Verbal medicine for G.A.S

Gear Acquisition Syndrome aka Guitar Acquisition Syndrome

Some YouTube commentator:

There comes a time in a guitar player’s career when one realizes it is not the guitar that makes one who they are. Rick is obviously way past that point. If he put strings on a cardboard box , he could make it sound awesome and make people want to buy it. All those years I spent buying all kinds of gear, if only I had been more diligent in my practice. [1]

My take on this and GAS:

Let us learn from his experience. You don’t really want to make an oval wheel like he did. Remember guitars were not meant to be reviewed, read about, looked at or bought, they were meant to be played. Guitars were meant to be played. A guitar is not what you want, it is the ABILITY that you want.

The guitar and music in general maybe a test of your capability not to spend time in fantasy and worry. So stop dreaming and start playing.

If I gave your guitar to a guitar God,I don’t think he would struggle with it like you may. A guitar god would rock on your guitar because of his ABILITY. What if I gave you a guitar God’s guitar? Just cause you have a guitar God’s guitar in your hands, you may not be able to play like your favorite guitar God. You wouldn’t be able to play like your favorite guitar God even if you had his gear because you don’t have his ABILITY. So this establishes that it’s not the gear for the most part, but the ABILITY.

Besides, didn’t I know that Yngwie Malmsteen shreds on a guitar with a medium action, just like mine has? Yngwie Malmsteen has a guitar just like, or perhaps even worse than, mine. But plays like a God. Hence it cannot be the guitar that is holding me back, for otherwise, it would have held Yngwie back too, but that is so obviously not the case.

Once you have the ABILITY, then we can think about the gear, IF there is something missing in your tone. But when you don’t have the ABILITY, what does it matter what gear you have? For it is not the lack of gear that is holding you back. It is your lack of ABILITY, first and foremost, that is holding you back. When you find that that latter sentence is not true, that there is indeed something other than your ability that is holding you back, then you can think about new gear.

Chasing tone without learning how to play is a fool’s errand.

The ABILITY comes foremost. Remember in your career, ABILITY comes first and gear and tone play second fiddle. And it should be that way at the very least, until you reach the big stage(for which you are not paying to play.) or the recording studio. Never trust someone who keeps on talking about gear. [2]

CONCLUSION:

Reach for the ABILITY, NOT the GEAR.

The tone is in the fingers.

- Carlos Santana

So if you really want to play beyond compare — in the best, truest sense, in the way that will be infinitely more meaningful to you as an artist and to us, your fellow beings — then the answer is simple: Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop wondering whether your tone is as “good” as Bonamassa’s or Eddie’s or Joe Pass’ or whoever’s. Stop worrying about whether your licks are fast enough to impress or humble other players in the crowd. Stop caring about whether your pedalboard or amp or headstock logo pass muster with snobs in the room. Stop trying to make someone else’s creations yours — make your own mark, dammit!

Are you a dreamer or a doer?

Because your ability to play music is a reflection of your mental competence to not spend time in worry or fantasy.

A good analogy is a guy who hardly ever plays cricket, but spends his time looking at cricket bats online, and obsessing over the wood they are made of and hanging out in all the sports shops and having like 5 of the very best bats with the very best grips at home. But he hardly ever plays cricket and is definitely a horrible batsman. That’s you. Just replace batsman with guitarist, cricket with music and bat with guitar.

I love my amp and my cab and my guitars and it’s really more important to get better at playing guitar than that next piece of gear. [3]

I 100% agree! It’s NOT the gear you have, it’s the time and effort you put into playing and practicing that matters. I can easily get through a gig with my guitar and any amp really. [3]

Guitarists, especially on Internet forums, often focus too much on the gear and not enough on the actual playing. Get your playing down and you’ll find your tone improves no matter what gear you use to color it. [3]

I recently read an interesting book about the history of surfing. In the early ’60s, there was a type of guy who would always hang out at the beach, always had an awesome collection of the best surfboards,and knew all the terminology and discussed surfing as though he were an expert. However, he would NEVER get in the water as he would immediately embarrass himself as a total fraud. This type of guy was called a ‘Hodad”. Don’t be a Hodad of the guitar world. [3]

“The guitar teaches you patience, and you teach it emotion.” Please do remember this.

References:

[1] — Random quote from thegearpage.net

[2] — http://dannybarnes.com/blog/how-make-living-playing-music

[3] — More random quotes from thegearpage.net

P.S — I often read this article I wrote and collated whenever I spend too much time on the Internet looking at guitars instead of actually playing them. Take all this with a pinch of salt. If you’re looking to cure your G.A.S and this helps, then I am most flattered and am glad that my article did its little part in helping you.

If not, and you just indulged in a guitar of your liking, then by all means please do be happy and enjoy your latest acquisition. It’s most likely not going to make you a better player but life is too short to be spent on guilty feelings. If you have the cash and you want to pull the trigger on a guitar or other musical gear, then by all means, please do.

Just a bored dude sitting alone in a room at home.