It’s been a while since I’ve written about guitars and Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Although I’ve not made any major purchases, I have been somewhat active
I said goodbye to my Dean EAB acoustic electric bass. This was sad, as I enjoyed playing it. But it was necessary, as getting any kind of signal out of it and into Garageband seemed impossible. Weedy passive pickups. I advertized on Craigslist and got $100 for it. So 6 months of ownership cost me about $40 after buying new in December. That’s pretty good value.
I put the money from the EAB towards a solid bodied pure electric bass. The Craigslist market was very quiet (only very high end or very low end instruments available), so I decided to buy new. After checking out the Squier range at Guitar Center for an hour or so, I plumped for a Squier Vintage Modified P-Bass in amber. It’s a lovely looking guitar and I’m pretty pleased. It cost me $225 before tax and after haggling.
Getting good bass tone into Garageband continues to be a challenge however, as the interfaces I use (M Audio Fastrack or Apogee Jam) seem to clip easily at low frequencies, but then roll off in gain just an octave above. Ultimately this will require investment in some kind of DI box, EQ or analog compressor to fix, but I am not sure how. It might also be that I chose the wrong bass. I liked the mighty low-end thunk of the P-Bass, but it could be that the multi pick-up Jazz bass or Jaguar might’ve been easier to work with. Or I perhaps should’ve looked at a second hand Ibanez with active pickups or similar. But at least the P-Bass is a step forward.
The only other purchase I’ve made is an M Audio Keystation 32 MIDI controller keyboard. This is a very compact device that can be used for playing software instruments on a Mac or iPad (which is the reason I bought it).
There is of course still one slot open in my guitar collection. I don’t own a Les Paul type guitar; solid mahogany body with set-neck and dual humbuckers. I wouldn’t mind getting one, but I find it difficult to work up any enthusiasm for those in my price range, which currently is less than $300. In order to get an ‘on-brand’ model you need to spend $400 to get an Epiphone Les Paul Standard, which is the cheapest one they do with a set neck. Below that we’re talking bolt-on necks and basswood/agathis bodies. Even if they’re any good wouldn’t expect them to sound like a real LP.
My cursory experience playing Epis in stores is also, unfortunately, that they often have some really serious fit and finish problems (poor setups and neck twist being very common), so I’m really not feeling the GAS.
There are some really nice off-brand LP type guitars such as Paul Reed Smith SEs, Michael Kelly Patriots, but they’re priced similarly to the higher end Epiphones. $500…$600 and up.
On paper, the best deal out there for an LP type guitar appears to be the Ibanez ART100, which is only $350. With a mahogany body and set mahogany neck it checks all the boxes too. I really love the used Ibanez Artcore hollowbody I picked up earlier in the year, so this looks the most attractive value option in the LP world. But I don’t feel any pressing need. If something comes up on Craigslist with an attractive starting price (say around $200), then I might be tempted. But unfortunately Craigslist in Phoenix is clogged up with the same old Epi Les Pauls, priced at nearly new levels and that– surprise surprise– fail to sell.
So that’s it. The GAS update. Nothing much cooking. In a way this is a good thing — I can turn my attention to the really important stuff, which is of course playing what I already have.