It might be time to ask yourself some tough questions.
Recently I watched an episode of Lifetime’s Hoarders. Never again. I felt like a creepy voyeur spying on mentally unstable people as they schlepped across worn carpet through narrow trails carved between floor-to-ceiling stacks of newspapers, boxes of shoes, broken appliances, and garage-sale baby clothes. After 25 minutes, I felt strangely claustrophobic, a little sad, and self-righteously smug.
The next day, I went into my garage and saw my pile of amps, separated into three stacks: (1) Working. (2) Dead but fixable. (3) Dead but not going anywhere—just in case. These amps are squeezed between stacks of road cases that spill over into one of the parking spaces. On the other side are a drum set and a small PA with its mains and wedges covering the second parking space.
Three paths separate these gear piles: one leads to the driveway where my ’96 Mercury Grand Marquis has a Tele and amp waiting in its ample trunk. The other leads to a closet crammed full of guitars, speakers, tubes, strings, and pedals (one big box of broken pedals, one equally big box of working stomps I don’t like). The third path leads inside my house where I have a studio full of gear and a bedroom lined with guitars. Occasionally my gear takes over the entire living room during late-night, buzz-fueled guitar/pedal/amp shootouts and experiments.
If somebody peered through the cracks in my blinds, I’d look like a mentally unstable hoarder. Which makes me wonder: Am I? I don’t know, but I could definitely qualify for a Hoarders: Gear Geek Episode.
It’s easy to get greedy when it comes to guitars. Since I was 15, I’ve spent tens of thousands of hours leafing through magazines and catalogs, searching the net and music stores, and watching hours of MTV and VH1 (back when they showed music videos)—all this just to see guitars. To this day there are huge holes in my education because I spent most of math and science class drawing designs of guitars on my notebook. It’s like a porn addiction, only more embarrassing and harder for the straights to understand. Like a seemingly normal, suburban housewife who ends up turning tricks for crack, one has to wonder, how did this happen? The answer is: Slowly, then all at once.
First, you connect to music on a fundamental level. Then the specific sound of a guitar seduces you. Then you pick one up. If it feels really good in your hands, you’ve stepped onto the slippery slope. After that, just looking at guitars triggers a shot of endorphins. Before long you’re trolling through dodgy gear sites late at night and going to music stores when you don’t need anything.
I want to be like my friend Larry DiMarzio—he totally has the gear thing figured out. Where as I want to own every kind of guitar, L.D. owns just a few of the very best guitars ever made. Back in the day when Larry was working in New York making a name for himself as the secret tone weapon for the likes of Earl Slick, Al Di Meola, and Ace Frehley, he was living in a hotbed of still-affordable Holy Grail guitars. He bought a ’59 Les Paul, then bought another one. Compared them and kept the one that sounded best. Then he did that again and again and again, until he had the quintessential Les Paul. He did the same thing with 335s, Teles, Strats, and Gibson J-45s, and wound up with the best example of each. To play Larry’s old, battered J-45 acoustic is to know just what these are supposed to sound like at their absolute best, because this instrument won the Pepsi challenge every time.
Granted, following this method isn’t feasible for us mere mortals. Start with the fact that L.D. has great ears and knows what to listen for. Also, he was in the right place at the right time—NYC in the early ’70s. Finally, his tone quest was well funded by his company. All the money spent on these guitars was a research write-off because they provided the perfect baseline comparison for the pickups he was designing. I imagine Seymour Duncan has equally killer pieces (Jeff Beck’s Esquire comes to mind). The point is, L.D. owns guitars with a purpose.
Ultimately, there are three types of guitar owners: the player, the collector, and the hoarder. I’m a player who needs to cover a lot of sonic ground for my work, so I rationalize having a lot of guitars. Although I love having guitars around, I don’t want to be the guy that collects instruments I don’t play. People built these things to be heard. It feels wrong to own a guitar that spends all its days in a case, slowly turning to dust. Stash enough of these under your bed and you’ll feel a bit like a spoiled child who does not want to share his toys.
There’s the rub: Today I feel the same way about guitars as I did when I was a teenager. The only difference is now I make more money, so I’m like a teenager with a divorced father’s guilt-ridden credit card. I’ve got to grow up, reevaluate my gluttonous behavior, and make a distinction between my needs and wants. Specifically, I should fix or get rid of broken gear, jettison any guitar I haven’t played in over a year, and quit buying gear I don’t need. I probably won’t do any of these.This is a cautionary tale: Save yourself while you can. It’s too late for me, but don’t worry. I’ll be okay, alone in my house with my gear.
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Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.