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Whether it’s a guitar or a hex wrench, learn what works and get a bunch of great ones. (Warning: The organization level of our columnist’s tool chest may inspire guilt.)

Tool up to get the job done right, and save time and your sanity in the process.

I’m a cheap bastard. Frugal to a fault, I’m always trying to rub two nickels together to make a quarter. But if you ask anyone who has ever worked in my shop, they’ll tell you I always buy the very best tools and equipment. How can these disparate ideas exist within the same framework? The simple answer is that great tools save money over the long haul. It doesn’t matter if you are a butcher or a bassist, a carpenter or a composer—it’s all the same game. Buying and experimenting with tools is also a lot like buying effects pedals, and it’s just as addictive.

Learn what good is. The first order of business is to learn who makes the good stuff, which can only be understood by using a lot of tools. Starting in my teens, I had lots of jobs in factories that put me in touch with equipment, good and bad. Each of these jobs required using hand tools and machinery. The higher-tech industrial jobs usually employed commercial-grade tools that would never be found in a hardware store. It was eye-opening.

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