
MR: "Not really Although I noticed one day that Nigel Tufnel had signed up and I was really excited, but shortly thereafter another Nigel Tufnel surfaced on SMG. Was the first the the ‘original’ Nigel and the other, the ‘new original’ Nigel? It was hard to say.
"If any of my real life guitar heroes joined SMG, I would be STOKED and they include: Alex Lifeson, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Angus Young, Slash, Buckethead, Zakk Wylde, Andy Summers, John Frusciante, Eddie Van Halen, Buddy Guy, Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Paul Gilbert, Billy Gibbons, Steve Howe, Brian May, Vinnie Moore, Mark Knopfler, Eric Johnson, B. B. King and many others!"
RB: Mickey, thanks for talking to us. Before you go, could you tell us what guitar you play, and why you play it.
MR: "It’s been a lot of fun Rich. As far as the guitars I play… for electric I play a ’76 Gibson Les Paul Standard. It’s heavy and has all the sustain and tone you could ever want in an axe. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. I also have a 2010 Gibson ES-335 Custom Shop Dot Reissue with a Bigsby. I love the tone of the 335, plus it’s lightweight and such a classic design. I’m not sure if there’s a better looking guitar? Well, I know that if you ask ten guitarists “what is the best looking guitar?” prepare for ten different answers! For acoustic guitar I play a Taylor 314ce. I have always been impressed with the quality and consistency of Taylor guitars and the 314 model is the same guitar as some of their higher-end models they make without the fancy stuff added on (and little more affordable). It plays and sounds great! My only dilemma is which of these awesome guitars to pick up and play?"
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