As guitar players, as you start to acquire a few instruments, someone inevitably always asks how many guitars do you really need ( it’s more often than not a girlfriend or wife). Definitely a subjective thing, for sure…
When I was a kid, I used to sit and stare at pics of Ace Frehley and his extensive vintage guitar collection, wishing for the day when I would have lots of guitars (at the time I had one). Many of us have faced this question, including myself from various ex-girlfriends over the years. I do have a lot of guitars that I’ve managed to collect in all the years of playing (let’s just say I have a lot), I feel if you use them, they are necessary, even though I’m sure this seams to be excessive to some. Obviously you can’t always play all of them all the time, but to me if they all do something different they are useful to me when I record my CD’s, when I play on other artist’s sessions, or do a sideman gig.
My main guitars for live music were designed for me and are specialized to my specific needs. What I do live and in the studio, especially with alternate tunings, requires a few guitars. In the studio I like to have a variety of tones so I can orchestrate the various guitar on the tracks.
Additionally, some guitars are just better for certain parts when tracking. For example: when doing recording clean guitars, I’ll often use one of my Fender Strats, sometime combined with Les Paul with both pickups on, this gets a great clean guitar sound with some chime. For big distorted sounds for heavy rhythm tracks, I’ll often use one of my signature guitars on one side and Les Paul on the other. This gives you a big guitar sound. These are just a few suggestions. Keep in mind it’s good to experiment with a few guitars and see what sound best for the particular sound of the song or session.
When I’m hired to do sideman gigs, I’ll go through my guitars and find what works best for the artists material. Nothing against the guy that does everything with one guitar (I’m sort of jealous). That being said, I do have a main guitar when I do my music, but it’s always good to have a few tonal options if you have the means.
The biggest drawback to having multiple guitars, the maintenance. Keeping all of the guitars in working can be a pain. But, that’s an entirely different column that we’ll tackle sometime soon.
The article pictures is of a few of my guitars in my studio during the recording of my new CD ‘Substantially Less Fun”.