Re: Big Walter's Customized Harp

Allen Holmes wrote:
I don't mean to appear rude, but In total candor
I'm starting to believe that some the people who express
themselves in this forum are a little bit too obsessed
with with equipment, tweaks and customizations. Hey it's a big tent, and
everyone is welcome, but . . . 

That "but" is ominous.  "Everyone is welcome, BUT. . . "  Hey, whose
tent is it, anyway?

Gear matters, just like money matters.  If you don't have enough of
either, you're in trouble.  Get too obsessed with either and you're in
trouble.  Like the rest of life, it's a balancing act.

At root, the only gear that matters absolutely is a good harmonica. By
"good" I mean an instrument that works well enough to allow you to focus
on the music, instead of spending your mental energy dealing with the
idiosyncracies of the instrument.  For some of us, that's a more capable
instrument than it is for others.  I don't have the authority to tell
someone else how good their instrument has to be to satisfy that
requirement.  I've used customized harmonicas by Filisko and others, and
I can certainly tell the difference.  I haven't yet seen fit to pay for
a set of customized instruments, but I've certainly thought about it. 
I'm grateful every day that the harmonicas I use now (stock Lee Oskars,
mainly) are so much better in quality than the ones I bought in the
1960s, when I was just learning to play.  If the Oskars weren't
available, I'd probably have to buy customized instruments just to get
something decent to play.

Beyond the basics, the gear that matters is the stuff that makes a sound
that inspires you.  You don't know if it will inspire you until you
either try it or hear someone else using it.  

Would anyone on this list claim that Jimi Hendrix used too much gear? 
Plenty of guitarists thought he did back in the day.  "He's not playing
the guitar," they'd say.  "He's playing the electronics."  Even if one
concedes the point, so what?  He's obviously inspired, and he's
inspiring the audience. Part of his inspiration was the sound of his

The trap is that you may spend so much time trying new gear that you end
up spending very little time playing the instrument, especially if you
have enough money to try new gear whenever you like.  Balance takes
discipline, especially in a sophisticated consumer society.
There are no simple answers to complex questions.  Life and music are
complex questions.

Thanks, RH

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