Over recent gigs, a thought has become increasingly prevalent in my mind – is it essential or desirable to own and use expensive musical equipment as a musician?
Much of my waking time is spent playing, transcribing, teaching and listening to music. Now, it may come as a surprise to hear a music professional say this, but many of the tools I use to carry out my trade are NOT high end expensive equipment. Furthermore, the majority of my students do not own expensive instruments. However, in my view this does not prevent proficiency or enjoyment in making music.
For sure, I own an expensive acoustic guitar, and a top end set V drums, for teaching on, but I don’t actually NEED these in order to do my job. In my band, as lead guitarist I use a G and L telecaster, but not the USA version, I use the Indonesian “tribute series” for which I paid about £200 used and can be bought for less than £500 new last time I looked. (ok so £500 is not a small sum, but I could easily spend 4 or 5 times that amount for no improvement, so you get the point). I also have a Yamaha Pacifica which is perfect as a backup, and use an Orange Tiny Terror combo amp, £250 to me used. And a couple of pedals, job done. Some of my colleagues in the bands I work in bring THOUSANDS OF POUNDS WORTH of gear to shows. Yep, it’s lovely, but does it make a difference to the job in hand? Nope, I don’t reckon so.
The truth is that as long as an instrument is well maintained and well set up, it will do the job, and in most cases will sounds perfect to the audience. Ok, there are some very cheap guitars and drums around, but these days a £200 investment will buy a nice serviceable instrument.
So what? Well, it strikes me that a player will sounds like themselves whatever they play. I know I do. So, next time you are hanging your nose over that four figure piece of gear, fur sure go for it, but you don’t actually need it. Yes, you need quality, and need to shop for well reviewed items that “speak to you” but at a certain level, any price increase will reap marginal gains. All I’m saying is think twice.