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Giving to Get: Donate Your Gear

Not worth Craigslist or eBay? Donate it!

Last week I did something that never would have crossed my mind a few years ago. I gave away perfectly good sounding and working gear! While looking at my collection of amps, pedals, and instruments recently, I did what most of us gear hoarders do...I made a list of everything that needed to go so I could reinvest in more gear. This time around, the main objective was to clear away things that weren’t getting used so I could put that money into acoustic treatment and better monitoring for my studio. In the process of inventorying the gear, it ended up that I had a lot of redundancy in every aspect of gear including guitars, amps, and pedals. It was actually pretty amazing to see it all laid out in the room, especially since there were pieces that hadn’t seen the light of day in years. Brand new, quality instruments that just weren’t getting played and needed to move on to a good home. It also felt a little sinful knowing how much overkill was going on. Two of this, three of that…redundant. You could easily have assembled many gigging or recording rigs out of extras.

As the inevitable photo taking and pricing of gear commenced, there were items that were going to fall into the category of “too cheap for eBay, too painful to put on Craigslist.” These are items where you know the fees are too high to justify an auction and shipping on eBay, but you’ll get way too many creeps and tire-kickers/scammers on Craigslist that you don’t want coming to your home. What to do? After watching several episodes of Animal Hoarders and other similar shows it came to me that maybe, just maybe, I could do something charitable. How about helping out a little rather than try to make a quick buck. And who ever said there wasn’t something rewarding about giving?

So here I was looking at a perfectly good amp (Epiphone Valve Jr.) and while it was only fired up once and stored away as a project for the future, I faced the facts that it never was going to get used. New for $99 at Guitar Center means most likely $50 on Craigslist. Hmmm, what about Goodwill?

Right next to the amp was a set of drums I’d bought a couple years back in hopes of bringing back the old days of being a drummer before all this virtual instrument stuff started happening. Sure, they needed new heads but it was a nice 4-piece kit. Put them in the truck too! Back in the studio closet there was a nice electric guitar. Nothing too fancy, but back when I started playing I would have killed to have something that played and sounded this good…new strings, fresh setup, and a hardshell case. In the front seat of the truck it went. Next up was a Crown 1000-watt poweramp and 100’ cables that I used for the rehearsal setup with my old band. Next to it was a crate of cables for guitars, mics, speakers, etc. Once those were loaded in the truck, it was time to make the trip to Goodwill.

I backed up my truck at the local Goodwill and the guys came out to unload for me (how convenient!). They get donations every day, but they must have been musicians because both of the workers' eyes lit up when they opened up the back and saw all the gear (there was also an unopened Guitar Hero game with drumset and guitar controller). As they unloaded, they actually asked me if I really wanted to donate all of the gear. That’s when I knew I was doing the right thing. How many times have we gone into a pawn shop, Salvation Army, or similar store just hoping to find a guitar or amp? It made me feel really good to know that I was helping out the cause of a young kid with more hopes and dreams than money.

Now I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back, I’m bringing it up because it felt amazing! This is gear that clearly wasn’t getting used but was perfectly good stuff that should be doing a lot more than wasting away in a closet or garage. Yes, Goodwill is going to put a price tag on the donations, but it won’t be used music store prices from what I’ve experienced. Next time I will donate to the schools, since they aren’t nearly getting the funding they need. Heck, maybe the kid across the street could use one of my pedals.

We’re getting into the holiday season now and it’s a time for giving. These days money is tight with just about everyone, but I’ll bet there are more than a few of us that have collected more than our share. Next time you start thinking about funding your G.A.S. with the sale of more gear, perhaps you could look into giving some away to the less fortunate. I’m not saying you need to drop your vintage Les Paul on some unsuspecting recipient but wouldn’t that be a serious act of grace?

Have fun, be abundant and keep the cycle rolling. What comes around definitely goes around for all of us. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see the kids in the band down the street making great use of your gear and having the time of their life.