This conversation originally appeared on my Twitter feed.
Good morning! This week’s #CoffeeAndKlon is a day late … because Kristi and I went to the UK International Guitar Show yesterday. Today, I want to talk about giving up gear. As in, letting go of gear you’ve outgrown or stopped using.
Today’s Coffee … Is My All-Time Favourite
First: coffee. Lots of coffee today, because at work I’ve got an immovable deadline coming up. A second cup of Sumatran, my favourite coffee. I’m going to pay for this later!
Sumatran coffee is very dark, very bitter, and very strong. It’s an all-out coffee assault, and definitely an acquired taste. I normally can’t handle 2 cups of it in a single day. But I’ve missed it, and I forgot to photograph my first cup earlier 🙂
I could happily rotate between this and Rwandan coffee all the time. Which reminds me … I can’t remember the last time we had Rwandan. It’s a lot harder to get hold of than it used to be. I haven’t looked into why.
Letting Go Is Hard
So … giving up gear. Yesterday, we drove all the way from Wales over to London to visit the UK International Guitar Show*. And in the boot, I took a couple of guitars to trade.
*subject for another day!
(Just for clarification: I didn’t take the gear to the guitar show to trade. I swung by a major guitar shop on the way home to trade them there.)
I’m terrible about letting go of gear. Well, guitars in particular. Amps and pedals, I’ve moved on. I wouldn’t say ‘happily’, but definitely much more easily than guitars. I don’t feel the same attachment. Guitars though …
Part of it is definitely fear … fear of the guitar not surviving delivery to its next owner. The idea of killing a guitar genuinely fills me with dread. They’re more than tools to me.
That’s why I took these guitars to a major retailer to trade. I’d get a lot more selling them privately, but I struggle with the stress that brings. This way, I know the guitars are going to safely make it to the next person who needs them.
Another part of it is a sense of loss. I (try to) seek out guitars that have their own voice. Trading away one means never hearing that voice ever again. I find that hard.
What Did You Trade?
Yesterday, I traded away my Taylor T5z. It’s stunning to look at, and (imho) the best sounding T5z I ever played or heard. A hybrid electro-acoustic with the neck carve and playability of a Les Paul. Great for anyone who doesn’t like acoustic guitars.
It played an important part of my recent musical life. It was the guitar I bought to start the band. Found it up in Glasgow in 2017, and it was the first acoustic-like guitar is played where I still sounded like me.
We used it to start exploring our sound. It was the guitar we used to choose our gigging amps. A good 50% of the set at our first gig was written on it. And it was up there on stage at that first gig.
Since then, it’s largely been a case queen.
Our gigs have taught us that a traditional acoustic guitar works best when playing in small rooms like pubs and cafes. Spaces where the audience can feel and react to the guitar’s unamplified tone.
It was incredibly important as a catalyst and a bridge. And once we’d crossed that bridge and gone full-acoustic, its journey with us was done.
Driving home last night, I didn’t feel any regret at moving the Taylor T5z on. The only regret I had was that I hadn’t been able to trade away the other guitar I’d taken along too. That inspired me to write about this today.
When Gear Serves A Bigger Purpose
Despite all the gear I talk about on here, the band has been my main musical focus for all of 2019. And the gear I use in the band has all been about serving the band’s needs better. When the Taylor no longer did that, I was alright in letting it go.
Why did the other guitar come back with me? I couldn’t get the trade-in price I needed for the next set of gear for the band. That one, I will need to sell privately. Stress be damned.
Having the band as the main focus of my music has *forced* me to start treating guitars as tools. Even though the band is just a hobby. Even though we’re not trying to become professional musicians.
It’s going to take a quite a bit longer for me to actually get comfortable with that though …
Thanks For Reading
If you’ve enjoyed this week’s #CoffeeAndKlon, please do let me know. And I’d love to hear what you think about hanging onto gear vs trading it away.