gearheads

The other day I learned of this guitar in a circular I received in the mail that I read over lunch. Ashley and I had the following conversation:

Me: Wow. This guitar costs $6500.
Ash: Really?
Me: Yep.
Ash: For that price it should play itself. And light up. And make everyone around you naked.

Indeed. It should. I can’t even imagine what goes into a guitar to make it cost $6500. I mean sure yes some of that cost is simply Slash’s name, and yes of course it is a Les Paul. But Les Pauls – even good ones – go for more like $2500, so what makes this so awesome?(1)

This is part of why I’m suspicious of what I call gearheads. I’ve noticed that when I talk about playing guitar to people they either want to know what kind of music I play or what kind of gear I play. I prefer the former.

I know I have an Ibanez electric and an Alverez acoustic/electric. I have an Ibanez bass. That’s it. That’s all I know about them from a name standpoint. I can’t tell you model numbers or the year it was made. I can’t tell you that it’s a cheaper version of x guitar. Or whatever. I can’t even tell you what brand of banjo I’ve been using on semi-permanent loan for a few years now.

can tell you I bought the Ibanez because it plays very well. The action’s great. And it’s capable of both more of the Fender-type tone and the Les Paul-type tone. That’s what I look for in an electric. I can tell you my amp is a Line 6, but I can’t tell you anything beyond that other than it sounds how I like a guitar to sound and that I can make it sound sleek and pretty like Pink Floyd or horrible and incoherent like Neil Young.(2)

If you’re into music, you’re into music. You’re into whatever you need to be into in order to make the music itself as perfect as it can be. To me the gearheads are collectors. If you’re into owning a $6500 guitar, you’re into owning a $6500 guitar. Gearheads tell me about their amps and pickups(3) and I don’t even know what else because my eyes have glazed over.

I don’t care about what you play. I only care about what you bring to the song. And I can’t think of a single song out there that would benefit from a $6500 guitar.(4)


  1. Assuming it does not, in fact, make everyone around you naked. Which if it did? Totally worth it.
  2. Don’t assume by this I mean that I can play as well as either of them.
  3. The things on electric guitars that make them work. Not as in like pick-up trucks.
  4. Though of course Pink Floyd’s “Money” comes to mind, mostly for the fun of it.
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