I confess — I suffer from, Gear Acquisition Syndrome. G.A.S., as I call it, strikes with little warning. For the guitarist, it hits the hardest. Come on, guitar players, you know what I’m talking about — the inability to resist that 3rd trip to Guitar Center this week or throwing away the latest Sweetwater Music catalog or deleting the latest “deals” email from Musician’s Friend. Before you know it, you’ve acquired yet another guitar, effects pedal, or a sackful of indispensable accessories.
One of my students asked me this week… Pat, I was wondering if I ever got an effects board, what you would recommend?
I can spot the tell-tale signs of G.A.S. Poor kid. He’s been secretly drooling over my POD HD 500. (The result of a particularly intense attack of G.A.S. I had a couple of years ago.) It isn’t unusual to covet your teacher’s gear. I remember taking lessons from (Name drop warning!) Preston Reed back in the early 90’s. He used D’Angelico strings and Goldengate thumb picks back then…and in no time, so was I.
Every young guitar player risks being seduced by all the cool gear and easily tricked into thinking, “If I just had that cool effects pedal, I could play that song.” (Come to think of it, the same thing happens to old guitar players, too!) The coolest old-school guitar sounds, which all these fancy effects devices are trying to emulate anyway, were accomplished with an amp, guitar, and a set of nimble fingers calloused by hours in the woodshed. I remember what a humbling lesson it was for me when I realized that shelling out a wad of hard-earned cash wasn’t changing the fact that my playing stunk. The truth is… working on your playing technique is always the best thing you can do.
As I continued to ponder my student’s question, I recalled some sage advise my friend, Michael Muilenburg once said. “Never underestimate the tone that comes from a player’s fingers.”
That’s it! That recollection inspired me to encourage my student to advance his skill and to resist the onset of G.A.S. Which is exactly what I did…and then I promptly invited him to come with me on a trip to Guitar Center over Christmas break!