Quality vs. Quantity

Or, to use a popular phrase, “What difference does it make?”

Fair question. I’ll admit I have 20/20 hindsight. Then again, I have (hopefully) learned a fair measure of stuff over the past fifty years of playing, performing, modding, and building instruments. If I had known earlier, I could have saved myself a boatload of time, effort, and money.

From the beginning, I had an itch to modify instruments to suit my perceived needs. It started in the early 1960’s, when I added a Dearmond pickup to my Gibson acoustic. I liked the guitar, but needed it to be louder, in order to keep up with my electric guitar toting buddies. Since then, nothing stock has ever satisfied my needs, no matter what. The modding bug got into my system, and a monster was created.

As time went by, my friends found out I could re-work their guitars to sound and play better. I changed configurations and modded to my heart’s content. Then I would get new instruments and bring them to new levels. It was all very interesting, and over time I learned what worked as well as what NOT to do. 😉


Fast forward a few decades, and I have worked on more instruments than I can recall. As a rule, I never bought more than six instruments at one sitting- then would bring them home and optimize each as I could. I lost a few very sweet guitars over the years, mostly to having a need for finances- but the memories and knowledge gained from owning and working on them has remained. Those instruments set a very high benchmark in my memory, and gave me a foundation of reference to which I can compare other instruments to this day.

I must admit it was fun to own fifty or more guitars at any given time, which I managed for years. There was always something that needed attention, and the sheer number of instruments was a bit staggering. On the upside, it was always fun to open a pile of cases and discover instruments I had completely forgotten. Also a boost to my ego when friends would stop by to play and I could give them a choice of instruments from which to choose.  I absolutely understand that obsession. Mine went on for a very long time. However…

Having a smaller number of better instruments has its merits, as well. Besides the sheer maintenance on large numbers of instruments, there was eventually a storage problem. Fifty plus guitars in cases take up lots of real estate in a home. They are always needing strings, adjustments, set-ups, etc…  It can get out of control easily, and I ended up playing a few regularly while the rest sat in their cases unplayed and (some) forgotten. Plenty of money tied up, but most of it stagnant.

Thus, I have come to the conclusion that fewer instruments of higher quality are more useful and economical. Rather than have five good guitars, one great guitar that gets more play time becomes more useful- costs less to maintain, and takes up less space for storage.

In the interest of brevity, the basic point is thus:

If you’re sitting on a bunch of guitars that aren’t being played regularly, it makes sense to gain some space by letting them go, which can finance a better instrument that will be played more often- as well as saving floor space and possibly putting some of that dead money back in your pocket. 😉

2 thoughts on “Quality vs. Quantity

  1. Great blog! At first I thought you were going to tell us why a small manufacturer can make a far better product than a mass producer but I like your approach the issue of “Quality vs. Quantity” better. Just a couple great gutiars, and couple of great vintage bikes, etc.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Guicho!
      I may post something about small builders vs. factory instruments at some point, but I want to really dwell on that topic before editorializing on it, to keep things balanced. There are advantages to both sides of that equation, depending on what a player is looking for. To post a skewed opinion is too easy.

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