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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who chooses who? Guitars or buyers?

It has been an enduring belief that when we are given time to plan and consider, we will be able to make better choices that are most logical, suitable and conscious. Many pragmatists have been surprised by the reality and actuality of choices making in relation to time availability and planning. They don't correlate ...

A gorgeous indian rosewood back

A Jeff Yong Build, with tropical wood, Angsana Back/Side

Both guitars shown in the above pictures are classed under the rosewood family. Would you be able to differentiate their tonal qualities by greater clarity than their aesthetic values?

Sidetrack from the art of appreciation for guitars in both the aesthetic and audio (a.k.a. tonal qualities) aspects. Committing adultery is a taboo and we surely don’t want it to happen but life has a life on its own. Sometimes we encountered events that resulted in certain unplanned decisions. There were good decisions and there were also bad ones. As we learn about the world, things aren’t black and white. What about decisions that were neither good nor bad? I will simply call them the unexplained decisions.

Amygdala hijack, a clinical psychology condition that hits some people. Extracted from: - The term amygdala hijack describes any situation in which a person responds inappropriately based on emotional rather than intellectual factors. The amygdala is the emotional center of the human brain and can create split-second responses when a person is threatened. An inappropriate emotional response to a perceived threat is thus called an amygdala hijack. The term was invented by psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman in his 1996 science bestseller, Emotional Intelligence.

It is not necessary a bad thing. It is like pain that acts as a form of protection, a warning, and an impetus to drive us into taking certain actions to avoid being harmed physically or emotionally. Amygdala hijack offers a unique protection mean for the affected people. Try to picture this; you’re away on a back-to-back business trips, stress levels were considerable high at work, as these trips can become determinant factors to your career progression. The work demands have taken its toll on your relationships with your spouse. It was at all time low, not about quantity of time but it was simply the substandard interactions that widen the relationship gap. For a few weeks, it was noticeable that your spouse has been partying regularly which was out of the norm. Responding to text messages were frequently apparent, the excitement in attending to those text messages was nothing short of elation. It was not the same when responding to your text messages, at least from the words used in the responses.

You have returned from one of the back-to-back trips and your spouse wasn’t home. It wasn’t a bad thing as you took these quiet moments to ponder, and you left the house to catch a breather at a local pub. Alone and downing a few short glasses, your peripheral views caught a familiar image. You saw a couple seated at the corner of the pub, their backs facing you. The silhouette was uncannily familiar, the outfit was positively recognizable, they were intimate, their body languages were telling, they drew closer to each other.

Amygdala Hijack

That was your tipping point. You grabbed your filled shot glass and stormed towards the couple. Forcefully, you pulled the other party by the shoulder and towards you. Without a word, the content in your shot glass was emptied onto the person’s face. A few seconds after, you began to see clearer and realized that they are strangers to you. What just happened? Was it one of those unexplained decisions?

Picture this now; you have saved up for months, and you’re all primed and poised to purchase your dream guitar. You are inclined to meaty and compressed tone, disliked shrill and thin sounds. All the months of research and testing have led you to understand your preferences for guitar tone. With your preferences sorted out, you have shortlisted a few guitars, mostly were rosewood guitars. When you walked into your local store, immediately a gorgeous looking guitar hung within the custom guitars section has caught your attention. Resisted the urge to try it, you tried to focus on your guitar list. You strolled along the isle within the store. The image of that gorgeous guitar kept appearing in your head … succumbed to your desires, you picked the gorgeous guitar for a test drive and the rest was history … it was maple guitar. What just happened? Was it explainable?

Who chooses who?

In many cases, we assume that we own our consciousness, we control our thoughts and thus the actions resulted by them. Nothing can be further than the truth. Certain actions we have taken have little or nothing to do with our consciousness. While we don’t have full control over our thoughts and actions, we are certainly responsible for all of them.

There are people who were absolutely adamant about differentiating the tone of different tonewoods. However this belief was repeatedly put through blind tests and it was debunked beyond any shadows of doubts. I would propose; sight by mind and faith by heart. When we are dealing with preferences that are derived from passion, our sight has little value in the deal. Did we select guitars base on appearances or tone? We could hardly determine the weightage of each factor but my many encounters with guitar seekers at my local guitar stores have shown me that these people have been amygdala hijacked when in the presence of the wood beauties. They were not really conscious of their thoughts, much less any sense of control over their actions. This topic is potentially controversial and you are free to disagree with me. As long as you’re happy with your guitar, this is all that counts. Happy shopping consciously!


  1. I fully agree your post!! I used to have have been amygdala hijacked, but now i think its cured the moment I bought my 2nd acoustic guitar. Will let you try when the opportunity arrives.

    I think to sum up your post with a few lines of my own:

    'Wood Beauties doesn't gurrantee fantastic sounding'
    'Trust what you hear instead of what the price tag suggest'
    'Big bucks doesn't ENTIRELY gurrantee excellent sound'
    'Branding doesn't ENTIRELY mean good sounding'
    'Tone is always subjective'



  2. I mostly agree with you Adam, but I believe there should be room in our lives for decisions made by the heart as well as those made by the head. Either way, we sometimes get it wrong!

  3. Most definitely. When heads versus hearts, there is no winner, only outcomes. Time will reveal to us the suitability of the choices we have made in the past. Actually ... there was intention on my part to seek for agreement or affirmation. It was an article to generate thoughts and questions. It was posted in AGF and there were some serious replies I must say! Ha! Ha! But I am glad the topic did the job of getting people to agree, disagree, and agree to disagree.

    By the way, I really enjoy reading your blog articles. They are mostly down to earth, basic yet tasteful and very practical. Keep them coming!