Nothing wrong with consultants!
And some of us don't have access to all the stuff that's out there. I tend to buy stuff almost completely on a combination of hunch, past experience, reviews, online comments and the recommendations of friends who I respect. Like you guys.
I live on an island off the coast of Canada. In general, I have to know what I want when I walk into a store and order it. This is definitely true of the more rarified, boutique stuff and high end studio equipment.
At least 95% of the time this works great for me. I've bought a few pieces that were a waste of money. Yes, many forums have gone to the dogs. gearslutz.com used to be a great place for experienced opinions. Now you have to come equipped with many grains of salt. But recommendations from strong, informed sources are an important part of the equation for many of us.
Now here's the catch, I think a great player can make not so great equipment sound great. To me, the trick is always about squeezing - squeezing the sound out of what you have... learning the limits and strengths of what you have - including your talent. So many folks, myself included, have so much gear they don't have time to know its potential - to be able to squeeze it. But the critical pieces I've fairly conquered so I can get what I need.
I've seen Roy Buchanan do things with just a Tele and Vibroverb amp that would really blow your mind. People weeping in the audience. In my 40+ years of going to concerts & performing, I've seen that only a handful of times.
So... whatever it takes. There are so many roads to Valhalla. Don't knock the folks that need guides to get there. Getting there - however you can (with honor) - is the hard part.
On Feb 3, 2010, at 7:08 PM, William Walker wrote:
"$50 an hour to go online and ask other people for there opinions? Where do I sign up?
My point is anytime you go on any forum, especially music forums, and ask for opinions, your responses are always so varied and so broad they're almost meaningless.
Try going on the acoustic guitar forum and ask those brainiacs what capo is the best and you'll get 57 different answers. Of course 3/4s of those guys are struggling to get through Mustang Sally. So take any answer you get with a grain of salt."
Though I agree with you in principle that gear forums are about opinions (its why i tend to avoid them) and one should ultimately trust one's own opinion and sense of taste, I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss hiring a consultant. I for one actually get hired as such a consultant on a regular basis to help people get their gear issues sorted out. I've never had a client feel like they didn't get good advice from me. Its another service that I offer in addition to gigging, doing studio work, and teaching various styles of guitar, theory and composition, etc.. I bring more than 30 years of experience to the table, not only as a musician/teacher but also in retail music sales. I can't say I've tried every gadget on the market, but I stay abreast and read a lot of reviews and I am very good at getting a sense of some ones personal style and matching up the right gear with them. Busy professionals like some of my clients simply don't have time to sift through the sand dune of choices and that's where I come in. In my community I have a excellent and well deserved reputation as being a guy in the know about a wide variety of gear related issues, be it choosing the right acoustic guitar, amplifier or yes even capo. I'm also a person who doesn't pretend to be an expert on anything I haven't had hands on experience with and as most of my clients would tell you, I'm the first to say that tone is subjective and my opinions are my opinions. I also know musicians in the community who would not seek my advice ,who like you Chris, would rather figure it out themselves. And more power to you. But i must say in several instances I could have saved these people time and money by steering them in a sound direction, and helped them navigate the quagmire of BS floating around on the web. People come in to the shop all the time with boat loads of misinformation, or demanding a feature (like true bypass, as an example) that they don't really understand, just because they have heard the words bandied about on the Gear Page. Again I say, I'm like you Chris in that I'd rather make my own choices about my sound, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't seek out the advice of people I respect who know more than I do. I'm not above hiring a computer consultant to help me improve my DAW knowledge or taking the occasional guitar lesson, and if it saves me time then its money well spent.
PS oh and by the way my hourly rate for consulting is $50 and i do have Skype/I-chat....I'll be waiting for your call Chris :-)