Internet forum field guide: gear recommendations

Enter with caution.

If you frequent any of the various woodwind-related Internet message boards, forums, or listservs, you have undoubtedly encountered some of the wildlife I will describe here. Remember that they can be dangerous creatures, and that it is often best not to attempt interaction with them.

One of the most common animal behaviors witnessed on the message boards is the exchange of gear recommendations. There are two primary families of wildlife the participate in this ritual: the askers and the answerers.

The askers

The askers all share a common behavioral trait: a proclivity for asking total strangers to blindly recommend instruments, mouthpieces, reeds, and other items. Their calls are varied.

Some prefer to remain hidden in the underbrush, offering no clarifying details:

hey guys first time on this board what reedz should I use lolz

Others have a more elaborate song, characterized by pointless oversharing:

Hi, I’m 13 and I have been playing the sax for 3 yrs and 2 months and I RLLY want to sound like David Kozborn and I have a pink Unicorn sax that is the best kind they sell on Amazon and its an E flat alto and I use a SmoothTone mouthpiece size .79c-plus-lyre-medium and Nabisco alto sax reeds size 4.725 but I sand them down to a 4.720 and a Goodyear extra-lite jazz-edition interchangeable-plate ligature but I’m gonna get the super-extra-lite for my birthday and I was wondering what neckstrap should I get. Also I play left-handed.

Still others exhibit a particularly puzzling behavior, seeking recommendations online when they clearly have much better resources at hand:

So I’m a senior flute performance major at Flagship State U. and I take weekly lessons and masterclasses from my flute professor who is the principal in the Major Metropolitan Symphony. Also there are three major flute specialist retailers within an hour’s drive of where I live. So, since none of you Internet people are familiar with my playing, can you recommend a good headjoint, preferably something costing over $2,000?

The answerers

One typical answerer behavior is the terse, non-specific reply, often submitted within seconds of the original post, and sometimes without reading it completely:


Others take time to establish their own dominance in the food chain:

i have bin playing clairnet for 3 wks at my school and im pretty sure the best kind is Dandorin or somethin like that

Many have very specific recommendations to make. These recommendations are often for instruments that are no longer manufactured, and take the tone of an aged grandparent explaining to a bored grandchild how no good cars have been made since 1949.

What you really need is the SuperLoud Model 5B. Despite the fact that I mention them in every forum post, nobody seems realize they are the best instrument ever made. There are 40 of them on eBay right now, none of them with bids yet. Yeah, sure, lots of professionals and educators recommend specifically against them,  but you should probably listen to me instead of them. Remember, it’s all part of a conspiracy between the mafia, the government, Buffet Crampon, and PepsiCo.

Of course, some have finer tastes and will only recommend the most expensive options:

Make sure you get one from the WWII era, preferably post-Anschluss but prior to the occupation of the Sudetenland. It will cost as much as a kidney transplant and will require about the same amount of maintenance. It’s expensive but there’s no other way to sound like a real pro. Also, you won’t have to worry about the nuisances of modern instruments, like ergonomic keywork and good intonation.

A certain variety of answerer sees every equipment query as a chance to boast about his or her own acquisitions.

Well, personally I like to use my Mach III for jazz and for music indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, but I prefer my trusty Emperor Superb 49 for reggae and baroque. Of course I also bring both of my Dynamo-Actions on gigs, the nickel-plated one in case we do a ballad and the one with the auxiliary G key in case the temperature in the venue is over 76°F. Plus if my wife isn’t using the van I bring the Mach III½, the Mach IV, the Mach IVB, the Admiral, the Très Inutiles Deluxe, and a harmonica made of solid gold.

And often there is an opportunist waiting to pounce:

I have a 1962 Gewährleistungsausschlußregel that I can sell you cheap. Trust me, this is the only instrument you will ever need. It’s perfect except it needs all new pads and the lower joint is missing. Plays great. Email me dude.

If you dare to observe these creatures in their natural habitat, I strongly recommend that you bring insect repellent and a large grain of salt. (With that warning in mind, check out some woodwind doubling, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, wind controller, and/or ethnic woodwind forums.)


5 responses to “Internet forum field guide: gear recommendations”

  1. ericdano Avatar

    Hmm, sounds strangely like a sax maybe on the web sorta thing….

  2. Jerry Pritchard Avatar
    Jerry Pritchard

    Hilarious and Brilliantly done, Bret…and all too realistic!

  3. Geoff Allen Avatar
    Geoff Allen


  4. Nail on the head! Love it

  5. This describes what ultimately chased me away from one of the largest musician forums in the world. When you get over 20,000 participants, it can be hard to control the crazies. No, really! ;0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments that take a negative or confrontational tone are subject to email and name verification before being approved. In other words: no anonymous trolls allowed—take responsibility for your words.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.