Back in the late 1990’s, a QVC vendor approached me to help design an acoustic guitar and produce a how-to video for it. I was intrigued. The guitar, especially the acoustic guitar, was and is very important to me.
I wrote down some specifications, including all the things I really thought were important to making a great guitar. A low action (distance between the strings and the fingerboard), was important to me. Most lower priced guitars have actions that require the strength of King Kong to press down the strings. I included other things that I thought would add to the playability and aesthetics of the guitar. Solid wood construction was one of them. Most inexpensive guitars are painted plywood and have the tone of a hairbrush.
I submitted my specs to the vendor. He forwarded them to a few companies overseas that made guitars. In about a month I had several sample guitars. I set them out in my den and waited for a few weeks. All but 2 of them warped to the point of unplayability in less than two weeks.
Between the two survivors, one was really easier to play. I contacted the vendor and he proceeded to have a bunch of them made. Then I went to work writing and producing the video. I broke it into 6 different parts. I used one of the many video production houses in Manayunk. Took several hours to shoot and another few hours to edit in the graphics (it was mostly analog then).
In less than a year, the guitar and video package sold over 100,000 copies. This made the video one of the best selling how-to-play-guitar videos in history. I have received many emails since from people who learned to play the guitar from the video. I was especially gratified to find out how many young people learned to play using it. I am also proud to say that many of the guitars are still making music. The one I had stayed very playable for over a decade. Along with a copy of the video, I gave it to a friend’s son who wanted to learn. I’m pretty sure he’s still playing it today.
When the video went out-of-print, I put all 6 pieces of the video on YouTube for free. I wanted to give back and help as many budding guitarists as I could. It has a dedicated to tuning since digital tuners weren’t readily available when the guitar was made. But the other 5 sections have a lot of good information for beginners. My goal was to have everyone making real music as quickly as possible. Here is the URL for section 3.
Sadly, since the guitar I helped to design, TV Shopping Channels have sold some awful guitars. Many were plywood instruments that still had a heavy chemical smell (from the finishing materials) when you opened the package. A great inexpensive guitar and video combination would sell well and bring in tons of new customers.
These days, many companies make really good inexpensive guitars. Yamaha, Takamine, Fender, Guild, Gretsch and many others make fine instruments priced between $200 and $300. A new video could be inexpensively made on a PC or Mac.
The TV Shopping Channel’s website could even offer regular instructional updates. Again, a guitar and how-to video would tap a whole new customer base and add a lot of entertainment value to the live show. With my lifelong guitar association and reputation, I am the perfect product spokesperson for this. If you are a vendor for one or more of the channels, get in touch. It’s a winning proposition for us, the channel and, most importantly, the customers.