GAS, what most musicians know as Gear Acquisition Syndrome. That never-ending feeling that you have to have the latest and greatest in gear to make your music better. It’s something we all struggle with, and it can be both a blessing and a curse.
There’s no denying that new gear helps trigger fresh bursts of creativity, just the mere fact that you’re forced to be in front of the gear as you check out your new toy means that it’s forcing you to actually sit down and do something musical. New gear means new ways of working, so it’s not surprising that you’re bound to come up with something new, results that you perhaps have not achieved before with things you currently own.
In the short-term, this has the effect of validating the purchase. You think “hey, this is great, this new bit of gear helped me come up with something I never would have before”. Well, possibly, but sometimes you really need to step back and look at the underlying cause of that too. Certainly the newness of it means that it’s exciting, you’re using tools that you aren’t familiar with, so it can be more fun.
Often times this initial discovery period becomes the sole reason for the purchase, that time when everything you do musically seems fresh and exciting. And it is exciting, there’s no denying it. But how often has that feeling faded faster than you expected? How many times have you completed a couple of projects with your new toy, and then your attention starts to wander again?
Not to get too deep here with the comparisons, but in a way it’s not much different than dating someone. It’s fun and new at first, everything feels great and you couldn’t be happier. But then the magic fades, your attention wanders, and you start looking at what else is out there. Sure you could go through life jumping from one partner to another, but many people (myself included) will tell you how shallow and unfulfilling that is in the long-term, and how much more satisfying it is being with that ONE special person. When you become a team and work together, you’re rewarded with things you never imagined early on.
Musical instruments are the same way. It’s easy to be tempted by the latest and greatest, but sometimes you need to step back from the marketing hype (and they sure know how to hype their new products!) and re-assess what it is that a new purchase will bring to your studio in the long haul. All too often I see people get wrapped up in this, asking other musicians “Should I get music equipment x,y,z?” Or “I have $500 to spend, what should I buy?”.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with asking other people what they think about a particular instrument, but at the same time realize what you’re doing. If you have to ask someone else what you NEED, then chances are you really don’t NEED anything at all. New gear purchases should always be obvious to you, they should fill a real need in your workflow, or add something to your studio that you currently don’t have.
Oftentimes just taking a deep breath and thinking about how your current tools could be pressed into doing the same thing, will cause you to realize that perhaps the need you thought was there is not so great after all. By re-looking at the gear you have now, and how it could be used in a new way, you’d be surprised at how you can channel that same type of excitement new gear brings.
We all have instruments with features that we don’t use that often, so by digging in and re-evaluating how we use our tools, we not only get the chance to work in a new way, but we also come to master our tools more than we thought we had. And in the long haul, THAT can be more exciting and fulfilling than a short-term fling with something we really don’t need.
Now if you’ll excuse me, the latest Sweetwater catalog just arrived and I can’t wait to go see what new toys were released recently 🙂