I was hanging out at Charlie Chandlers Guitar Experience a couple of weeks ago (as you do) and ran into an old Friend of mine. We started talking about recent purchases, bargains, and minefield dodging maneuvers. He introduced me to a simple but very effective concept that I'm sure most of you already are using to one length or another. He has his 'Tone Buddy'. Like an objective filter when it comes to buying gear.
I realised that I've had a tone buddy for a couple of years now as well, and it's worked out to be a revelation. Another set of ears on your tone is worth while having, but there are a couple of pre-requisites for Tone Buddy's. They are;
1. Your 'Tone Buddy' should not be your wife/partner. They should not have an alternate motive for your spare cash.
2. Your Tone Buddy needs to be knowledgeable about tone. You should talk the same language when it comes to choosing the right things for your sound. If anything, they should know more than you.
3. They should be open to new ideas. Not stuck in a 70's time warp, or lisetns to only Megadeath. You want objective opinions.
4. AT the end of the day, as much as their opinion is important, it's more important that YOU make the decision. It's your tone afterall.
With these boxes ticked, your tone buddy can be a life saver. So next time you buy that new pedal and have already made up your mind that it's the best thing ever made before you've even got i out of the box, give your tone buddy a bell.
Trust me, a good 'Tone Buddy' is worth their weigt in semi-precious metal.