Equipment overrated?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by BlindSide, Oct 11, 2002.

  1. BlindSide


    Oct 11, 2002
    Wausau, WI
    No, this isn't about any particular brand of equipment being overrated...but rather the fact that we get so hung up on our gear that we spend too much time thinking about gear and too little time thinking about (or actually?) playing.

    I am more than guilty enough when it comes to thinking about and noodling around with gear. But over the last year (which is probably the last time I posted before today) I have been having so much fun playing that when I setup at a gig I don't even think about my gear or how it's set up (aside from the volume knob).

    I don't even think about my strings (except for tuning). I haven't changed my strings in nearly a year either...don't care, and it hasn't made a bit of difference.

    In fact, over this last year...I've spent almost no time whatsoever even thinking about any of my equipment. I just throw on my bass, plug it in, tune up and play. And this has been the most phenomenol year of playing I've ever had. I'm in the groove more...I'm playing with more feeling and less thinking. With every gig, my bandmates seem to be more blown away with my playing (I'm no great technician, just more in the pocket now)...which I consider quite the compliment coming from them.

    It's just been an extraordinary year for me playing...and it just kind of dawned on me today while perusing talkbass, that I haven't given any thought to my gear. It's all been about the music. Coincidence? I wonder.

    Anyone else have some thoughts?
  2. In general, I agree.

    I used to have all kinds of junk.
    Especially effects. They suck all your time with fiddling around.

    A good bass, a good amp, and a good cabinet are all you need and that should be it.

    If you do it right the first time you won't be over come by GAS which is also a mind suck.
  3. BlindSide


    Oct 11, 2002
    Wausau, WI
    Yeah. I used to constantly look for that "perfect" sound.

    Though at first thought, it seems kind of obvious, but that perfect sound comes from me...not my gear.

    Easier said than done though I suppose. I mean a horrible playing bass and a very crappy amp and cab and my playing would not be as fun...but the only gear that matters we were already born with. :)
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I agree, BUT....on the other hand, I play between 140-180 gigs a year, and am just getting to the point where I'm starting to actually LIKE my amplified sound (thanks to Euphonic Audio and Acoustic Image gear). I've been pretty happy with my (acoustic) bass sound for a while now, but it's nice to actually be able to hear myself clearly on the gigs for a change - it improves my mood greatly and lets me focus on making music.

    Tonight I played a small restaurant gig with a semi enclosed patio (covered with a roof, but open on one side). It was very humid, which killed all the high end in the space, but thanks to my gear, I was able to dial it all back in after the first tune, and I didn't have to think about my gear the rest of the night. If I hadn't spent all of that time obsessing about what gear to get a while back, I wouldn't have been able to do what I did tonight, and I'd be in a pretty foul mood at the moment. As it is, I'm just tired. :)
  5. BlindSide


    Oct 11, 2002
    Wausau, WI
    Yeah Chris, I agree. part of the reason I don't obsess about my gear anymore is that I have the gear I need, I want and it does a great job for me.

    That allows me to forget about it. Now if I had some POS bass, amp and cab...I may not ever feel as good about my playing.

    But one thing is for sure...I've had great gear in the past too and still I fussed with the settings, trying to "dial-in" that sound so perfectly. Or I changed my strings from one brand to another, or found a brand I liked and cleaned and replaced often. I also would frequent the music stores mostly due to GAS.

    I now feel it's a complete waste of time and effort. There are nights when the sound ain't quite right (high humidity or a bad room) and yet now I could care less. I just find the groove with my drummer and don't think about it much...whereas before I would almost obsess over it and let a perfectly good opportunity to play some great music be overshadowed by a "bad" sound.

    I think alot of it has to do with my current bandmates. I mean we all love to play music so much...and my drummer and I really love to find that pocket together and ride it on through the night. I've been with the band for about a year and a half and not once have we even had a minor disagreement about anything. We all love playing the same music and we are more like a family (including our wives and kids) than any other band I've ever been in. I'm sure that contributes to alot of it.

    Before, every band I had been in there were some type of distractions, where instead of feeling like a "band" of musicians and was every man for himself. You know? How good can I sound tonight? Whereas now it's, how good can WE be tonight?

    Yeah, having good gear helps...but I really think it's more of a mindset.
  6. its true, but looking and shopping for gear is always fun, even if you cant afford it. Its like if i were a lawn guy then insted of looking at Sadowskys(SP) and such, id be looking at new mowers and such...but i mean yeah it all is, i like reading Bass PLayer's reviews, they have NEVER given a product a bad rating....always something positive, like in most reviews they will say something about a Fat and Punchy sound, crisp highs....ect, they should just say when the thing isnt good to their ears....say it! sorry about off topic but yeah im with you, and you NEVER wanna say that you got a bad Cab, there is always some magical redeaming quality to know?
  7. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    These "too much focus on gear" threads come up every few months on Talkbass (nothing wrong with getting back to the basics at all).

    But, if you play out and have to stay in the game you have can't ignore your skills or your tools, IME. A fine player needs to have whatever is the "money tone," currently.
  8. word....

  9. LM Bass

    LM Bass

    Jul 19, 2002
    Vancouver, BC
    Guilty as charged!

    I KNOW I spend way too much time thinking about tweaking this bass or amp or rosin or cable etc. when I should be transcribing Joe Pass and Dexter Gordon solos.

    Then again, I have to agree with Chris about gear. After I got my Raven Labs, EA stuff and Woods amp, I stopped thinking about if there was something better out there for me. I know woodworkers who swear by (or at) their tools, always searching for the best router or drill, so it ain't just us bass folks.
  10. BlindSide


    Oct 11, 2002
    Wausau, WI
    I would have to agree that in order to "forget" about your gear, you need some decent gear to begin with.

    But, I myself, have been guilty of being overly concerned wih my gear in the past...even when I had great gear. I spent way too much time thinking about trading my good gear for "different" good gear, instead of just playing.

    Of course I think being 41 and playing for over 25 years combined with the fact that I'm with a great bunch of guys with a similar age and perspective...along with being married and having 3 kids...really ALLOWS me to focus on playing.

    Were I young, single and still trying to find "my sound"...I'd probably still be thinking of getting different gear and messing with the settings. Why not? I mean I'd have the time (which I don't now), I'd have less responsibilities...and I'd be in a band that would still be trying to find it's identity, both muscially and as a group.

    I think it is a combination of so many factors...but I do still find it interesting that I'm enjoying playing more now and I don't ever think about my gear...AND I sound and play better than I ever have.
  11. lneal


    Apr 12, 2002
    Lee County, Alabama
    I didn't see an "IMO" in there!;)
  12. I don't think about gear, because I have gear I like playing, and it gets a sound I like using, and it's loud enough at a non-distorted volume, and it's all easy to haul around. Now, this was not always the case, and I used to switch my stuff around more.

    I don't want my amp to do anything except make my bass loud enough to hear over a drummer. This is because I really like my bass. I adjust for the room a little, it's true, but the active EQ on my bass could probably handle that itself.

    The secret to all this fuss-free satisfaction was finding an instrument. I only occasionally have played a bass that really speaks, and I have generally purchased them!
  13. yeah i am very picky... maybe even sooky, lol.
    but if i am not happy with the sound of my bass on stage i jsut don't play as good, and get in a pretty bad mood.
    but i am getting there now with my rig..i am getting pretty happy with the sound of it, its mainly at gigs were crap amps are supplied
  14. BlindSide


    Oct 11, 2002
    Wausau, WI
    Well, I understand that completely. But I've had great gear before and still I felt some need to constantly adjust the sound. It was more like "What's wrong with my sound?" instead of "what's wrong with me?"

    Whereas now, I just don't care if the highs are high enough or the lows are low enough, or maybe I should tweak the mid-range a little more. I just don't care. I'm finding that when I'm playing now, I just find the groove with my drummer and all that other sh*t doesn't even exist anymore.

    In fact, as long as my volume is enough for me to hear, I could play through the crappiest setup in the world (not including my bass of course) and still enjoy it just as much.

    I'm also an artist (the painterly variety) and I used to fuss about the best brushes, the best paint and the best canvases. I now realize that it doesn't matter (to a point, of course)'s about me and my art, not the equipment I use.
  15. About 10 yrs ago I replaced all my bass gear. I had been playing a Fender P through a PV mark 4 into 2-15" EV's. I went to a SR5 through Hartke 4.5 - 1-15 Alembic pre-amp QSC - bi-amp. I quickly scaled it down to just using the 4.5. About 5 yrs ago I bought and sold several guitars. Now I'm back into my 5 yr cycle and I'm ready to replace my amp again. I don't really have much control over this thing, I just have to do it.
  16. I think I've officially gotten to where I'm happy w/ the decisions I've made, and can get the most and what I want out of my equipment.

    I have:

    Pre-Power setup
    Cab Versatility
    Smart Effects choices
    1 Great 4 string
    1 Great Fretless 4
    1 Good 5 string
    Good quality interconnects.

    I'm not constantly chasing the new "hot" items (well, sometimes it's interesting) and have a good solid equipment selection to go through. I'm very used to playing the basses I do, know what strings work the best for me, etc. So I can just focus on my personal technique, and not have to worry about equipment.

    It's nice having that peace of mind!
  17. BlindSide


    Oct 11, 2002
    Wausau, WI
    GAS is a hard habit to break;)
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I agree with this totally - although I think it's probably impossible to get it right first time. I tried literally hundreds of basses, before finding something that sounded like I was hearing in my head.

    But nowadays I rarely think about my gear and as the first poster mentioned, just turn up and plug in for gigs - amp controls all flat.

    My money or effort saved from this, goes mostly into finding more challenging material and educational things - books, courses, workshops etc.
  19. BlacksHole


    Mar 22, 2000
    Rockville, MD
    While reading through this thread, a couple of points stuck out. In particular - focus on what the band (we) sound like rather than the individual. I'm of the opinion that there is not enough of this happening in most bands. Another point was that trying new gear is fun, i.e., I think many of us like to go to music stores and try out new stuff. This may be why effects units sell as well as they do - they're great fun, but not as useful as one might hope once they try to use them in a gig situation. additionally, what I really want is an amp I can carry in one hand that can fill a stadium with solid lows and clear highs, and a bass that can sound like a fretless yet allow me to play a barre chord easily in tune with a fast neck. I like my gear, but the amps that I've owned that I could easily carry in one hand weren't really that loud and I find that I need both a fretted and a fretless bass. I'd also like to own a couple more basses just cause I like 'em. Besides, if we didn't talk about gear in the amps forum, why would such a forum exist?
  20. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    The Deep North
    Completely agree - as Lance Armstrong said: "It's not about the bike". Same with bass gear, but Lance would probably not perform as well on a Huffy...So get yerself some decent gear, stop obsessing and start playing!