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How did you afford equipment as a teenager?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Ottsworth, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. I Need a six...

    I Need a six...

    Feb 4, 2015
    First of all, you play oboe, that's freakin awesome! Second,
    I'm 19, and saving for some nice gear( look at the name) I got a job as a grocery clerk. But I have a drivers license so it's a lot easier to hold a job. I'd Try for some part time work.
  2. esa372


    Aug 7, 2010
    Los Angeles, CA
    "I used to rush into Marshall's music shop, and steal guitars off the wall. I'd say, 'Just taking a guitar; pay you Tuesday!', and rush out."

    ~Pete Townshend
  3. A lot of people have offered up a lot of valuable advice and real world experience that actually works. Truly, I'm not trying to be a douche but all I've seen from you in response is how you can't do this or you can't do that, or you can't do that other thing. At the risk of sounding like a stodgy old parent, let me tell you what I told all of my children, each in their turn when they asked me to finance their dream du jour.

    If you focus on what you cannot do, you will never see all the things you can do even with all of your current obligations. So maybe a better question to ask the forum members is, given your limited free time and restricted access to transport, what can you do to earn enough to meet your goals? Oh, and knowing exactly what your goals are will take you half way home. When you have a specific goal, your mind naturally turns to specific actions to take to make it happen. Once you discipline your mind to start thinking that way, there's really nothing you can't do. Free your mind and your a** will follow. :)

    And if all goes well, someday you'll be on TalkBass telling some fourteen year old how to achieve their dream.
    Danomo likes this.
  4. Kamrin


    Jun 4, 2014
    The kingdom of heaven is within!
  5. zontar


    Feb 19, 2014
    I had part time jobs, and got some as gifts.
    I also didn't have a lot of expenses--in high school most of my money went towards music one way or another-playing, listening, concerts, posters, T-Shirts, etc.
  6. Danomo

    Danomo Guest

    Apr 25, 2013
    I begged the parents for the first bass (Cortez Mustang copy), $75.

    I borrowed a buds Ibby Jazz copy for school concerts/jazz competitions until I got a better one.

    I got my first cheapo amp by fixing one a music store had thrown out (had a bad filter cap causing hum), eventually replaced the speaker as well. HS electric shop came in handy.

    I was on the sound/light crew in HS, and worked for the teacher on the side (sound/light biz) for use of mic's, stands, and the occasional PA system use.

    I hung out at a couple music shops, and eventually started trading jobs for gear at a Mom & Pop store that had gear in stock from the '60's (Real NOS), this got me a couple bumped up bass trades (I only had one at a time back then) and a Peavey Mark III head.
    I spent one Friday night there organizing four display bins of accordian music and books (which even back then, weren't selling).
    In hindsight, it felt like stealing.

    Be resourceful. Even once I started working a decent paying job in HS, I still stayed thrifty on gear, cause you know... Girls are expensive.
  7. It's a different world now, and labor laws have changed, but at ten and eleven years old (1968/69) I was mowing lawns in the neighborhood, at twelve and thirteen I was pumping gas at a local marina, and fourteen and fifteen I was working at a local barbeque joint, at sixteen a steakhouse, at seventeen a pizza joint, and at eighteen, I was working breakfast shift at a college cafeteria, (meeting college girls too :)) and playing music in bars every weekend. Affording starter-gear and then moving up was never an issue. My mom was dead when I was ten, and my dad was broke, but I still managed to figure it out.
    JollySpudd likes this.
  8. friendlybass


    Jul 19, 2012
    I didn't. I had a hand me down bass out of my sisters closet and a pawn shop amp my dad got me for 40 bucks.
    When I was 19 I enlisted in the army and used my pay from boot camp and my job training to buy my MIM jazz 5er and my fender rumble amp. I'm 21 now and I worked construction and security to make buy the rest of what I have.
    Be patient. Master your craft with what you have. On TB youre going to see vintage, boutique, rare, and cool gear. The temptation to give into your GAS is hard, but just remember your young and some of us on here are older, very successful individuals who have the means and they worked their respective asses off to get that. Besides, more important than a fancy bass you can brag on and amp you can play the worlds largest stadiums you'll need a car to get to your first gigs!
    Congrats on getting started early and be very thankful for your supportive folks! Bass, and music in general, will reward you with things better than money and power. You work hard man and you'll have women, respect, gear we all drool over, you can see the world, meet your heroes, and tell everyone about your first little bitty bass and rig and how it got you there.
    I'm waxing poetic, but dream big and work hard and you can do it. Dont waste your time and money on the shiny toys like I have. Just work hard and be the best.
  9. TheBass


    Jul 2, 2004
    As a teenager I was even broke before I bought any equipment :smug:. My options at this time ? I guess they were the same as teenagers have today: asking your parents & relatives for money, washing the car/mowing the lawn/painting the fence/etc. for money, get a job. And of course you never got enough money for the equipment you really want. Buy used, buy what you can afford. Stay away from old mans (like me) boutique vintage gear. Get something robust and useable.
  10. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    My parents got me my mandolin and paid for lessons but I was 7 at the time.
    Wanted a keyboard badly, got a Roland D-10 as a graduation gift at 15, after years on a Bontempi toy.
    I only started on bass at 18, bought a 2nd hand Ibanes Roadstar with my summer job money.
    I borrowed an amp, got into a gigging blues band, that paid for my first real amp (Torque T100B) and lessons.
    I then got into a cover band and things went up from there.
  11. JollySpudd

    JollySpudd Guest

    Jul 17, 2013
    DON'T SELL YOUR OBOE !!!! It's a killer instrument, and if you keep playing you'll be able to play side gigs with it for $$$, even if it's wedding services (which pay) or work with a classical ensemble with school mates doing formal gigs. Even some ops for session work with it, I'm sure. There are more circles and genres of music to work in than bands that use electric bass. You can do both to your own advantage.

    Not everyone can or could afford nice equipment. And honestly, I'm glad I couldn't, it made me more appreciative, as well as inventive in making music. Not to mention, people have been making music with rocks, trees, and junk, old parts, 2nd hand.... anything at all, since music first began with primitive humans.
    It's less about the gear than the heart and mind. Good gear? You have to earn it and be worthy to not take it for granted.

    First piece of gear I got was a used combo organ at the age of 14-15. It was through a trade with a saxophone that my uncle had left us when he passed away. -- Point being, trade some family gear for other useable gear - with parents help/permission. (Also, on craigslist, people give away free organs, keyboards and pianos all the time these days.)

    Otherwise, I used to save up my lunch money :) - plus, at that age, I roadied for a band and got some cash here and there + I saved every penny in change I could find, checking every coin return in vending machines - on the ground by drive thrus after hours.... That's when I adopted the phrase "pennies make nickels, nickels make dimes, dimes and nickels make quarters, quarters make dollars...." and so on. I saved every cent I could.

    Also, that's when my friends and I started our first band - lasted for 7 years - great people, trustworthy, all in for the cause - we had a band fund that we all paid change into, if we needed something, we borrowed and left IOUs and always paid back into the fund. Our friends/fans also donated. We collectively bought a lot of gear that way. Also had a job helping the bass player clean his dad's optician's office once in a while. Also, since I took piano lessons since I was 8, I started to teach friends for a few bucks, whatever they wanted to pay me, sometimes I was paid with home made pies, or even pieces of broken gear, which I'd try to fix or use broken.

    Otherwise, gear came through birthday and christmas presents, or freebies from people's trash, folks throw out some worthwhile things sometimes. My first amp was junk speakers and an old give away '60s school PA head, a Bogan Challenger. Even before that I just ran my combo organ on old headphones with all the volumes and the organ stops on, full out, of the headphone jack. It wasn't too loud, but worked, sounding pretty killer overdrive like Deep Purple.

    We built our own stuff, too. Any junk speakers we could find. My brother made a cabinet from an old steamer trunk with two 12" speakers from an old home stereo system. I built our band's first microphone from an old dial-up telephone ear piece, an empty casing from a destroyed AKG real mic that was gutted, a piece of tee shirt for a pop filter held on by electrical tape, and a crap curly broken guitar cable with one end missing with the wires connected to the telephone ear piece. I even made a mic stand from part of a vacuum cleaner pipe, a block of wood for the base, a few nails and some string to hold it all together. The home made mic jammed into the vacuum cleaner pipe hole - ha! It worked.

    I even had a rotary effect on my speaker cab from the steamer trunk, since there was a dual window fan (2 fans on one flat metal sheet) that fit right in front of the two 12" speakers. A pretty cool tremolo.

    When you don't have, as the old saying goes: "Necessity is the mother of invention" - Our guitar player's first amp was playing through an old 8 mm sound movie projector with a built in tube amp, speaker, and it even had a reverb. freaky.

    Half the stuff our percussionist used was junk metal: old telephone and alarm bells, metal pipes, serving trays, even the metal outside shell of a toaster - I kid you not. -- There's a whole classification called "found instruments" where people make music with non-musical things, whatever they can find.

    Funny thing is, I still use things like this from time to time to make music, it's less about the gear than it is about how resourceful and inventive and creative you can be. If your brain gets stuck in nothing but traditional factory bought instruments (not that there's anything wrong with good gear) you might miss creating something unique and all of your own.

    If it can make a noise, you can use it, if you're really driven to be creative with music. (don't forget to search craigslist for CHEAP stuff 20 bucks or less. And don't waste too much money on things that will take away from your art.

    Happy bargain hunting (thrift shops, too)

    Sorry to ramble... a trip down memory lane. (btw, my main gigging bass amp is a 210 watt Peavey with horns and a 15" Black Widow speaker - got it for $10 on craigslist from a guy who goes to Storage Wars type auctions of abandoned storage units.)

    Reuse, Recycle, Borrow Responsibly, Beg Nicely, if you have too - NEVER STEAL or by stolen stuff, since some musician probably struggling as hard as you was the victim. Learn to fix broken stuff, too. A lot of gear issues are either replacing simple parts, and even a lot of electronic things break down due to a mechanic problem - like a broken wire, a bad solder joint, a blown fuse.... stuff you can fix with a little research on line.

    Also, don't avoid learning about business - all the stuff that costs you money should be used to pay for itself and make your investment back. Keep track of income/outgo and don't over spend. Start thinking about music as business NOW. It's not a bad thing.

    nuff said
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2015
    Humbled likes this.
  12. JollySpudd

    JollySpudd Guest

    Jul 17, 2013
    Ha! How many of us just realized that this thread was started 4 YEARS AGO - I'm talking to the OP like he just posted. Probably sold his oboe by now :-(

    OP Ottsworth hasn't been on for a year :p
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2015
    Humbled likes this.
  13. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    Back when I was a teenager there wasn't any gear that mere mortals could afford above a four track and a reverb pedal, so the problem was pretty much solved then and there. These days gear is very much more affordable.
  14. -Asdfgh-


    Apr 13, 2010
    Some friends, on an album, got complimented on the 'chunky organ sound' which was a Bontempi through some overdrive :)
    JollySpudd likes this.
  15. My first instrument was a Blackjack violin bass my older brother had bought but stuffed in a closet and never played. That was around 1972. I worked part time for my dad who had a small machine shop thing going on the cellar. After school I would do whatever homework I had, eat dinner, then go down to the shop until 9 or 10 oclock. Practice then go to bed, wake up go to school, wash, rince, repeat for years. Took bass lessons on Saturday afternoons for a couple years.I didn't have an amp until about two years later for my Birthday my folks ordered a cheap Alamo amp from a catalogue. It was about 5 watts of pure pounding transistor sounding distortion. So anyway I saved money from working, moved up to a Harmony solidbody, then when I joined a band I got my first decent gear which was a Gibson Ripper and an Ampeg B25B. That would have been 1975. I believe my parents were paying for the lessons which back then was about 5.00 a half hour.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2015
  16. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    I was in the same boat as you. Asking the parents for money wasn't in the cards. They had their hands full paying for things the family actually needed.

    So basically, I worked and saved up for things. (Still do that today.) It was a bit easier to do back then though. There were a lot of part-time and one-off jobs a young person could get hired for back then if they wanted to work. I know it's a lot harder to find those opportunities today.

    If it's any consolation, most of the equipment I initially had to work with wasn't "nice" unless somebody gave, loaned or rented it to me. The stuff I actually owned was mostly used - and often junk. At least at first. Basically something to get me started with until I could replace it with something better. Ironically, some of that "junk" is now being sold for a pretty penny to collectors these days. So it goes.

    But when first starting out, me and most people I knew didn't have a collection. I only owned one bass at first. And that was purchased (by me) about seven years after I started. I rented (double bass) for the first five years I was playing, and was loaned an electric bass (cousin's Fender Jazz so I could play in his band) for the next two years after that. After that I bought my first bass. And it was almost three more years before I bought my second. That was a Fender PBass - which every serious bass player eventually has to get. And then those two basses were all I owned for maybe the next fifteen years. After that I was making enough money that I bought a bass every so often if the price was right and I could afford to. Today I definitely have more than I "need." But it took close to 40 years to accumulate my present collection of nine. And I'll probably sell a couple of them shortly because I am starting to feel the need to reduce some of the clutter in my life.

    One good thing today is that there are some really inexpensive instrument brands (Squire, etc.) that deliver quality we could only dream of back then. When I tell somebody today that I paid about $350 for a Ripper in 1974, many can't believe it was so cheap. But that $350 is a relative number. Because if you adjust it for inflation, that $350 in '74 is equivalent to about $1600 in 2015. I only mention this because it's important to note that the big name brands (Gibson. Gretsch, Fender, Ampeg, etc.) not only are expensive - they always were expensive. Fortunately, you have several good quality brands that can get you something as good but at far more reasonable prices these days. Which is easy to say even though $100 might as well be $100,000 if you don't have it, right?

    So...I don't know if any of this ramble really answered your question. But you asked how some of us did it. And this is how I did.
  17. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    At the risk of sounding like half of the adults in your life already, I can agree that life can be...erm...less than ideal at times, but would also add that although you know that truth in theory, I'd suspect you've yet to have been personally given the opportunity to appreciate its application. Because believe me - it can get far far worse than you think.

    Anyway, at your stage of life, your education is the most important thing you can focus on right now. Which includes mastering the oboe. There's always time to accumulate equipment. But there's usually only a limited number of years where you're given the gift (and it is a gift) to focus almost exclusively on getting an education. Because once you graduate into the so-called "real world," and life starts happening to you, your need for even more education will continue - but at that stage of your life, you'll now need to sandwich it in between work, family, and other responsibilities. You'll also discover it's harder for your brain, as it gets older, to absorb new things with the speed you're probably accustomed to right now. So savour the present opportunity. It's one of those "once in a lifetime" things that's over quicker than you'd expect. (Please don't take this any of this as a lecture. I'm sure you get enough of those already. Try to see it more as somebody trying to slip you some of the answers to the test before you have to take it. :laugh:)

    Same as many of us. So you're in good company and definitely on the right track. Besides, that's how it almost anything worth doing begins.

    Good luck to you!
  18. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    Uh yes, most if not all of my gear is 2nd hand
    Jeffrey Bryan likes this.
  19. Jeffrey Bryan

    Jeffrey Bryan

    Jan 28, 2008
    The sole reason I started working full-time when I was 17 was so that I could afford the equipment/rehearsals/studios. Still don't regret the experience I've gained from that. Sure, could've made more money if I went to university but would it make me happy? Kinda reminds me of this comic.

    Big Hoss likes this.
  20. Big Hoss

    Big Hoss Up note, down note, blue note, brown note...

    To put it bluntly, I didn't. I wasn't in a situation where I could afford to play any instrument that wasn't begged, borrowed, or stolen until I was out of college and working in my career.

    I did play guitar at your age, acoustic, and it was borrowed from my older brother, who in turn I believe borrowed it from my uncle. And it was probably something he picked up at a garage sale on the ultra cheap.

    Electric amplified instruments at the time were just too expensive for me.

    Knowing what I know now, and with the opportunities given to you by the internet that just weren't available when I was your age, (yeah believe it or not, the internet wasn't always around!) if I were going through it again, I would find a way to buy up stuff people want, on the cheap at garage sales and flea markets, and mark it up on Ebay, mow some lawns, wash some cars, split and stack firewood, help paint houses, whatever I could to make the money to get that bass and amp...

    If I had a good bass and amp in 1983, I am certain I would be in a far different situation these days. I somewhat suspect due to my utter lack of wisdom back then, I would probably be dead, caused by my own poor choices by now...

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