Jump to content
Machines

Expensive Gear Guilt

Recommended Posts

In the last 2-3 years i've had some very decent gear and have found that it doesn't really bring me any more happiness than the cheaper stuff I thought it would make obsolete. In this period I've had:

  • Musicman Bongo 5 HS 
  • Dingwall NG3 
  • Fender Marcus Miller Jazz 
  • Musicman Stingray 5 HH 
  • Spector Euro 6LX 

And having traded or sold them all, I'm currently gigging (in order of preference)

  • Squier VM Jazz
  • Yamaha RBX775
  • Fender MIM Precision

I think the reason for my fickleness is that i'm playing pub gigs for 50 quid a couple of times a month, and taking £1k+ of bass seems a bit ridiculous. Also since I know I can do the same job with cheaper stuff, having a few grand of instruments in capital doesn't seem as sensible as cash in the bank for real life things (car repairs, booking a holiday, etc)

Anyone else gone through expensive stuff and reverted back to beginner/average stuff ? The GAS seems to always want to move me up in the market, but I know deep down it's a waste of effort, i'll feel guilty after the purchase, and will sell again within a few months.

But if I know I will not lose money (even sometimes make a bit), and have the spare cash, it does feel like a fun hobby 😎.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For me it's a no. My Shuker's were custom made for me, so when I play anything else it doesn't feel the same or as good.

I bought them to play so I gig them regardless of the gig :) 

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, Machines said:

Anyone else gone through expensive stuff and reverted back to beginner/average stuff ? 

In short, No. I could play any of the material of my current bands on 'entry level'  'budget' gear and no one will know or care - but I enjoy owning nice stuff, it makes going to work worth while.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had bouts of this over the years, and now have got over it (I think!). Was happily settled on using Musicman basses for ever when an accident made using lighter instruments a necessity. Kept a couple of MM's for a while, but ended up selling them as knew I'd never be able to use them in anger again. Still got my 63 Precision which is reasonably light but don't use it much, as the gigs I do mean that I can't keep an eye on it all the time - so there will always be a bit of guilt there I think. I do like guitars as well, and have a fair few tasty instruments which will rarely see the light of day but any guilt is offset by the pleasure I get from owning them and noodling at home. As I don't have any other expensive pleasures then I'm damned if they're going to be guilty ones. 😄

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Machines said:

Anyone else gone through expensive stuff and reverted back to beginner/average stuff ?

Nope.

I've not owned "cheap/beginner/average" gear since I was in my school band and buying gear from the money I made on Saturday and summer jobs. I believe we should always buy the best gear our budget can afford.

IMO the price is the least important part of an instrument. Find a good bass, one that feels and sounds better than your current bass, then if the price is right, buy it. I play all my gigs, whatever the money, with a couple of rrp £2500 - £3000 basses and I don't see anything odd or wrong in doing that. If my budget fell off a cliff I'd carry on with a Sire, Squier etc, but there's no bragging points in cheap or expensive basses. You just need to play the best one for you. The one that makes you sound as good as you can be.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started off on the cheap stuff as you do, and as I got older and had more disposable income I acquired expensive gear. All of that’s now gone, and I’m currently using Squier, MIM and self built / modded basses, which I gig regularly. My view is that they’re tools to do a job, and a £300-400 bass will do that job perfectly adequately for me, so that’s all I need. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I sense I'm passed 'peak gear' (famous last words!) helped by being on the Gear Abstinence Challenge 2020!

I think gear falls into 2 categories:

- stuff we 'use' and that includes both home use or use for gigging;

- stuff that we simply enjoy having i.e. 'collectables'; and if these give us pleasure and we can afford it then why not? No different to any other pleasure giving hobbies / pastimes e.g. vinyl records, foreign holidays etc

IMO pretty arrogant for gigging bass players, me included, to say that one use, gigging, has more value than another e.g home use, right?

I have a couple of collectables that don't get used that much, a Ken Smith and a BBNE2, but I love having them both; and some gear that I have hardly used to date (basically a number of pedals, but a couple of specialist basses in that mix too) with good intentions to get around to using when time permits! Most of my kit I've managed to pick up in very good used condition and should hopefully retain their value. 

But I know that ALL of my gear gives me immensely more pleasure than cash sitting in a building society account earning virtually no interest. So any guilt? None.

Edited by Al Krow
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
32 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

But I know that ALL of my gear gives me immensely more pleasure than cash sitting in a building society account earning virtually no interest. So any guilt? None.

I guess personal circumstances are relevant too. I made most of the big purchases when I was living on my own and had the spare cash following redundancy/divorce/house sale. Since then i've got remarried and my priorities are quite different to then. 

Whilst I have a bit in the savings, i'd feel immensely reckless and irresponsible to have the same mindset now as a couple of years ago. Yes I do work hard and deserve some fruits of that labour, but I see my resources as collective and the potential of it not solely my own.

I'm finding i'm changing my mindset generally away from 'collecting' anything to a more efficient and minimalist lifestyle. The whole concept with expensive things I've applied to my car as well, going from a 2016 Skoda Octavia (cost £22k) now to a 2008 Mini (£3k). No more £300 a month on 'renting' a car you don't own. Also moved from a large 3 bed bungalow to a 4 bed terraced house saving a bit per month. I am earning the same amount of money as before (if not more) but just ensuring it is spent more effectively.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've gone through the same process of having expensive gear but then finding that I'm just as happy with cheap and cheerful gear. 3 years ago my 4 gigging basses would have cost between £1000 and £1500 new, 3 of which were bought new. Then a wrist injury forced me to move exclusively to short scale basses. A few months of chopping and changing later and I now have 4 short scales that I was gigging before leaving my band a few weeks ago. Of these the cheapest was a used Ibanez that I paid £50 for (and it's a cracking bass in its own right too) and the most expensive was around £600. But my favourite bass at the minute, indeed one of my favourite basses I've ever owned in more than 30 years of playing cost less than £150 new.  Admittedly it's had some hardware upgrades and new pots, but even they don't add up to more than another £50 on top. The neck just feels right in my hands, the sound is great, it resonates brilliantly and best of all I found that I wasn't precious about it on more rowdy gigs. This is a bass that gives me as much, if not more, of a buzz than basses costing 10 times as much. And there's an additional satisfaction from playing it and getting disapproving looks from the cork sniffing muso brigade! 

These days with precision machinery and manufacturing techniques there are some truly fantastic inexpensive basses around, stuff that performs as well as basses costing many times more. Obviously there's still some lower quality basses at the bottom end of the market, but over the years I've played a few duffers with 4 figure price tags too. Which leads me to conclude that the price of a bass is only ever indicative of its cost. Nothing more. There's good and bad at all price points. 

 

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have with amps & cabs, gone from boutique lightweight expensive gear to regularly affordable Ashdown gear (which I prefer the sound of), but not basses. I have gigged with Squiers and MIM Fenders and in all honesty the ones I’ve used have been more than enough for my needs, but the more expensive which I have I prefer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MacDaddy said:

For me it's a no. My Shuker's were custom made for me, so when I play anything else it doesn't feel the same or as good.

I bought them to play so I gig them regardless of the gig :) 

This, pretty much verbatim  😁

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
48 minutes ago, Machines said:

I guess personal circumstances are relevant... but just ensuring it is spent more effectively.

And 'effectively' is the most personal part of it all...one man's 'effective' is another man's 'extravagance', and all that...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All that said, I did use to get a frisson from doing posh gigs with a Harley Benton £38 PB50, especially Dos where the tickets were £150+...but that was a bit of a novelty...

I'm also struggling to beat my BB414 on the Yamaha front, having already tried and sold a 1024x which cost three times as much. I keep looking at 2024s, but it'll have to be extraordinary (and just the right one) to replace the 414...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No guilt whatsoever.

Most because when I first started gigging in the early 80s I was mostly playing synthesisers, and at the time the entry level for a basic mono-synth was £200, for a poly-synth was £1000 and anything with user programmable memories on it was £3000 upwards. By comparison even the most expensive bass guitar is in real terms relatively cheap.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, No lust in Jazz said:

In short, No. I could play any of the material of my current bands on 'entry level'  'budget' gear and no one will know or care - but I enjoy owning nice stuff, it makes going to work worth while.

Yep

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I get to see both sides of this. I use a Stingray in one band which was not cheap when I bought it new 15 years ago, sounds huge. In another band a Mex jazz which to some is considered a lower quality instrument but plays and sounds perfect for the material we do. Ultimately, whatever sounds good always works for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is the question about money and costs so important? How about the suitability in terms of weight, playability, looks... My instruments have to be reliable. I do prefer lighter weight and functionality. It would be really complicated to compare my dear instruments better or worse just because they cost something.

  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had some nice kit, sold it all and did everything on two very decent Squiers (from an album through to some big shows) but came full circle with the realisation that I like to have American made basses as well as budget ones. Sure the Squiers were great but a Fender USA or a Gibson or a Ric are great for my needs too. And it's not like I don't play much. You only live once so I don't want to feel guilty or feel like I have to make excuses.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am going through this right now, and my mind changes on almost an hourly basis. I recently acquired a fantastic custom shop P bass. This thing is incredible. But I also have a VM modifier Squier P bass which I put an Aguilar pick up and Kigon wiring loom in. So the CS is worth more that 10 times the Squier and I’m trying to justify keeping the CS. I love the bass, it is easily the best P bass I have played, but even though it sounds, looks & plays better than the Squier I still have the guilt about keeping it...The struggle continues.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, itu said:

Is the question about money and costs so important? How about the suitability in terms of weight, playability, looks... My instruments have to be reliable. I do prefer lighter weight and functionality. It would be really complicated to compare my dear instruments better or worse just because they cost something.

Assume in my post, that everything I buy has been suitable in terms of weight, playability and looks. This is a subject specifically about cost. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Cat Burrito said:

I had some nice kit, sold it all and did everything on two very decent Squiers (from an album through to some big shows) but came full circle with the realisation that I like to have American made basses as well as budget ones. Sure the Squiers were great but a Fender USA or a Gibson or a Ric are great for my needs too. And it's not like I don't play much. You only live once so I don't want to feel guilty or feel like I have to make excuses.

Dare I challenge why it has to be American made ? Is this a genuine preference for US instruments based on their quality, or an ego led requirement ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel guilty about buying a brand new Stingray at the end of 2018. I had a completely unexpected tax rebate that covered the cost but even so I traded in my MIM Jazz to get 250 off. That jazz sounded amazing but had the added bonus of being really beaten up so if it got dropped or dinged I didn't care. I felt more guilty still and sold my Sire 5 string jazz, this one stings as I'm now after a jazz style bass and guess what the best option is!! I like having nice gear and I like the process of finding nice gear and discovering what it can do, but the Stingray was a practical decision: I love the complexity of a jazz bass tone but for my gigging needs the punch of the Ray won out. I could do with rationalising my gear down again, ideally I would have my Stingray, my Fretless and a mid priced jazz, but better still would be the time to fully appreciate all of my instruments and do all the projects I want to do, and that's where the guilt comes in, having things I probably won't get the full use out of. Full time job, commuting, and two small children means I don't have as much musical time as I'd like. 

My daughter is left handed and is showing a love of anything musical at the moment. So even though she's only 3 I'm hoping that my basses and guitars become hers, by which time they should be vintage collectibles I hope! 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm trying to be more realistic about what my needs are.  I don't currently play in a gigging band and just meet up with some friends every few weeks for a jam.  Therefore as much as I'd love to be shopping for new gear I cannot justify dipping into the family savings for a new Sadowsky because I'm having a bout of GAS.

I just sold all my pedals because the Line6 Helix FX does a good enough job that I dont need expensive Darkglass compressors and dirt.  I have 2 amps that are perfectly decent and would serve me for any gig I'm ever likely to have to play.  The only thing I might look into is a Ashdown ABM neo cab when they release them to replace my pretty heavy VS212.

I have 4 basses, including an inbound Shuker custom, that all cost around 1.5k new.  The most recent of which I bought 2nd hand for about 1/2 that.  They are a big step up on the 500-900£ basses I was previously playing.  They dont make me sound better but I enjoy playing them a lot more, they are lighter, more comfortable and since they are all active the electronics are more reliable - something that was a problem with cheaper active basses.

For this year I think my GAS is going to be focussed on pickups, strings and books.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In reply to the OP, I haven’t.  I’ve always bought the best gear I could afford and gigged it as long as I was still enjoying playing it. The only time I’ve felt guilty is following an impulse buy on something I don’t need and/or will hardly use. I’ve become more ruthless about moving that gear on but it’s never been about the cost. 
 

I just want to use the gear I enjoy the most while I’m still gigging, and don’t want to have any regrets about ‘making do’ and playing stuff that doesn’t give me as much enjoyment. 

Edited by gazhowe
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ve never owned expensive equipment, for no other reason than I have never been able to afford it. 
Most I’ve spent on a bass is £600 (used Stingray), same for back line. 
If I had the money, I would love to buy some expensive kit and see what it’s like to own. 

Good luck to you if you can afford it, enjoy it! 😊

Having said that no one has ever commented on my gear, only my playing. 
So maybe they feel sorry for me 😂

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...