How Many Guitars Do You Really Need?Pedals At Dawn
Let’s start by acknowledging “How Many Guitars Do You Really Need?” is obviously budget dependant; then immediately disregard the real world and start daydreaming (just in case you actually do win lotto).
From what I’ve observed, there seems to be a few catagories of guitar owner:
- Musicians who consider guitars as tools to do a job
- Collectors who consider them art or an investment but don’t play them
- And the rest of us who fall somewhere in between
I’m jealous of those who live in group 1, I think my life would be so much simpler if I lived in group 1; I know I’d be a better player. I also understand those in group 2 as I too can appreciate the works of art that guitars can be, I just wish my PRS held its value like a Gibson does.
However, I fall into that last group; and if I’m honest, I’m a hobbyist with more gear than talent. I’m also a complete gear head who genuinely finds the blend of aesthetics and technical specifications endlessly fascinating.
I’ve read posts on this subject before that talk about the practical points, such as different sounds or just having a spare axe. But I think the need vs want is definitely blurred by the emotional element. To me, the subtext of the question is “how many guitars do I need to own for the GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) to subside?”. And that is something I feel qualified to answer.
Over the years I have tried to decrease my guitars down to what my family thought was a sensible number, but every time I bought and sold stuff I ended up with 1 more guitar than when I started. What I do know is that my guitar collection hovered around half a dozen for years, but since its been an even 10, that emotional void where GAS consumes your thoughts, seems to have disappeared (at least for now). Now I’m not saying you need 10 guitars, 10 just happens to be my number and your mileage will certainly vary.
I also think its not about the number of guitars at all, but what is offered by the guitars you do have. Which means it’s plausible to get the same results from fewer guitars (if I sat down and thought about it and could have a do-over with hindsight).
With that many guitars, have you found the perfect guitar yet?
Honestly, no. There is something I love and hate about all of my guitars. I think my Schecter KM-6 is as close as I’ll get in a production model though.
So ignoring brands and marketing hype, I’ll try and breakdown what I love / hate about my guitars:
|Number of Strings||6||7|
|Scale Length||25" to 28"||Less than 25"|
Ivory pickup rings
No pickup rings
Chrome / Nickel covers
Cream pickup rings
|Pickup Selector||3 Way Toggle||3 and 5 Way Blades|
|Controls||1 Volume / 1 Tone||2 Volume / 2 Tone|
|Push/Pull Pots||None||Coil Tap/Split|
|Neck Carve||C Shape (or in that ball park)||Wizard|
|Fretboard||Ebony, Maple or Rosewood (dark in colour)||Anything too light in colour or streaky|
|Fretboard Radius||9.5" to 16"||Less than 9.5" or more than 16"|
Jumbo or Larger
|22 Frets or Less|
Smaller than Jumbo
Black Center Dots
Luminescent Side Dots
Non-Luminescent Side Dots
|Binding||Reveal Binding||Fretboard Binding|
|Nut||Graphtech or PRS|
Dark in colour
|Bone or plastic|
Light in colour
|Headstock Shape||3 a Side||6 in-line|
As you can see, I’ve learned enough about what guitar features I like to build a custom guitar – not that I will ever be able to afford that. Plus, I much prefer to see the finished product before forking over cash for it.
So what is your dream guitar?
Using a PRS CE24 as the base (because its body is thinner than the McCarty and the top carve is shallower) and customised as follows: satin faded grey-black finish with natural back/neck, maple set neck, ebony fretboard, mother of pearl bird inlays, adjustable stoptail bridge, stainless steel frets and Seymour Duncan pickups with the McCarty control layout – THAT is the perfect guitar for me. Sadly I couldn’t get that even with a custom order as PRS don’t do stainless steel frets. And this is as good a time as any to mention: I hate tremolo bridges of every kind!
So if none of your guitars are perfect, why keep them?
I think each guitar being perfectly imperfect is part of the appeal; it shakes things up a bit. Ironically, if I did have a custom guitar made from the features I like, I know I wouldn’t be happy with just 1 guitar. Guitarists are complicated creatures.
This is all very interesting (*cough* contradictory *cough*), but how can I justify owning multiple guitars to my other half? They’re not going to buy this emotion crap.
- Redundancy: You need a spare
- Pickups: Single coils vs Humbuckers – they sound very different
- Scale Length: 6 String Baritone vs 7 String – if you like heavy music, you need one of these to compliment your regular scale length guitars
- Tunings: Even with locking tuners, tuning is a total pain, so it’s just easier to keep guitars in the tunings you use
- Acoustic: For inspirational power chords and nearby campfires