Well, I can’t sleep quite yet, so I’ll post this one now.

Last post I covered the benefits of buying according to your need, and not necessarily being directed by a nice looking price tag. Interestingly, one commenter (Ian) made the very point I was about to. That was to do your research.

Let us say that you have narrowed down what you won’t buy because the company has a bad reputation, the quality control isn’t up to snuff, or whatever reason there is out there. You now have a ‘short list’. This is the list of 3 or 4 items that you are keen on. It is time to investigate what they have to offer you. What features do you use on a regular basis that need to be in perfect working order (let alone present)? Those are top priority. Do you want your amp to have effects built in? What kinds? Are there deep editing features that you need in a keyboard? How about a certain type of pickup in a guitar, or type of head for your drums? The key here is to buy according to what you need, not what you think is nifty or would be fun to try. Sure, I could blow a bunch of cash on a monstrous Marchall stack and blow people’s eardrums apart. BUT, I already know (aside from the expense) that it is totally impractical other than to have some fun. It has limited tonal capabilities compared to a modeling amp and I just couldn’t use it the way it was supposed to be used. Apply that same process to your buying decision, and see if you can’t knock an item off of that list.

When you are getting ready to shell out your hard earned bucks on some new gizmo (or essential tool), it is imperative that you do your research. And don’t limit that to what the manufacturer’s website says. Get some first hand accounts from others. I find the best places to look are dedicated forums, where you can get some real life stories about the product in question. If a certain brand of bass strings has a habit of unravelling prematurely, you might want to know about it BEFORE it reminds you on a Sunday morning. See what other people say, and remember that complaints come faster and more readily than praises do, no matter the industry. Using this method, you should be down to only 1 or 2 options.

The last step is to use the thing. Even if all the features are right, and all the people in the world say it is awesome, it comes down to your taste. Something like Gobson’s Robot Guitar is a very cool piece of gear. I, however, hate a heavy guitar. Take a wild guess at how heavy a guitar gets when it has machinery buried in the headstock? When you try out your 1 or 2 items, you might find that one or neither of them really suit you. The ideal ending is that you walk off with the bit of gear you were looking for in the first place (after getting the best deal in town, of course). If you see that item and you KNOW it is exactly what you are looking for, I would suggest trying to make a little room for it in the budget if it comes to that. I don’t mean going on a spending spree, as sometimes we have to wait for these things. BUT, whatever you do, don’t settle for less than what you need. That will leave you frustrated and all the poorer.