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Is 'gear' really that important?

BuckMulligan 23 Feb 06 - 02:02 PM
s&r 23 Feb 06 - 04:09 PM
Clinton Hammond 23 Feb 06 - 05:32 PM
Mo the caller 23 Feb 06 - 05:36 PM
Uncle_DaveO 23 Feb 06 - 05:37 PM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Feb 06 - 05:45 PM
Clinton Hammond 23 Feb 06 - 05:50 PM
michaelr 23 Feb 06 - 08:31 PM
GUEST,Eric Bram 24 Feb 06 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,leeneia 24 Feb 06 - 09:21 AM
Paul Burke 24 Feb 06 - 10:22 AM
Midchuck 24 Feb 06 - 11:30 AM
M.Ted 24 Feb 06 - 12:04 PM
breezy 24 Feb 06 - 12:24 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 24 Feb 06 - 12:58 PM
GUEST,Whistle Stop 24 Feb 06 - 01:34 PM
Tootler 24 Feb 06 - 01:40 PM
Grab 24 Feb 06 - 02:03 PM
GUEST,Jim 24 Feb 06 - 02:22 PM
Cluin 24 Feb 06 - 03:11 PM
GUEST,gearhead 24 Feb 06 - 04:29 PM
M.Ted 24 Feb 06 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,toenails John 25 Feb 06 - 01:00 PM
sinpelo 25 Feb 06 - 01:28 PM
Stewart 25 Feb 06 - 01:36 PM
motco 25 Feb 06 - 03:45 PM
Don Firth 25 Feb 06 - 06:02 PM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Feb 06 - 06:07 PM
The Fooles Troupe 25 Feb 06 - 06:11 PM
shepherdlass 26 Feb 06 - 06:42 PM
jonm 27 Feb 06 - 03:07 AM
Big Al Whittle 27 Feb 06 - 03:18 AM
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Subject: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 23 Feb 06 - 02:02 PM

So my son The Freshman (at UNH) texted me just now to let me know that Chris Smither is playing nearby next Sunday. So I went to his website to check the venue, and poked around a bit since I hadn't been there in a while. Smither has a page called "The Gear Bag" on which he enumerates the paraphernalia & implements of destruction he works with. But at the top of the page is this:

"After years of consideration I've come to the conclusion that, within limits, gear is more important as a topic of conversation than as a way of making music. It's just not that important." - Chris Smither

I've enjoyed lots of gear threads here over the years, and he's certainly right that it's a great topic of conversation. but ho wimportant IS it to the music, and (assuming the Question will probably get more agreement than not) what are the "limits" of which he speaks? IYO, of course? Do the limits vary according to where you're making the music? Or the music you're making?


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: s&r
Date: 23 Feb 06 - 04:09 PM

Isaac Guillory said 'The best guitar is the one you've got'

I watched him with a rack full of pro equipment using it fully. At the 'meet' session following he was every bit as exciting (acoustic).

Someone asked him why he used PA in a small gig. His reply was 'If I've spent six weeks learning a lick, and someone eats a crisp (chip USA) PA makes me louder than the crisp.' Six weeks learning a lick at his level...

Stu


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 23 Feb 06 - 05:32 PM

Ya... I think what Stu was saying...

If no one can hear you, it doesn't matter how good you are...

Or... put another way...

Ask anyone in the theatre how important lights are... or makeup... or costumes...

Ask people who make movies how important cameras are...

If you have good gear, no one will notice...
If your gear sucks, so will you


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 23 Feb 06 - 05:36 PM

How much is too much?
The more you have the more plugs there are to be pulled out by accident.
If it all takes an hour to set up and then it doesn't work...grrr


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 23 Feb 06 - 05:37 PM

When I, back in high school in the Pleistocene era, was learning photography, I learned the following piece of wisdom:

The camera (however good or bad) DOES NOT make pictures; the photographer does.

by easy substitution, one can truthfully say that:

A rifle (however good or bad) does not make a marksman.

A set of cutlery (however good or bad) and/or a collection of pots and pans (however good or bad) and/or a range or oven (however good or bad) does not make a good cook.


and obviously, then:

A guitar (banjo, piano, fiddle, etc.), however good or bad, does not make a fine musician.

Q.E.D.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Feb 06 - 05:45 PM

Any druggie will tell you it is...


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 23 Feb 06 - 05:50 PM

If you're a fine photographer/marksman/cook/musician without a camera/rifle/Pots&Pans/Guitar-PA-Mic etc.... then yer nothing at all... Yer just a wanker standing there boasting, "I could do that."

"How much is too much?"
Worry more about making sure you have enough... and that what you have works well... Make sure your gear is working for you , and not the other way around.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: michaelr
Date: 23 Feb 06 - 08:31 PM

"After years of consideration I've come to the conclusion that, within limits, gear is more important as a topic of conversation than as a way of making music. It's just not that important." - Chris Smither

LOL. I'm sure any minute now someone will post along the lines of "...Richard Thompson would sound great playing a beat-up piece-of-shit Walmart guitar. It's in the hands!"

Chris Smither has, I am sure, spent not only years considering, but thousands of dollars acquiring gear to get his live sound to where it is. I'm with Clinton -- you wanna be heard, you gotta have gear.

Currently, I'm lusting after the new Tech 21/SansAmp Para Driver DI, reviewed in the March `06 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: GUEST,Eric Bram
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 05:08 AM

I can't go anywhere without my Schubb capo.
;-)


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 09:21 AM

Try an experiment.

1. Post a new tune on the Mudcat, hoping that people will like it and learn it. Listen to the ensuing silence.

2. Post another thread and say something like "My Frammis X-37 Dreadnought buzzes when I put a capo on the 13th fret and play Em7dim6. How can I fix that without spending any money or leaving the house?" Note the many responses.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 10:22 AM

'Gear' is no longer at all important. Neither is 'fab'.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Midchuck
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 11:30 AM

I'll go with Stu & Clint.

If I'm playing and singing in a small room with an audience that is so dedicated that they sit in a total hush and listen, then all I need is my voice working ok that day, and a decent guitar (I have several guitars that are a good deal more than decent, but I don't fool myself about the fact that their potential is way above my ability, and they're a pure luxury.)

In the real world, I need a PA. But not a lot of effects. All I want is to sound like I do without any electronics, but louder. Well, maybe a touch of reverb to compensate for all the natural room reverb that gets sucked up by peoples' fat...

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: M.Ted
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 12:04 PM

Back in the days of wine and cheese parties, when bar/restaurants actually hired folksingers because they brought in customers, I auditioned for a choice weekly spot on the schedule of at a soup and sandwich wine bar

. I was "on" that night, there was a full house, and I had written some great new material. The place was packed, and all folks in front of the stage were singing a long with me.

The other guy played through a cheesy little amp that had one of those wire echo/reverb effects. He played David Gates-copy song on a crappy Framus thinline archtop with a whammy bar, and absolutely the only thing he could do was a slow, Ventures-style arpeggio--He was so lame, I felt sorry for him--

Then, as he walked from the stage, the manager ran up and gave him the job. I was stunned.

A group of friends were sitting in the back, I stopped and asked, "How was I?"

You looked like you were having a lot of fun--we couldn't hear your guitar at all, though--


As to gear, did I mention? I have an old Gibson archtop with a Bigsby--I play it through an old Peavey, refitted with JBL's--it's got parametric EQ and I can set it up to sound like one of those old tweed Fender amps. I've got a couple different reverb stomp-boxes, but I usually play through a rack mounted effects processor--what was I telling you?


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: breezy
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 12:24 PM

its always hushed silence at the Wandering Windward Folk Song club

crisps are banned.

If you have a crap guitar it will sound crap

all the residents have good quality guitars,handmade, crafted or D big numbers, except that is ,for the greek guy whose next appearnce will be at the Australian national where he will play a Takemine, cos he wont be taking his crap guitar, the airlines wont accept it on board.

A good quality guitar not only sounds good but is easier to play if set up correctly.

We can all make a poor instrument sound great, it just hurts to play for longer than a bar !! they are unplayable in most cases.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 12:58 PM

Gear is important if it is genuinely used to promote musical growth or to put one's music before an audience in the best possible fashion. It is not important if it's used for musical masturbation.

I own several nice guitars. They're important to me because they make me want to play more often which, hopefully, makes my music grow and sound better. I also own a wah-wah pedal. About once a year, I'll hook it up and fool around until I get sick of it. It's not important. I freely and openly admit that my use of it is musical masturbation. That's not to say that all use of a wah-wah pedal is musical masturbation. There are plenty of players for whom its use is an integral part of their style, but it's not part of mine.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: GUEST,Whistle Stop
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 01:34 PM

Casting this as an "either/or" proposition is a great way to come up with the wrong answer. Is gear important? Sure. Is it something that we sometimes focus on too much? Sure. I suspect that was Chris Smithers's point, not that gear isn't important.

To choose an arbitrary example, Martin Simpson sounds better when he plays a good guitar -- and a good guitar sounds better when Martin Simpson plays it.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Tootler
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 01:40 PM

Many superb whistle players seem to manage very well on instruments costing just a few quid.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Grab
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 02:03 PM

If you know exactly what sound you want, you can choose the gear to make that sound.

If you don't know what sound you want, you're just using gear for the sake of it.

The gear is nothing without the knowledge of how to use it.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 02:22 PM

I own two flat top 6 string Dreadnought guitars. One is a 1962 Martin D21 worth at least ten times as much as my 1958 Goya Goliath. When the Martin is in need of new strings and the strings on the Goya have just been changed, the Goya is my guitar of choice.
It's amazing what a $10 change will do.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Cluin
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 03:11 PM

You can't push a wet noodle uphill. But you can pull it.



Now if I could just figure out what that means.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: GUEST,gearhead
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 04:29 PM

..or you could drop the wet noodle onto the top of the hill
from out of a helicopter..

there you go..

purpose and 'gear' united to acomplish the intended goal !


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: M.Ted
Date: 24 Feb 06 - 05:48 PM

You have to fool around with the gear quite a bit to learn what it can do, and then to make sure that you can get it to work when you want. I'm sure we've all seen people do the old "I just got this new thing today and I'm going to try it out for the first time here on stage" routine--and we know it always goes wrong--


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: GUEST,toenails John
Date: 25 Feb 06 - 01:00 PM

I believe it is. I personally have good gear, but i won't talk about myself, but my experence of someone else.

I know a chap who used to attend sessions on a casual basis. he played a beat up crap suzuki guitar,(bright red with flowers, you may have seen the odd 1) and used to do the odd charity gig, amped up by mic's, leads amps amd speakers that quite frankly should have gone down with the Titanic. He was crap because his sound was.

2 years ago this same man inherited a bit of money, and decided to invest in the music, and try getting a few gigs properly. He Bought a Martin Dreadnought, origanally a HK Audio rig, but now uses E'V's,with a Mackie Desk plus decent mic's stands, leads and all the rest.
His output now sounds far better as well as looking that bit more proffesional, and is gigging 3 to 4 nights a week. His songs, playing and what he actually does, never changed, but he now sounds like a performer instead of a crappy wannabe with beat up gear.
It does make a difference


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: sinpelo
Date: 25 Feb 06 - 01:28 PM

I think guitarists find guitars pretty important


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Stewart
Date: 25 Feb 06 - 01:36 PM

My ultimate piece of gear would be a live acoustic space where no amplification is necessary and just the right amount of reverb is naturally present. I've sung and played in just a few, and it's a fantastic experience. But they're hard to find. By the way, during 7 years of voice study I was trained to sing and project my voice in an acoustic hall with no amplification - that helps.

Recently I was at a concert where a 5-person band was playing in a reasonably good acoustic hall, but with all sorts of gear, every instrument plugged in and vocal mics for everyone. But toward the end of the concert their gear began to break down - sporatic loud clicks and cracks. They decided to go totally acoustic for their last set. They sounded much better, and they remarked how much more freedom they had. I think it was a totally new experience for them.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: motco
Date: 25 Feb 06 - 03:45 PM

Not really.

The ability to make the best of what you do have is though.

motco


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Feb 06 - 06:02 PM

I've played classic guitars ever since I got organized. I currently own three guitars:   a very nice classic, a flamenco that I bought directly from the luthier (Madrid) that is now so valuable that I'm afraid to take it out of the house, and a Go travel guitar (classic width fingerboard, nylon strings) made by Sam Radding in San Diego.

I can't play a full-size guitar while sitting in a wheelchair because the lower bout of the guitar and the right wheel want to occupy the same space, throwing the guitar into an awkward position. Hence, the small-bodied travel guitar. Fortunately, the Go sounds amazing for such a small box. Actually, that's the guitar I play the most. Very handy.

Other bits of gear:   Shubb capo. I also have traditional Spanish çejillas (same as a capo, but they work especially well with classic and flamenco guitars). Intellitouch PT1 tuner. 440-tuning fork in case the Intellitouch battery poops out. Footstool and music stand, which I sometimes use at home. Other than a couple of sets of spare strings, that's about it (without getting into the warehouse full of song books, text books, technique books, etc., which I've accumulated over the decades).

Over the years I've had a couple of steel-string guitars, a couple of 12-string guitars, and a couple of 5-string banjos, but I never got into those all that much.

One afternoon years ago someone put an electric guitar hooked up to the usual collection of amplifiers and speakers into my hot little hands. I have never taken drugs (save the occasional prescription or OTC), but I'm sure having all that brute power at the twist of a knob is as addictive as shooting up. Lust attacked immediately. But then, fortunately, my rational mind kicked in. I started thinking first about the kind of music I like to play and how inappropriate this kind of gear would be, and then, how much money I could wind up spending if I were to go that route. I set the thing aside, said, "Thanks for the use of the axe," and haven't touched an amplified instrument since. Close call!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Feb 06 - 06:07 PM

I have several piano accordions. Each one was bought for its different sound, and technical capabilities (keyboard size, number of bass keys, number of registers/stops on both sides).

Depending on the mood in which I am, or the place where I will play, or sometimes the pieces needs an instrument with a particular range or set of contrasting sound colours, depends on which instrument I choose.

I have many whistles, in different keys, ranging from a high G or A (my memory is going!) and of different makes with differing playing properties - some are easier to play fast, some sound better when played slow, etc. Repeat previous para, substituting 'whistle' for 'piano accordion'.

I have several other instruments, which I (Repeat previous para, substituting 'whistle' for 'piano accordion'.)...


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Feb 06 - 06:11 PM

Oops - got my referebtial substitutions list mixed up - but you get the idea...


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: shepherdlass
Date: 26 Feb 06 - 06:42 PM

So much of it's down to personal style, too. My flute isn't expensive but sounds better with my (miles-from-a-proper-classical-) embouchure than the pricey models. Guess that makes me cheap and tatty too! However, my guitar playing is abysmal and I own a half decent instrument in order to make the simplistic lines I play sound like something worth listening to.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: jonm
Date: 27 Feb 06 - 03:07 AM

Surely, it's all down to your ears. It's only worth investing in expensive gear if you yourself can hear the difference. Then you will feel better about yourself, more confident, a better player (which of course makes you a better player).

When shopping for instruments, I will only try gear I am prepared to afford, then listen hard. On two occasions, I have bought lesser-named less expensive gear because it sounded better to me or fitted better into my set-up. When I'm not shopping, I'll try everything at all price ranges and occasionally fall in lust with a really expensive instrument, where I CAN hear the improvement..... but then I have a young family, a wife who is a struggling scribbler and a mortgage the size of the Brazililan National Debt.

What you hear is always the player plus the instrument. A poor instrument will sound better in the hands of an expert and a great instrument will sound even better.


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Subject: RE: Is 'gear' really that important?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 27 Feb 06 - 03:18 AM

like King Lear says, Reason not the need......

you go this way but once


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