Ok. I admit it. I don’t know shit about my own gear.

Which I suppose isn’t such a bad thing – maybe it means I care much more about improving my playing that I do fussing over which gauge of screws hold my pickguard on (not to say that people with an intimate knowledge of the minutiae of their gear can’t also be kickass players).  But, yes, I am interested in gear. I, like so many others, get pronounced bouts of GAS very frequently which has me in a frenzy of searching the Web for specs and pictures inevitably ending in a purchase (and usually followed by some kind of remorse/dissonance), but I’m not one of those who can tell you all the specs of all the bits on all my guitars, amps and paraphernalia. Quite the opposite actually – and it can get a bit embarrassing.

When people ask me questions about my gear, I usually draw a blank.  Example: someone asks me what pickups there are on my Ibanez S-Series. “Um, two of them are humbuckers I think. Or maybe one or two single coils – I can’t remember.”  The look of disappointment when I don’t reply something like “It’s loaded with 500 Megahertz 2×12 50Watt 9 Ohm Burstsparkle-Noiseless-buckers with pro-Alnico Manganese cadmium laminate and silver wire” speaks volumes about what they think it is that you *should* know if you play at a certain level (my level is ‘enthusiastic amateur who isn’t half bad’).

Another example is on tubes. Someone asks me a question about my amp like: “So do you have 6L6 or EL34s in there? personally I prefer the EL34s for that English sound – what brand are you using?”   The answer “Umm, I’m not really sure – I think they’re the tubes it shipped with – they might be from China, for that Chinese sound…” doesn’t usually go down too well and I can hear myself falling several rungs down the Respect Ladder in their minds.

How’s this for embarrassing: I took my Tom Anderson in for a service of the pickup selector switch which has been giving an intermittent cut out fault in the neck position. Of course, as soon as the tech gets hold of it, he flicks it into position and it works perfectly; fair enough – could be some weird atmospheric conditions causing it I surmise.  I try in vain to reproduce it then chuckle, turning red.   He then goes on to pull on the tone knob and demos to me how the guitar can go from single coil to humbucking sounds.   I’ve had that guitar for over a year and I’m embarrassed to say that I did not even know that the knob could do that.



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