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Gear Addiction Recovery, Step 3: What You Value

Steve lays down a challenge: tally up your purchases of the past year, see what you haven''t used in six months and clean house.

The Series
Are You a Gear Addict?
Gear Addiction Recovery, Step 1: Your First Guitar
Gear Addiction Recovery, Step 2: Your First Amp
Gear Addiction Recovery, Step 3: What You Value
OK GASsers, time to take another look at how we can get a grip on our ailment, especially now that we’re in a new year. Yep, 2009 is over and with that Dr. Steve has wiped your slate clean (the editors have given me the power to do these things). Now that you’ve got a clean bill of health and have been absolved from your GAS of 2009 how do you plan to put 2010 to good use? As they say, one step at a time. This month I’d like you to look back over last year and get an idea of how much gear you bought, how much you spent on it, and if you ended up using it to its fullest potential. If that isn’t a sobering thought you clearly haven’t got an addiction! Let me begin by sharing my New Year’s resolution with you. It’s quite simpl: sell, donate or chuck every piece of gear I haven’t used for 6 months. That’s right. If a guitar sits in a case or on my stand for 6 months without being used it’s time for it to go on the block or to a worthy cause. We live in a land of plenty and waste and there’s no reason to senselessly hold onto things we don’t use. Never fear…that does not include items we deem “investments,” so you can relax about your ’59 Burst if you’ve got one. (Glen, we know you do and we’re all jealous…and that goes for your ‘Wreck too!).

Personally I acquired 7 more guitars with another one on order, 2 amps, about a half dozen pedals and more than a handful of pickups, boxes of strings, picks, cables and other items that seemed miniscule when purchased, but they add up. Oh yeah and a ton of software that some may not qualify as “gear” but it cost just as much. As an addict I pride myself in using all of the typical excuses for acquiring this cornucopia of gear. Here are a few:
  1. My occupation is that of a musician/composer. I make my living with this stuff so it makes sense that I buy it because they are my tools.
  2. I write for Premier Guitar and it’s my job to review this gear which makes it only natural to purchase items that inspire me…after all, I am a professional musician (see #1).
  3. As a professional musician (#1 again) all of this equipment is a tax write-off and everyone knows that with the economy in its current state we need all the help we can get (note politically correct and hot-button tone in excuse).
  4. Hey, at least I’m not wasting my money on junk that will just lose its value over time. Especially in this economy (see #3) there are bargains to be found everywhere and most of this will increase in value in the near future. And after all this is what I do for a living (see #1).
Now you go ahead and fill in your own excuse for why it’s OK to buy gear. See, it’s not that hard.

WAIT A MINUTE! That’s not the point of this article. Let me get back on topic.

We all love our gear and that’s a great thing. The point I’m trying to drive home is if you look back over the year and calculate how much time and money you spent on your addiction, did the end result pay off? I’m not talking about if the guitar, amp or pedal lived up to its hype, I’m asking if you ended up really sinking into and using it or if you simply made yet another conquest and put it on a shelf somewhere while considering your next purchase.

This is where we get into dangerous territory. These days it’s pretty hard to find sub-par gear, especially with the dedicated builders and companies out there making so many great products. The question comes back to are you making the most use of your purchases? Let me ask that again. Are you making the most of your purchases? If I’m totally honest I have not made the most of some of my purchases. There are pedals that got used for a project or two that are now sitting in a drawer. There are a couple of guitars that hang on the wall but haven’t been played in months. These are items I am going to give another shot at and see if they will get enough use to justify keeping them. My guess is they won’t and that means it’s time to enforce my New Year’s Resolution. They gotta go.

In the next few weeks I’ll be reconciling my business’ books for 2009 and the numbers will be right in front of me. It’s not going to be a small number and the tax write-off will not be enough to totally justify what I spent. Perhaps you can do the same and total up how much you spent last year. There’s nothing wrong with buying gear and buying helps keep our economy rolling, but make sure you give these purchases your attention. Somebody put a lot of time into creating them and a little respect will go a long way.

I’ll leave you with one final question to ponder until next month. Have you already planned out your tax return gear purchase?!