Do you find yourself in a place in your life where you think too much about the next pedal you’re going to buy? Or which pedal would complement your sound better than the one you already have? Or sold a pedal and bought it again months later? Are you constantly thinking about gear and going on local ads to see what’s available? Well, if you do, you might have the G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). But don’t worry; it’s possible to get out of this.
Ambient Guitarists & Pedals
As ambient guitar artists, it’s absolutely normal to pass through this phase. We need a lot of pedals to create our art. I plead guilty on the G.A.S, for sure. I have done that many years. I still have some relapses sometimes and go on Kijiji. But I’m happy that this is over.
Because, well, when I was doing that, I spent literally dozens of hours per week looking for gear. Not only on local ads, but also on forums. Just to read other people’s opinions on one pedal versus another. To read these people describe, debate, compare… When I think about it now, it was time well wasted. First, you get lost in a sea of opinions and recommendations and you end up being more confused than informed. Second, why would you listen to some strangers’ opinions on something that is so subjective as tone and taste? I mean, if it’s an artist you love recommending you a pedal (that has made music with this pedal), I can understand. But forging your opinion on some strangers arguing on almost identical compressor pedals on a forum’s post from 2008 is difficult to understand.
It’s almost absurd that I’ve been there.
My Pedalboard Over Time
You can see on these images how my pedalboard has evolved over time. I can’t find all the pictures from the beginning when I had just 2 or 3 Boss pedals, but you get the idea.
(from left to right)
When I see this, I don’t understand myself. Sometimes I swapped some pedals for basically the same thing. Or the Strymon El Capistan disappeared and reappeared because I had sold it and realized this was my favorite pedal (oh god!). I don’t see such an improvement from the start. These are all boards that I could have made great music with.
You even feel my struggle by looking at the progression of those pictures. From a big satisfying board, to a huge downsize to six pedals, back to an even bigger over-the-top board. I was clearly telling myself that something was wrong. I don’t know if it was conscious or not.
Pedals Are For Making Music
Now I have the exact same board since almost 2 years and a half. Exactly the same pedals at the same places. And it feels good. Not because I have ended my quest for tone. Not because I don’t want to discover new effects and innovations. Not because I am not interested in pedals anymore. Just because I finally started to make more music.
I did make music before, even when I was spending 10 hours a week on forums and local ads. But now, I am making way more music. On all my 16 ambient sketches since January 2016, you can see the exact same board. And I don’t think I have made the same soundscapes over and over again, I was able to reinvent myself even with the same pedals.
I also happened to start learning a new instrument (keyboard) and am now an official keyboardist for a cool band. That could never have happened if I was still spending my time on pedals.
How Many Hours Have You Spent On Gear?
Think about it. In the last 2 years, I have stopped to spend 10 hours a week looking for gear. If you make the math: 52 (weeks) x 10 (h/per week) x 2 (years) = 1040h. I spent 1040 extra hours working on my music and mastering a new instrument. Those are a lot of hours! That’s crazy! And for the biggest gear addicts, I’m sure 10h per week is not so much… That’s barely an hour and a half per day.
Just imagine the nice albums, Youtube channel, portfolio or music project you would have in your hands now if you spent a thousand extra hours devoted to music and not gear. Those are hours I lost before and I will never get them back.
Conclusion: Almost Complete Rehab
That being said, I don’t tell you to never look up for new gear anymore. That’s not the point. It’s just to force you to a little detox and work on the things that matter: music. From time to time you can search for gear, but do not make it the centerpiece of your music career or hobby. For me, that’s just wrong. Nobody dreams about a career in music of endlessly buying gear and doing nothing with it.
After a while, when you’re buying something new, you’re not more excited about your new gear, but much more about the new music you will be able to make with it. That’s when you reach almost complete rehab 😉
Are there some people playing guilty to the G.A.S in here? What have you done to stop it, or what do you plan to do?