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Four Things to Consider When Buying Your Next Guitar

(Image credit: Damian Fanelli)

Almost every guitar player I know enjoys adding instruments to their stable. We have an emotional connection to guitars and let’s face it; we love the damn things. Reasons to look for new instruments vary from something that we truly need—such as having a go-to guitar for an extra tuning or a back-up guitar for when we play a live show—all the way to finding an axe just because it would look good on our wall.

Are any of the reasons good enough? Sure. I won’t judge.

But, there is a deeper mental dilemma and torment at play when some guitarists obsess over which instrument to get next. It is the feeling of getting something new that is exciting for the sake of the chase that often results in nothing less than a one-two punch to the brain.

When a need arises to truly have a new guitar, then let’s leave it at that. Go for it. But, what if we just go crazy while fueled with the greedy need of getting something new just because. Let’s talk about that. I will additionally throw a few tips on how to approach finding the right guitar you need.

Wanting Something Is Way More Powerful Than Having It

The anticipation and excitement of getting a new guitar are often more powerful than the satisfaction of having it in your hands. It's like when a child orders something from the internet and checks every hour if the mailman dropped it off for him.

Then though, once the package is opened and a couple days are spent with the new toy, a new prize appears on the horizon. Yep, even guitars are like that. The truth is that people are emotional animals and many lack the self-discipline to avoid traps that are set up by their mind.

If you are thinking about the next guitar you will get “after” the one you are looking at “currently," you might be beginning to spin a little crazy. These days it is extremely hard to get away from things you might be interested in. How about when you look at something online one day and a banner ad pops-up with the exact item you want while you're busy Googling cat food.

Yeah, it’s like dropping beer cans at the doorstep of a guy who likes to hit the brews a little too hard and tries to stop. Remember, my main point to get away from this spin cycle. Remember that the anticipation and excitement are very often more powerful than the product. If this point does not hit hard enough, follow below.

Do Not Accept Cheaper Substitutes

You know what is a real let down? When you buy something that is kind of what you wanted and then you realize it was a mistake. You end up selling it for less than you bought it for and you go back to the guitar that you really wanted, which is now more expensive. Double loss. Double frustration. Don’t do that.

These days guitar manufacturers make many similar-looking instruments that vary wildly in price. Once you get the cheaper alternative you realize that the neck binding sucks, the guitar is not balanced right or that the hardware is cheap. This is a total waste of time.

I would rather have 2 great quality guitars than 12 beaters that can’t stay in tune. No contest. Don’t accept substitutes. Remember, that your mind will play tricks on you and will try to give you a million reason why the substitute is better. You’ll hear things like it’s cheaper, you can get it now, it’s local. It’s all BS. Don’t do it. Get what you want.

True Progress Happens With Work and Practice

You are thinking WTF, I just want a guitar. That is my point. A new guitar will not make you sound great overnight, it still takes practice to play it well. Make sure that getting new gear is not your substitute for practicing. It is very easy to use guitar buying as a distraction to what the guitar was meant for, and that is to be played. So, if you are spending more time on the internet looking for new guitars versus practicing on them, then your priorities might be out of whack.

What If You Are Over The Mountain

Ok, so what happens when you are spinning, just want anything, want something new and you don’t know why the heck you are looking for a new guitar anyways. My tip is to get busy with something else. You are not in a productive space because your emotions and lack of reason keep you spinning.

Focus on something else, a new project or something else that you can get your hand or mind on. One of the main reasons for failing at anything is a broken focus. You can apply this rule to guitar buying as well. If you want to fail at buying a new guitar, stop focusing on it. Eventually the urge will get smaller and smaller. You can use this usually negative principle of losing focus to actually gain potentially positive outcome.

These are the main points that I wanted to share. I am sure that there are several others, but I hope that above does help you in your decisions while chasing that holy-grail. And, remember guitar shopping is still cheaper than fast horses and big boats, so take your time, enjoy a nice axe every so often, don’t spend every penny you have, breathe a little and try to enjoy the process, as it should be a fun one.

Once guitar buying or collecting is stressful and not fun, the point is completely lost, and you should probably rethink your approach. Horns Up!

Polish-born Metal Mike Chlasciak has recorded or performed with heavy metal greats Rob Halford, Sebastian Bach, Bruce Dickinson and Axl Rose. Mike is the long-time guitarist for Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford's solo endeavor, Halford. Mike's new album, The Metalworker, is due in spring. For more info, check out his official website and visit him on Twitter.

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