- Rig Rundowns
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As a service to you, in case you have a bandmate or a friend who is struggling with this, I thought I would identify some of the telltale signs of intercohabitative gear smuggling so that you know what to look for. Keep an eye out for the following shenanigans.
The Handling of Goods
The Theme Scheme - This ruse assumes that one’s soul mate can’t tell the difference between, say, that sunburst Fender Highway One HSS Strat with a white pickguard that you’ve been playing for several years and, say, that oh-so-sweet sunburst Fender Road Worn ’60s Strat with a white pickguard that you’ve been Jonesing for. Some intercohabitative gear smugglers might go as far as to assume that their non-musically-inclined loved ones won’t even notice if they buy a new Tele, as long as it has a sunburst finish and a white pickguard. The trick is to never have more than one ’burst out at the same time.
The Stompbox Stash - People who love and sometimes live with guitar players don’t actually inventory what’s on that guitarist’s pedalboard or in their gig bag, because, well, that would just be overbearing. This loving show of respect for reasonable boundaries is a loophole for buying more stuff. They simply won’t remember what’s on the pedalboard! Thus, the stompbox stash is a secret collection of pedals that can be rotated into a signal chain without much notice. As long as the stash is safely hidden, new pedals can be added to it and then rotated onto the board as something is rotated off.
Gear Harboring - When no Theme Scheme (see above) is in play, the perpetrator will often get a buddy to aid and abet the crime while permanent solutions are being figured out. The unassuming pitch might sound something like this: “Hey, man, wanna hold onto my new SG for a while? Seriously. Take it home . . . I can’t have it around the house. I’ve got some big projects to take care of, and I’ll never finish them with that thing lying around. I’ll let you know when I need it. Just be sure to bring it to the gig for me. And to practice.”
Deal of the Century - Compulsive gear buyers have been known to hype up a deal in an effort to curry support for the purchase. This could also involve buddies getting in on the act when the mark is within earshot. “So, dude, are you gonna buy that amp? You totally should. You’ll never see it at that price again. That seller is a fool. You have GOT to buy that thing while you’ve got the chance.”
Dollars and Sense
The Skim - Unauthorized gear is often funded by the Skim. Like vermin squirreling away nuts in a tree trunk, the offender might snatch and hide a 10 spot from an ATM run before date night at the movies or via the debit-card cash-back option at the corner convenience store. With just the right frequency and restraint, those 10s on the DL can finance illegitimate pedal purchases in no time, or even a moderately priced guitar or amp within a year.
Robbing Peter - Let’s say you need to pay for a new Les Paul. It might be time to cash in on another piece of gear you’ve been holding on to. People who don’t play guitar are often clueless to the value of vintage gear. Selling or trading in something really good can be hard to do, but it can also bring in some decent cash that can go right back into the purchasing cycle. This can happen completely under the radar.
The Retail Re-Tell - Many musical instrument dealers still practice the ridiculous art of tagging gear with that silly retail price that isn’t anywhere near what you’d pay for it. People who don’t buy gear don’t know this. Upon getting the occasional green light for a sanctioned gear purchase, the purchaser can end up with extra jack by working the retail price into the budget discussions.
Rebate Bait - Every now and then a gear maker will motivate you with a decent mail-in rebate. The savings amounts to extra jingle to feed your habit. But then again, what if someone finds out about the savings involved? Where do you think that money will end up if it is declared? That’s why some people fill out the rebate card with their work address.
Okay, so some of these strategies are fairly obvious, while others are just outright deceptive— and all in the name of buying a sixth overdrive pedal. The one with the cascading MOSFET and JFET gain stages. Oh, the shame. The point is that we should all keep an eye out for our musical brothers and sisters who have GAS so bad that they might use these tactics to perpetuate their habit. If we don’t unite and help these pathetic people, it could lead to the purchase of another amp. You know—the new Custom Shop version of the one you used to own 20 years ago?