Good Music on a Shoe String
I wonder how young musicians do it. I bought my first guitar for twenty-five bucks. Now, I play a hand made Lou Running original, but there are forty years between. So, here’s my short list. I know you want a Taylor, everybody does. But Alvarez sells a great little line of guitars for about a tenth of the price and they’re sturdy, reliable, stay in tune (which puts them ahead of a lot of big names) and have great electronics. I have a 67 Guild that I love, but Guild has a mahogany model, Chinese-made, that will blow you away. Maggie plays one and wouldn’t trade it for anything. You can pick either of these up new, with a good case for less than four hundred dollars. Some for less than three.
I like the Alvarez so much I left one in Ireland just so I don’t have to haul it through the airport and give it up to the gods of baggage. I did the same with a Peavy Escort P.A. They sit there in Westport, Ireland, in the corner of a room waiting for our return.
We love that little Peavy P.A. so much we bought three of them. They run between six and seven hundred dollars, are durable (ours have been tossed and tumbled in and out of vans and car trunks for years and years and have never been in the shop) and they’re dependable. True, we’re a duet, but we use it with an unpowered EV monitor and play to around two hundred people with clarity and power that will surprise you. And we don’t do background music.
Several great duets in Americana have played through that little Escort in gigs we scratched up for them to get them to our concert series, and a lot of people have said those bands sounded better through ours than the big one at the theater where our concerts were held.
Check them out, and let me know what you think after you play through one. We’ve run two more people through the little thing just by hooking up a six-channel board to one channel of the Peavy and running the instruments through it with a simple pre-mix. And we ain’t knob-and-button savvy.
A young guy at the local music store wheeled our first one down the sidewalk quite a few years ago to a club where we were playing, and set it up in front of our BIG STUFF. Here’s this little plastic P.A. and we said, ‘no thanks.’
He talked us into trying it, so we unplugged our mics and guitars from the rack, turned off the Mackie board, Mackie amp, Crown amp, Lexicon reverb, compressor, unplugged our elephantine JBL duals and plugged in to the little Peavy. That night, after our show, we bought it on the spot and packed the rest of our stuff away, putting it in a storage shed where it sits today. The big bread truck-van we kept to haul it around in is now a really cool camper with Mr. Coffee, air-conditioning and a fluffy futon. The Peavy fits in the trunk of the car.
I’m not telling you to settle for less. It’s important to play with good instruments and through good equipment. But look around, and choose the best you can afford. You’ll be surprised how good it will be. Brand names are great, but great music has been played in smokey, hot clubs with Silvertone guitars and home-made amps. And on Black Diamond strings. I’m just saying…..