Converge’s Kurt Ballou on gear snobbery: “I don’t like musical gatekeeping – the idea that you can’t do something because you don’t have a piece of gear”

“Tone comes from fingers,” the guitarist says.

Kurt Ballou in the video from Premier Guitar

Image: Premier Guitar on YouTube

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Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou has revealed he’s aiming to get to a place in his career where gear doesn’t matter, in the hopes that by using a lower-spec rig it can inspire those who can’t afford expensive products.

In wider guitar culture, the consistent focus on finding the perfect tone, and the often pricey journey to get there by finding the ideal gear is a widely discussed matter. Year on year, new products and effects are launched to help us unlock new sounds and textures, but often their price tag is a barrier to those who aren’t able to splash cash on gear.

In a new rig rundown video with Premier Guitar on YouTube, Ballou shares that he’s hoping to use more “boring, modern” and accessible gear to prove that you can put on a killer show, without the need to spend money on premium guitars, pedals and amps.

“I don’t like musical gatekeeping – the idea that you can’t do something because you don’t have a piece of gear,” he says, after arguing that “tone comes from fingers”.

“As long as you have ears, patience and drive to find something cool, you can do something cool,” he states. “Any of your favourite records that have some amazing sound on them, the reason they have that amazing sound is because that was creative people using what they had at their disposal and making the most of whatever they had at their disposal.”

Watch the full video below, where he discusses the above at the 20 minute mark:

Ballou isn’t the only artist out there enjoying gear with a much lower price tag – Dolly Parton played a $99 Mitchell MM100 at her Rock Hall 2022 performance.

Converge are touring throughout August, to see the full list of dates check out their official website.

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