For those of you who know me well, know that I am a bit of a gear head when it comes to the things I own. This honestly goes right down the the socks I choose to wear/own. As a musician, it is very easy to fall into the ideal of the gear makes the player. Where I do believe good products definitely can help a situation, or make us more comfortable. The question is how important are they really, when it comes to us as performers?
Earlier this week was a state Holiday here in Utah, and my father, Ray Dahl, asked if my husband and I would like to accompany him fly fishing. My one of my loves, next to music, is doing pretty much anything outside. However, I have never been fly fishing. With the confidence in the father, who has taught me many different skills that I value in life, I was excited to take on this new activity.
On the drive up, my father had mentioned a book that he had been reading the book Simple Fly Fishing – Techniques for Tenkara and Rod & Reel. The first chapter of this books dives into how many folks who enjoy fishing often get their heads wrapped around all the gear that is needed to go fishing. The book describes spending $1200 on a rod, plus however much more on a reel. Then you need to think about all the different kinds of flies and the materials to make the flies more appealing. Followed by the specific clothing that “should be worn” to fish. This could include waders, fancy nylon button up shirts, and of course the signature vest. All of which have more pockets than I know what to do with. Where all of these items can make you look like you know how to fly fish, at the end of the day, did it really help you bring home the fish? This book described how if fishing is taken to it essential basics, such as fishing the Tenkara style, the out come is more likely become successful in catching the fish.
After thinking about this first chapter in Simple Fly Fishing of the technique and culture described, I see the same attitude with a lot of bass players, including myself. Similar to described fly fishers, in the world of string instruments there are many fabulously talented Luthiers. Often these beautiful instruments, can run you the cost of a house. Then to add on specific string, finger boards, extensions, tail pieces, end pins, bows, bow hair, bridges, the list can continue into tech and so much more. Ultimately, all of this gear can really make your personal set up stand out, however, it is more important that we have solid technique. Without the foundation of good technique, all of the gear may help a little, but will not get you very far at the end of the day. I have been told several times that it is the player that makes the bass, rather than the bass that makes the player. If we are able to remember this philosophy when buying the new piece of gear, that it is for comfort or bettering a situation, rather than making us better players over night.
Where I don’t think I will ever stop being a gear head, it is a nice reminder that I am what makes my gear stand out and special. New instruments and strings may help my sound, but anything that I perform is my art rather than just the gear I am using. Have you found this to be true in your experience? I would admit, there comes a point where some of the more basic gear can hold you back, once you get to a certain point as professionals. But at the end of the day, what are some one your more fancy tech that is a comfort thing rather than an essential? Or have you found that all this gear is essential? Let me know in the comments on my Instagram post or my Facebook page!