Many of us suffer from G.A.S. (gear acquisition syndrome). We tend to take consumerism to a new level. We want new sounds and new ways to play, but that comes at a price. Guitar gear is generally expensive and most of us don’t have a lot of money to spend. Here are some tips to get the gear you want without breaking the bank.
- Practice! You are the most important piece of gear in the room, so take time to become a better player. If you do, you will sound better no matter what gear you have. Practice is free and it has the biggest effect on your sound. Gear can’t help you if you don’t practice and improve your playing. Everything else – guitars, amps, effects, etc. – comes second to your ability to play. Invest in lessons, DVDs, method books or whatever else helps you learn.
- Time is money! Ask yourself, “Will this gear be useful more than half the time that I pick up my guitar?” If the answer is “no,” then there’s a good chance the gear will be a waste of money. If you ask yourself this question before every purchase, you can squash the impulse to lay down your hard-earned money.
- Get the two for one deal. Sometimes you can find gear that fills multiple needs in one package. For example, many entry-level and mid-level amps come with on-board effects like chorus, flanger and delay. They’re not as good as the stand-alone stomp-boxes, but they’ll get the job done on a budget. Another example comes from Kate, one of my students. She wanted to buy a loop station to help her practice. I recommended a loop station that also has built-in effects and an amp simulator from Line 6.
- Don’t fall for the fads. There is a lot of competition in the market for your hard-earned coin, so companies are constantly trying to sell you the latest gimmick for your guitar. Do your research before buying a product that is completely new to the market. Guitars have been around a for a long time, so completely new and unique products should be looked at with suspicion. Try before you buy.
- Buy used. Guitar gear is a lot like exercise equipment. People buy gear thinking that they will use it, only to let it sit and go unused (see #1). Later on, when those people sell it, you usually can get a bargain. Since they were barely used, they usually are good as new at a fraction of the retail price. Check the Pennysaver, Craigslist, Ebay and your local guitar store for good deals. I bought a $500 Yamaha acoustic at Guitar Center for $200 because it was used. It was in near-mint condition!
For more information about me and the guitar lessons that I give, visit www.ewguitar.com.
Amen brother. I am reeling back a bunch of my junk – getting to that tele, the two strats, and the Takamine acoustic. No more guitars… not for a while. I need to get better first. That thought (improve before you invest in more gear) runs through my head every time I look at equipment.
I will say this though – having had a few guitars I didn’t like helped me understand what I really did like and what I really did want. I appreciate what I have when I compare it to what I had and why that gear didn’t work out.