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January 26, 2010

Practicing Guitar vs Buying Guitar Gear

Are you someone who feels you are not spending enough time practicing guitar, yet you look on eBay and guitar forums everyday to see if you can score some new guitar gear? I'm not trying to make you feel guilty, but I think this is a common "problem" among many guitar players. I am guilty of this too, I openly admit it. How do you think I acquired all the gear I have listed on this website!

However, I have noticed this G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) is an illness that comes and goes for me. Lately, it's been mostly "goes", and perhaps that's because I have enough stuff now to play with. Although I could always use one of this or that, my little devil on the shoulder tells me... and sometimes he wins, sometimes not.

Now, the easy answer here is of course - stop buying gear, start playing guitar - if practicing and improving your playing is important enough for you. If you'd rather just have fun with gear, well then there you go. But if you want to improve as a player, you need to schedule time in for practicing guitar.

There is no substitute for hard work and time spent practicing when it comes to playing an instrument. There are many studies on this topic, and here is a study regarding children where improvements were seen on tests measuring verbal ability and visual pattern completion (skills not normally associated with music).

Bottom line is - if you want to play better, play more! And stop buying gear all the time, if you are "one of those guys..."

I do think many of us put off practicing, because they think it won't do much for their improvement, and it's easy to find excuses to not work on things that require some level of structured effort. I am guilty myself! I am busy with running, family, video lessons creation, etc. I could practice more than I do, and in fact, that is one thing I intend to improve upon in 2010. I want to get a better. I am working on knowing the fretboard better, chord voicings, finger picking, soloing concepts, etc. By the end of the year, I hope to have a recording or two, where I'm happy with my playing.

So, which one of these two "stereotypes" are you?

By Robert Renman -

Comment on this?


Posted by Robert Renman on January 26, 2010

Comments on this blog entry

David Williams said...

Awww come on, they're pretty! like ornaments, jewellery or furniture! You can do both!

Comment added on June 18, 2012
Robert said...

Hey Tig, you are of course right. :)
It's fun to have cool gear too, and not everyone is out to become a great player either. Having good sound can perhaps inspire a person to play and practice more, perhaps? Not sure about that one!

Comment added on June 22, 2010
Tig said...

All of this is true, Robert, but there's always the temptation of new gear, especially with the constant supply of new amps showing up. (wink-wink)

However, if your gear isn't all that good or holds you back, there's nothing wrong with ugrading and replacing things. Newer players start to realize that what they once though was the cat's meow isn't all that great after all, or doesn't suit the style of music they play. Experience helps to guide us on our needs and purchases.

Comment added on June 18, 2010
Suzan Omar said...

No doubts, people do spend lots of money on buying guitar gear. Practicing more will definitely help and also if you can afford, get some good guitar lessons and that will definitely help picking up on the learning curve.

Comment added on April 06, 2010
Robert J. said...

There's one simple word not mentioned during this discussion...discipline. You need discipline to practice daily and discipline not to buy the thousands of guitar products out there. Easier said then done. Find your tone within your budget, set your goals, practice and rehearse.

Comment added on March 08, 2010
Johnny M. said...

Yes, it is a cop out. Lazy people do not practice. It means work! It took me a year of playing an acoustic alone before i got my new strat and line 6 spider jam. Great reward that made me bump up daily practice from 3.5 hrs a day to 4.5 hrs. a day (5 days). I can't get enough!!!!

Comment added on February 08, 2010
GE1 said...

I'm guilty too. I can say that now since I went crazy gettin' stuff, my problem now is deciding which guitar to pratice with on a given day, however the solution is, I split duties between guitars (on occassion) during a given practice session. Pedals, I save for studio or jam/fun sessions.

Comment added on February 02, 2010
Rylan Martin said...

How dare you!? I put in at least 20 minutes of practicing for every $100 I spend! Remember that when you point a finger at someone that...whoa...gotta go, found a sweet price on an amp on Kijiji.

Comment added on January 27, 2010
Johnny A. said...

Ive been there Robert. I know how you feel. Ive pretty much made the same comments at one time or another im reading on your page. Ive come to the conclusion there are no pedals that will replace a good guitar and amp combination. Anything else is not really necessary. I perfer small wattage tube amps unless of coarse your playing A really large room. I turn my amp all the way up and adjust the volume and tone on the guitar.When your ready to solo roll the volume up on the guitar,and enjoy the essents of tonal bliss as the harmonics ring with every note. theres no pedal that Ive found that can duplicate the ritchness.I also believe expression is better expressed with this bare bones combination. I use A Little 5 watt supro single ended amp made back in the 60s,and A gibson melody maker left over from A Christmas sale at one of the local music stores A couple of years ago.Works for me!!!

Comment added on January 26, 2010
Geoff Walker said...

You are, of course, abolutely right, but the thought is that if I just buy that pedal, that amp, that new set of super duper strings, why then I WILL play better.
It's a question of finding the right exercises/scals/chords or whatever that will
a) Keep you interested.
b) Help you to develop.
I find, though, that I wind up playing the same old things again and again.
This year though I have broken out - I made some money on a couple of guitars I sold and I went out & bought a double bass.
New instrument, new challenge - I hope that it gets me reinspired & may bring a new perspective to mymusic.........

Comment added on January 26, 2010
Svein Rune Johannessen said...

Practicing Guitar vs Buying Guitar Gear
Yes Robert ,Yoy have sooooo rigth,I have used thise excuse .to fool my selfe.Thank you for tell us.
And belive .Ihave already start for play more and practicing my guitarplaying.
Maby i ll be better for playing.

Comment added on January 26, 2010
crippe (snoffess on y-tube) said...

Hallo robert !
I agree totally with you ! In my case I can tell you that I love guitar gear and just to search for it and learn more about it. I do practice guitar and for me my effects hunt has not been an excuse for not practicing I would say it´s the other way when I have for example got myself a new pedal I allways end up playing several hours with it and there you have it ! Both gear buying and practicing ! But as you said it´s important that we don´t forget about the practicing if we want to imporve our playing! You don´t necessarly need "good tone" to practise guitar but to me it´s so much more fun !
That was some thoughts I got when reading your great blog !

Comment added on January 26, 2010
Josh Sager - said...

Thank You! This bothers me so much. I never understood why people spend so much more time buying stuff than playing or practicing. Do they really think they are going to be better players by having xyz effect pedal?

I think it's more of an excuse/cop-out than anything.

Comment added on January 26, 2010

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