GAS - gear acquisition syndrome & related discussion

Yeah, right now my short-term TODO list involves bringing Block Party into Ableton so that I can use it as my mixer instead of the Console, but I’m definitely taking advantage of the Unison channel plugins (particularly for guitar), so lack of MIDI in means I can’t even do something as basic as toggling between clean and overdriven in the amp simulator, which is, frankly, fucking dumb.

More on-topic to the thread, I think GAS was brought up in the latest Art+Music+Technology podcast, with an interesting workaround: trying to emulate the sounds/results of the gear you want with the gear that you have. I find that on a sonic level, this might make sense, but with controllers, it’s a bit more tricky. You can’t really “emulate” the feel of an Arc, and you can’t really coerce an old grayscale grid into being varibright.


I have the Lexicon 224 and it is ridiculously amazing. Haven’t tried the EMTs yet but I’ve heard good things. I went with the Lexicon because I needed super ambient delays, which it excels in. I will definitely pick up the EMTs someday.

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I struggle with this every time a walk into my “home studio”.

Luckily, my newborn son placed a real constraint on my ability to raise cash for new purchases. This was liberating in a way - I still want gear but lust for it less because I know I can’t have it. I’ve allowed myself to only purchase items that make my existing setup more complete (i.e., cables, a patchbay, etc.) and I’ve also mandated myself to DIY if its possible and cheaper. Not a huge savings but its always a learning experience in itself.

Interestingly enough, I finally reached the inevitable point as a modular synth n00b at which I look at all the shiny, new-fangled modules I own and find myself lacking basic stuff like VCAs, mixers, and attenuators. This is good because it means I reached a new level in my own creative awareness and good because most of these basic things can be DIY’d for cheap. Hanging around here has me jonesing hard for some Mannequins modules but I know in the back of my mind that a) I really can’t afford them right now and b) my MakeNoise system is perfectly capable and robust.

I recently allowed myself to DIY a Monome Grids and that was a relatively significant investment but it literally changed the way I approach music ITB. I now want to learn more about Max programming and ways to basically DIY my own virtual instrument which ultimately could help me tie together the rest of my instruments in a useful, creative way without purchasing a shiny new thing to learn.


i just started this thread that i think we have been hinting at on this. creative ideas to get the most of your studio!


Make Noise modules are great fun to play with. I’m jealous of your MN system! :+1:

I was definitely infected with Tsundoku at some point early in life. Might have been the time when my brother and I would go to the bookstore, and buy 4 copies of the same book. Each one of us wanted to have two copies: one to read, and one to keep in it’s pristine condition. This was not reservd for any particularly special books. We just both loved the idea, and were able to easliy differentiate the pleasure of absorbing the content, AND the satisfaction of owning a beautiful, perfect object. Both required a separate purchase.


No major GAS here anymore although I was as guilty as everyone else of going completely mad when the modular bug bit many years ago.
I do find the amount of reading I do that is music related does increase my GAS somewhat. Read about new (or old) thing I wasn’t aware of - “ooh, that could be useful/sounds interesting.” The old thought patterns come back quite quickly! Fortunately I now have a bit more control, and more financial commitments, than my younger years.


all I want is More Time


i think that’s my gas diagnosis…but in a perverse way
buying gear for when i will have that time to use it…which is of course not happening yet.


Amen to that.
It’s so hard, if not impossible to figure this out.
I am working a lot, which maks me feel frustrated that I can’t spend more time in the studio to, you know, get some work done…


Ok so I’ve spent some time reading you all and thinking about where I situate myself, because it was puzzling. What strikes me most (and correct me all if I’m wrong) is that GAS seems to be something quite related to working and making music mostly alone. At least to me it’s one of the (many doors) that can lead to this kind of constant craving, because in some way, you replace your upcoming interaction with people (which will always be as new as a brand new gear because, well unless it’s different somewhere else in the world, I never know what other musicians are gonna do and it always forces me to apprehend my work differently, and that seems to be the kind of thing a lot of people here except from new gear?) by an upcoming interraction with new instruments, modules, name your item, which will in some way do the same job, meaning surprising you, do something you didn’t expect, or always wanted to try, or whatever it is that keeps musicians moving forward. To be perfectly clear I don’t think it’s a bad thing, as I value working alone a lot, and think it’s just as important as collaborations and bands.

Also, after giving it some thoughts, I don’t think I’m that much of a gas victim (I make most of my work with the same analog synth, a few plug ins, and mostly acoustic instruments and compared to most of you my gear is absolutely ridiculous ^^) but it’s mainly because what I love most is to go places where some of this gear is available, and try and improvise with it for a short period in time. I think I’ll always prefer to spend my money to go into a cool studio with a lot of cool synths and FX and weird instruments that I could only dream of, and discover there, and experiment and see the colors I can have, and then that will define the color of this particular project I went in studio for. Also that will help, a lot, because it’ll create a mood, and from that mood it’ll be easier for me to figure out who I am at that point in time, and for me, an album, an EP, a collection of songs, is always about that, about who you are at that point in time and space. So I’m pretty happy I don’t buy all that gear, and it’s fine that I don’t ALWAYS have it at the tip of my fingers, but instead just use it in a particular context and then have this music I’ve made with it that will be with me forever, and move on, and my joy comes from that.

Also this option saves a lot of time and money that I don’t have and brings back the idea of collaboration (with the studio owner, the sound ingeneers, or other people you can find in these weird things that studios are) even in the most solitary project, as the gear is not yours and therefore you tend to need some people to guide you through what it can and can’t do.

Alright, that was a bit long. But that’s an interesting topic.


Your point about equipment as collaborator totally rings true for myself.

Also if I have a new piece of equipment I feel compelled to work on music, in much the same way I might be if I had a partner nagging me to practice/jam/record.

I have definitely gotten way deeper into gear nonsense since I started making music alone predominantly.


Yeah, this collaborator thing is an interesting take.

I make electronic music predominantly alone, and hanker after all kinds of gear.

I make folk music in a band with another 6 musicians, and I play the same bull-fiddle through the same crappy preamp at every gig.


that’s funny. most times i get a new instrument or pedal, it is to expeditiously fulfill a function in a band.

“rehearsals start next week, so i need this distortion pedal / ABY / backup viola / keyboard / amp right now.”


“distortion circuits are easy, and i have some opamps laying around, why would i buy that…”

in a controlled environment, and given More Time, i never feel a lack of possibilites. performance-readiness and road-worthiness are actually more difficult to achieve.

i’m very interested in tools that keep on giving. main tool is my viola.

developing aleph was a good experiment, and it serves me well as a highly multipurposed feedback mixer / algorithmic sequencer / digital osc / delay. thanks to brian it’s also small and tough. (on my own, i would have resorted to housing it in a pizza box or something.)

working on some analog stuff now that i hope wil be similarly rewarding of long-term use, and complementary to those functions.

i’m lucky enough to have access to some vintage modular stuff. and its true that there are a few buchla modules i’ll never get rid of (258, 266, 281). but i have no interest in an expansive modular collection.


That’s true and I can relate because live is actually the only thing I frequently spend money on but I think what you’re describing regarding the purchase you need for a live project with other musicians is quite far from GAS. It’s different in the way that you get something specific, to suit a specific need at some point in time and you buy it and then that’s it, you’re set until your next project and if it’s a completely different one then you can even sell your previous gear to get the new one so there’s nothing compulsive about that and no accumulation.

To me gas is more straightforward and irrational, it’s when I go to synthtopia and after 10 news I already want to buy a mother 32, a make noise 0 coast, a bit ranger and a dozen new controller when the minute before that I was just fine with what I had ^^


Very well said! It’s summing up all my thoughts.

Electronic music is polymorphically perverse. If this was a violin forum we could each buy a Stradivarius and we’d all be done with it. There are no perfect forms, there is no pinnacle. When you climb to a peak, you only see the next peak beyond. There’s really no reason to go up or down, left or right, and no reason not to, except for this little nagging thing called mortality.


I will say this though: software is cheaper and takes up less space than hardware. Writing software can be an affordable way to acquire “gear” without actually purchasing anything. It just takes incredible amounts of patience and time. Or you can buy other people’s software.

Knobs and buttons and sliders and cables are fun though, and there’s nothing like playing with a set of them that has been well matched to performing a particularly musical timbre space.

That tension between total flexibility and highly tuned instrument design is probably the thing that keeps me reading the GAS-feeding blogs.


great use of the word “shit”

“If you’re talking about commerce, it’s not in the interests of those who are trying to sell shit for people to be quite sated and happy. They constantly want people to feel a bit shit and the way they make them feel shit is that they put them in competition with others, or they make them feel unfulfilled, so everybody is a bit more disconnected. And it’s in capitalists’ favour to keep things like that because then people keep buying shit to make them happy, which of course never makes them happy because all they’re looking for in the first place is connection. A knackered, disparate society, that’s what we don’t want.”


I’d put taking up less space in a negative. How many plugin suites have I bought on discount? Not as many as I could have. But I bought Reaktor for £90 and holy shit, that thing is colossal and I mainly just play off the shelf ensembles from one maker.

I recently discovered that I had the full Korg plugin set, and I’d just forgotten about it. You can’t forget about an M1, Mono/Poly, MS20 and Poly61 kicking around your studio.

So sometime, software encourages promiscuity. Even though the modular on my desk is so much more limited - and has its own kind of GAS - I know I’m using most of it most of the time…