What is G.A.S.?

If you’ve ever worked in music retail, you’ve heard of Gear Acquisition Syndrome. It’s this phenomenon that happens once somebody gets hooked on music equipment. Suddenly having one guitar isn’t enough — they need seventeen. Owning one good vocal microphone isn’t enough — they need a closet-full.

Now this certainly can be an awesome thing (especially for the music store you buy from). Having a home studio decked out from floor to ceiling with all sorts of gear is pretty satisfying.

However, I want to raise a concern I have with Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I see it in myself, and I see it in most home studio owners that I meet (and I’ve met a lot). My concern is that we can get so caught up in buying new equipment that we lose sight of the music.

My last few years of college are a perfect example of this. My freshman year I had a cheap little audio

interface, a cheap mixer, and a cheap microphone, but I recorded a ton of music. Even back in high school, when I had even worse equipment, I recorded an album.

Then something changed. I was studying a lot of recording techniques and doing a lot of recording in the big studios at school, but I wasn’t doing much of anything at home. I had saved up and bought a Pro Tools LE system, which I used to work on projects for school. However, since I finally had some semi-decent equipment, I thought I would wait until I had just a little bit more to get started on my next album.

I would say to myself, “You’ll just have to re-record everything if you use that $80 microphone.” Or “Once I have a nice preamp I’ll get started on that album.”

What happened? You guessed it. I never completed another album.

I was so caught up in this must-have-more-gear spiral that it froze me creatively. I felt that my music deserved better equipment, and my only solution was to stop recording music until I got better gear. How ridiculous! Gear Acquisition Syndrome 1. Joe 0.

Just because your recordings could sound better doesn’t mean they can’t sound great today. If you’ve got songs that haven’t been recorded, and you’re waiting around for the perfect signal chain before you play the first note, you’ll wait a long time. And chances are you’ll become rusty or, even worse, lose interest in your music altogether.

Unless you’re planning to buy that magical new piece of equipment today, don’t wait around to start making music. You could have all the gear in the world, but it’s just be a pile of junk if it hinders or delays you from being creative. Yes, you should always be looking for ways to improve your home studio setup, but not at the expense of your music.

Do something musical this weekend. If you don’t have any recording equipment, buy something. If you’re not in a place to do that, write a song. If you’ve got both recording equipment and a song, what are you waiting for?