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When guitars.SE was merged, music.SE had already decided what kinds of questions to field (which I absolutely do not disagree with). An unfortunate consequence of that is that the guitars.SE community subsequently had no say in what questions were on or off topic (unless you were following both proposals of course).

Recently, there have been a rash of closings on questions that the moderators of music.SE believe to be off-topic here, but they were considered on-topic in guitars. The reasoning behind some of the closings where completely valid (shopping questions, etcetera), but others were simply closed as "off-topic." A good example of this is this question. From what I gather, this question was labeled out-of-scope of the site, but I respectfully disagree. Questions related to how to set up pedalboards, amplifiers, and effects should most definitely be on-topic or you risk reducing the value of the site to the entire electric guitars community. Lots of folks have no clue how to properly build a pedalboard or how to change tubes in their amplifier so that they don't fry anything. I believe that questions like these have a lot of value, and shouldn't be discouraged just because they cross cut electro magnetics and circuit design. I think that the scope of music.SE should be revisited and changed to include topics such as these as valid.

Discuss.

(Note: If the community decides that these questions are off topic then I will respect that--I'm not attempting to start a "flame war," but I do believe that the guitars community content should be respected. We all worked hard on it.)

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    If guitar electronics are determined to be off topic, then that's going to be a betrayal of the guitar folks who agreed to this merge. It'll also make this site absolutely useless for any pro electric guitar players. – neilfein May 29 '11 at 13:55
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    As it stands there's some oddities in how moderation is being applied. Powering effects was closed (reopened and then dow voted) but the Death Cap question was not. If merging means this kind of strangeness is now the norm I'm out. – Ian C. May 29 '11 at 14:02
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    I'm approaching this here as if this were a brand-new site. Rather than evaluate the old questions, let's agree on some basic stuff, then see how it works going forward. People will be less sensitive if the questions are "hypothetical". – neilfein May 29 '11 at 14:12
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    I believe that the questions about instruments (including instrument care AND building instruments) clearly do belong here. Relevant reading: discuss.area51.stackexchange.com/q/205/27849 – Kos May 29 '11 at 14:13
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    Thanks for posting this, Jduv, I appreciate it. And I agree, except on the current draw question since it applies equally to all electronics, it's not about guitar electronics. – Matthew Read May 29 '11 at 14:24
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    @Ian There are three moderators and hundreds of new Guitar questions. We can't be everywhere at once, constantly re-evaluating everything. If something needs attention, flag it. Threatening to leave is unproductive. – Matthew Read May 29 '11 at 14:37
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    @Matthew Read The current draw question is unique specifically to guitars because of the way that power supplies are built. They aren't built like your normal plug-into-the-wall power strip you get at the local electronics shop, nor do they share anything in common with a computer PSU other than the components that compose them and the equations that describe how those components work. An effects PSU is a special case, and understanding current draw on guitar pedals and how they match up with PSU's is quite valuable if you don't want to blow up your stuff :D. I'm still on the fence on this one – Jduv May 29 '11 at 14:55
  • @Jduv I had no idea. Thanks for explaining, I withdraw my complaint. I'm glad we have your expertise. – Matthew Read May 29 '11 at 15:07
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    Please don't start titles with Music Moderators:. Scope is something the community as a whole is (and needs to be) involved in. – Rebecca Chernoff May 29 '11 at 15:47
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Guitar electronics:

An electric guitar is only a musical instrument when it's connected to an amplifier; the electronics are an integral part of the instrument. Guitar electronics are clearly on-topic, and by extension, electronics that modify that tone while playing. That includes pedalboards and rack systems, both common ways that guitarists get their sound on-stage or on the studio.

(Please up- or down-vote to agree or disagree.)

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    Very much agree. – Ian C. May 29 '11 at 14:03
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    +1, but I disagree that it's not an instrument when disconnected :P – Matthew Read May 29 '11 at 14:25
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    @Matthew - How about this - it's not an instrument that can be used in the sense of others realistically hearing it. If a guitar is chopped down in the forest and only the deafened metalhead is there because he held the axe, did it make a sound? – neilfein May 29 '11 at 14:29
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    Very punny. Anyways yes, I agree with the basic premise that the electronics used in music should he on-topic. – Matthew Read May 29 '11 at 14:30
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    ...or think of it as analogous to a trumpet mouthpiece: You can play it, but... – neilfein May 29 '11 at 14:38
  • I like the trumpet mouthpiece analogy--I was trying to think of something similar. I mean I suppose you could mike your Les Paul and run it through the PA. It would make windmills nearly impossible though ;). Sorry I couldn't resist. – Jduv May 29 '11 at 15:01
  • @Jduv - Actually, I miked the strings of an electric bass guitar once in the studio and mixed it with the amplified sound. Wouldn't work in a live setting, though, I had to turn the mic preamp "up to eleven", so to speak. – neilfein May 29 '11 at 21:17
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Shopping questions:

These should be off-topic, no matter what the old Guitars site did. I didn't like them there and I don't like them here. However, we do have people who are insanely familiar with what's available, and we should take these questions and (where possible) edit them into a form where they're asking for help in evaluating the options. "Which distortion pedal do I buy" would become "how do I understand the difference between different distortion/overdrive pedals". If the question is so bad we can't reasonably do that, it should be closed.

  • This is likely to be a very contentious point. Have made this CW, maybe others can soften my hard-line approach. – neilfein May 29 '11 at 14:26
  • This is great IMO. Jeff specifically recommends the kind of rewrite you suggest in a blog post. My answer when this came up before: http://meta.music.stackexchange.com/questions/125/are-shopping-list-questions-on-topic/126#126 – Matthew Read May 29 '11 at 14:34
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    Completely agree with this. Leave shopping questions to the forums or rewrite them such that they are acceptable. +1, and another if I could. – Jduv May 29 '11 at 15:13
  • Shopping questions will come up, but they are by necessity too localized in time and space to be generally useful. OK, maybe AMP a is better than amp B, but not if you can find amp B for 30% off because it got a stain on the fake leather. And then a year later amp C comes a long and blows all competition out of the water. :) So, helpful, but off-topic. – Lennart Regebro Jun 2 '11 at 10:34
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Amplification of musical instruments:

This one is a tricky one. "How can I get a good live sound when micing my acoustic guitar" makes sense if it's from the point of view of what a performer needs to know. If the question starts veering into sound engineering, we politely migrate it to Audio.SE, but we should allow these in some situations: musicians need to know how to work microphones. (I've had too any musicians who are afraid of the mic, and unconsciously back away from it in the studio and on-stage, resulting in bad sound.)

So, by that logic, stuff like this would be on-topic:

  • "How to sing into a mic without SSS'es and other hard consonants blowing it out"
  • "I'm a flautist, where should I stand with relation to the mic"
  • "where should I stand next to my valve amp so I can get feedback when needed".

The following would be closed or migrated to Audio:

  • "How do I get rid of line noise in a live pedalboard rig"
  • "How do I get rid of ground-loop hum in a guitar rig"
  • "Will an amp or a DI box give me cleaner tone on bass guitar".

(They're quite good at answering questions like these.)

  • I agree with this, but I'd prefer a clearer line. We're still going to have the same arguments otherwise, due to disagreement about what "veers into sound engineering" etc. – Matthew Read May 29 '11 at 14:26
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    Maybe the real question is: When things are on that line, do we leave them open? Duplication is okay, to a point. – neilfein May 29 '11 at 14:39
  • There's also the problem that migrating to beta sites like Audio is generally discouraged. I should ask some other mods about that. – Matthew Read May 29 '11 at 14:41
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    I agree with Matthew, and I think we're going to have a disagreement here because there really is no clear line. I'm on the fence as to if I think those questions you mentioned should be migrated to audio when they could be fielded here. They are, though, only tangentially related. – Jduv May 29 '11 at 14:50
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    @Jduv - Part of the problem is that there are questions better answered by a musician. Effects are the main one: they're not just sweetening, guitarists use this sound to change how they play, playing into the "wet" sound. – neilfein May 29 '11 at 21:13
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    I'd also like to mention that I'm a mod on Bicycles, and we have questions that overlap with Fitness. We answer those questions with an emphasis on how they relate to cycling. Similarly, crossover questions here would be answered with an emphasis on performing and making music. Audio would answer them with an emphasis on how to get a good audio signal. Both are important, but the populations are quite different, and migrating some questions there will be denying them good answers from musicians. – neilfein May 29 '11 at 21:16
  • Well always have this problem, until live music engineering and music recording is deemed to be a musical activity and on scope. But that will take time. – Lennart Regebro May 30 '11 at 4:39

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