Yesterday, I finished the last gig of a five-day run of gigs – mostly solo – and after I finished the last one, I was driving in the car and thought about the different gear I used for each gig. For the last couple, I used a bare bones rig: Just my guitar plugged into my VoiceLive GTX vocal processor plugged into my Fishman SoloAmp. I didn’t want to bother with lugging my pedal board, so I just loaded a few cords, my VoiceLive GTX and my mic in a bag. I didn’t even use my gig seat – just used a couple of regular chairs to sit on.
The thought that struck me last night was that I have all this gear to have the freedom to add or subtract what I need from gig to gig. When I’m playing with my church band, my rig can change drastically from week to week. Sometimes I bring a combo, sometimes a head and cab; sometimes I bring multiple guitars. The idea to give myself choices. He he… sounds a lot like I’m figuring out a way to justify to the wifey why our garage is half-full of my gear. But that’s not really the case. I like having the choices I have so I can adapt to whatever venue I might play. I use practically all my gear throughout the year (I’m bound to with a 100+ gigs a year).
But in my ruminating over my gear, it also got me thinking about several people I’ve encountered over the years who hoard gear but never gig. Hey man, if that’s your thing, that’s fine with me. But I don’t see the point of getting performance gear and not using it to perform. There was one guy I know of who had a bunch of high-end gear. He died tragically a couple of years ago, but my buddy bought all his gear from his wife – it took up two big, enclosed car trailers! I asked my buddy if the dude gigged, but he said never. He just bought up a bunch of gear, and played it at home. Included were several high-end amps from VOX, Marshall, HiWatt, /13, and others. There were several Strats, a couple of Les Pauls, and a nice collection of Gretsch guitars. I just couldn’t believe how much stuff there was, and that didn’t include all the pedals and accessories! I thought I was a gear slut! This dude’s collection made me look like a freakin’ prude!
I personally can’t fathom not gigging my gear. I have a lot, but pretty much everything gets used at least three or four times a year. I have my “go-to” amps and axes for sure; especially now that I feel that I’ve got my sound. But still, from time to time, I break out a little-used guitar or amp. For instance, my guitar of choice is a Les Paul. But there are some sounds that a Les Paul just can’t do; which is why I have a couple of Strats and a Gretsch and other guitars when I need certain tones. Same goes for pedals. Baseline I always have a chorus, a delay and a reverb. But sometimes I need a vibe. For front-of-amp stuff, I always have a Timmy and my EWS Little Brute Drive distortion, plus my Big Bad Wah. But I’ll add other drive pedals, or even change out my wah for “something else.”
I suppose I just can’t justify buying gear if I don’t use it. I don’t have a lot of disposable income, so when I do buy something it’s with the intention of gigging. But that’s just me…