The Fallacy of Gear Worship

First off, I must admit that I'm a total percussion nerd. I love all the different instruments. I love playing them, but I also love working on them. I get great satisfaction in taking drums apart and putting them back together again. And with this in mind, I have to say that I like to have the best quality and best sounding gear I can.

But as much as I love all the instruments I've collected over the years, I try not to get too attached to them for making the music I do. Like most percussionists, I bring my own instruments whenever it's possible. This is always preferred, but with the difficult logistics of traveling with hundreds of pounds of often very large pieces of gear in cases, it's not always possible to bring your own instruments. This is especially true when flying. Unless you are independently wealthy, the cost of flying percussion instruments is prohibitive. That's why I don't get too attached to the need to have my own instruments whenever I play.

Even here in town, I'm often at the mercy of rental backline gear, because it makes the gig logistics much easier. Why have 3 different drummers each bring their own drum kit, when they can all share 1 rental kit?

This is especially difficult for my mallet playing friends. Unless you are on an extended tour in a large vehicle, dragging a 5-octave marimba, and/or a set of vibes, to out of town gigs is a nightmare. Rented, or borrowed, instruments from a local university is usually the solution.

Major gear lust of my youth-1980 Ludwig catalog cover

Everything Is Not Always The Way You Want It

The minute you leave home without your own instruments, that being attached to them idea goes right out the window. Even with a contract and an equipment rider, you never know what will be provided. 

You need a jazz drum kit? You may get a muffled rock set with power toms. 

You want a small concert bass drum? You may get a 22" rock bass drum with blankets inside. 

You need some cymbal stands? You might get a mix of dodgy stands with no felt washers or sleeves.

I've had all of these happen to me, but you carry on because that's all you can do. Besides, the music resides within you, not the gear. Sometimes these difficulties help you find a new way to perform a piece, or a new sound that you might not have found before. And sometimes a challenge is just what you need to push you into an extraordinary performance. 

The Fallacy of Gear Worship

I get a serious laugh from the musicians I know who are all about finding the perfect ride cymbal, or the perfect snare drum, or the perfect whatever piece of percussion. They often have this notion that having the perfect piece of gear will make them a better musician. It's a bit of a fairy tale they are living in. What if you can't use that perfect whatever on a gig? Will your performance suffer? Will you suck? 

The only perfect gear is the gear you have right infant of you at each performance. 

Don't get hung up on your gear, because the music is always inside of you.

~ MB

Deconstruct Yourself™


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