Yes, subscriptions! They can come in many different forms such as catalogs, emails, bookmarking a website, videos...etc. Regardless, there are many valuable sources out there that can help you stay up-to-date on available gear. Personally, I do a little bit of each to get the info I need and STILL fall short of knowing about everything out their.
Getting started.... Here's what I've done over the years:
MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS: I've had lots of subscriptions over the years to GUITAR WORLD, GUITAR PLAYER, GUITAR FOR THE PRACTICING MUSICIAN, PREMIERE GUITAR and others. I've always been attracted to the colorful action photos of my favorite players with the hottest new guitars, amps & pedals (my holy trinity of great). This is probably my longest standing method of gear info. These days you can even get these magazines delivered electronically to save cupboard space!!!
CATALOGS: The big music stores typically send you a monthly hard copy version of the hottest gear available once a month. I'm constantly getting catalogs from GUITAR CENTER, MUSICIAN'S FRIEND, SWEETWATER, SAM ASH and a few other non-mega music stores. Also, my inbox gets flooded with holiday deals, weekly gear specials, "stupid deals of the day" and wherever else will get you to buy something.
SOCIAL MEDIA: I use FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, YOUTUBE and TWITTER to follow various gear review groups, discussion forums and gear company does to get reviews from the pros and everyday Joes to find what they like & don't like.
CONCERTS: I've been lucky a couple of times to be able to talk to such artists as Johnny A., Devon Allan, Mike Zito and John Pizzarelli about their gear. Also, I'm fortunate to live in a small community with some knowledgeable individuals that are fluent in speaking guitar gear. Regardless, in vivo discussions of gear have a big influence in this area.
Now that you're armed with resources you're ready to search and review every piece of gear you find. However, if you find something you're interested in you should take your time and not make any impulse purchases. I admit, I've done it. It's cost me a lot of money to find (and sometimes sell) the ultimate piece of equipment that will help me rule the guitar kingdom ??. To help prevent me from making mistakes in buying gear I've tried to live by three gear buying rules:
1. Have I done at least one month of research on this product?
2. Can I pay for this product?
3. Am I conflicted by a similar product that I'm interested in?
Keep in mind that it's fun to have gear... but your sound, what makes you sound great, starts with your fingers. So, please live by a code when buying gear.
If you find a source I haven't mentioned please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time....stay PLUGGED IN!