Have you noticed that even though we’ve expanded Sweet Notes to 16 full pages (jam-packed with great new gear and valuable information), there still seems to be so much material that it often spills over onto my page. I suppose I should be thankful, since now there’s less pressure on me to come up with some brilliant new (and page-filling) column.

Last issue, as you may have noticed, the editor printed my e-mail address at the end of my column at my request. I thought I might get a little additional mail, but I wasn’t prepared for all the messages you guys out there sent me. Quite honestly, I’m flattered that so many of you took the time to sit down and write to me. I sincerely love hearing from you and I’m pretty sure every one of you got a response back pretty fast.

Surprisingly, a lot of you wanted to know what ROM-based instrument I was creating guitar sounds for with the SansAmp Acoustic DI (as mentioned in my Early Summer Sweet Notes column). Unfortunately, due to nondisclosure agreements, I can’t give out that information. For all of you who were hoping it was for your specific instrument, I can only say I wish it were. I’d love to have a whole bunch of our tremendous Stratus / Sweetwater guitars and other sounds available for all the sample-based machines you inquired about from each of the big players like E-mu, Roland, Korg, Yamaha, etc. However, as much as I’d love to create these sounds for you, the companies have to believe there’s a demand for them. So my suggestion to all of you is to contact the company directly and tell them what you want. Believe me, they will listen. None of these companies got to where they are today by ignoring the people who actually make music with their products. Enough on that subject.

A more puzzling group of messages appeared in my mailbox that I feel deserve some public discussion. Quite a few of you wrote and asked me all sorts of technical questions which literally ran the gamut from simple to downright complex. Now many of these questions were easy for me to answer, particularly those that concerned areas I feel particularly comfortable with like guitars, amps, samplers and mics. Of course there were others that simply were out of my league.

Out of curiosity, I contacted these people and asked them why they had sent me their questions instead of contacting Sweetwater. I was a bit taken aback by some of the responses. It seems that there are some folks out there that still have the impression that Sweetwater exists simply to make a sale. Several of you told me that you didn’t want to be pressured into making a purchase that wasn’t really right for you and wanted my input before making the call to Sweetwater.

While I must once again say that I’m flattered that all these people felt comfortable enough to contact me (and believe I know what I’m talking about), I feel I must clear up a misconception here. Let me back up and mention one more time that way before I began writing columns and articles for Sweetwater, I was a customer, just like you (in fact, as it happens, Chuck Surack was my personal Sales Engineer at the time, which shows you how long ago that was). I made all my purchases based on the advice I got from Sweetwater and always — always — felt I had gotten exactly the right gear for my needs. There was never any pressure to buy something I just didn’t need.

As I have gotten to know Chuck personally over the last eight+ years, I can tell you with complete confidence that his philosophy is the company’s philosophy. There is absolutely no way that he would allow any Sales Engineer to coerce a customer into buying the wrong gear or something they just didn’t need. In fact, I have been at the Sweetwater offices and heard, first hand, conversations that some of the sales staff has had with customers in which they talked people out of spending big bucks on products that wouldn’t do the job. Or directed them to other, less expensive alternatives, or even told them ways to get their existing gear to perform the functions that they required. That’s really going “the extra mile” for a customer!

I’ll make this brief since I haven’t got much room: Please continue to send me e-mail — I love hearing from you and getting feedback on my column. But when it comes to advice, you really and truly need to call the people who have the answers: The Sales Engineers at Sweetwater. A lot of these folks are my friends and I know they will do you right. What’s more, I know that when new Sales Engineers come on board they are given an extensive training program that specifically outlines the Sweetwater philosophy of dependable advice and absolutely no sales pressure. So when you have questions, call the experts. When you want to discuss an issue or topic that has appeared in my column, by all means, let me hear from you!

Jim Miller can be reached at jim_miller@mindspring.comrrrabuyvsvsveytfazersurdwarubawvev