Monday, 17 November 2014

It's not about the gear

Guitarists love gear. Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) is a common condition. Lots of people are on the quest for Ultimate Tone (whatever that may be). They talk about it on podcasts and have endless debates on forums. I personally have fairly limited experience of different gear. I've owned 2 electric guitars and sold one of them years ago. I've had a few cheap amplifiers, but am now fairly happy with my Roland Cube 80x and Belcat 20r valve amp. I've not had many effects pedals, but my Zoom G3X is doing the job for me now and giving me some experience of what I actually need.

Would I like more gear? Of course I would, but do I need it? I feel I have to justify any purchases, so most of what I have bought in the last few years has been to allow me to play in a band situation. Previously I played almost entirely at home and wasn't even recording. I'm hoping the current band will play some gigs next year. Come that day I could probably justify having another guitar as a back up and to give some more tonal options. I'll go into detail on that nearer the time.

So, why do people obsess so much over gear? We would all like to be better players, but it's easy to blame playing issues on the gear. The way I think of it is that most of our guitar heroes who grew up in the 50s and 60s had to learn with guitars and other equipment that we would consider pretty bad. In many cases they had to build it themselves or modify what they could find. Even when they could afford something better the options were limited and quality was probably a lot more variable than now. They just had to get on with it and made lots of amazing music.

Now you have the choice of hundreds of different guitars with huge ranges from each major manufacturer, thousands of effects pedals etc and at prices from pocket money to eye-watering. It's probably fairly hard to find anything being sold that is really bad as competition and mass production methods mean that quality is consistent. We are spoiled for choice and I think the excess of options leads to confusion and stress over making the wrong choice. Those are general problems in modern society. 1st world problems.

I could buy lots of cheap gear, but I'd rather save up for something special and I feel that I need to be a better player to justify having the good stuff. I believe that what I have is probably good enough for the performing and recording I want to do and I plan to invest time and money in playing. Having a family means there are other priorities when it comes to the budget.

I was actually thinking of starting a podcast that talks more about playing than gear. The much missed Six String Bliss had a good mix in that respect. I may look around for someone who would be up for co-hosting a show, but I'd like to have interviews with players of all levels. I've no experience of this sort of recording, but I have a few friends I could ask for advice.

All opinions are very welcome.

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