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Recently I check out on this venerable etc platform about the 600-strong instrument arsenal of Alain Johannes, the brilliant gun-for-hire and also supporting actors member to the likes of kings Of The rock Age, PJ Harvey and Them Crooked Vultures. The number has stuck through me.

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Johannes is an completed solo artist, a respected session pro and a constant performer - a guy who calls for a range of tools. Nonetheless, ns still risked dousing my key-board in a coffee-based mouthwash as soon as I review that figure.

I don’t begrudge johannes his successes or his equipment indulgences. My dispute here is most absolutely not with the individual, but the figure was something of a red flag and also it make me concern our consumption as one industry. This is one example among many in the expert world, however collections seem to be expanding at a rapid rate transparent the entire guitar ar -from huge names come bedroom players.


Among every music-makers, guitarists in details are known for espousing the mythic binding we produce with our instruments, however our buying behavior are telling a different story. Research suggests the median player now owns in between seven and also eight guitars (though the numbers referenced below are, in ~ best, anecdotal), definition the guitarist with one an excellent amp and also electric is increasingly an anomaly.



(Image credit: Future)

The relatively brand-new perception that guitars as collectibles - and, following The good Recession the 2008, together investments - theatre a part in this story, but for many of us they space either a an imaginative outlet, or a tool - not baseball cards or museum pieces. Also the cheaper production line models contain some level of craft, so need to we be questioning the concern if guitars are, in fact, too affordable?


As ever, that starts with the economics -supply and demand. Efficiencies found in material choices, mass production techniques and foreign labour/facilities have actually led to a case where numerous beginner tools offer excellent build quality and also value because that money.

Supply has risen and also prices have decreased, an interpretation we deserve to buy much better instruments in ~ a reduced real expense than ever before before. This is, for the most part something come celebrate. Many thanks capitalism, many thanks economy! Why shouldn’t we all own loads of guitars?

Well, whether you think the ice cream caps space melting or the dinosaurs constructed the pyramids, global population expansion nonetheless continues and also we have to be more efficient in our consumption of the world’s finite resources. This goes for all facets of our lives, yet most cruciallyour hobbies and passions.

These room the areas, ~ all, wherein our usage is the least essential, based on desires end needs, and yet as result of their nature together an escape native the real world, hobbies are frequently where we’ll experience our biggest blindspots and also most resistance to change.

What other manufacturing industry has that kind of burn price on such high value products?

So, leaving behind the pseudo-spiritualism regarding the missed tonal benefits of play in instruments and those abovementioned mythic bonds, however might there be other problems with our consumption? IBISWorld notes the yearly growth in guitar sales 2013-2018 was about 0.8%, pretty lot inline with US population growth.

This seems reasonable at first. But then take into consideration how many guitars are already out over there (a 100% unverified calculation is 50-100 million, with about 2.5 million brand-new instruments created a year) and the reality that these commodities have been outliving their owners for years now.

Add to this research by Fender in 2015 that proved that a half of all new guitars are carried by first-timers and also just 10% of those players stick-it-out past a year. That’s a potential 45% that all brand-new guitars produced, year-on-year, drifting turn off to lofts or basements, re-sale points or, if they’re lucky, landing in the hands of a urged player.

Much that this aforementioned new gear is cheap, but also -compared come the entry-level gear of yore -highly playable and built to last. It’s not surprising that, as an ext enthusiastic players, we start to amass collection of this ingredient then, yet what other manufacturing industry has that kind of burn rate on such high worth products?



(Image credit: Derek Davis/Portland press Herald via Getty Images)

We all prefer to own more guitars. Yet after a point, the is not merely a rubbish of worldwide resources, but likewise the time invested working away, paying off etc number eight. Room the additional purchases we continue to do in the surname of G.A.S.(Gear acquisition Syndrome) making us as happy together our first couple of buys? Or is the pleasure return decreasing with each brand-new product you pick up?

When go the expense start come outweigh the emotionally or creative benefit? economic experts have known this phenomenon and, rather grandly, labelled that "the regulation of diminishing marginal utility’, yet most compulsive etc buyers will acknowledge it together that sense of post-G.A.S. Deflation. The sheen attract off prior to the brand-new shiny-thing-that-will-definitely-solve-all-your-problems must be to buy to to fill the gap.

So what deserve to be done? Well, that starts in ~ home, together they say. Those of united state in the media can even research our own influence -highlighting the mammoth collection of touring megastars (who need a guitar and a backup to cover each of their 18 tunings) is likely contributing come the sense that an ext is better. As is the yearly NAMM-frenzy and also product coverage born the our collective thirst because that the ‘new’.

There was a time when players just bought a Strat, Les Paul or Tele - not one of each, or also multiple variants

Instead maybe we must promote more coverage of the second-hand finds and ways to maintain, mod and also get the most from our existing instruments. It’s fair to speak we’re open up to proposal here.

Consumers constantly have the many power, though. The industry responds come demand, therefore we have to think in terms of our impact as individuals. The next time the bloating emotion of G.A.S. Enters our consciousness, probably we must ask ourself if us can achieve our target in some various other way.

Firstly, execute we really require it? The answer to this inquiry of require is, nearly always, ‘no’, yet then that’s not constantly the suggest when it comes to creativity.

Perhaps, instead, we should an obstacle ourselves to put our an innovative minds to usage elsewhere, finding work-arounds. There was a time when players simply bought a Strat, Les Paul or Tele - not among each, or also multiple variants.



(Image credit: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

Indeed, basic customization and servicing was one of Fender’s early on selling points. Will swapping pickups or obtaining a decent setup save you cash and give your faithful six-string a new lease the life? If not, have the right to you lend or profession gear? If us do, perhaps we can slake our thirsty without a box-fresh purchase.

Failing that, deserve to you get it second-hand? Reverb.com, eBay and local trade sites space awash with good gear finds and salvage-state bargains - and don’t rule out the enduring bricks and also mortar retailers. The happiness of a great store’s curation and playing before you buy, without pressure, is significant. Buying brand-new should it is in our last instinct, not our first.

If the sector changes, the sector will, too. Imagine a suggest at i m sorry the big manufacturers decision to place much more emphasis on update packages, user servicing, and/or Apple-style refurbishment/recycling programs. These wouldallow brands to acquire a slice of the resale market, when ensuring the top quality of pre-owned equipment in the process.

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Each instrument acquisition would be seen as a beginning of a long-running connection with a firm, no a transactional pay-off. Fender’s response to the high drop-out price of new players through its Fender Play communication has had actually notable success in helping new guitarists to stick that out, so now how around sessions the teach maintenance, mods and also repairs to a fixed audience, too?

The strength to readjust that story lies v us, then, the consumers. How much is enough? just you deserve to decide.