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Vintage gear has some kinks

Vintage gear has some kinks

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I love vintage music gear. Usually it sounds better, is cheaper than its newer counterparts and just has an air of cool about it that helps to inspire me to play better, or at least to pick it up to play with more often.

Recently, though, I've begun to prefer buying new gear with warranties, and it saddens me somewhat.

Four years ago I bought a vintage Moog analog synthesizer and fell instantly in love with it. I could hear the sound coming out of it that was on countless albums by my favorite musicians. Gary Numan, Rush, Yes, Kraftwerk ... it was all there. It felt like playing a proper instrument instead of a clone of something else, and I just loved to look at it even when I wasn't playing it.

A year ago it freaked out on me right as I was setting it up to play a pretty big show at Northgate Music Festival. Although I was able to get it mostly functional, it was never the same again, and I reluctantly sold it to someone who could fix it. I replaced it with a nice, new boutique instrument with warranty, digital control and, I'd say, about 97 percent of the sound of the Moog. I have ease of mind knowing that if the new instrument freaks out I can send it back to the manufacturer. But I miss the feeling of playing the old-school instrument.

I also had issues with a guitar amplifier. After going through two vintage amps and two discontinued products, hours at the repair shop and begged/borrowed gear, I recently bit the bullet and spent way more than I wanted just to make sure I had the sound and the reliability I wanted. While I love vintage gear, I just don't have the temperament it requires. I can't stand not having my music gear work when I need it to work. When I turn it on, it needs to turn on. I have a friend who races vintage cars. She and her husband spend more time working on their cars than racing them, and I felt like I was getting to that point of futzing around with vintage music gear rather than actually playing music.

So for the most part I think I have finally sworn off buying older used stuff.

That's not to mean that the newer stuff is always more reliable. Thanks to the Internet, it is easy to read about manufacturer defects and what to do about them. But after several questionable eBay purchases and lots of woe, I'm ready to not think about my ailing gear and focus more on playing.

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