How do you guys afford buying guitars???

At 19, I sold all my old Star Wars toys. It bought my first PRS custom 22. It was my only guitar for a long time.


Don’t get hung up on the idea that you NEED a certain guitar. You can make the best music in the world with cheap gear, especially these days when the cheap stuff is very good. At the end of the day guitars are tools, not holy magical artifacts.

And the best ones I’ve ever had are not necessarily the priciest.
I lucked into good deals on decent gear while still in high school. I bought a guild pilot bass, and a Kramer focus 2000 guitar. $550 for the pair, both new. I traded up when I was in my early 20s to a (pre-Gibson) Tobias bass (bass is my primary instrument) and traded down in the same deal to a 1960s silvertone guitar. I still own those instruments now in my mid 50s.

I played them both for almost 20 years. Gigged, recorded, toured. They served me well. No revolving door of gear then.

But music is a hobby for me. I’m in my mid fifties, high income and no kids. My partner also has a high income. We can buy toys. We’ve both gotten good careers, lived responsibly, built our earning power, and have no children. I love that I don’t have to sneak new guitars into the house. She likes to see them. We don’t generally spend on exorbitant treats, so a few guitars or basses here and there are really affordable for me.

The important part was getting instruments I could really use and sticking g with it until the money was there to do otherwise.
I put off buying something new for decades. Too busy trying to get ready to retire. Well the truth is this. All work no play makes Jack a dull boy.
So I finally decided to buy something really special for me. I used to play for hours every day and quit doing that. I had given away all of my guitars except my Kramer. It just wasn’t giving me the feeling I wanted. So I bought a new SE A50E I had been eyeballing for about 2 years. It wasn’t cheap and was worth every penny. I liked it so much that when a used SE Custom 24 caught my eye I decided to get itas well. How did I afford it? Changed my priorities and bought what I really needed and was satisfied with. I am not a professional musician and for me to buy a core model wouldn’t make much difference. My SE’s are more than playable and are quality instruments. As for the money. That’s just not wasting it on going to fast food places and not buying the latest and greatest new toy everyone has to have. One trip to bankruptcy court years ago taught me to live within my means.
Simple, I never had kids.

We had three... but once they were teenagers and as interested in doing their own thing as hanging off their old man, I found myself with something I hadn't had in over a decade; free time! And with free time I had time again for the weekend warrior thing. So I was in bands and we played out, and gig moneys were not considered part of the household budget (like my salary was) so I got to keep it all to myself. So over the next 12 or 15 years I bought a lot of guitars. And pedals. And a fair few amps besides... Life is good.
At 19 I was running my own business, working 80-100 hours a week and did that for 30 years. All my music aspirations went on the back shelf during that time and house building and other priorities took the front burner. My leisure time was spent playing competitive senior hockey, fastball and outdoor sporting activities plus a lifelong journey in marital arts. I bought my first guitar in 2000 in a pawn shop, I still have it. $100 Yamaha RGX and a Peavy 10w amp. Then came a Seagull S6 cedar which ended up as a gift to my nephew, which I still regret doing in many ways (long story). 5 years ago I learned about (still know almost nothing compared to most in these pages) PRS and bought my first SE in the fall of 2021. I'm retired now and this is where I'm at (and I'm far from a great player):

Be patient, and above all be smart. It isn't the money you spend, it's the way you learn to do with what you have. There's a video of Joe Satriani playing some teenager's dimestore guitar and it proves that you don't need a $15k custom job to make great music. It's mostly in the hands of the player as long as the instrument isn't total junk.