Entries in research (6)


Martin (and Taylor) guitars, the seasons for bluegrass, and burritos vs. burgers, according to Google Trends

Guitar discussion boards (like the UMGF and Acoustic Guitar Forum) often devolve into brand wars..."What's better...Martin or Taylor?" with fans of each weighing in. I'm not going to get into my preferences (other than saying I've had three from each at various points in the past, and still have at least one of each), and there really isn't an answer to that question anyways. The primary questions I'm musing about here are (a) whether one of these brands has garnered more interest on the internet and (b) has that changed over time?

A third question ties into my ramblings from last week on the prospects of vintage guitars as investments, where I questioned (c) whether there would be continued interest in this instruments over the long haul.

I recently ran across the Google Trends tool...Here are the trends for "martin guitars" and "tayor guitars" (top) and "martin guitar" and "taylor guitar" (bottom):


  • In the top plot, Martin clearly outpaces Taylor until mid-2010 or so. Then things are pretty even. But more interestingly, both are decreasing over time. Does this indicate that people are becoming less interested in these awesome instruments over the last decade?
  • In the bottom one, Martin is higher than Taylor until early 2007, then things are relatively even for a couple of years, and then Taylor takes over. These differences aren't really the product of increasing searches for "taylor guitar"-- that stays relatively flat (or at least doesn't trend one way or another, although it spikes and falls sporadically). Again, it's due to Martin slipping.
  • I did versions of these plots with "gibson guitar(s)" included and Gibson outpaces both, but that's likely due do the fact they make both acoustic and electric guitars. But Gibson trends downward as well.
  • In the top plot there are regular yearly spikes in December; a holiday gift effect?
  • What's interesting about this is that in the last decade, Martin pumped out more instruments that ever (see here for more data). Even with Martins in the hands of more players than ever, there's less interest in them, at least using this metric. 

In looking at some Martin dreadnoughts, it looks like the D-28 is still king, and that the D-18, D-35, and D-15 are pretty much similarly searched. But the entry-level DX1 comes in second; this speaks to Martin's efforts to expand their market reach with affordable instruments.


Is the guitar become less popular? Maybe a bit, but the "electric guitar" is being hit a bit harder than "acoustic guitar" (this plot clearly shows the December spike).


Here's "acoustic guitar" and "banjo" (note that if you just enter "guitar," it dwarfs "banjo"). They both are relatively flat, just trending downward a bit, and the "martin" downward slope is steeper than the general "acoustic guitar" slope. Also, "banjo" doesn't show the December spike in the same way that "acoustic guitar" does. Kids must not be asking for banjos for Christmas.


This one for "bluegrass" is cool because is so perfectly cyclical. Interest is low in November and then increases through the following summer, peaking in the height of bluegrass festival season in July and August. Then things drop in the fall season.


Just to show that some things have gone up over time, here's "facebook" (the plots for "twitter" and "iphone" are similar).

And here we see "wendys" being passed by "jimmy johns" and "chipotle".


*Note, these analyses were inspired by research by my friends and colleagues Drs. Patrick and Charlotte Markey.


We're #2!

I usually don't talk much about work here, but I couldn't think of a better place to note this. A few months ago I commented on the recognition that one gets from academic publishing; I just learned from a colleague that one of my articles (Le & Agnew, 2003) is the second most cited paper from the journal Personal Relationships between 2002-2013, and that among the PR papers published between 2010-11, another one of our papers (Le, Dove, Agnew, Korn, & Mutso, 2010) is the second most referenced in 2012. Wanna get cited? Do meta-analysis! 


Star Wars + Relationship Research + Facial Hair = Awesome.


What recognition matters?

On the left is a screenshot from David Bromberg's Facebook page; I took a photo at his concert last night at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and sent it to my friend Mark Cosgrove, the guitar/mandolin player in David's band. Mark asked me if they could post it on their Facebook page. I gladly agreed; I'm honored that they liked the photo.* In the first 5 hours, 165 strangers had "liked" the photograph, 18 people had "shared" my photo on their Facebook walls, and there were a number of very complementary comments.

On the right is the PsycInfo information on my most well-cited article (Le & Agnew, 2003...Our Investment Model meta-analysis; PsycInfo is the primary database for psychology journal articles). This paper was published a decade ago (coincidentally, exactly 10 years ago this month), and to date has been cited 153 times. I haven't gone through to talley up how many of those citations came from (a) me (probably about 10-15 of those are me citing that paper in my newer work), (b) colleagues I have done research with (maybe another 40 of those citations?), or (c) researchers in my field that I know personally (another 40 of those?). My guess is that there are about 50-60 people in the world who have stumbled upon that paper in their own research, without knowing me, and decided they like that paper enough to cite it in their own work.

Fifty people in TEN YEARS. Or 165 people in 5 hours? It's no surprise which one is more satisfying...

Update #1: In the time it took me to write this post, 7 more strangers liked my photo, but, to my knowledge, no new papers citing my article were added to PsycInfo.

Update #2: After a couple of days, the photo has been shared around 35 times and liked over 345 times (as far as I can see). 

*As an aside, at the last minute, on the way out the door, it dawned on me that taking my camera might be a good idea. I didn't know if photography would be allowed at the Colonial, but after seeing all of those people trying to take shots with their phones, I realized that with my X-Pro1 I'd be much less annoying/disruptive than everyone else trying to snap shots...


My response to "Why Should Professors Not Be Accountable?"

I'm not usually the sort of person to comment on stuff I read on the interwebs, but this letter to the editor on The Chronicle of Higher Education stirred me enough to respond...


Summer update

Sadly, the summer is ticking away at a tragically fast pace. There's only one more week of the summer research season (students are funded to work in labs for 10 weeks), and then a month until the last minute crunch before classes start. My summer students have done really great work and I'm excited about their project and for the skills they've developed over the last nine weeks.

I'm teaching stats/methods in the fall and need to start working on that syllabus soon. Plus I volunteered for a "transdivisional seminar" during orientation week and have a stack of articles to review (i.e., peer review for journals). Oh, and those manuscripts I'm supposed to be writing. Sigh...Summer goes by way too fast.

Last week we went to the U2 show at "the Linc" (Lincoln Financial Field); it was a good, not spectactular, show. But it was a nice summer activity and a good time with friends (other than the 90 minute traffic jam trying to get out of the parking lot). We saw U2 in Indianapolis 11 or 12 years ago, and I thought the band was tighter and more energetic then, but of course Bono and company are that much older now (and coming off of back surgery) so I suppose they should get some slack. The stage/screen was impressive and the band played most of the songs you'd want to hear, so all in all it was a good time.

Yesterday I went to the semi-annual Philadelphia guitar show (a.k.a., the Great American Guitar Show). It was smaller than when I last went a couple of years ago, and it's probably 70% electric stuff, so there wasn't too much for me to see. Plus it's pretty loud and hard to hear any acoustic guitars you might want to try out. But I did play a 1948 Martin D-18 that seemed pretty fantastic and a 1957 D-18 that was in really great condition that was also nice, but a couple other mid-50's D-18's didn't impress me as much. I'm starting to think a late-40's models is where it's at for me (since I can't affort a pre-war model!), if I ever get into the vintage game.

I also played a few late-40's to late-50's Gibson J-45's and SJ's, as well as a modern J-35 reissue, and didn't find anything that I was particularly impressed with. I've been wanting to play more Gibsons, but so far nothing has particularly resonated with me. Maybe I'm just more of a Martin guy.