Budget Rigs & Priorities

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while, but every time I re-read it, it reads like some sort of self-important jerk wrote it. And even though I quote the Tick (“Who is this jerk that calls himself the Tick? I am that jerk!”), I don’t want to be a jerk.  So here’s my best effort so far.

I’m not poor, I’m just on a budget.

Nate, over at letsplayguitar, has begun a series of posts about how he has put together his rig on the cheap. Or, more importantly, how to sound good with cheap gear. This is a theme or topic that I really enjoy. And if you read any of this blog, you know that I am all about the jury rig, diy, make your own gear, thrift store finds, etc. Thanks Nate!

Now, he talks about having to do this because he is poor, and if you read the comments on his post, he and I have already discussed that poor is probably not the right word. Compared to most of the world, we are rich. However, in the world of guitar gear, we are poor.  Or more appropriately, we’re on a budget. A tight budget. I read about people with multiple guitars worth more than all my gear combined. They’re just on a different budget. I also read about people with the bare minimum of gear. However, we are all trying to make music with whatever we’ve got.

And then I have that sinking feeling that gear acquisition syndrome (GAS) is really not about making music. Certainly there are reasons for different gear, but how often do we as musicians (or wanna be musicians) get caught up in shopping, building, scheming, dreaming, etc over actually playing music and getting better. How many blogs are out there (including my own) lamenting the time spent reading and writing about guitars rather than playing guitars?

So, now that I’m back (and yes, I did finish Book Thirteen, Towers of Midnight, in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson. That’s why my posts have still been pretty sparse.) I guess it is time to look at my new year’s resolutions.

  1. Guitar blog – updates on a regular basis (try for daily, but at least every other day), but not at the expense of playing.
  2. Guitar projects – finish my unfinished projects (2×12 speaker cabinet, 1×12 speaker cabinet (still need to sand and finish it), ruby 1/2 watt amp for work bench mini amp, effects loop pedal, tele project, wolverine electronics upgrades, strat project).
  3. Guitar practice – create my own lesson plan (warm up drills, memorize fret board, learn songs, learn new skills) and restart band practices (work band, her lovely trees band, breakfast club).
  4. Guitar purchases – purchase or scrounge what I need for projects (tele bridge, tuners, pick ups, jacks, etc.) AND make final upgrades to Frenzel amp (effects loop and second power tube) AND look for cheap Boss DD-7 and Electro Harmonix POG2 effects pedals.

Ok, maybe that fourth item is getting me back into GAS. But the goal for the year is to focus on prioritizing these things. Part of this is about using my budget to keep myself in check. Budgets are all about self-control. They are about making plans and figuring out what you really want.  Of course, some flexibility is needed to handle unforeseen events, but the goal is to stick to the plan. We’ll see how things progress in future blog entries. Thanks for reading!


6 thoughts on “Budget Rigs & Priorities

    • Budgets are funny things. I don’t know how many things we’ve decided not to get because it doesn’t fit in the budget, only to turn around and buy something else entirely that was not in the planned budget because we wanted it.
      I think the key is to have that flexibility in your budget and to realize that a purchase here probably means no purchase there. And this isn’t specific to guitars, this is how we run our finances in our family. The goal is to avoid debt and to only make purchases we’ve saved for. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we end up limiting our purchases after the fact to pay for the thing we bought with the credit card.

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