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Does better gear make you play better?

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This came up in another forum and I wanted to get everyone's take. Someone told me better gear would make me play better. The forumite suggested I get a US made PRS and a Divided By 13, and I'd finally know what proper gear is. Granted, nobody can play well on one of those vaguely guitar shaped objects we've all seen but once you have a decent guitar that's been set up properly, IMHO you should be able to play about as well as you're going to. For my part, after 40+ years I'm a fair rhythm guitarist and that's all, and no expenditure on gear is going to make things any better. That doesn't make me a "rank amateur" but I'll freely admit to being a hack. What say you?

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Posted (edited)

Frankly, I can get 'my sound' on my $400 Modern Player Tele through my $350 Blackstar HT 20 the same as I can with my $3500 LP Custom and my $3500 1964 BF Vibrolux Reverb.

 

I firmly believe that a competent guitarist can sound better on cheap gear than an incompetent player on custom shop gear. Anyone can spend a $#!+pile of money on gear, but that is no guarantee they can make it work correctly; I know this from playing with a lot of wealthy wannabes over the years who were playing custom shop teles, strats, lesters, SGs, etc. through custom shop Fender amps, Swarts, TopHats, BlackCats, ToneKings...and nearly every single one was stunned when they found out I was 'outplaying' them using essentially 'middle line' gear [even though I do own first class stuff, that first class gear is going to pay for my funeral, the lesser gear is paying for itself and more new stuff every gig].

 

I am totally underwhelmed by the corksniffers...as you apparently are, because we know the truth...great gear WILL NOT make you a better player. Talent, hard work and perseverance will.

Edited by daddymack
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If your gear is a technical barrier, obviously upgrading will help. Also better (sounding) gear can inspire a player to tighten up and stay in the music zone. Obviously if the player is not that good the experience will be mostly delusional; common I think at live events where the audience is generally ignorant.

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Personally the best of the best stick mostly with one guitar and amp and practice and practice till they know the insides and outside of that particular instrument.

 

It has nothing to do with expensive or cheap.

 

Clapton has been playing mostly strats since like 1970.

Santana, PRS since PRS has been in business.

Hendrix strats.

 

I own many guitars and I love my tele made in Japan in 1985. It was pretty inexpensive.

 

 

Divided By 13 are on one of a zillions amps made. If it's not your sound, it's not your amp.

 

I own a PRS CU 22 and may buy another one someday. They are nice, but mine doesn't get played a huge amount.

 

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some years back I did a gig with a band who i stood in with now and again and on this particular night i decided to take a small peavey bandit combo instead of my then usual Marshall and 2x12 cabinet just through sheer laziness ,what a terrible time I had .it,s funny though cause only a few years before that I used to use a peavey special all the time and loved it .but at the moment I could not imagine being without my Marshall in any electric situation .I suppose it's what you get used to .

 

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I need all the help I can get. I have enough battles in my brain and fingers already, don't need external struggle with inanimate objects. I suppose I am lucky in that I have a small condo and hump my battery powered amps down to beach to play with friends.

Different guitar & amp combos (forget about pedals, other than a Pandora mini effects at times) provoke different inspirations/results (at least in my case), drawing me into areas for exploration and fun.

Yeah, a great player can make lesser guitar sound good. Recall Balinese guy in North Bali. Guitar was real acoustic beater, strings looked like lockjaw incarnate, but dang...! I'm not great, but enjoy what I do (most of the time)

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only practicing and playin more makes you a better player.

 

if nicer/better gear makes you play and practicing more than its part of the process.

 

if you buy gear as replacement of playing time, you will just end up with more gear, and not more skill

 

 

...been there, done that, have a t-shirts (and lots of gear) :D

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Great gear will motivate you to play better but won't make you a better player.I have many amps Fender Pro Jr. Marshall's to Fuchs and once I dial them in for the sound I like( articulate with sustain & Very little Gain ) they're interchangeable .Same with guitars once set up.Mostly it's how good you are and how sure you're of your abilities.The best player aren't the ones that play the most or the fastest note they're the ones that play the right ones and say something with them.

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For me yes. By a long way.

 

There are a million things that contribute to great, but at the end of the day it's just massively more enjoyable to have great sounds, tuning stability, intonation...

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Not trying to be an Anderson fanboi again, but the playability is unreal and makes even my excellent guitars feel a bit bland. Except the FK Barncaster. ;)

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I don't think better gear will make you play much better than average gear. I have 3 high priced guitars, (about 2000 dollars each), then I have about 7 guitars in the 600 dollar range, then 10 low priced guitars (below 500). They all sound good and my playing is the same as on any guitar. but there is definitely an advantage with higher priced guitars since you can show off more and they fit the body more to get subtle playing advantage like easy note axcess and the guitar as a whole responds better to the human body. I think there's also an advantage knowing that your guitar is expensive, you'll love to show it off and sound good on it since that's what you're supposed to do with it since guitar is an 'advantage' thing. sort of like a credit card...

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^^ What he said is pure ego. And ego only makes you worse.

 

Will it make you a better player? Not at all. Will it open your mind up, and make you think differently? By all means yes. And that may, or may not, make you a better player.

Like W said, I can get my sound from the least expensive thru the most expensive. Same overall tone, different gear. I can walk into a GC, pick up any guitar, no matter the price, and get some tone similar to what I want and play. (Yes, playability is a factor.)

But having better gear may allow you to not think about how to get around the gears limitations, and allow you to concentrate on just playing.

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Bad gear can certainly make you play badly. Or put a beginner off on day one.

That said I have (relatively) expensive guitars that I simply cannot get fluid with And I have two dumpster guitars that play like honey.

Its like Mikeo says, it isn't about price but what fits you.

My 12 buck Encore and Westone Thunder (rescued from a recycling plant) do all I want, straight under the fingers. The LP and the Jackson Dinky just don't cut it, the LP I find a particularly cumbersome design.

One thing that has been a joy and worth the money was a modelling amp particularly with Fender fuse on a laptop to play with rigs. Have created lots of tones that were previously elusive.

Personally I believe a guitar is primarily about the neck, its profile and finish. The rest is ancillary, sure it makes a difference but a good neck is where a working relationship lives.

 

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I don't think better gear will make you play much better than average gear. I have 3 high priced guitars' date=' (about 2000 dollars each), then I have about 7 guitars in the 600 dollar range, then 10 low priced guitars (below 500). They all sound good and my playing is the same as on any guitar. but there is definitely an advantage with higher priced guitars since you can show off more and they fit the body more to get subtle playing advantage like easy note axcess and the guitar as a whole responds better to the human body. I think there's also an advantage knowing that your guitar is expensive, you'll love to show it off and sound good on it since that's what you're supposed to do with it since guitar is an 'advantage' thing. sort of like a credit card...[/quote']

 

And you are gigging where?

 

I will not take my Les Paul, ES135, '75 Strat or Vibrolux out for bar gigs anymore, that is just crazy...big outdoor stage gigs, with security, sure...anything else is just crazy...

 

and...I don't care what anyone thinks of the gear I gig with. I do care that I put on a great show every time...but that is about MY skills and MY years of experience, not to 'show off' expensive gear that has nothing to do with my ability to perform and entertain.

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Will a good microphone make me a better poet?

Surprisingly, yes it will because voice tone and delivery are important. How would Richard Burton sound through your daughter's Chinese Karaoke mic?

A good mic really brings out your voice. I have done a few readings lately and whilst it would be great if every venue had an SM58 a lot of them have honkers, I guess guitars are the same

 

 

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Will a good microphone make me a better poet?

 

Maybe not... but it can arguably give you a better recording of the poet... or as you went on to say, it might help a poet with reciting their poetry due to increased intelligibility and better tone. And not only that, but when you sound better, it's more inspiring, which helps your confidence and delivery too. IMHO, the inspiration factor shouldn't be underestimated - if you think something is causing you to play below your capabilities, it probably is - whether or not the gear itself is directly responsible or not, your emotional and mental attitude towards it is highly important. And when something IS inspiring, you do tend to want to play it more, and that practice will tend to increase your skill level too.

 

If all you've ever used while learning how to record is a pair of SM57's, moving up to a nice pair of condenser mics will most likely make your recordings sound better - at least if you've already mastered the fundamentals of good microphone technique. Using better gear isn't a panacea, nor is it a shortcut for the hard work involved in learning a craft, but at a certain level, it does make a difference IMO.

 

Then again, even gear that would hobble decently-skilled players, when put into the hands of a master, can result in incredible music - for that, just look to someone like David Lindley. He's used a lot of what I'd consider to be pretty dreadful gear (along with some very high-end gear) over the years, but no matter what he's playing on, he always manages to make it sound magical and musical in the extreme.

 

 

 

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^^ What he said is pure ego. And ego only makes you worse.

 

Will it make you a better player? Not at all. Will it open your mind up, and make you think differently? By all means yes. And that may, or may not, make you a better player.

Like W said, I can get my sound from the least expensive thru the most expensive. Same overall tone, different gear. I can walk into a GC, pick up any guitar, no matter the price, and get some tone similar to what I want and play. (Yes, playability is a factor.)

But having better gear may allow you to not think about how to get around the gears limitations, and allow you to concentrate on just playing.

 

You know what opinions are like.

 

I can make music with anything. The thread title asked about what YOU think.

 

Interesting that you can't do the mental process of: Great gear is more fun. Fun makes you want to practice more. Practice makes you BETTER AT GUITAR.

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Will a good microphone make me a better poet?

Surprisingly, yes it will because voice tone and delivery are important. How would Richard Burton sound through your daughter's Chinese Karaoke mic?

A good mic really brings out your voice. I have done a few readings lately and whilst it would be great if every venue had an SM58 a lot of them have honkers, I guess guitars are the same

 

Bad penguin can walk into any GC, pick up any mic and get his poetry voice sound. All without ego.

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And you are gigging where?

 

I will not take my Les Paul, ES135, '75 Strat or Vibrolux out for bar gigs anymore, that is just crazy...big outdoor stage gigs, with security, sure...anything else is just crazy...

 

and...I don't care what anyone thinks of the gear I gig with. I do care that I put on a great show every time...but that is about MY skills and MY years of experience, not to 'show off' expensive gear that has nothing to do with my ability to perform and entertain.

 

No I barely play any gigs. I just use recording gear.

 

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You know what opinions are like.

 

I can make music with anything. The thread title asked about what YOU think.

 

Interesting that you can't do the mental process of: Great gear is more fun. Fun makes you want to practice more. Practice makes you BETTER AT GUITAR.

 

badpenguin hates mbengs for some reason.

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Posted (edited)
Bad penguin can walk into any GC' date=' pick up any mic and get his poetry voice sound. All without ego.[/quote']

 

This is so true. I can pick up any First Act mic, or a Telefunkin U87, and you will still get the same smooth melodious tone of me hacking up pre chewed herring for my offspring. :lol:

 

However, something you said I somewhat kinda disagree with."Interesting that you can't do the mental process of: Great gear is more fun. Fun makes you want to practice more. Practice makes you BETTER AT GUITAR. "

 

Hmmmm… Practice more, or play more? There's a difference between running thru scales, chord changes and voicings, (Practice) and playing the same way, doing the same mistakes, the same bad techniques and following the same bad habits.(Play)

 

Just because you picked up that>(insert guitar here ) and that >(insert amp/effect) Doesn't mean you are going to practice more. The difference between practice and playing is a mindset thing. And I doubt a piece of gear is going to change that mindset.

Edited by badpenguin

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This is so true. I can pick up any First Act mic, or a Telefunkin U87

 

Modesty aside, I'm a bit of an expert on microphones, having used them professionally as an engineer for decades, and having written articles about mic techniques for magazines and online. I've also reviewed many of them. I've even written a book about them... :0

 

Telefunken never made a U87. In fact, Telefunken never made microphones until Telefunken USA (now Telefunken Elektroakustik) was created in 2000 - prior to that, Telefunken had all their mics built by OEM manufacturers, including AKG and Neumann, and just re-badged them. Neumann is the only company who ever made real U87's, and the only badge a genuine U87 should have on it is a Neumann badge. AFAIK, Neumann never OEM'ed that mic for any other company. They definitely never made a re-badged U87 for Telefunken.

 

Sorry to get nitpicky, but that's what experts do sometimes. :p;)

 

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