If You Were Smart

I did not take a sane, rational, or smart approach to buying guitars over my life.

I think I've owned nearly 50 of them since the early 80s. By the time you get to your 50s you start wishing you'd be able to retire at some point and, inevitably, all the money you spent on guitars creeps into your mind and you start to kick yourself for all the waste.

Oh, but you could sell those guitars, you say. Yeah, go try selling a guitar these days, Pal.

How would I do it differently?



I only really play a few guitars these days and, 90% of the time, I'm perfectly happy to just work out on one or two. If I could do it all over again I think I'd take it this way:

For a starter guitar I'd be okay with an inexpensive import or something like a used Strat or G&L.

So, let's say you spend $500 on that.

A year later after you know you're going to stick with playing guitar just go all-out and buy a high end Swiss Army type guitar like a Suhr Modern or Tom Anderson Angel, PRS Custom, etc.

That would set you back about $3000 give or take. So, you've invested $3500 in guitars at an early age. You've got a main axe to cover any situation and you're got a backup in case of an emergency.

The alternate approach is to buy a shit ton of guitars over the next 45 years and then come to regret all the money you spent. And how much money will you have wasted?

Think about it in terms of modest performance in an index fund decade after decade with just 5 guitar purchases spread out every five years:

1. The same starter guitar for $500
2. Fender Strat for $1200
3. Fender Tele for $1200
4. Gibson Les Paul for $2500
5. The high end guitar to rule all guitars you would have ended up with anyways.

Let's say all this took place over 20 years.

The difference between the two scenarios are guitars 2, 3, and 4.

You bought the starter guitar at age 15 and five years later you bought Strat. That $1200 invested at a modest 7% would yield approx. $25K by the time you want to retire.

The Tele you got at age 25 for $1200 = approx. $18K

And the Les Paul you bought for $2500 at age 30 = approx. $27K

At age 35 you still end up with the killer axe that you would have anyways.

So, let me ask you this: would you rather have the Strat, Tele, and LP or the $70,000 that you wasted on guitars that you don't play because guitar #5 blew them all away?

Now, let's assume you're an idiot and you didn't buy just 3 extra guitars you didn't really need but 30 more.

Instead of retiring with an extra $500,000 or maybe even $750,000 in your accounts you ended up with a bunch of dust-collector down in the basement.

Good thing I married somebody smarter than me! ;-)