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  • Writer's pictureCam Bird

How Do I know its time to Invest in New Gear?! Guitarists and Gear Acquisition Syndrome

Guitarists and Gear Acquisition Syndrome - How Do I know its time to Invest in New Gear?!

Lets just be real, Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) is super real and can lead to a very unhealthy bank account quickly if your a budding guitarist or musician. I've even seen it test relationships believe it or not!

I see it all the time with my students, and have been the victim of GAS myself for sure….you’re talking to a guy with close to 10 guitars right….and I see it with my students who are feverishly scouring the second hand marketplaces looking for a new guitar or piece of gear, thinking that its somehow going to solve their problems or open up a new mystical dimension to their playing or musicianship….sorry but most of the time, it wont!

More often than not, I advise my students NOT to buy new gear but there are times when it is relevant. Before we get to that we really need to look at things from an investment angle and think of gear in that way, I find if we change the lens like that, it totally changes the understanding of when we actually NEED new gear and when we’re just stuck a victim of GAS again.

The most important investment you can make in your musical journey, more often than not is in either your knowledge or your technical abilities. I cannot repeat this statement enough, because a new pedal, a new guitar, 99% of the time, will do nothing to help either of those things. I’m sorry to be the bearer of truth here, but that boutique fuzz overdrive pedal won’t help you become a better guitarist or musician and most of the time, neither will that $10K professional level axe….and when I break it down, most of the time, this is actually what I see most guys want, they just want to feel like they’re progressing and that they have some kind of structured improvement in their playing so they can get back to enjoying the guitar again and not feel either stuck or frustrated….they want to improve, they just don’t always know how, and unfortunately, its easy to think that gear is the answer to that problem, but it often isn’t..

So the questions to ask yourself before you put down that wad of cash for that damn fine new guitar/pedal/amp are:

  • Are you practicing daily? Are they quality practice sessions where your actually improving, progressing and advancing both your knowledge and technique?

  • Are you investing time, energy, or even money into your abilities already and those things are helping you make tangible and measurable progress already?

  • Are you caught in thinking that gear is just going to magically solve a problem you have on the guitar or in your musicianship and looking for a sugar fix to cure some kind of frustration or feeling of not progressing?

  • Do you have enough gear right now to continue to advance and improve or are you actually, truly, limited by your gear?

That last question is super important because this is the key question I ask myself when I am thinking of investing in a new piece of gear because this is the “green light” question that gives me or my students the go ahead.

If you have a great practice routine, your advancing your knowledge and technical abilities, time, energy and even money through lessons, coaching or mentoring into becoming better, then sometimes, yes the answer is you need a new piece of gear, you can outgrow a cheap beginner guitar or amp for example, but this only applies if that piece of gear currently is starting to limit you ;) Because I know a lot of players who can jump on a crappy beginner guitar and still make the thing sound decent.

And most of all, dont be a sucker, thinking a new piece of gear is going to solve a specific problem you have….you’re just going to be disappointed.

So again, in my opinion, the most important investment you can make is either in your knowledge or technical abilities. Make that investment first and foremost! Find a teacher, commit to a course, find some buddies to jam with…Get a solid practice routine down, actually get back to making measurable and tangible progress on the guitar and let that make you outgrow your gear, then from that place, once your gear is limiting you, you make a HEALTHY decision to upgrade and invest in gear that will advance you further, not the other way around.

This is why I teach music. Its why I believe in teaching and mentoring and why I have mentors, coaches and teachers in different areas of my life. This is the most important investment you can make and making investments in gear without these thing, I think is plain ludicrous! without these things and a solid practice routine where you are investing in your own abilities and advancement daily, more often than not, that new pedal, or guitar or piece of gear is just a flat out waste of your hard earned cash. EARN your gear ;) And make sure you can back up a professional or high end guitar with professional or high end playing!!!

I have a rule with most of my students, that a lot of the time, they have to earn a new piece of gear. We set a rule or benchmark for when they get to a certain place in their playing, when they can play a certain song, or a certain speed with a particular technique for example, they are then allowed to succumb to GAS and make a new investment. I find it keeps that addictive cycle at bay and puts you back in the drivers seat.

Anyway, I hope that helps…blog over, back to scouring the marketplace for my next guitar?! or not!


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