With Friends Like You…

The following is shared in the public interest

Below is the greater part of a rather interesting message I had received out of the blue, and my reply, both of which have been redacted.

“… People are largely clueless about TSP and assume too much about his connection to Martin.  He may prompt some people to post dumb things like [Name Redacted] did, and others to believe they’re doing the world a favor by promoting him. But they don’t know him. He’s a fake and his playing is remedial at best.  It’s garbage guitar stuff, but since most members can’t play too well, they think it’s good.  It is kindergarten nothingness. Just Mel Bay Fake Book -1. The other forum dealers have had enough of him promoting MM. One is planning to hire Craig Thatcher or Richard Starkey to demonstrate their stock and post it on the forum.  The others will follow. It will expose Phillips’ for what he is.”

Mr. Phillips’ Reply:

There is nothing new about people casting aspersions about me and my writing, or suggesting there is some secret arrangement between Martin and me – often put forward by people whose personal tastes bias them against Martin in a manner similar to my own bias for Martin.

Just as there is nothing new regarding you taking the time and trouble to share privileged information about the terrible things being said about someone by individuals named or anonymous. Not that you are ever capable of such things yourself, of course.

My Relationship to Various Dealers

I make it plain [in the About section] on my website that I consider Mandolin Brothers my local Martin dealer and that I have been responsible for many sales for them [and other NYC dealers like Rudy Pensa, and Sam Ash, and Guitar Center, etc.] and I lay out in detail my relationship with Maury and Lori Rutch [of Maury’s Music,] which goes back to before they were in the guitar selling business, even though I have not actually been directly responsible for sales that I know of, except any that might have happened because of the videos I do for them. And I go into detail about some of the many guitars that were sold by Jon Garon [of My Favorite Guitar] because of my direct advice and recommendations. I also include a long list of links to other dealers who I have heard good things about, even though I have never had dealings with them.

But I did enjoy the notion of someone suggesting my motives and opinions could be countered by hiring some professional guitarist or other who has been paid by Martin for many years, presumably to offer a more trustworthy and less bias opinion than the person who has never worked for Martin.

In Re: My Guitar Playing

I would be the first to hope my playing could qualify as remedial, since the point of the videos is to provide a level playing field for people to compare various guitars. And I am the first to say that my playing is nowhere near the quality of many other guitar demonstrators.

I actually received a rather funny backhanded compliment from some reader who sent me an email just yesterday. He equated my videos to other guitar example videos by way of the underwear he had ordered for his wife. He basically said that once it was delivered and tried out at home, it failed to recreate the impression given by the teenage lingerie model in the catalog. 🙂

His point was that my simple examples of music, used over and over, “put the focus on the guitar and not the amazing chops of a guitarist who could make an Esteban sound good.”

On the same day, I received a comment on my site from another reader who I do not know, saying, “I really appreciate what you do and am in awe of your talent regarding translating what you hear into words, something that is far more difficult than can be imagined. Your professionalism, wit, and thoughtful comments always make one confident in the knowledge that you impart in your reviews.”

So I must be doing something right.

Considering the Source

As for your personal comments relating to things I have said to others about you [Redacted from the above communique,] you simply have no idea how many people I met in [your home city] and elsewhere who encountered you under other guises than the one you have presented on the guitar forums.

But really, I haven’t bothered about such things for years.

I met one of my all-time favorite people and had some of the most fulfilling and enjoyable experiences of my entire life because of your subterfuge. I am indebted to you for that more than anything else, and I always felt a little sorry for you that you needed to embellish yourself when you were plenty charming and entertaining without your suspect connections or masquerades.

Sure, I was taken aback when I first figured out the person with all the famous friends, who considered me worth flattering for some reason, wasn’t who he claimed to be. And yes, I did tell a few people about my revelation during that initial period of shock.

But I was truly surprised to hear in reply that some people had already known all about you and your machinations, from sources independent of mine, and told me much more that they had known for years before I found out about you, but which they chose to keep “back channel” for their own reasons.

That was what? Almost ten years ago now.

And while you may continue to influence the minds and opinions of various people of a trusting, well-intended nature that have yet to learn better, I would bet their number is outpaced by those who do know better – without a word being said by me about any of this.

When it comes to the internet forums, the long list of isolated, ‘just between you and me, because I love you like a brother and I don’t just tell that to anyone…’ type of communications you engage in, often focused on disparaging the reputation of various individuals, famous or familiar, through almost too hard to believe accounts of shocking or vindictive behavior, has long been compiled by a much broader collection of aware individuals than you would ever allow yourself to believe.

That fact brings into serious question any attempt on your part to confide with anyone about anything construed as being in their best interest.

6 thoughts on “With Friends Like You…

  1. Well thank you, Robert and Mr. Baker – and hr. Rasmussen. Thank you very much for such encouraging words.

    I do not make a habit of airing laundry in public. But I have learned, when something is maneuvering in the shadows, it is often best to turn a light on it.

    And this particular mountebank has a long history of encouraging or instigating such commentary about all sorts of people, including those he most flatters to their face.

  2. When I lived in the States I had experience with how guitar shops could behave badly towards other shops. Less childish than thuggery. The chap who here has this site seems a decent fellow, with knowledge and insights. This report of him we have from many people read. But this exchange had me seek more about him. Someone will please tell me where I may acquire such a kindergarten book that will let me fake like this?

  3. Great site, comprehensive evaluations of the guitars and very informative. Seems to me the reviews are about as neutral as Switzerland has tried to be and as for your playing, I may be one of those kindergarten players but I am impressed with your style. Saw you play on Maury’s youtube and was glad to have found this page.

    Some of the riffs you play sound really great to my ear. I have tried and will continue to try to figure them out.

    I especially related to your comments about demo’s, in that highly skilled guitar players can turn a pair of plain underwear into lingerie model wear. I did not see your demo’s as being flashy, slick or being full of showmanship and I have been a regular viewer for months and have you bookmarked among my favorites.

    There are internet trolls everywhere and their input should be marked and discarded accordingly.

  4. I really like your website, your informative reviews and I think the pieces you play so well enable some quite useful comparisons and contrasts to be made – even via YouTube – to help narrow down what to look for when considering a new guitar. This is quite helpful to me because I’m a lefty and I just can’t walk into my local music store and have a selection available. It must be quite a treat for you to try out all the Martin NAMM offerings every year, but you also make it enjoyable for us members of the public when NAMM is only open to the instrument trade. But it is not just about Martin guitars. Your review that I especially enjoyed was that of the Lowden O50C African Blackwood. Please keep on reviewing!

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