From time to time, more often than I’d like to admit, I find myself spending hours looking at gear online. Basses, amps, effects, recording interfaces, even guitars. I’ll be going about my day, reading the occasional article or forum post and bam! it hits me. Suddenly I feel the urge to search out every review, forum comment, eBay posting, and YouTube video, as well as scour the manufacturer’s website, to find any and all information relating the object that I am obsessing over. To be honest, I used to do this a lot. You see folks I have what we musician’s refer to as “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” or “G.A.S.” G.A.S. can strike at any time, and if you don’t learn to control it you can end up wasting a lot of time and money on equipment you don’t even use. Personally I feel that I have gotten myself under control in the last couple of years, but I do occasionally go astray. The thing is though, at the end of the day, I’ve read and compared a lot, but have actually done nothing productive.
Is Gear Lust Wrecking Your Bass Playing?
I love trying out new basses, amps and effects, I mean who doesn’t right? But at a certain point you have to realize that you may be spending more time on acquiring the tools of the trade than actually playing bass. In this regard I feel that new gear can actually get in the way of us becoming better musicians. If you find yourself spending more time researching gear, than actually playing, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it?
A friend I’ve known for years has a serious case of G.A.S. I’ve never heard him play or talk about playing, yet he owns something like 20+ basses, 15+ guitars, a few amps for each instrument, Mandolin’s, even Trumpets. He is constantly buying and selling gear on eBay. At this point I see him more as a collector of sorts than an actually musician.
Wrecking may be a to strong a word here. I guess you could say that gear lust, or G.A.S., side tracks us from picking up our instruments and actually playing.
Better Gear Makes For A Better Player Right?
This is a common misconception that I hear from people. We like to trick ourselves into believing that a new piece of gear will some how magically make us better players. That we will sound better, play better, and just be better. In this way we are trying to justify the time spent looking at new gear when in reality we could have put that time to better use by using the gear we already own.
I’ve known some really great musicians who can pick up any instrument, no matter how old or cheap, and make it sing. These guys can make phenomenal music playing crusty old guitars that look like they’ve come out of the garbage. It’s not the gear, it’s the player.
Be Happy With What You’ve Got
There are many good reasons for buying a new bass or upgrading your amp, but this shouldn’t be a constant thing. Lately I have been challenging myself to keep my lust in check by using the gear I already have. I’ll be honest, I have several basses to choose from, as well as a couple of amps. In my case, whenever I find myself lusting after a new piece of gear I stop and think about what I already have. Once I’ve put myself in check, I’ll pick out one of my basses I haven’t played for a while and rediscover why I had to have it in the first place. Even if you only have one bass, perhaps you can adjust the setting on your amp and see what sort of new tones you can get out of it. Bottom line is, use and appreciate what you have before going out and buying new stuff.
We all know that the best way to improve is to actually play. It’s not about the gear, it’s about the time you put in to learning your instrument and the more you focus on that, the better you will become. So the next time you find yourself lusting after a new piece of gear, go grab your bass and play instead!
Are you too afflicted with G.A.S.? What advice do you have for others who are?