Musicians using cheaper instruments than you'd expect

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by heathen, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. heathen

    heathen Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I was watching a gear rundown video by a band I like and was surprised that the bass player was still using a pretty cheap bass (the first one he ever got), and one of the guitar players was using a cheap guitar he bought from a friend. It made me wonder if there are examples of big name artists regularly using instruments that are disproportionately cheap compared to what one might expect.

    Obviously there's nothing wrong with this. If anything I think it's even cooler when I find out music I like was made with a guitar (for example) that virtually anyone could afford.
    Derek Slazenger, Maggie and jricc like this.
  2. Pretty.Odd.

    Pretty.Odd. Forum Resident

    New York, New York
    Ezra Koenig (lead singer of Vampire Weekend) has been using the same Epiphone Sheraton II for years now. It's always surprising to see, though it is a great guitar
  3. mahanusafa02

    mahanusafa02 Forum Resident

    You guys KNOW who used cheap stuff, at least in the beginning...
    painted8 likes this.
  4. overdrivethree

    overdrivethree Forum Resident

    Kurt Cobain - while he did his part to elevate Jaguars/Mustangs and Univoxes to holy grail status, at the time they were cheap guitars he could afford. And the Strats he played were just MIJ/MIM models off the rack.

    Eddie Van Halen - the original Frankenstein was like an $80 body and a $100 neck. There's also the story of someone bringing him some early PRS guitars to try, and he points to all of his parts guitars backstage and says "I've only got $200 invested in each of these, I don't need anything more than that." Whether or not that's 100% true to history, he was one of the first guys to slap some partscasters together on the relative cheap and make a mark.
  5. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident

    Jersey City, NJ
    I play Squier Bass Guitars. I could afford something else but I don’t want anything better.

    The Cars used Deans a lot and nowadays they run pretty cheap.

    (Great idea for a thread by the way)
  6. overdrivethree

    overdrivethree Forum Resident

    Squiers are a legit go-to brand on their own at this point. I have a Classic Vibe Strat I'll never part with. I think "brand shaming" is silly anyway, but the reputation that preceded them 20-30 years ago is no longer relevant.

    Besides, even with those old Squiers, if you know your way around setups and some modding, they work just fine.
  7. Jerry

    Jerry Grateful Gort Staff

    New England
    "At the time of recording the “Aqualung” album, I was briefly playing an Aria Japanese guitar." Ian Anderson

    Before that he also used a Yamaha acoustic, if I recall.
  8. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan music junkie

    NJ, USA
    This was mentioned recently in another thread about unlikely guitars. The Danelectro was one of the cheapest student guitars on the market, made of Masonite and plywood. Even when I was in bands in junior high in the 1960's, it was considered a joke. Not so funny now, since Syd Barrett and Eric Clapton, also used these at points in their careers, and one may have been Jimi Hendrix's first electric guitar (according to Wikipedia).

    Jimmy Page w/'59 Danelectro
  9. mdm08033

    mdm08033 Forum Resident

    My son is beginner at bass. He appreciates his $150 Made in USA Peavey Fury. Conversely his little sister is a fan of things American Telecaster.
    davers, Chris DeVoe and xilef regnu like this.
  10. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan music junkie

    NJ, USA
    And Martin Barre played a Les Paul Junior, originally intended as a student guitar, now one of the most sought-after instruments out there.
    hi_watt, Sneaky Pete and Jerry like this.
  11. Sneaky Pete

    Sneaky Pete Forum Resident

    Wayne Shorter played a Selmer Bundy student grade tenor sax on his first Bluenote album. It’s considered by many to be one of his best recordings.

    Legend has it that he also played that student sax on his first sessions with Miles Davis. Allegedly Miles was so disturbed to see Shorter playing a banged up student horn that he voluntarily bought him a Selmer Mark VI.

    Nicely set up pro instruments are wonderful but there is no substitute for real talent. I’d rather hear a great musician playing a mediocre instrument, than a mediocre musician playing a great instrument.
    RubenH, aussievinyl, clhboa and 6 others like this.
  12. The Lone Cadaver

    The Lone Cadaver Forum Resident

    And John Entwistle played the iconic bass solo in My Generation on a Danelectro longhorn bass.
  13. Keith V

    Keith V Forum Resident

    Jersey City, NJ
  14. xilef regnu

    xilef regnu Forum Resident

    John Lennon playing the little known nose-a-phone.

  15. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    I seen friends pick up objectively terrible instruments and make beautiful music.

    Tone is in your fingers.

    My friend Rev Peyton is a big fan of old Kay brand guitars.
  16. Fountains of Wayne bass player used a Squier Jazz Bass, at least when I saw them live.
    Keith V likes this.
  17. Done A Ton

    Done A Ton Birdbrain

    Rural Kansas
    Link Wray and his Yamaha SG-2. I think he paid $150.
  18. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    With modern manufacturing techniques - CNC cutters, robotic assembly, ISO-9000 standards - there's little to no reason for a cheap instrument to be a bad instrument.

    Guitars are incredibly simple machines (even the ones that kill fascists) and a solid body guitar is even more simple. It's not that hard to do simple modifications, changing the tuners, adjusting the truss rod, swapping out pickups - and it's better to do those modifications on an inexpensive instrument than an expensive one.
  19. redfloatboat

    redfloatboat Forum Resident

    When i saw Brian May's show in Brisbane he mentioned that he bought an old, beat up, 2nd hand acoustic earlier that day. I can't recall the exact price but it was very cheap, i think it may of been only $100 or so? He said it had a great sound and he ended up playing a song with it. Sounded fine.
    Frozensoda, pantofis and longaway like this.
  20. micksmuse

    micksmuse Forum Resident

    san diego

    i remember going to see jill sobule on the strength of her first album produced by todd rundgren. she opened for someone at a pretty large outdoor venue and she was playing this travel guitar. i had been doing solo gigs and never getting the acoustic sound i wanted and was using a good taylor.
    her sound was breathtaking (and this was long before the tech innovations of today with amp modeling and great inside mic's etc.
    i went out and bought the same guitar and of course though it sounded great i could never get the wideness and tone of her's. but saw her many times after that and she was using the same guitar. it was way less than $200 back in early 90's.
    Frozensoda, davers, jricc and 2 others like this.
  21. Chris DeVoe

    Chris DeVoe Forum Resident

    I had the same experience when Jane Siberry played the Old Town School of Folk Music. Tiny little travel guitar, huge awesome sound. Maybe it was just that the venue sound engineer was able to spend all of their sound check time working on her voice and guitar rather than a whole band?
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
    micksmuse and heathen like this.
  22. egebamyasi

    egebamyasi Forum Resident

    Worcester, MA
  23. wwaldmanfan

    wwaldmanfan music junkie

    NJ, USA
    Ry Cooder and David Lindley, compatriots and two of the best guitarists on the planet, were fond of cheap Japanese guitars.
    Ry with his Guyatone.

    Dave with one of his many Teisco's.
  24. KeninDC

    KeninDC Tighten Up Jam

    Virginia, USA
    Mick's playing a knock-off of a Fender Jaguar. Keith probably had him turned down anyway.

    sekaer likes this.
  25. breakingglass

    breakingglass Forum Resident

    In It Might Get Loud, Jack White extols the virtues of cheap axes. He explains that he likes to fight with them.
    MitchLT and DJ LX like this.

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