Is There Really A Good Reason To Flame A Guitarist For Putting Guitar Gear Above Guitar Skills?

If someone truly loves guitar, amps and all the little goodies that come with it, what's so wrong with being a gear-head and buying up a bunch of toys?

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If someone truly loves guitar, amps and all the little goodies that come with it, what's so wrong with being a gear-head and buying up a bunch of toys? We're talking about the average Joe here - The guy who has a family, a normal day job and therefore a steady healthy income. This is the guy who truly loves to play guitar and loves everything about the instrument, however, due to responsibilities chose the path of financial stability instead of the touring band. Who's to say that guy's a kook for buying stuff you cannot afford yet you could probably play better? That's just the way of life. This guy can afford this stuff because he spent a whole lot of time working instead of practicing. Ironic, cause now he can afford the stuff but can't play it as well as the dude who practiced 8 hours every day for 5 years and now plays great but can't afford the gear!

Eat and Breath Guitars Reasons People Play

Well, needless to say, reading this column right now could be either of those guitarists - The one flaming the guy with the money and not the skills, and the one guy with the gear who cares less about being criticized. Which one of those is you? Who's to say either of them is right? Let's examine this for a second. First let's list some valid reasons why people eat and breath guitars (In no particular order necessarily):

To seduce chicks Simply for fun as a hobby at home As hobby but to play live with other musicians To record as a supporting instrument for other instruments To write or record music for film or theater Not to necessarily be a pro player, but make a few bucks here and there in evenings and weekends To play professionally as a session player To play professionally in a local or touring band As a collector to at least be able to play some of the guitars and amps he collects

What's More Important, the Gear or the Skills?

Well, what we can gather from the above list is this: There are so many different reasons why people play guitar. The reason you play is probably very different than the reason the other guy plays. It's time to break out of your little bubble and understand a band is not the number one reason for playing guitar. Neither is rock, shows, studio or session playing. The main reason; the reason most guitarists play is for FUN. So, why would you want to judge somebody for his approach to playing guitar or buying gear if he has a completely different reason for doing so? Ignoring this very fact will turn a reason for criticism into nothing more than simple envy. However, if you have the skills and not the gear, why envy the other guy? The fact of the matter is the guy with the money and the gear would likely give everything away just for having the skills. Why can we all not live in peace then?

So, What's This All About Then?

The idea behind this article came by on a whim. It was a quick thought I had but then realized it is cemented on vast experience. This is experience gained from a couple of years running a guitar website, sixstringsensei.com, along with a number of lessons and YouTube videos, plus 15 years of playing drums in various projects. I had come to realize how hostile the guitar community online actually is. Now, I can see a bit of myself in the earlier comment of the guy who can afford the gear but doesn't have the skills that other more experienced guitarists do - Although I actually wasn't writing about myself necessarily. However, it made me realize how very little merit there is to the criticism. Would I give up all the toys for guitar virtuosity? Of course! I mean, I can fend for myself, but I'm not a great player by any means. Those of you that can play well have no reason to envy the ones that don't just because they own a Les Paul Custom, a big collection of pedals and a Matchless (I don't by the way - I'd love a Les Paul Custom though). You've got something way more valuable than the other guy! It's the fact that you can move people with your playing.

So, I applaud you for your playing skills. I really do. Every time I see or hear someone that can express their thoughts through the strings of their guitar I truly admire that person. That person has achieved a level of connection with the guitar that many people can only dream of.

In Conclusion

Next time you are watching a YouTube video and see someone that sucks, think about it for a second. Is that guy REALLY a kook who thinks he rocks and is being obnoxious, or is he genuinely trying his best and having fun at it? Before you go and flame the guy, realize YOU are better. You have the skills and the talent. Why flame the guy then? He's no threat to you and he certainly doesn't possess the most valuable thing which is what you have - the skills. Or does he? If the kook is actually having fun while you sit there and come up with ways to flame him, then that guy might very well be ahead of you.

40 comments sorted by best / new / date

    CrawlingHorror
    The main thing for me is I don't really care how they got their equipment because that is his/her business, but if they try to act like they are the second coming of Yngwie and yet sound more like a drunken elephant tottering its way across the fretboard then yes, I'm going to take a chunk out of his/her hide. So it's more about the attitude for me. There was this rich British kid who was getting a verbal hiding from You Tube commenters a couple weeks ago because the punters resented his being able to get the guitars he had (including a couple of very expensive Gretsches) even though he was more or less still a beginner. But he seemed like a nice guy, so I defended him, saying that if we had a wealthy mom and dad we would all have taken full advantage. I certainly would have. Then there was this other rich kid from the UK who posted a link to his You Tube performance on a guitar site that competes with this one in a tone that seemed to portray himself as a right little bastard. Now the kid could actually play rather well, but I sent him some links of players who were not only younger than he is, but better and firmly told him to cool the 'tude. He reacted by basically having a snit, so I let him have it again, basically calling him a coddled and weak upper class crybaby. Not exactly the most original or even most stinging comeback, but that was still the last time he tried to post to that guitar site.
    Zeppelin Addict
    Liked the entire article man, this was a completely necessary piece and should really be saved somewhere for everyone to read. I couldn't agree more about how hostile the guitar community is. It's always a competition and the flamefests that go on are absolutely ridiculous. If somebody 'sucks' then help them out with some stuff.. I try to do this whenever I play with guitarists below my level and it's rewarding to help somebody else along rather than competing at everything. Seriously, the number of notes you can play in a second has little relevance to.. ANYTHING. Not to mention bragging makes you look like a douche.. As for the gear thing.. Think of elderly people in nice cars... They'll probably never drive em fast like somebody younger without the money would. That's life for you. Maybe instead of being a d!ck to the gear-head and competing with his lack of skills you could be cool about it, teach him a couple things and befriend him.. Who knows, maybe he'll let you use some of his toys in the future.
    jimmy-moto
    I agree that there is no reason to make fun of someone's playing ability, be it on the internet or not. Posting videos of yourself playing is great regardless of the skill level or what type of gear you have. However, I have met people who fit into the "gear before skill" category and they kinda bug me. Buddy says to me "oh man I've got this killer '69 reissue black beauty les paul and this amazing rare blah blah blah amp". So I'm like "Ah man that must sound awesome! What sorta stuff do you like to play on them? What do you like about the tone?" Buddy says "oh you know this and that... oh yeah it sounds great..." Buddy barely plays, and buddy doesn't know how to get any sweet sounds from his gear. For me, guitar is about the sound and the music, not about collecting a bunch of wall ornaments. I understand that some people would rather talk gear than music, and that's fine. But what's the point of having a guitar if its not going to make music? If you prefer to collect gear for the sake of collecting it, come right out and say that. "Ironic, cause now he can afford the stuff but can't play it as well as the dude who practiced 8 hours every day for 5 years and now plays great but can't afford the gear!" Sounds kinda like you're taunting people with inferior gear. Perhaps I'm misinterpreting the message, but I would think a more neutral attitude would get your anti-flaming message across better.
    string_effect28
    I'm not a good guitarist, but I'm better when using my OWN gear,... There's nothing wrong with guitar players depending 90% of their guitar skills on their gear,...
    User_Name336
    i completely relate. i'm one of the people who are posting the youtube videos. i make them for fun with my friends. the main reason i do it is just to take requests from my friends (and sometimes challenges) and play the songs for them. i like to get a little creative, or change riffs/timings and add my own take on things. i record my audio and video parts separately, and i'm constantly feeling the wrath of the online guitar community. i dont have the best gear, and i dont have the best skills, but i try. there's a lot of people that appreciate my hard work, but there's a lot who seem to be jealous or picky when i mess up the video portion going on huge rants calling my videos "fake". it just bothers me because the video portion isn't the important part and i make note of my mistakes. i point them out for my friends for a laugh from them. sorry for the rant, but i just wish the general community would be a little nicer...
    (Mr.Arercab)
    I'm the kind of guitar player that with the right gear and all the extra toys it can inspire me to continue playing, making my music sound fun and to keep on practicing to make my technique better. But of course IMO tone is in your hands
    Mohican
    I've been blessed to have the gear I do. I'be been given a '72' Fender 100 watt tube and been given a Fender Strat for a junk Washburn. My setup consists now of an amp worth $2k new, a Fender Strat with Lace pups, and all new locking hardware along with a Fender Jaguar. I've been playing for about 5 1/2 years and am honestly not that great. But the gear definitely affects how well I 'feel' I play. I love playing through a Vox amp as opposed to a heavier amp, for example, and feel more confident in my playing.
    savage axe
    HectorBznRg wrote: rob904 wrote: zn-1 wrote: Guitar's not all about the skills. Just look at Green Day. I'd rather not You wish you could come up with that many songs based only on power chords... thats called creativity my friend
    true that
    gibsonvsfender
    Cool article...we should totally stop trying to brag and help one another, so here's a piece of advice you might find helpful (I hope)... when learning a new song, memorize the 1st measure, then the 2nd, then 3rd, etc...when you're done with all of that string em all together and BAM! New song. Hope this helped.
    Zeletros
    gibsonvsfender wrote: Cool article...we should totally stop trying to brag and help one another, so here's a piece of advice you might find helpful (I hope)... when learning a new song , memorize the 1st measure, then the 2nd, then 3rd, etc...when you're done with all of that string em all together and BAM! New song . Hope this helped.
    What? You are totally unhelpful
    Gord@k
    I'm a great guitar player with good gear so this really is quite void.
    fladoodle
    Gord@k wrote: I'm a great guitar player with good gear so this really is quite void.
    Maybe void for you but you still sound like a douche bragging and if you read the comments you can tell that this is actually a very good article for many people on this site. If you've read a few articles and forums you will noitice a lot of the flaming going on and realize this is actually an important article to read for many of the flamers online.
    Phoenix V
    Gord@k wrote: I'm a great guitar player with good gear so this really is quite void.
    Disagree. This article is full of truth. Only a very select few people choose and even have the opportunity to dedicate their life to the instrument at the expense of many other things in life in the aim of becoming masters. The rest of us chose to hang with friends, hold full time jobs, get married have kids. Our dedication to guitar while we might consider ourselves as 'good', is limited to the remaining time left when we aren't sleeping. But we got the cash to experiment around with different gear. I freely admit I fall into this category. Would I have loved to be a master/virtuoso? Sure would, but I didn't sacrifice everything else in life to do so, so I just ended up being good. Not great and certainly no master. Big big BIG difference between the two.
    dannycruz
    Thanks to all for the great response to the column. I really appreciate all the comments (the positive, negative and insightful ones). A lot of time and thought was put into it and I'm glad that it came through. Gets me amped to prepare a new one soon... -Danny
    katalyzt13
    heh, I'm in this third category of people who have a full time job but have a family so they don't have that much money for equipment, so I'm not good at playing and don't own great gear either. I do find time every day to practice but not as long as I need, and when I want equipment I have to save up for even the cheapest gear. I have found myself thinking "that jerk with his fancy equipment and can't play worth crap" and also "that jerk that doesn't have a job and been practicing 5 hours+ a day, if I didn't do anything but practice I could play that good, too"...but anyway, good read, valid points.
    savage axe
    very good points there unfortunatly theres to many (TWATS) on youtube and here too for it to make a difference
    Tim the Rocker
    I have no idea why you made this. Is it really relavant to a guitar player what the funk other guitar players do with their time and money?
    zn-1
    Guitar's not all about the skills. Just look at Green Day.
    Flibo
    Tim the Rocker wrote: I have no idea why you made this. Is it really relavant to a guitar player what the funk other guitar players do with their time and money?
    No, and that's the point of this column.
    leenux5030
    good post, I remember, I installed new pickups on my guitar and was excited to show it to my friends how it sounds. so I made a video and played some random riffs, and being a beginner I wasn't impressive (but the whole point of video was sound of the pickups). and there were a tons of retards complaining about my guitaring skills.
    BrianApocalypse
    good article, food for thought. I'm not that hung up about having good gear, even if I could afford it I'd probably not bother. Most of the sound comes from the hands.
    savage axe
    very good points there unfortunatly theres to many (TWATS) on youtube for it to make a difference
    rob904
    zn-1 wrote: Guitar's not all about the skills. Just look at Green Day.
    I'd rather not
    kerrang
    I liked it; it puts a lot of forum posts into perspective... I do however foresee much debate about the contents of the article however. 9!
    Zelos45
    rob904 wrote: zn-1 wrote: Guitar's not all about the skills. Just look at Green Day. I'd rather not
    LMAO +1
    Cruz 666
    i have to agree with something , i practice 3-5 hours a day and i still have this bullshit amplifier and all the buzzing and hummin , gets on my nerves so much and it sounds that im doing mistakes all over the song . Last week i played on a Mesa Boogie DR i was like OMG now this is the real deal xD
    the_wassel
    zn-1 wrote: Guitar's not all about the skills. Just look at Green Day.
    Someone didn't listen to some of the stuff on 1039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours.
    HectorBznRg
    " I had come to realize how hostile the guitar community online actually is." Almost every single of the Music News' and the UG forum's comments came to my mind xD
    HectorBznRg
    rob904 wrote: zn-1 wrote: Guitar's not all about the skills. Just look at Green Day. I'd rather not
    You wish you could come up with that many songs based only on power chords... thats called creativity my friend
    Martis93
    I don't think this is pointless. I'm neither of those types and I'm happy not to be. People should see this, maybe it would get them thinking. And this is far beyond just guitars and gear, this is in general a way people express dissatisfaction with themselves. It's everywhere you look and it's about the filthiest thing ever. Everyone's so jealous, angry, mad and won't let it go no matter what. I say we need more of these motivational articles. Hard work is the tool, not rant.
    JohnnyApplecore
    HectorBznRg wrote: rob904 wrote: zn-1 wrote: Guitar's not all about the skills. Just look at Green Day. I'd rather not You wish you could come up with that many songs based only on power chords... thats called creativity my friend
    That why most every Green Day song sounds like every other Green Day song?