If you have ever seen your favorite guitarist do a tour of their home or studio, you may have noticed that they possess dozens of guitars. Such professional musicians often acquire a large number of guitars for performances or to achieve certain tones. However, you may be wondering “how many guitars is too many for a amaterur guitarist”?
There is no set answer to this question. However, we can attempt to deduce what the ideal of range is for most aspiring musicians. So let’s dive right into it!
How Many Guitars Do You Really Need?
If you’re yet to hit adulthood and earn your own income, you may be strapped for cash when it comes to purchasing instruments. In this situation, it generally makes sense to acquire only one or two guitars: an acoustic, an electric, or both.
If you are earning a steady income and would like to splurge on some instruments, the sky’s the limit. To make the process of determining the ideal number of guitars, we have set the following criteria:
What is Your Budget?
Budget is the most obvious constraint when it comes to figuring out how many guitars you should get. After all, you can’t really purchase more guitars than you can afford.
So let’s say you already own a variety of effects pedals and have a versatile guitar amp that you intend to use with each guitar. If you set a budget of $2,000 for instrument purchases, you may be able to get anywhere from one to six guitars.
The “one” guitar in this scenario would likely be a high-end brand name guitar such as a Fender Jazzmaster or a Gibson Les Paul. It could also be a high-end signature guitar modeled by one of your favorite guitarists. A guitar in the $2,000 price range from a renowned manufacturer is likely to sound very good, and will allow you to achieve that perfect tone you are seeking.
If you would prefer to acquire six guitars within your $2,000 budget, each one is likely to be an entry-level instrument. These aren’t necessarily bad sounding guitars. However, they may be made from lower-quality tonewoods and feature generic pickups that don’t offer the type of clarity you would associate with higher end instruments. If your goal is to own half a dozen guitars, it can certainly be possible within this budget.
How Much Space Do You Have?
Space considerations should also be taken into account when deciding how many guitars is too many. However, this consideration is relatively minor given the fact that guitars don’t take up much space.
In the modern era, it is possible to purchase rotating guitar stands that allow you to store three to six guitars at once. Such stands can fit in the corner of any room.
Alternatively, you can opt to hang your guitar from a wall-mounted stand. You may be able to fit anywhere from three to seven guitars on a single wall depending on the amount of space available.
A more important consideration is to think about how often you will be moving. If you shift from one city or country to the next every year due to work reasons, you may have trouble taking all your guitars with you. The extra cargo shipping costs as well as the cost of purchasing hardshell cases for each guitar makes it impractical to own several of these instruments.
How Many Different Musical Styles or Tones are You Looking to Achieve?
The final consideration is to understand how many different musical styles or tones you are looking to achieve. It’s no secret that specific guitars excel at playing certain kinds of music. For example, the Fender Stratocaster is versatile and well-suited for most types of rock music.
Fender’s Jazzmaster lends well to playing dream pop and shoegaze music styles. Hollow Bodied guitars such as the Gibson ES-335 are great for playing blues thanks to their acoustic-style tone and fat humbucker pickups.
Similarly, Fender’s Telecaster guitars are great for playing country music for their clear and sparkly tones. If you like playing metal, Ibanez’s RG-series guitars are a great choice due to their fast necks and high-output pickups.
Based on the above information you will likely need to get a minimum of three electric guitars to cover the different styles of music you intend to play. However, you may be able to find some workarounds to reduce the numbers of guitars you will need.
Getting By With Only a Few Guitars
If you are unable to get as many guitars as is required to meet your playing needs, you may still be able to get by with a bit of ingenuity. For example, you can acquire a versatile guitar such as the Fender Stratocaster and model different types of tones using guitar pedals.
Modern guitar pedals allow you to shape your sound in different ways. This includes methods to alter your signal output, sustain, and frequencies. With a bit of tweaking, you should be able to get quite close to your desired tone using just one guitar.
Do I Really Need an Acoustic Guitar?
With all the information we have presented thus far, it is safe to say that you can get by with just two guitars: an acoustic one, and an electric acoustic. Getting an acoustic guitar may be essential because it is very difficult to replicate the sound and feel of an acoustic guitar using an electric one.
That being said, you may be able to find pedals such as the Boss AC-3 that allow you to recreate that acoustic sound to a certain degree. However, even this arrangement falls short unless you are facing extreme circumstances where there is no alternative.
As you can see, there is no set answer for the question, “How many guitars is too many?”. You need to consider your budget, space limitations, and music styles to come up with a number that fits you and your needs. So consider reviewing this guide before heading to the guitar store and making your next purchase.
Eduardo Perez is a multi-instrumentalist with over 20 years of experience playing instruments such as piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. Having arranged songs and produced music in a recording studio, he has a wealth of knowledge to share about analyzing songs, composing, and producing. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Studies at Berklee College School of Music. Featured on Entrepreneur.com. Subscribe to his YouTube channel, or follow him on Instagram.