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There’s a time for everything, and now it’s time for the Backstage Blog to make way for progress and to be replaced by Custom Boards’ content pages.

  • Gallery – Take a closer look at the pedalboards we made for over 200 Finnish musicians. Find out about their equipment choices, and listen to their music.
  • Tutorials – Find out how to make your own pedalboard, and how to best use it live.
  • Articles – insight about different artists and their equipment.
  • Videos – Custom Boards’ video gallery.
  • History – Take a look at Custom Boards’ history.

I’d like to share with you my reasons for starting the blog in the first place, its original purpose, and some developments I have noticed on the Internet. I will also shed light on my visions for the future of my posts and writings.

BACK IN 2011 I had become extremely frustrated with the music media; especially by reviews in print, which featured equipment, without ever giving a personal opinion on its usefulness. Band features and record reviews were plagued by ever-repeated platitudes and mediocrities. Music journalism had become a mockery.

To me it seemed that there weren’t any pieces relevant to the job of a guitar technician or a gear enthusiast. Nobody was writing about how equipment was holding up to life on the road, how to perform emergency repairs and servicing, or similar things.

I had read everything on these subjects that I could lay my hands on – a little grain of information here and there – and compiled everything into lists and stories for my personal use. I sent those writings out to different people, whenever they asked me for solutions to their technical problems, until I suddenly realised that there could be a real demand for this kind of content among musicians as a whole.

I STARTED MY OWN BLOG in autumn 2012, writing about gigging and touring from a musician’s and a technician’s standpoint. I wasn’t afraid of airing my views, dispersing my information as widely as I dared. It became clear to me rather quickly that I learned a lot by writing and researching stuff. I concentrated on a single issue each time, releasing a new article each month. Then I came up with an ambitious plan in 2013: I would write a new article each week for two years and post it every Wednesday. Even though it meant a lot of work, I managed to stick to my plan. My last weekly blog post went online on midsummer of 2015.

In hindsight this idea was completely nuts, and it wore me out quite a bit. The pressure of coming up with next week’s post was on me 24/7, and it was especially bad as I wasn’t (and still am not) a professional writer. There was a blank page staring at me, and I knew I had to fill it, and fill it well, by next Wednesday morning.

Even though those two years have left their mark, I must say that my timing was very lucky. In the timeframe between 2013 and 2015 only very few people (if any) were writing on the Net about the same subjects as me. The feedback told me that many musicians and upcoming guitar techs genuinely benefitted from my writings, which gave me the strength to push on.

AFTER TWO YEARS of constant work I took a well-deserved vacation, taking time to try and figure out what kind of content the people online were still craving. I wrote stories and articles of different length, whenever inspiration struck me, and I also released a number of videos. But over time I started to realise that the Internet had changed drastically, and not necessarily for the better.

Commercial media had analysed their headlines in A/B-fashion, finding out that negative headlines generated far more click traffic than positive headlines. It felt like this type of behaviour also started to trickle down into social media platforms, changing people’s online behaviour irrevocably during 2015.

Many started to write openly about stuff they had only dared to utter hidden behind a pseudonym before. Ignorance didn’t seem to stop some people airing their opinions on complex societal issues with annoying conviction. The sunny summer seemed to relax people sufficiently for the tone online to become friendlier, but come autumn and the old negativity returned. The tone of the conversations seemed on a downward spiral from year to year, until the negativity online – and especially on Facebook – reached a record low last fall. To me it felt that even the warmth of the summer of 2017 hadn’t managed to lift people’s spirits up, and that the negativity on social media was here to stay. When the autumn came the “comments mill” kicked into motion again with a vengeance, becoming increasingly painful to watch.

I TRIED TO KEEP a positive tone in everything I wrote. Some of my posts were met with – sometimes vicious – criticism, but I could live with that. I had managed to grow a thicker skin over the years, just like most people who publish articles on the Internet. Over time, though, this new type of negative response got me to think about the state of the Internet as a whole, and Facebook in particular.

There has been an exponential growth of the amount of online content, from when I had started. I still remember how I got excited at the likes my first posts had generated. Twenty likes, 28 likes – that was a lot for 2013! FB’s algorithms have long been on my side. My writings generated the interest of a few hundred followers, growing into tens of thousands of clicks over the years.

With time my interest in writing started to wane, as did my own enthusiasm. This is illustrated in things like my growing disinterest in watching rig rundowns of my favourite artists’ equipment on You Tube. In 2011 I had still been eager to get a glimpse of anybody's touring rigs, but now I felt like I was drowning in information overload. The Internet seems to be bursting at its seams. Right now, I’m not sure if there’s still space for any additional information, and I’m also not sure if I still have anything relevant left to say.

THE MAIN REASON for shutting down the Backstage Blog lies in the company I founded last August – Custom Boards Finland Ltd. I want to be able to focus on generating content for my own website, concentrating on information that is of use to musicians, when they try to solve problems related to their equipment. This had been the original idea behind my blog, too, but over time things had become much less focused. Over the last months the Backstage Blog has been adrift, because I couldn’t find a way to make it a worthwhile part of my new agenda.

In my view there’s a wealth of still-relevant material on the Backstage Blog, simply begging for an update. All my posts and writings are safely backed up, and I will release the material in updated fashion on Custom Boards’ website over time.

At the moment the core of our most valuable information is contained in our tutorials section, which contains most of the Backstage Blog’s technical information, and which will be updated further as we go along. I will try my best to keep all the information well-sorted and easy to access, so that we will continue to help musicians with their equipment, as well as with adjusting to life on the road.

Updating the old content for use will take a while, and some Backstage-content may prove to be too dated to see release on Custom Boards’ website. All material will be released in both Finnish and English, so it takes a while before the Finnish original is translated. Maybe I will also start writing the occasional new post – let’s see how the world develops over the coming years. I will try to keep a keen eye to find out which areas aren’t covered by other writers.

I WOULD LIKE to thank everybody for reading my columns and articles. With almost 2 000 000 clicks, I think it is fair to say that I have managed to inspire many musicians out there. Thank you also for your comments – even the negative ones. Dialogue keeps your life rolling, so we won’t stop learning.

23.4.2018 Kimmo Aroluoma
The writer is the owner of Custom Boards Finland. He is a veteran guitar tech who has toured for years with Finnish bands HIM, Amorphis, Michael Monroe, The Rasmus and Von Hertzen Brothers. Today he designs pedalboards and runs his own web shop in Helsinki, Finland.

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