Make Magazine Critique

While I think Make Magazine is a pretty cool idea, the production values are about 20% of what they could be. I just finished watching their “first take” of a vacuum forming how to, which ended up being their final take. While I appreciate their desire to produce projects that anyone can replicate at home, they need to go a step further than just copy what’s on the internet and charge eight bucks for it, without experimenting a little and seeing what they can improve upon beyond what’s already out there for free.

I’ll admit that their cigar box guitar project got me to build one, but damn, is it a crappy how to. The final product isn’t even half a step beyond the “proof of concept” stage. Gluing the bridge directly to the soundboard is more than sloppy. From what I can tell, they didn’t even bother to build a second one to refine the process – they just did a very neat job of constructing the first one, and published that. Had they built a second one, they would have seen that a neck-through body is a much better option. Wire or nylon strings would have been a huge step up in playability, making it an instrument rather than a novelty, and using screws or eye bolts as the nut and bridge would help in keeping the strings in one place. Lets not forget frets. Gluing giant chunks of wood to the bridge does not make a fret. 24 medium sized nails would have done the trick nicely. This isn’t genius stuff, just…. build more than one and fix the massive mistakes in the initial one. I won’t even get into the grotesque abortions they call tuners. I need those like I need 12 holes in my neck… oh wait that’s what they did. The video was pretty embarrassing, he couldn’t find a cigar box so he made one out of a heart shaped box (4x4x4″) glued at the very end of the neck. It was… ugh.

This plastic form thing, first off, should have been done silently, and then had a voiceover. Everyone always forgets the voiceover. He attempts to make a Tiki mask mold, which more or less fails, and then spray paints it to make up for the failure. If he’d done it two or three times he might make a convincing argument. I guess part of the fun is learning from your mistakes, but if you can’t even make a proper mold of a relatively simple tiki mask, what can you reasonably expect to make with your own? Material bill is pretty high, an entire sheet of pegboard, destroying part of your shop vac (one of the more useful attachments at that), and a sheet of some sort of plastic you’ll only use the first (and last) time you fail.

I mean, I have no problem with them trying to bring a “you can do it” attitude to the masses, but you should probably consult someone who’s done this before, before attempting to teach others. I would have loved to have seen a professional guitarist critique their design, give tips on cigar box shapes, and suggest changes. Not a lot of work is involved in making the cigar box guitar into an actual playable instrument if you go at it correctly from the start. Rather than a Tiki mask it should have been a gorilla face for a gorilla suit, or a storm trooper – because let’s face it, that’s what you talk about initially, and that’s really what you should be showing us.

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