When I was heading down to Orlando to play a show with SKNN, I knew I would have to play a set in three different tunings. That can be a pain in the ass, especially if I wanted to travel with just one guitar.
That got me thinking about a guitar that I could use where I could switch quickly between different tunings. There have been lots of let downs, like the Gibson Robot that took lots of criticism for not working properly.
I tried out the Gibson Min-ETune in GC in Orlando. Although they were friendly, the salesfolks didn’t know how the Min-ETune worked. Even when they found the ‘little card,’ it still didn’t make much sense to us.
No word from Line 6.
No word from Peavey.
Gibson’s awesome PR replied, but the guy behind loaner/evaluation gear didn’t reply at all.
Makes me wonder, on this topic, are they hiding something? Too fragile to put in the hands of a reviewer of gear? I don’t know, but I almost always hear back from these dudes, especially when it comes to gear that can help players solve real life situations. Either way, I wasn’t getting a good vibe from these ‘multi-tuning’ guitars, so I checked them out on my own.
The Gibson seems like the most natural. Your guitar, simply tuned differently. String tension the way it should be, making the playing comfortable. BUT – it has to work. If it didn’t work in the store, how can I be assured that it’s going to work between sets. C’mon Gibson! I want this thing to work. Prove me wrong!
The Peavey seems the most ideal, let the electronics do it for you. Strum. Hit a switch. Play. The only thing that concerns me is that if the guitar is ‘really’ out of tune, it may feel odd to play. It has to feel right. If it’s grossly out of whack, you’ll feel it in your fingertips. Plus, you have to play it through an amplifier, otherwise your guitar will just be in standard.
Line 6. I played this in a guitar store. Actually sounded pretty good. Biggest complaint was the battery. We all know it too well what happens when we tuck that guitar away for hibernation for a few years and revisit it as a lost love. Will I now need to spend $100 on a battery? That would suck. Plus, it only works if the guitar is in perfect tune. (I suspect the electronics work based on a core note that is tuned properly. So, it should feel good under your fingertips)
Remembering the fact that I still had a set to perform with three different tunings. Sure, I could look like a goof as I change my tuning in-between each song, holding up the set and killing the vibe. But, it would be much easier to use three different guitars instead. Plug and play, I always say. Luckily for me, I hooked up with another guitarist that was able to loan me a few axes for the night.
So, that brought me to Facebook to ask the question:
How many guitars does a guitarist really need? Sounds like a joke (how many ?? does it take to change a light bulb) But it’s not a joke, rather an important
topic. There are songs in a ton of different tuning. E Standard, D Standard, Down ½ step, Drop ‘D’, and that doesn’t even cover open tunings, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Most bands will have a minimum of one guitar per tuning at the ready, but what about the rest of us working stiffs?
After talking to The Tone King’s Facebook friends, I saw a trend in the answers. So, here’s a list of how many guitars you’ll want to keep around.
#1 Your First Guitar
This is more about nostalgia than anything else. It’s a special one that you’ll always look back on. You always remember your first.
#2,3, & 4: Different Tunings
There are many songs that have alternate tunings. Standard. 1/2 step. Full step. If you are a Floyd user, you’ll likely want at least 3 guitars to accommodate alternate tunings, only because it’s a pain in the ass to retune a Floyd. Even if you’re not, guitars don’t intonate the same at different tunings. So, if you want to keep it in tune, you’d better get those guitars set-up for whatever tuning you’re using.
#5, 6, 7, 8, & 9: Acoustics, Basses, Classicals, and Extended Range
You might need a 7-string to sound like a thunder god. Or, you might need an acoustic so you can get the lighters going. Either case, this category is for those guitars that will do what a standard 6-string electric can’t.
#10 and beyond: Collector
Now, I know I’m going to get a ton of heat for saying that everybody who has more than 7 guitars is technically a collector. And, I’m willing to take a bit of heat on this. Unless you’re on tour, if you have more than one of the same guitar in same tuning, you’re probably a collector. That’s not a bad thing. Embrace your inner collector. Hell, what do you think I am? I’m a collector!
When I started, I was just trying to justify a set where I needed three different guitars and now I’m at 10 plus. Maybe there’s no such thing as too many guitars. Maybe playing guitars is not just about the function, but the passion. So, whereas Peavey and Line 6 are great Swiss army knives serving the purpose or the function, which may be great for weddings, passion probably lies somewhere else. Props to Gibson, Line 6 and Peavey for giving players the tools, but in the end, these multi-tune guitars can’t replace the passion that fuels our soul. Just like seeing Slash sling a Les Paul or Lynch with an ESP, those guitars are iconic and fuel your passion.
The short answer, if you roll like The Tone King, there will never be enough.
Let me know how many guitars you own, and how many you think you should own.
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