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.
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.