Serious musicians are always looking for ways to get better at what they do, whether they write music or perform and record professionally. Without thinking about it, some make an effort to buy the most expensive instruments and equipment they can in an effort to be the best at what they do in music. But while performing and recording with quality gear is essential, there comes a point where money can’t deliver the sort of results these musicians are really after. Here’s why:
Money can’t buy intuition, talent, and hard work
Incredible recording gear and instruments might make you look like an incredible musician, but it doesn’t mean they’ll end up making you sound like one. We sometimes are tricked into thinking that the perfect guitar, DAW setup, or preamp is the only thing standing between us and our perfect musical selves, but that’s not true. Think for a minute what goes into being an incredible songwriter or performer. Working hard holed up in a studio or practice space for countless hours is your best bet at becoming a truly astounding music-maker. Work combined with natural talent and musical intuition is what makes someone become great. Instruments and fancy gear help, but they’ll be nothing more than expensive accessories without the right creative force behind them.
The best musical ideas don’t require expensive equipment
In 2019, cheap and poorly made musical equipment is a serious problem, especially for those who are just starting out in music. But once instruments and equipment are at a price point where they’re functional, most musical ideas can be expressed through them. Whether you’re trying to write an incredible song or hone your technical skills, modestly priced music gear is almost always good enough to help you get the job done. Expensive instruments and gear can be exhilarating to use, but they aren’t essential tools for being a solid musician. In fact, many of the world’s best bands, solo artists, producers, and performers found success using thrift store instruments, pawn shop-sourced recording gear, and hand-me-down music accessories. Just like expensive music equipment won’t make you a great musician, using moderately priced instruments and gear doesn’t mean you’re a bad one.
Buying the best instruments and equipment might make you feel like you’re working, but you aren’t unless you use them
A hefty instrument and gear purchase might make you feel like you’re getting closer to your musical goals, but everything you buy will do nothing more than collect dust if you don’t write, record, and perform. Making music can be hard work with progress that often feels glacially slow. It’s tempting to equate shiny new music stuff with shiny new progress, but those are two completely separate things. Once the honeymoon stage of buying new music gear is over, you’ll be left with the same challenges you’d have if you were using moderately priced gear.
There’s nothing wrong with buying great new music gear if you can afford to. But rather than hoping the right drumset or microphone will make you into the musician you wish you were, you’re better off making the most of what you have and putting in the work.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.