Bespoke - Modular Software Synth

Coping with GAS!

There was a good post on Redit (picked up by MusicRadar) on a young man who seemed to have succumbed to an extreme case of GAS -- Gear Acquisition Syndrome.  Noah is just 22 and has bought more than $20k worth of synthesizers and related gear and finds himself in the awkward position of obsessing on gear rather than making music. (The good news is, he worked at a musical instrument store and got pretty good discounts!)
Hey, we've all been there. I have spent way more than $20k on gear. That said, it was over several decades. I've bought basses, guitars, keyboards, amps, pianos and synthesizers out the wazoo. Since I traveled a lot, I had basses stashed at multiple locations. The money is not really the issue  (I have saved a lot over the years and have few hobbies and inexpensive tastes.) Mostly I have bought fairly cheap used gear on Reverb. Other than a grand piano I bought 25 years ago, my most expensive items are a MusicMan guitar (around $1k) and a Marshall Amp ($500.) 
Still, buying gear can definitely get in the way of making music. So periodically I have taken action to try to better manage my GAS.

1. Cull the herd
Gas 2Every few years, I make a point of culling underused gear and selling it on Reverb. A couple of things worth considering: if you have two or three things that are similar, sell the duplicates. Maybe you don't have three Memory Moogs, but if you have three monosynths, or samplers, or basses, sell 'em. Similarly, if you have gear you have not used in 12-24 months, sell it. Forget the idea "one day I might need it." If you really do need it for a song in the future, you can buy it then. I sold a bunch of synths and guitar pedals I wasn't using this summer and it felt great! More recently, I've consolidated several basses and guitars from multiple locations and I'm going to get those listed on Reverb soon. (That'll be an Ibanez Art B-100 bass, a Steinberger Spirit 4 string bass, a Squier Bass VI six string and a red Epiphone SG.)  It hurts me just to list them, but it must be done! 

2. One year - No new gear!
Once you've sold stuff off, make a commitment to not buying anything for a year. Think of how much time you will save! You won't be on Reverb or eBay, you don't have to watch all the videos on youtube, You don't have to read the reviews of anything. Put that time to use learning your craft, practicing, composing music, recording and completing tracks. Whenever I have done this I have found myself much more productive.

3. Practice every day
Whatever your craft is, do it daily. Commit to actually making music or practicing every single day. Not futzing around with the perfect drone synth sound, but actually working on playing, rehearsing or songwriting. I practice bass every single day and that's time well spent. (And it keeps me away from buying more stuff.)

4. Make tracks!
Make a commitment to a major creative project. Maybe you create a track a week for 3 months --surely an album's worth of material! Or resurrect old demos, finish them and post them on Soundcloud. Commit to a live gig or writing a rock opera. But whatever it is, focus on your deliverables.

5. Play with others
There's nothing that puts GAS in a box like playing with others. That forces you to work on your chops, practicing actual songs rather than messing around.

6. Keep it balanced
Once your year of no new gear is up, only buy new gear by freeing up budget / space and focus by letting go of something else. Alternatively, do a new culling of the herd every year or two and only use the proceeds to buy new gear once things sell.

Teenage EP 133 KO II  And if there is some new piece of gear that looks awesome (like the Teenage Engineering KO II sampler) remember, you don't need to be an early adopter. You can always wait a year until there are firmware updates and used models available.If you only buy used gear, you can generally get most of your money back later if you sell it. 

Though I admit I am a bit obsessed with the Teenage Enginering KO II and it's only $299 which seems like a great price. Luckily it's sold out, so I'll just have to wait until I sell some basses!

Best of luck to Noah and anyone else suffering from GAS. If you list anything on Reverb, let me know by posting a comment below! 


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