professional audio gear

Gear Fever – Musicians, Take Your Temperature

Are you a shopaholic? Do you think that “one cool thing” will make everything better?

Gear Grief

Almost every musician I’ve known has had it: Gear Fever. Symptoms include:

  • drooling over every item in the Sweetwater catalog (printed or online, doesn’t matter)
  • racing pulse (or thoughts) whenever you don’t have the “perfect” ________ [fill in the blank]
  • cold sweats every time you hit a creative block, but then trying to fix it by buying more gear

Well, maybe it’s not quite that dramatic, but you get the point.

Gear Belief

Neon "sale" sign

Let me see if I can explain my crackpot theory about gear fever. First, the story I make up when I want new gear is that I need it. The funny thing is that my sense of craving is very similar to when I’ve skipped a meal and get really hungry. So, next, I begin to imagine what I need to fill this need.

Those imaginings lead to a shopping spree or at least some “research” to determine what will be the correct thing to fill this emptiness. Oh, check out that phrase: “fill this emptiness”. That sounds very much like something I might say or hear in a therapy session.

Yeah, I think this gear fever is mostly about me: I don’t think I’m enough. That leads me to try to fill myself up by buying stuff.

Reality Check

Synthesizers and other musical gear

Don’t get me wrong: I know that we need the right tools for the job. If I’m a guitarist and don’t have a guitar to play, I won’t get very far. On the other hand, if I have 100 guitars, I may be more of a collector than a player.

The point is, we don’t need “stuff” to make music. We need our own musical nature, inspiration, and chops. And by “chops”, I don’t mean you have to be the best. You only need to be able to get your idea across to someone who is willing to listen.

What I’ve Learned From Gear Lust

The interesting thing is that the more time I spend practicing, the fewer tools I’ll need. In other words, if I am more skilled at my craft, I don’t need more stuff to sound better. All that time researching, buying, learning, and caring for the latest purchase is time I don’t have for learning the core skills of being a musician.

What’s your experience with gear fever (whether you’re a musician or have some other craft)? Send me a note on Twitter or leave a comment here to share your story.

You and I don’t need so much stuff. Take your temperature and remember that you are enough.


Phil Porter is one of my mentors. He is the first person I heard use the phrase “crackpot theory”.

The photos of synthesizers and audio modules are by Adi Goldstein via Unsplash.

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