I came across this article by Matt Dunn over at Ultimate Guitar and thought he made some really good points (along with a few I disagreed with). So I wanted to share since I have a job that's similar to his - sifting through guitar gear on a monthly basis.
First, I think the question we're answering is closer to this: Is there too much guitar gear being released and/or does anybody really need it? Whether or not it gets old depends on who you're asking.
Because of course it will "get old" to those of us who are tinkering with this stuff all the time.
Is there too much guitar gear being released and/or does anybody really need it? Whether or not it gets old depends on who you're asking.
Here today, gone tomorrow
The premise is that new gear bubbles up and then sort of disappears or people buy it and don't need it.
It's true that there is a lot of gear (especially pedals) being released.
However, the market has a level that it will sustain, and that level is growing.
Here's what I mean. This graph shows the growth for the search term "guitar pedals" since September of 2015. Note that those spikes each year are always around the holidays and then again in January.
This is not only an issue of topic interest, but a simple matter of steady population growth.
This means that if a piece of gear is released and it disappears, the market is essentially rejecting it. At the same time, other pieces of gear will stick and be consistently popular. Strymon, for example, built excellent pedals that have staying power and aren't going anywhere, while other companies have released and then quickly discontinued whole series of pedals or particular models.
I would argue this is a pretty normal pattern and is now just happening on a (predictably) larger scale than it was 15-20 years ago.
Not everybody needs new gear (but some people do)
I really appreciate and agree with this line from Matt:
In so many of my reviews, I try to emphasize this exact point. Not every pedal or guitar or amp is meant for you. Most times, you don't need the gear in question. ~ Matt Dunn, Ultimate Guitar
This is something I try to be intentional about in my reviews as well. Even if a piece of gear rates well (which most do), that doesn't mean it's a good fit for you. For example, the Neural DSP Quad Cortex is an incredible piece of technology (a computer, essentially) but if you aren't interested in capturing amps (which I'm not), than you're paying for something you don't really need.
And I think that's the issue.
It's not a problem that we have a lot of choices. Variety, in and of itself, is neither bad nor good.
But not being able to judge whether or not a piece of gear is a good fit for you is definitely a problem. And reviewers that don't approach it from that angle are not going to be as helpful. We need to make sure - like Matt says - that we help guitar players and musicians analyze whether something is a good fit for them, at all, not simply try and sell something because it's new.
This applies even if it's a good product.
A simple, kind of man
I think every guitar player needs to find their gear niche, and then stick with it.
If I write a review on one of Universal Audio's new reverb pedals (which are awesome), I'm not trying to convince a reader that they need to ditch their TC Electronic Hall of Fame or Boss RV-6.
I'm writing for the guitar player that is still exploring their options - pretty simple.
But once you find your gear niche, it's best to stick with it and keep things simple. For me, that's really simple. I had a Morley Bad Horsie wah for 18 years before it broke, at which point I went on Reverb and bought another one.
Same with my Boss TU-2 tuner (although it hasn't broken yet).
Then I get distortion from a Mesa Boogie Rectoverb dirty channel and delay/ambience from my Line 6 DL4 delay (the old version). Sometimes I throw in the aforementioned Hall of Fame for more ambience.
After that, I don't really need much.
So keeping it simple is a good policy.
And I think, in that regard, Matt and I agree.
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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