Do you have gas? (gear acquisition syndrome, not the other kind)

I have GAS! I buy gear and before I finish swiping my card, I’m already eyeing the next thing I convinced myself I can’t live without.

I can’t afford to buy new guitars regularly, so even though my eyes are set on the next 3-4 guitars I “need”, I can’t do anything about it. But, guitar pedals are another story. These beautiful little boxes with their promise of angelic sweet buttery tones, are so hard to resist. And, many are in the sub-$200 range so they can be acquired more regularly.

But, more stuff does not equal happiness.

I started acquiring pedals like a madman, trying to squeeze them onto my increasingly crowded pedalboard. All of a sudden I had a big mess of things. I bought this box for fuzz, then this other thing for another kind of fuzz. Then I realized I needed a better fuzz than my first. Next, I added an overdrive, then a different flavor of overdrive. I stacked them and then realized I might need a third to calm things down a bit, or a fourth to boost the whole signal for leads. Then came an EQ and some modulation. And lately, I’ve been considering some higher end delays and reverbs.

One thing I noticed was that I had a bit of a buzz in my chain, probably due to some lesser quality patch cables or just the shear number of pedals. So, I bought a noise gate to eliminate some of the hiss, but it did weird things to softer things I played.

Then one day, I didn’t bother to use any pedals and just plugged into my amp. I was amazed at the tone that was coming out. Then, I remembered that I bought this particular amp because I loved the sound of it. So why was I putting so much crap in front of it? It’s like getting a good set of Bose speakers and putting a plastic bag over them. Why would anyone want to do that?

So, I started looking at what can go and what must stay. I got rid of a lot of stuff, and kept the bare minimum just to give me a little bit of variation in tone: some ods  and a few fun boxes like the Wah and the octave pedal. With my guitars, I realized I was getting a lot out of my two guitars, so maybe I didn’t need others.

So, after many hours researching on the internet and many paychecks spent acquiring what I thought I needed, I came back to the basics, a couple of guitars, a good amp, a few basic pedals, and that’s it. Yes, it was an expensive journey. And, I can’t say I’ve kicked the addiction yet. I still have GAS. But, I’m much happier with what I have and can take my time really saving money for something I really, really need.

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