http://lamkins-guitar.com/music/article/gasless
David Lamkins picked up his first guitar a long time ago. As best he can recall the year was 1967: the year of the Summer of Love. Four decades later David has conjured up an amalgam of folk, rock and jazz solo guitar music for the occasional intimate Portland audience.
location: Portland, OR USA

Facets: attitude, evaluation, goals, motivation, @musings info
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GAS-less

GAS is an acronym for "gear aquisition syndrome", a condition that affects all guitarists from time to time. At the moment, I find myself without GAS. In fact, I'm selling a lot of gear all at once. I'm doing this to clear the closets of gear that's not getting used enough to justify its presence. The money from the sales (apart from a couple hundred more dollars that I need to set aside to cover my next Koll guitar) will be earmarked for musical purposes, although I have no idea (yet) what those purposes might be.

One of the triggers for this "reverse GAS" is that I'm bandless for the first time in four years, and enjoying the time I'm able to put into study and practice. One of the things that annoyed me about the bands was that it was the same old thing week after week after week. I did study and practice while I was in the bands... but never had a way to apply what I had learned. Now I have time to put into writing, building my own repertoire, and maybe even learning some "standard" material. I certainly don't want to spend my time buying more gear. For some reason (and unlike many guitarists) I don't want to buy gear when I'm not playing in a band. In fact, most of the gear I am selling was bought for a specific band-related purpose over the past four or five years. I can safely sell off a lot of gear, because I don't want to revisit musical ground I've already covered.

I'm leaning toward a mostly-clean style of playing, so any effects I use need to be subtle. I'm keeping the Boss EH-2 (this is very subtle when used properly), a volume pedal, and my Deluxe Memory Man. I'll keep the Boomerang for practice - perhaps I'll even figure out how to do something useful with it for a live performance. The rest of the effects just don't fit the musical direction in which I'm headed.

Right now I still have five amps when one - maybe two if I find the "right" second amp - is enough for what I'm planning. So the Vibro-King stays and everything else goes. I've even given some thought to the question of a backup amp, and decided that - when I start gigging again - I'll just rent (or borrow) an amp if the VK is out of commission on the day of a gig. I could probably even get away with going through a DI to the house PA. Playing clean offers a lot more flexibility...

I haven't played my acoustic in three years, so that's an obvious dust-collector. I take it out every now and then to check the setup, play for a little while, and decide all over again that I like both the sound and feel of the electric guitars better. I've been holding on to the acoustic for this long (breaking my own rule of "sell it after a year of no use") for mainly sentimental reasons; the Tacoma was my first new guitar upon coming out of my twenty-year musical retirement.

The Gibsons that I'm selling are both wonderful guitars, but I don't really need four humbucker guitars. I can't justify tying up thousands of dollars in gear for such subtle nuances of tone and feel. So I'll keep one semi-hollow and one solid-body with humbuckers. Plus my Kritz for the strat vibe, and my forthcoming Koll for P90s. Shouldn't I have an acoustic guitar to round things out? Not really... I tend to play electrics in an acoustic style, and greatly prefer the sound of an electric through a clean amp to the comparatively anemic sound of an acoustic (amplified or not).

In the end I'll have way less gear sitting around collecting dust, and some money in the bank. Some of that might go toward lessons (education is always a good investment). The rest? I don't know...

I do know that I'm going to be very circumspect in aquiring new gear for the forseeable future. And I don't think that's going to be very difficult. Now that I have some new-found clarity regarding my musical goals, together with gear that meets my needs so well, window-shopping has become a lot less fun. It's been a long time since I've spotted anything that really grabbed my interest, despite having several local shops with a lot of really nice new and used gear.

Some people will read this article and say, "What's the problem? Some people like to own lots of nice gear. Gear acquisition is totally separate from playing." And I agree. I have no problem whatsoever with folks who want to own lots of gear. But when I've done that (and believe me, I've owned a lot of gear over the past five years) I've found that -- for me -- the activities related to ownership (research, acquisition, comparison, maintenance, ...) take too much time away from study, practice and being creative.

If I could own a dozen guitars and a dozen amps and not obsess over them, that'd be great. But I can't, and I decided that I really want to focus on music rather than gear. But I've gotta say, the time I spent chasing gear netted me some really nice gear that fits my needs perfectly. And now it's time to make the most of that gear...

September 20 2004 03:14:18 GMT