When I was a kid, I rode dirt bikes. it was my life’s second great love. The first being baseball. The third (and final) being music. It was a lot of fun.

As I fearfully gaze over the entry of that rabbit hole, I’m reminded of a few things that consumed that particular passion. And my prepubescent pocket book for that matter – aftermarket parts.

Exhaust. Handlebars. Decals. Grips. Plastic. You name it. There wasn’t a part of the bike you couldn’t blow money on.

Some things made a big difference, some didn’t.

I remember my first aftermarket muffler. Woah. I floored the throttled and ended up on my butt. It made that much of a difference.

But that carburetor rejetting kit that you’re supposed to buy along with the new exhaust, however, I couldn’t tell one bit of difference. Though I did have some bruised up knuckles to show for it after I got done with the overhaul.

If only buying those fancy plugins were as obvious as the dirt I had to wash out of my motocross pants that day after putting in that FMF header and tailpipe.

Guys. I really can’t tell you what the real difference is between stock plugins and third party plugins. I mean. There’s the obvious. The look, the feel, the NAME. But when I really try to put the marketing, the vibe, all the stuff that gets crammed down my throat every day by people who ONLY make plugins and want me to ONLY use theirs, I really can’t tell a huge difference.

Sure. 12 years ago, when I bought Waves Gold, I was beside myself. I thought these things were going to radically transform everything I did in a DAW. And for a good while, I believed it. I really thought it. I was SURE I heard it.

But the truth is…I still didn’t know how to mix. I didn’t know what to do with them anymore than I knew what to do with the stuff that came with my DAW.

But you couldn’t tell me that.

I was so drunk on that the absence of that $600 I just spent, the marketing, the hype, and probably the possible fear of judgement from my classmates if I admitted I couldn’t tell a huge difference that I just knew they were the most amazing thing ever. But the truth is, I just didn’t know any better.

“But. You guys have third party plugin templates. You guys SELL plugins, for Pete’s sake. You’re full of crap.”

Why, yes. Yes I am full of crap. I came into this world full of crap and I haven’t got it all out yet. Or at least my wife hasn’t told me I have yet.

It’s like this – you wanna build a house, and you want to build a good house. A “big, big house” if you will. Where are you going to buy tools?

Never mind the fact that if you are endeavoring to build a house, you should probably already know how, and thus would already have tools. Never mind that.

Dollar General has tools. You can buy a hammer, nails, and maybe a few wrenches there. Seems legit.

No. You’re going to Home Depot. You’re gonna go buy the name brand stuff. You’re gonna go to the nail gun aisle, you’re gonna go for the big one, maybe do a few James Bond moves when nobody’s looking, probably take a couple selfies, for SURE post on insta about it.

You’re gonna go hard. Tim the-Tool-Man Taylor HARD. Or at least go as hard as you can.

Some things are just what they are. A tool is a tool. Some have standout features, some are just marketing. And it’s not always super cut and dry just exactly what the truth is.

But that’s the world we live in . We can all only make the best decision that we possible can when it comes to buying the tools we need for the job.

We’re gonna ask a friend, that may or may not give us good advice. We’re gonna go to the internet, where unfortunately not all of the neckbeards and fedoras actually have neckbeards and wear fedoras, thus making them virtually indistinguishable from normal, DECENT human beings.

We’re gonna make mistakes. We’re gonna waste money. And then one day we’ll blog about it because we think the world cares about what we think.

I said all that to say….well. I really don’t know 🤷🏽‍♂️

I’ll leave you with this – growing up, my dad was a carpenter. He’s still a carpenter, in fact. And he used to tell me,

“we always used to make fun of the new guy with his new, shiny tools.”

The reason this was funny is because they’d never been used. He didn’t know what he was doing. He was just getting started. The tools had never been used before.

Don’t be that guy with the shiny new plugins that doesn’t know how to mix. You don’t need fancy plugins to get good mixes.

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