Dear Musician – Are You Music Gear Obsessed?
By Dendy Jarrett | (edited)
Summer NAMM 2018 just wrapped up, and the vast sea of music gear and the enormous attendance on public day brought up this question: Do we ever have enough music gear?
Craig Anderton wrote one of his ever-popular Craig's List articles about a year ago and explored '5 Symptoms that Your Gear Owns You!' While Craig's article is a satirical look at gear obsession, it nonetheless raises a serious issue.
Obsession by Merriam-Webster's definition is a "persistent, disturbing preoccupation with an unreasonable idea or feeling—something that causes a complete preoccupation."
Society is currently undergoing a significant minimalist movement. You see a dozen shows on “going tiny.” Many people are paring down what they own to to allow more focus on experience. If you live in a city, do you really need a car - or do ride shares, public transportation, and the occasional rental make life much easier?
So what about being musical gear obsessed? Is the mere mention of this sacrilegious? Perhaps you are music gear obsessed, or do you know someone who is? Can you even own too much music gear?
Well, certainly you could own one acoustic-electric guitar and play the music you want with it, but where’s the fun in that? It was recently reported that the average guitarist owns seven or eight guitars. Does that cross over the threshold into being “gear obsessed"? Or does each guitar contribute its own musical flavor and personality? It's pretty easy to hit that seven-guitar number: nylon-string acoustic , steel-string, semi-hollow body, Les Paul-type guitar, Strat-type guitar, 12-string electric, and some flashy guitar like a Flying V or a different technology altogether, like a Line 6 Variax or MIDI guitar. That's not obsession - that's versatility!
I have friends in the industry who own dozens of keyboards. Many of them are old school (think Yamaha DX7). Certainly they could use a sampler or virtual instrument to obtain the same sounds, but they prefer using the actual keyboard that produced the sound. Something within them connects with that instrument; no substitute will do.
And since we’re on the subject, where do you cross the line from being a collector to being obsessed? If you purchase an Epiphone Casino in blue sparkle and you now feel you must own one in every color, are you a collector or are you obsessed? We could debate this point all day...but that would be obsessive!
Some accumulate music gear and it never gets used; then there are others who accumulate gear and use it all the time. What’s amazing is that, unlike other types of interests, musical gear remains valid even when newer technologies appear. Most of the older music gear is timeless, and as long as you can maintain it, it can make music.
Since Harmony Central is all about inspiring people to make better music, we have no issue with people who are music gear obsessed. It probably means they are music-obsessed as well. And let’s face it: there are worse obsessions, you know! Keep making better music. -HC-
Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Executive Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.
Edited by Dendy Jarrett