Gear Acquisition Syndrome (G.A.S.) is a serious disorder that affects millions of musicians worldwide. In fact, one in six musicians is obsessively refreshing online classifieds right now looking for deals on used gear.
But sometimes your gear has to get out of the way to let you create. Buying something new might not be the answer if your gear collection is getting overwhelming. Before you give in to G.A.S. and add a new piece to your collection, find out if there’s something you could retire to decrease the clutter.
Here are ten gear questions to help you know when it’s time to let go.
1. Does it work?
Is it broken? Do you have plans to fix it?
If a piece of gear isn’t working and there’s no clear path to get it functioning again, it’s already a burden. Repairing gear can be difficult and expensive. If the situation is hopeless you might be better off to cut your losses. Get it fixed or get it out the door!
2. When did you last turn it on?
If you can’t remember when you last turned it on, that’s a bad sign. If it’s more than a year since you last powered it up, even worse. If you’re not even occasionally using a piece of gear it can be hard to justify keeping it around. If you don’t know when you used it last, you probably won’t be using it again anytime soon. Let it go!
3. Did you ever really learn how to use it?
Have you ever read the manual? Do you still not really know how it works?
Before you get rid of something you should at least take the time to figure it out. If you still don’t like it you can put it back on the chopping block. But getting rid of something just because you didn’t give it a chance isn’t exactly fair. Learn it or lose it!
4. Do you have something else that can do the same thing?
Did you replace its main function with another piece of gear?
Modern equipment is incredibly versatile. Sometimes a Swiss army knife unit can take the place of several other pieces of your gear arsenal. If you have something else that does the job just as well, why bother keeping both?
5. Do you have plans for it in the future?
If it’s not currently in use, do you at least have concrete plans to include it in your workflow?
If you need it for when you finally get around to starting that ’90s throwback stoner metal project, it’s fine to save it for a rainy day. But if there’s nothing on the horizon where it would be useful it’s probably not doing you much good.
6. Was it an impulse purchase?
Do you suffer from buyer’s remorse?
Making a hasty decision to open your wallet can leave you feeling like you have to stick with it. But you might have to swallow your pride if it’s just sitting on the shelf getting dusty. Even if it wasn’t the greatest financial decision you’ve ever made, you might still be able to get some money back for it on the used gear market.
7. Does it have sentimental value?
Is it tied to a good memory? Did you get it under interesting circumstances?
You don’t have to be a strict minimalist when it comes to gear. If you’re keeping something just because you like it, that’s no problem! At least you have a connection to it!
8. Did you buy just because it was a good deal?
Was it an offer you couldn’t refuse? Everyone loves a good deal.
But sometimes getting a good price isn’t enough to justify hoarding equipment. If you got it for a good price chances are you could turn it around get just as much for it — if not more! Which leads me to my next point.
9. Would you rather sell it to fund something else?
Do you have a lot of money tied up in it? Could you easily flip it for something more useful?
Saying goodbye to big purchases can be tough. But if it’s not actively contributing to your music, that money might be better spent elsewhere. Think about what you actually need for your workflow, and sell the rest.
10. Does it make you feel inspired when you plug it in?
Does it give you a spark of creativity when you fire it up? Your gear should make you feel good when you plug into it. It’s possibly the most important factor when it comes to your equipment. If it doesn’t contribute positively — or worse, makes you uninspired — you don’t have to let it weigh you down.
Stay focused on bringing gear into your workflow that gives a sense of satisfaction to use. It’s not just about tone. It’s about the connection you have with your equipment!
Endlessly acquiring gear is a habit that can turn into an obsession. Whether you’re stockpiling synths, pedals, guitars, or plugins, your collection can turn into a burden that weighs you down creatively. Ask yourself these ten questions to find out if there’s any gear you have that you could do without.
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