I was taught that you should buy the best tools that you can afford, and that you ought to look after them. It's advice that has helped me make some wise decisions when it's come to tools, toys and trade and it's also good advice that has stopped me from getting stung in the wallet.
More often than not, whether you are buying a claw hammer or a car the right option for me has been somewhere between the dangerously inexpensive and the laughably overpriced. On the one hand; when you buy cheap, you'll end up buying twice.
On the other; you don't want to fork out a four figure sum for a burger - there comes a point where prices becomes an absurd exercise in proving you have more money than common sense.
In my job, I get to make some pretty big decisions when it comes to money: I'm responsible for forecasting my yearly budgets for the different groups and events I plan, I have my part to play when it comes to fundraising. I also have to make sure that any money I spend is spent wisely because it has all come from charitable sources who believe that the work we do is important and want to support it.
As part of plans to expand the work The Wave Youth does with young musicians I splashed out on an electro-accoustic bass guitar. As the teams resident bassist (I can count to 4 and can't quite master 6 strings) I was hesitant to make this purchase for two reasons: Firstly every acoustic bass I have ever played has been utterly rubbish. They are always far to quiet unplugged and if you're going to run the thing through an amp you might as well buy a proper electric bass. Secondly, this guitar was brand new and came in at under £100. While the scots blood within my veins rejoiced at the low, low price - there was no way this cheap-tar was going to match up to the sound or tone of a more expensive model.
Truth be told, I've been utterly blown away by how good this instrument is. I've not been able to put it down for more than an hour since it arrived! The action, while a little high, is fast and smooth. It has a warm, rich tone that matches the volume of the acoustic guitar I've been jamming along with in its field test. The only issue with the bass is a little fret-buzz on the 3rd fret that a quarter turn adjustment of a truss rod ought to fix.
At the end of the day, anything is only worth as much as somebody is willing to pay for it. Occasionally you can find a real bargain, other times you can feel pretty ripped off.
The reason I ignored the voice in my head saying that anything that cheap had to sound cheap and made this purchase were because of the reviews that other shoppers left the product. Other musicians saying how impressed they where, other bassists talking about how good the sound was, beginners talking about how easy it was to learn on and experts talking about how to sort out the common 3rd fret fret-buzz issue that seems to accompany this particular product.
I saw that other people had tried out the product. They'd put their wallet to the test and not been disappointed and I in turn put my faith in their findings and the merchandise.
Sometimes we don't see how much something is truly worth because we're too busy looking at the price tag someone has already assigned to it. There's not a lot of difference between the £500 pair of jeans or the ones that go for £25. Sometimes we do that with people. We see marks and dents, we hear the fret-buzz and the low value that others place on them and just assume that they can't be worth much when God has already said you are worth everything, that you are made in his image, to be like him and reflect his goodness in our lives.
Whether you feel like a £2,500 Taylor guitar or a battered, nylon-stringed, charity shop classic - when God looks at you he sees his handiwork, someone who is fearfully and wonderfully made.