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Should I buy something new?

Changing your instrument, mouthpiece, headjoint, reeds, etc. on a frequent basis isn’t productive, but sticking with the same equipment forever isn’t a virtue either. Here are some questions to ask yourself (or a trusted teacher or colleague) when you start feeling the itch to spend money on shiny new things:

  • Does this new equipment make it easier or more comfortable to do what I do? Or am I hoping it will magically endow me with abilities I didn’t have before?
  • Does this materially improve some concrete aspect of my playing, like intonation, response, dynamic range or finger movement? Is it an improvement that is more subjective, fleeting, or malleable, like tone quality? (Tone quality isn’t nothing when purchasing woodwind gear, but it’s not everything, either.)
  • Does this really change how I sound? Does it change how it feels to play, physically? Does it change how it feels to play, emotionally? (All of these can be valid reasons to change, but it’s worth sorting out what’s really changing.)
  • Is this new equipment appealing in some way that is more about appearance or cachet than playability? Is that worth the investment to me? Would I be sacrificing some playability for bling factor?
  • How did I come to desire this particular item? Was I influenced by advertising, celebrity endorsements, a commissioned salesperson, an internet stranger, or someone/something else that might have motivations separate from my success? Was I happy with my current setup before I learned of this product’s existence?

If you’re currently a student, be sure to check in with your teacher before any new gear purchase!


One response to “Should I buy something new?”

  1. I prefer to think of it this way – if better equipment removes a limitation or impediment, and is immediately obvious… then it’s worth it to me.

    That impediment can be technical, convenience, physical, even emotionally, and it’s all valid.

    I would say a high quality case that’s convenient, protects your horn well, and is easy to lug around compared to a heavy coffin or garbage bag, will do more for your musical life that a $900 mouthpiece will vs. a C*.

    But slogging through equipment because your favorite player also uses it, hoping it might make you better, but it doesn’t really do anything YET, well, maybe if you stick with it for a year or two, or maybe try again get the next best thing… that’s chasing a rainbow.

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