|How I've changed as a musician.
||[Apr. 30th, 2013|06:00 pm]
I've always been a gear-head, and I think that is wonderful on so many levels. It got me my job, it helped me make the network of awesome friends that I have, and it gave me a place in a band. For instance, there is always the guy in the band who books the shows, and there is hopefully the guy than can get people to come out to the shows. I was the guy who could fix the gear, I could record the records, I could prepare the art for the print shop, and I even could sometimes fix the van on the road.|
Because of my gear-head nature, I have enjoyed buying, selling, and collecting gear over the years. It wasn't always this way, though. When I got my first guitar and amp, I had that one guitar (a very solid Japanese Telecaster) and one amp. When I upgraded my amplifier, I traded in the old one. I slowly got some effects pedals, and while I was taking apart everything I owned to see what the insides were like, I only had one of each thing. My palette was quite limited. That aside, I never felt creatively limited. I had my good guitar, my good amp, and a few good effects pedals, and I made a huge wall of sound. Nothing seemed to be lacking at all.
I graduated from high school, and with some of my graduation money I got a second guitar, a vintage Gibson Melody Maker. It was great, but it really seemed to be best for harder rock. Luckily I was playing a lot more hardcore music. When my old high school band would have a rare practice during the singer's visits from college, I'd use the Telecaster. it just fit. Somewhere around there I traded in my amp again for a Marshall, and I was in hardcore punk heaven.
My musical tastes are quite wide. I ended up wanting to play non-hardcore music. I had traded away many of my effects. I ended up getting into multi-effects units. I bought a nice unit and I had to sell my Marshall to afford it. However, neither of my two guitars worked for this new music I was playing, so I saved up and bought a Fender Jaguar. A few years later, I started buying pedals again. With each new acquisition I found myself usually not having to sell my previous gear. Sure I sold stuff that I upgraded or I knew that I would never use again, but I didn't have to sell if I didn't want to. At the same time, I began buying things on whims to try them out, and then selling them or trading them if I didn't connect. I might buy a guitar for $400 and sell it for $350, but the $50 loss was a fine rental fee to keep a guitar for three months.
Something was changing though. As a young musician, I had no possibility of changing my gear. I had one guitar and one amp. there was no sense in worrying about switching stuff around, or how a song would sound with a different guitar or amp. I put all my energy into making the music. Now, over twenty years later, I still have that Telecaster, I still have the Jaguar, and I have four other awesome guitars from the years between then and now. I have an amazing clean amp, I have an amazing rock amp, I have an amazing small tube practice amp, I have an awesome, solid state multi-purpose amp, I have a vintage new wave amp, and a few other amps as well. I have my old multi-effects unit, I have the multi-effects unit that I make for my day job, and I have a solid collection of standalone pedals. I have a digital piano. I'm not trying to brag... I've been very lucky. Also, I've never drank heavily or done drugs. I'd rather have a cool new pedal forever than one night of partying.
It is my hypothesis that my collection and obsession of the gear has a direct result on my creativity and emotional connection to the music. I also believe that my desire to play multiple genres of music also affects this as well. This theory was reinforced by playing a number of hardcore/thrash shows early this year. the hardcore and punk-thrash scenes have very dedicated participants. I talk to the guitarists and they have their one main guitar, their one loud, rockin' amp, and that's pretty much it. It's raw, stripped down music, and the participants tend to be tightly focused in that world.
Another example was a query that was posed to em on the internet. Try to think of a guitarist who is known for their exceptional talent and individuality who also used a wide variety of gear. I started thinking of all my favorite guitarists and almost all of them are people who have used the same instrument for years. I believe that exceptional playing comes easiest when the player has an intense familiarity with his or her instrument, and that can't happen if a player is rotating between a large number of instruments.
To be fair with myself, I have pretty much used the same setup for years. When I'm playing mellow music I have a Tele or other Fender guitar, an analog delay, a nice flexible distortion, a digital delay/looper, and a nice Fender style amp with reverb. I had a version of this in 1993, and a much nicer version today). When I'm playing loud music, I have a simple, angry sounding guitar (now my EGC), a boost pedal, and a modified JCM800 style amp. I had this in my post high school hardcore band, and I have this now.
So I don't really change all that much. However, I THINK about changing all the time. I spend a lot of time looking for a more perfect solution, even though I have extremely nice and highly functioning solutions that are currently working well for me. Still, i can't help but feel as though my research-driven tech side keeps my creative side somewhat shackled. I'm still looking to really break free. I don't know if that can happen or if it's even possible. but I will keep obsessing in hopes that I find a way.