It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye
What gear stays and what goes? A few ideas for making those difficult decisions.
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It’s opposite day here at TheToneKing.com. Instead of talking about all the cool stuff out there that’s tempting you to fling open your wallet and dump every last bit of money into the hands of your favorite Sweetwater sales rep, we’re going to talk about de-cluttering the gear locker.
Let’s face it: it’s a great time to be a gear-obsessed guitar player. Large, established manufacturers and small, boutique operations alike are constantly turning out new and innovative guitars, amps, effects, and pro sound equipment. This writer will wager that pretty much everyone reading this has a G.A.S. list that is constantly evolving, either because we’re all slowly but steadily acquiring the stuff that’s making us weak in the knees or there’s new stuff coming out that is capturing our imagination.
Whether it’s the former or the latter, sometimes a little spring cleaning (and here in the northern hemisphere, for many of us spring can’t come fast enough) can help us work through that wish list.
But what to let go and what to keep? Below are some questions one can ask himself when trying to decide if it’s time to move on. And to further illustrate how this approach might work, I’m going to use to real-world examples from my own travels in this oft-charted territory; an Xotic Effects AC Booster and an early ’90s Ibanez-branded Maxon TS-9 reissue. Not long ago, I decided I need to pare down my overdrive collection, and these two similar-but-not-identical pedals found themselves in the running to be voted off the island. How did it all turn out? Read on.
- If someone made a fair and reasonable offer, would I sell it?
For the AC Booster? Yup. It’s a popular, well-regarded pedal, so chances are someone would be on the hunt for one. I decided I could live with even a slightly lowball offer if it came down to it.
The reissue TS9 was harder to pin down, though. The Maxon-built reissues from the early ’90s are highly regarded for being incredibly close to the original ’80s models (see here [http://www.legendarytones.com/ibanez-ts-9-tube-screamer-reissue/] for the story on those), but I couldn’t get a good assessment of what that meant for it’s value. That made me a little more hesitant about selling it.
- When’s the last time I even used the damn thing?
I had been using the AC Booster quite a bit. It’s wide range of gain and separate bass and treble controls make it a really versatile drive for a variety of styles.
The TS9, however, hadn’t been fired up too much in recent memory. Definitely not as much as the AC Booster, anyway.
- Is there something special about this piece of gear that I can’t replace?
The AC Booster is pretty ubiquitous new or used. So while the number of AC Boosters out there would probably negatively impact what I could ultimately get for mine, it also meant that I could probably get another for a reasonable cost if I changed my mind further down the line.
Again, the TS9 was tougher to assess here. If I wanted to get an example identical to the one I was thinking of selling, it’d probably be a tricky mission. I’d either have to look for one specifically advertised as an early ’90s Maxon build, or I’d have to ask a lot of questions about used ones floating around to determine their origins.
Also, the TS9 was basically my first overdrive pedal (though at the time I didn’t really know the difference between overdrive and distortion and was running it through a crappy solid state amp). I asked for and received it for Christmas ’92 or ’93 and thought it was awesome the second I laid eyes on it. This was the pedal SRV used! One of the typical guitar rags had reviewed it and proclaimed it a near spitting image of the original. Even as a new pedal, it had a definite vibe about it. It was on the floor when I first started playing in bands. Even a real-deal original ’80s TS9 wouldn’t replace that kind of experience for me.
- Does it do something nothing else in my arsenal does?
The answer for both was essentially “no.” The AC Booster could certainly conjure up more tonal variety than some of my other overdrives. But I was able to successfully dial in most of the same sounds I actually use from both pedals on my bog-standard Boss Super Overdrive. Tonally, there would be minimal impact to my rig.
- Am I gonna regret this?
AC Booster: only if I have to buy another.
TS9: yeah, packing it up will be a tough pill to swallow.
So even though I used the TS9 less than the AC Booster and the AC Booster did more things, I ended up parting with the AC Booster. As logical and scientific as this writer tried to be about it, emotion played a major role in the ultimate decision. So far, a few months on I haven’t regretted it, though that is not to say I miss the AC Booster’s versatility and quality performance at times.
Obviously, that list is not exhaustive, nor is it gospel. We bet that you, dear reader, have your own process of deciding what stays and what goes and we’d love to hear it. Maybe it’s as simple and straightforward as a coin-flip, or maybe you agonize over it for weeks. Either way, we’d love to hear it!
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