CHECK OUT THE AUTOMATED G.A.S. EVALUATOR I BUILT AFTER YOU READ THE ARTICLE!!!Every tone freak goes through phases of GAS; that is, Guitar (or Gear) Acquisition Syndrome. You hear a sound or lick, or you have a sonic vision of a tone you want to produce, and you’re suddenly overcome with an urge to go and buy that piece of gear that will satisfy your craving. If you’ve been playing for a number of years like I have, you probably have a garage full of gear that you don’t use any longer. You see, the worst thing about GAS is that it never goes away because over time, your playing style and gear needs change. It’s unavoidable. Another fallout of GAS, is that it’s a very impulsive behavior. You might be completely satisfied with your current rig, but something sparks in your brain, and BAM! You’re ordering new gear online or going down to your local music equipment store.So the question is: Is there away to control GAS? Sure. The obvious “controllers” are easy to identify:
- You don’t have the money – that’s a great control.
- Your partner won’t let you – I get this all the time, but I have my own “gig-money” bank account that she’s not allowed to touch, and since it gets depleted, I usually end up at point 1 anyway.
Those are certainly practical ways for controlling GAS, but they operate only on the physical plane. What about the psychological plane? After all, GAS is an impulsive behavior. For that, I’ve developed a series of questions that I ask myself before I press the “Order Now” button, or bid on an eBay item. They’re tough questions that require a lot of thought, but they definitely help to bring me back to earth, as it were; and I’ve avoided a lot of what turned out to be unnecessary purchases. Here they are:
- Does this gear solve a real issue right now, or is this something I just want to try out? Solution = +1, Experiment = -1
- Am I playing anything right now that requires this piece of gear? If yes give yourself a +1. If no, give yourself a -1
- Have I really taken the time to research and evaluate this product and make comparisons to competing products to determine if it’s a right fit for me to integrate into my overall tone? If yes, give yourself a +1; otherwise a -1.
- Now be honest: Do I really have the skill to use this gear effectively? Yes = +1, No = -1
- If I don’t have the skill, but have answered positively to the previous questions, do I really have the time to put into getting to a level of expertise with this where I can perform in front of people? Yes = +1, No = -1
- Am I trying to sound like somebody else with this? No = +1, Yes = -1
- Again, be honest: Will this gear truly expand my tonal palette? Yes =+1, No = -1
- Will this purchase have a significant impact on my available funds? No = +1, Yes = -1
- Finally, do I want pay for this with credit or cash? Cash = +1, Credit = -1, I can afford the monthly payment = 0
Now add up the pluses and minuses. You’ll either get a positive or negative value because there are an odd number of questions. With anything on the minus side, even if it’s a -1, I don’t buy the gear. But that’s just the discipline I’ve placed on myself. For positive values, I will only buy the gear if I score a 6 or 7, and it usually has to be a 7 because I have limited funds. Again, that’s just personal discipline. With respect to the last question, it doesn’t factor (gets a 0) if I’m willing to afford the monthly payment. But my personal philosophy is to only pay for my gear if I have the cash to pay for it.Ultimately, controlling GAS is about personal discipline; having the discipline to not react to our natural proclivity to be impulsive. With this series of questions, I’m not trying to cure GAS at all. In fact, I embrace the fact that we all get GAS. But after purchasing thousand of dollars worth of gear over the years, I’ve come to realize that I’ve got to have some discipline, and take some time to give my purchases a thought, so I can take action based on information, not emotion. That action can either be purchasing the gear or passing on it. I’ve passed on a lot of gear using these questions.Now here’s a sample evaluation for my latest purchase of a pair of THD Yellow Jacket tube adapters:
- Yes, this solves a real problem for me in that I need to get into breakup at a lower volume. As it stands, I’ve got to crank up my gain to get a smooth overdrive from my amp, which means a huge jump in volume. Reducing my output to 5W will allow me to do this at a much lower volume.
- Absolutely, at all my gigs.
- It doesn’t necessarily add to my overall tone as it helps me achieve the tone I want, but at a lower volume.
- n/a in this case
- n/a in this case
- Nope – just a quieter ME.
- This will expand my tonal palette because I can do the hard-driving stuff without having the rafters crash down from the ceiling. This is especially applicable at Church and in my home studio. With recording, I have to wait until the weekend to drive my amp hard.
- Little impact. At $100 bucks, we’re good.
- Cash for sure. I’ll pay for it with my debit card.
Admittedly, you can probably reason anything away, and I used a fairly simple purchase. But I’ve applied this “reasoning” to my desire to purchase a Les Paul Double Cutaway or a PRS DGT (as of late). In both cases, I scored a -6! No way am I going to buy either of these any time soon.So there you have it: Not a cure for GAS, but definitely a sane and reasonable way to control it.