Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Yay! Yeehaw! And hooray for cheap gear!

Before I write anything else, I want to throw out a number, and that number is $89.

$89. Okay?

Now you may ask, "Zak, what is significant about eighty-nine bucks?", and my response to you is as such: I paid eighty-nine dollars for BOTH the guitar and the mandolin you see above. Now, let's be clear about something: I like and appreciate high-end instruments and music gear. I really do. As I've mentioned too many times before, my main guitar is a Martin D-18V. That's a Vintage Series Martin guitar... Martin is to acoustic guitars what Steinway is to pianos, and this is one of the best of the best. And its bestiness comes with a price tag: currently, suggested retail price on that guitar is $3349. Ouch.

So, I like nice things, but just because something is expensive doesn't make it nice, and just because something is nice doesn't mean it has to be expensive. So let's say the new guitar I just got, a Chinese-made Rogue RA-100D dreadnought, cost me $55. Does that mean the music I play on it will be 60 times more crappy? Well, I reserved that opinion until after I strummed the new guitar a few times and played it up and down the neck to make sure the intonation was usable. And you know what? No, it's not as good as my high-end Martin. But it is surprisingly decent. It sounds fine, it's very playable, and I'm really very happy with having it around as a second guitar that I can use for various purposes.

One costs about 60 times the other one. Yeah, really.

So now, I have two dreadnought acoustic guitars here. I can keep one in non-standard tunings so a) I don't have to be constantly changing the tension on the neck of my Martin as I drastically retune, and b) I don't have to spend time at each show getting myself tuned for the next song. Those are great benefits. Secondarily, I have a steel-string acoustic around the house that I don't need to worry about every little ding in its not-so-precious body. In fact, my son -- who obviously isn't allowed to even look at the Martin, much less touch it -- is welcome to play on this guitar, provided he wash his hands every once in awhile. I can take this guitar out on the patio, or the porch, or just about anywhere. If it gets destroyed, I'm out the cost of an expensive lunch (as opposed to the equivalent value of my car).

Lest I not give it enough credit, the mandolin is cool too. However, I'm no expert on the mandolin, and just the fact that I can plunk the strings and it seems to give me that mandolin-ish sound is good enough for me for now.

So there we have it! Two new instruments for $89. Happy me. In case you're wondering, I got these through Musicians Friend, from whom I ordered online. I see that the $89 sale price is now back up to a whopping $99, but still... it's tough to go wrong when it's this little to risk.

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