Gear Acquisition Syndrome
Buying things is easier than getting good at something. And, at least briefly, it can sometimes feel just as good as well. Gear acquisition syndrome (GAS) is the retail therapy that fuels hobbyists to endlessly pursue the perfect camera, bike, guitar, tool, etc., or to just build up a "respectable" collection of these things. I am too young to know how much this inflicted hobbyists in the pre-internet days, but surely this is problem has been amplified by a constant barrage of blog posts, review videos, discussion forms, and social media where people show off their goods and congratulate each other on buying stuff.
My hobby is guitar, which sometimes feels like an entire industry fuelled by GAS.See what I did there. It's a retail attack from several angles at once: guitars, amplifiers, pedals, plugins. This is my first gear-based hobby where I have that toxic combination of some disposable income and my inherent "heavily research before you buy" attitude. So I got some serious GAS for a while there. I was wheelin' and dealin' on Kijiji. The local store knew me by name. The worst part is I spent much of the time I could have used playing guitar fuelling my GAS instead.
I finally got the GAS under control though a number of experiences and realizations:
- I watched old videos of myself when I had vastly different gear and realized it sounded not so different compared to my current gear.
- I want to sound like me. I was always adjusting new gear to sound like me.
- I played in a live show and realized that most of the nuance of different gear doesn't really translate well in that environment, and the audience sure as hell doesn't know or care.
- I went to concerts and felt like the range of gear that the musicians used didn't sound so different than mine. The players themselves made the gear sound good.
- I saw one of my favourite musicians use pretty basic gear and sound awesome.
- I realized I didn't want to be part of a system of unchecked consumerism.
So I've now been focusing on figuring out a way to produce my few core sounds as simply as possible for recording, practicing, and playing with others. I'm also not being too picky about live sound based on my experiences above. I'm nearly there, at which point I'm going to sell my excess gear then ban myself from certain websites that are GAS pumps. Then I will, you know, actually play my guitar.