Is Guitar Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) really the quest for better tone or is it just consumerism run a muck? Are we, as guitarists, constantly buying equipment to play better and to make better music or are we just wanting to a mass more and more guitar stuff because it is cool? Do I buy stuff because I want it or because I use it?
Unfortunately I must admit that my GAS is probably more about the stuff than it is about the playing. Too often I research and pine and obsess about something I’ve found for cheap. I’m focused completely on the thing. Sure, I’ve got ideas of what it will do for my sound or for my playing, but if I’m honest with myself (scary, I know) it is usually just a pipe dream.
Right now I have just about everything necessary for a five piece band. Guitar, vocals, keys, bass, and drums. This has been a goal of mine for a long time. The free Behringer Ultracoustic was the final piece of the puzzle. I would prefer PA speakers to go with my mixer, but right now I have the basics for it all to work. I have to constantly remind myself that I have sufficient for my needs. But when I let my greed and consumerism go wild, I start thinking about the PA speakers, speaker stands, acoustic-electric guitar, mic stands, miscellaneous cables, etc. that I still think I need. I mean, what if we get asked to DJ a dance or wedding, we need those PA speakers… just in case.
Right now I have a hand wired guitar amp head that sounds great. I will be building or buying a speaker cabinet for it, but for now I can use the Behringer Ultracoustic. And yet I still have to remind myself of this when I start looking at speakers and woods and adding an effects loop and
Am I simply addicted to the consumption of stuff? Am I just happy during the purchase? Just hopping from purchase to purchase and not focusing on playing? We all must consume. We eat, we use, we build, we explore, we buy. But is that all we have become? Are we just consuming for the sake of consuming?
This morning, I feel like a buyer. I would much rather be a “user.” Someone who uses what they have. I want to be a builder. That is one reason I get free amps and cheap guitars. I want to try to build them into something better. But I am also a massing this equipment. And I seem to be hoping from purchase to purchase for the sake of buying, not using.
Yesterday I ran into the coworker who offered his Mesa Boogie Mark IV to me. I agonized over not getting that amp. I didn’t get it. Yet he hasn’t sold it either. In fact, he had an outdoor gig with his band and figured he could slave the Mark IV to his Mark V. He could play stereo effects. He could get more volume. He could have an amp on either side of the stage. He could have a back up amp in case one breaks or malfunctions.
He had a list of reasons to keep his old amp. All of them were uses. Yes, he has a great guitar and amp collection. Yes, he is a consumer. But he is also a user. More of a user than I am.
So what does this early Saturday morning rant mean. Now that I’ve gotten it out of my system is my conscience clear and I can go back to buying/consuming? It shouldn’t be. I will focus my efforts. I will use what I’ve got. I will play the guitar. I will continue to tinker and build, but in an effort to use. I will be a user. I will not let GAS control me. I will not consume for the sake of consuming.
At least that’s my goal. I guess now I’m a wanna be guitar user. Oh boy.