We are convinced by marketers that to sound like our favourite, brilliant band or guitar player, or to paint like our most admired artist, or to take pictures or make movies like the professionals, we need the equipment that the marketer is selling. Without it, we’re told, we can’t possibly hope for good results.
Take a look at this: https://www.ippawards.com/index.html This an award for photographs taken with iPhones. Nobody could accuse an iPhone of being the creme de la creme of professional photographic equipment, but you have to admit that there are some stunning photographs that were entered into this competition.
What does this tell us? Well, while the best gear you can afford is often a sound investment, it isn’t always necessary. What the gear won’t do is create the results. Those come from you, the artist. All the good gear does is facilitate the process. That doesn’t mean it’s the only way, though. Some artists create stunning results with the most unlikely pieces of equipment.
You can’t buy your way to artistic greatness by choosing the right gear. You don’t need to feel you can’t achieve artistic greatness unless you can afford all of the paraphernalia sold to you by marketing zealots. With some gear, as long as it isn’t so unfit for purpose as to be unusable, you can achieve great things.
We often forget that having any guitar is way better, for music making, than having no guitar at all and that although we don’t have the most fully featured creative software (the latest DAW or virtual synth, for example), the fact that you have a workable tool at your disposal, of any description, puts you way ahead of people that don’t. In fact, knowing your limited set of creative tools better, by learning their idiosyncrasies and quirks, can put you at a considerable advantage over those that buy everything, but can’t figure out how to use any of it.
Seasick Steve makes music with three-stringed “found” guitars. Some of the best photographs ever taken were made with pinhole cameras (or iPhones). You can paint a compelling picture on scrap cardboard with a household decorator’s brush and just two colours of paint. Your band can, if recorded carefully, sound fantastic with a single XY stereo pair of microphones, judiciously positioned. It’s not the gear that creates the art.
The best piece of gear to invest in is your own creativity.