at first I just established a sound that I liked with what I could get my hands on ... then youtube happened. for a while I was chasing tone, building clones of the same tools others were using, gathering amps and pedals like baseball cards ... which got really boring and expensive but I did figure out my wants/needs. I downsized all of that down to just my guitars. right now, I've got a mixture of off the shelf pedals I've tweaked to my liking along with some homebrew clones/tweaked clones for use with my one small amp to get my sound(s). I play more, watch youtube less, and don't spend as much time hunting down obscure sources of out of production electronics anymore.