Get Over Gear Lust!

I wish I had some sage advice as to how to get over gear lust, but all I can say is that if you can overcome this one obstacle in your music creation, you will be far better off.

I can’t tell you the amount of time I have wasted trying to research a piece of gear to get into my setup which I felt would revolutionize my sound or workflow, or streamline the process of making music, or salvage recordings I thought useless, or myriad other “problems” I think I have.

Unfortunately it all comes down to a culture of consumption. It surrounds us all day everyday. All advertising preys on the insecurities of us. “If I just had a Motif my keyboard parts would sound better!” or “Wow that artist is way more popular than I am, and look at all that sweet gear they have in their studio!” (I am talking about deadmau5 here, that guy has all the toys)

All I can say is that you will waste time and money buying gear and being disappointed in it. You will sell it because it didn’t have feature “x”, then buy other gear with feature “x” and be disappointed, then sell it because it doesn’t have feature “y”. Ad infinitum…

Trust me, having the newest sound library of violins might make your production a little better, but it might also take you a few weeks of mastering how to “play” that library to get the nuances out of it. Do you want to invest that time? It is the law of diminishing returns.

If I could do it all again, I would have invested in the best gear I could afford years ago, then never looked back. If I had an MPC, or ASR10, or a Prophet or anything like that, I would still have and use it. The newest stuff is all a flash in the pan, gone in a second sort of product. Especially when it is tied to a computer to edit or backup or what-have-you. (I am looking at the Mopho by Dave Smith)

So again, my advice is to focus on really learning the gear you have and mastering that. As RJD2 said on a Gearslutz post “Art trumps gear 100% of the time.” Very often gear does not limit us.

The one retort I have to the entire gear lust culture is that sometimes you get a new piece of gear that just inspires you. It is hard to discount that feeling when you get a new synth and you spend hours immersed in sound design, then come up with a new riff or song. Like I said, I don’t have sage advice, as I am conflicted about this topic. In theory, to be a great musician I should be able to grab any instrument and make great music. That is easier said than done though.


2 thoughts on “Get Over Gear Lust!

  1. Brilliantly put. I’ve been waging this battle since I discovered how much I love synthesizers and decided to completely change my music making focus. I still fight the lust daily, and one of the great ironies of coming across this post you made is that I ended up here because I’ve been researching and hunting for a DSS-1.

    I can honestly say that for every five synths I’ve bought, one has REALLY grabbed me and become a creative inspiration . . . but how many of these do I really need? Given that ratio I’d have to research, find and buy 15 synths to end up with 3 that really do it for me. That alone becomes a full time job. As it is I actually have 5 synths that I could never part with now, so you can do the math and figure out the amount of time, money and energy I’ve spent getting to this point. I actually won’t even let myself buy a drum machine for fear of the avalanche that might unleash!!!

    It even took me a while to learn to let go of the synths that didn’t really tickle my fancy. Now I have a rule – if I want to check out a new one I have to part with one I already have first. As I’ve let them go I’m getting closer and closer to only being left with instruments that I “can’t” part with, and this has slowed my gear lust quite a bit.

    But that said, here I am with DSS-1 lust . . . Why? Well, I really, really like my DW8000, and the thought of having a DW8000 that also samples and whose filter is switchable from 4 pole to 2 pole seems irresistible. (I love a 12dB slope.) Will it be worth the time and effort? Hopefully!!!

    But as you’ve so rightly stated I am acutely aware that every minute I spend looking for a DSS-1 is a minute I could have spent actually MAKING MUSIC on my DW8000. (But then I wouldn’t be about to buy your DSS-1 soundbanks either!) 😉


    • Funny enough – I’m with James. Also looking at getting a DSS-1. However, I like to pick up really cheap gear and play around with them (anything under $150 is cheap I would say). Usually I can sell them for what I paid for them, so it’s just sort of fun tinkering and learning how to use a new synthesizer. I have bought some synths for nostalgic reasons. I typically do not find myself lusting after new products. I know they are very expensive and beyond my reach – so my brain cuts off the urge to care about them. But some of these old items are still very good – but discounted because of their interface or size (DSS-1 included).

      It’s strange though – I spend hours looking up gear, learning everything I can about it. I’m highly motivated for this task. Yet, if I were to sit down and try to learn music theory – I would give up (and have given up) within a few days. It’s simply difficult. That’s the difference – gear lust is easy – training for something is difficult. And therein lies the problem, we tend towards the easiest things that produce the greatest results. Buying gear LOOKS pretty impressive, but what you do with it… well, that’s the hard part, right?

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