How Many Guitars Do You Really Need?

My guitar collection honestly seems to change every month, for the most part due to my obsession with scrutinizing eBay on a daily basis for rare lefty gems.  However, what doesn’t seem to fluctuate is the size of my collection…

Last week I watched a video on YouTube where John Mayer’s guitar tech showed us around his live setup and it just blew me away how much excess baggage there was.  The guy travels around to every gig with at least FORTY guitars and only plays 10-15 songs at each concert. I’ve always kept a very steamlined, minimalist setup and so it just baffles me why some people seem to feel the need to have such a large collection of instruments.

For the longest time I was a one electric, one acoustic guy and really didn’t see the sense in having anything more than that.  Mostly this was because I was trying to survive on my limited student budget and couldn’t justify anything over what was entirely necessary.  I was content with my simple setup where nothing was surplus to my needs.

Invariably I would end up stumbling across something I wanted to try on eBay, and seeing as I am an impulse buyer I would more often than not pull the trigger.  Every time something new entered the LeftyFretz collection the balance would be upset and one guitar would end up being played far more than the other.  I had to choose between having a rarely played guitar or facing another semester living off beans on toast – it always seemed a no-brainer to ditch what I didn’t need.  The balance would be restored and my two guitar setup remained the mainstay for my entire university career.

Now that I am in a position where I can afford to buy more guitars than I need my mindset still has not changed.  If I buy a guitar that does not get used every week it goes back on eBay where it will find a better home.  Waste not want not and all that jazz…

Here’s a sum up of what I have now and what I have earmarked…

Current Guitars

  • 1.       Nice, Expensive, Kick-Ass Main Guitar (MusicMan JP)
  • 2.       Cheap Knockabout For Alternate Tunings (Vintage V100)
  • 3.       Cheap Bass (Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass)

To Come

  • 1.       Acoustic (Taylor GS Mini)
  • 2.       Balls To The Wall All Rounder (Chapman ML2)
  • 3.       Tele Type (undecided)

This is a problem for me as I keep all my guitars on a homemade wall-rack which only has legroom for four!  The bass was an impulse buy which hasn’t been getting any love so most likely that will go and then one of the two single-cuts will also take a leave of absence, which leaves me with a collection of four guitars.

One high-end main guitar, one cheapo for alternate tunings, one single coiled tele for that authentic clean twang and one acoustic.  Simple!

For where i’m at right now in my guitar playing career four seems to be a good number for my requirements.  I can see all of these guitars getting equal play-time with none going unloved.  Ask me again in 5 years and we’ll see what my new magic number is! I’m sure that as my musical tastes expand and my ears become more finely tuned I will again want to increase my stable, but I think for now four is my magic number.

Ask The Audience

So i’m a minimalist, how about you?

  • How many guitars do you have right now?
  • Do you use all of them regularly?
  • What do you think your ideal collection size would be?

Leave a comment! 😉

18 replies
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  1. Phil Knight
    Phil Knight says:

    I live in Brighton UK, which has GAK and about half a dozen smaller shops. There’s always a few left-handed guitars but the nice ones get snapped up fast – GAK have a lot of left-handed staff and there are plenty of musicians in the town. Anything nice doesn’t stay in the shop for long. The Fenix is great, a really solid guitar.

    The Westfield looks nice but it’s not a very good instrument – a slim blue electro-acoustic with single cutaway. It sounds okay and plays well, but can’t handle heavy strings – more than a 9 e and it bends alarmingly. With 12s or 13s I reckon the bridge’d come right off.

    • LeftyFretz
      LeftyFretz says:

      Ah, that's really interesting. GAK have always been fairly lefty friendly as far as the website is concerned, I guess the southpaw staff would explain why that is. Maybe it's the staff who are snapping up all the good stock so fast!

      My store actually has a mailing list for left handed customers so whenever they get in something new we all get an email letting us know, maybe you could suggest something similar to GAK next time you visit.

    • LeftyFretz
      LeftyFretz says:

      Well you have to keep in mind i'm in the UK where the Vintage models are a little cheaper, they start at $285 here and that's for a new one, nevermind second hand. In the grand scheme of things they are definitely in the extreme lower end of the market 🙂

      • @UnknownToaster
        @UnknownToaster says:

        Ah, $285 makes more sense. It's not a bad price at all. Though I'm starting off now so my next guitar I plan to be around 300 to improve from my current one. I want to get a nice guitar but nothing huge. But before I get a new guitar I'm gonna get a new amp and probably pickups.

  2. Akshay
    Akshay says:

    I believe a non-professional (or small-time) guitarist should have 4 guitars – 1 good guitar with humbucking pickups, 1 good guitar with single-coils, 1 awesome sounding acoustic, and lastly an awesome sounding acoustic-electric guitar. I think I'd like to extend my collection to thatmuch till I'm a pro 🙂

    • Neal
      Neal says:

      Here's an interesting quote from this month's Total Guitar magazine which pretty much agrees with what you say Akshay 🙂

      "Be honest about how much gear you actually need. Unless you're a session musician, you only need one main guitar and maybe a spare. If you're spending more time modifying gear or eyeballing it online, then it's time to have a word for yourself.'

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