The Musician's Room: G.A.S., a Definition and Helps

A whimsical attempt at elucidation and enlightenment:

1. At the beginning of the 21st century, some westerners have more disposable income than they might possibly know what to do with. What they lack is fulfillment.

2. Rather than beating their chests and gesturing with their spears or forming armed gangs, some of these well-documented and much-maligned AWMs (angry white males) in this refined society tend to get out their aggression and deal with their angst by ritually throwing money at them.

3. The result is that wherever you go on the internet, you'll find AWMs thrashing about with their acquisitive hobbies. Thus, the figurative antlers on the wall become a totemic symbol for something far greater and the "internet special interest group" supplies the virtual setting of the great council around the campfire.

4. In the guitar world, the acronym is "G.A.S.": Guitar Acquisition Syndrome. Many AWMs, especially middle-aged AWMs, are engaged in the ritual spiritual "thrash". After stalking the great bear, they tell their peers of their journeys and trials and show-off the scalps around the glow of the electronic flames.

On a wine tasting board, the highlight posts would be, "Found in Lyon on my last scouting trip: No fruity aftertaste!", but the prices could very well be just as high. On an ale board, it might be, "Particularly nutty lot, this!", and the cost would be more pedestrian. On a railroad train-chasing board it might be, "Seen in Roanoke, on the rails: The Norfolk & Western Class J steam locomotive!", posted after a ritual safari.*

It's all a pretty benign, though odd, form of distraction. Usually, anyone with decent manners and a not-too-tall-tale is welcome. Ladies are often welcomed as well. At least these folks aren't careening through the society on horseback, tilting at windmills. To quote sargeant Hulka from the movie "Stripes", "Lighten up, Francis." Pull up a camp stool, stare into the electronic flames, and join in.

* I understand from a Massai aquaintance that "Safari" is the Massai word for "Adventure".


Guitar Acquisition Syndrome is never fully requited. But there are some guidelines which will point you toward recovery...

The "Enthusiast Club" syndrome: To be avoided. It feels like: "Gee, so-and-so in the club just bought/ordered a model x1v2c and it looks so good and sound so nice. Mine all pale by comparison. I need to get a model x1v2c." This is just keeping up with the jones's. There will always be someone in every club who can outspend you. Draw the line at a realistic point and let others go into debt.

The Moral Analysis: What do you really need? How does this fit into your family's needs? How tired of guitar purchases is your spouse? How tired of crawling over guitar cases to come ask you to replace their worn-out shoes are your kids? Don't ignore your conscience. God put it there for a reason. Use your spouse's conscience, too.

The Psychological Analysis: If you believe the little "voice of GAS" in your head that you really won't be a complete individual without this new acquisition, you are in serious trouble. THE VOICE lives an active life up there and doesn't move out after the big purchase.

The Linguistic Analysis: If you are more interested in the "Acquistition" phase of GAS then you probably don't need multiple guitars. The next one is the ONLY one to own anyway. Just ask your spouse...

The "One World" analysis: Most people of the world are satisfied to own one guitar. What's so special about you?

All of this to say, it is okay to follow your heart when you play guitar. Just use the rest of you as well (intellect, morals, and self-discipline) in purchase decisions. You can do it!

Enjoy your guitars!

Oh, yea. "Hi, I'm Bob and I've been purchase-free for twenty-one months."