Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How a $93 guitar changed my life (the guitar part of it anyway)

The best guitar you can buy for around $100.
I've often said that the right guitar will find you, not the other way around, and if you don't recognize it when it happens, you'll forever regret it. Well, a few weekends ago, the right guitar found me, and I'm glad I was paying attention.

I have a big birthday coming up (one of the ones that end in zero) and my wife wanted me to get something special, so I was given a generous budget of $400 to get whatever I wanted. Since I'm not a professional gigging musician, I have no need for a $2,000 custom shop guitar, which means that $400 would buy a nice mid-level guitar that I would be perfectly happy with.

But what's better than buying one guitar? Buying two guitars, of course.

I'm nothing if not cheap, and I have an affinity (no foreshadowing pun intended) for cheap guitars, so I decided to look at the low end of the guitar spectrum and see if I could get two decent guitars for my $400. It's been a goal of mine to complete, in one form or another, the Holy Trinity of Guitars - Strat, Tele, and Les Paul. I already have the Strat, so I needed one of each of the other two to complete the trifecta. Could I do it on $400?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Short takes: Airline Bighorn, Squier Affinity Tele, Fender Mustang II

I went to Guitar Center again this past weekend to waste time while my wife got her hair done, and I ended up trying out some gear. I played an Airline Bighorn and a Squier Affinity Tele through a Fender Mustang II amp. I'll share some quick first impressions of each one, starting with the amp.

Fender Mustang II

Fender's Mustang range of solid-state modeling amps has been very well received in the music press, and I've been eager to try one out. I recently bought a Roland Cube 40XL that I love, but the 40-watt Mustang II was on my short list of amps to buy, and after playing it, I know that its place on that list was justified. It wasn't enough to make me regret my Cube purchase, but if I would've bought the Mustang instead, I wouldn't have been disappointed.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Midlife re-evaluation and gear simplification

When people get to be my age, they go through what most people call a midlife crisis. I don't like to think of it that way. I view it more as a midlife re-evaluation. It's the stage of life where you finally realize that you no longer have all the time in the world to do everything you want to do, so you re-evaluate those goals and figure out which ones are viable and which ones have to be abandoned. It's a bittersweet time as it's sad to see some of your old goals and aspirations die, but it's good to be refocused on the things you really want to do. It doesn't happen at once and the plans often change until you finally figure out what you want.

This re-evaluation happened to me recently. I'm fortunate in that I have a logical, analytical mind, and that I can do a lot of internal analysis without doing anything rash. Many people end up doing crazy stuff like quitting their jobs, divorcing their husbands/wives, and buying outrageous sports cars, boats, motorcycles, etc., only to realize they love their spouse, they liked their job, and the new bike hurts their back. I'm also fortunate because the only part of my life being re-evaluated is music - I enjoy my career, I love my wife, and although I'd love to learn to ride a motorcycle, it's not as important to me as it used to be, so I could take it or leave it.