My name is Jonathan...

…and I’m a gearaholic.

I really am. I’m obsessed. I know that I’m not alone in this affliction either. If it’s not music gear and computers like it is for me, it’s something else. It might be vintage cars, skiing, gardening, or travelling, but when you are deeply hooked into something, spending too much money on these things can be so easy. It’s a problem for me now because in spite of the joy I get from this stuff, I need to move on to other things. So that’s what I’m doing now. I’m making a public declaration in the hope that it will lead me to make a change. Consider this an admission of weakness, a mea culpa, an intervention for myself.

My studio, bedroom and study are testaments to my passion and expenditure. All of the stuff is great fun but is a major drain on my attention and my bank account. Am I a better artist for owning all this stuff? Probably not. Have I created enough over the years to justify having all of this? Nope. I just wanted to be able to do more, like I’ve (said before)[]. All of these things led me down little rabbit holes, which can have creative upside , but it takes you away from things you could be focusing on, they can be more like distractions than opportunities to learn. When I move out of here, I’m not going to be able to take much of this gear with me. I’m intrigued by this idea. What’s the least I can take without seriously impacting my creativity? I could probably leave the majority of what I have sitting in the studio now. I wouldn’t be able to do everything, I’d have to find ways to make do in a few areas, but my creativity would probably be better for it. You can do a lot with a USB sound card, a MIDI keyboard and some software.

How did the situation get to this point? A few ways, actually. Firstly I experienced some sort of ‘gear creep’. I’d buy something, and then I’d realise to get the most out of it I needed to get something else, or a few other things. So I’d go and get those, almost always straight away. It always felt so frustrating having something great sitting there that you can’t get the best out of because you need something else to go with it. I had one turntable so I needed an mixer. I then needed another one to have a full set up. Then I wanted Serato, so I didn’t have to keep buying vinyl to have more stuff to play. Same with guitar pedals. Same with a whole bunch of things. I had a basic ‘road map’ of purchases in my head and the gaps between each purchase got shorter and shorter.

Another thing that I felt was the pressure of purchasing ‘windows’, either real or perceived. A lot of the time I made purchases in situations that I believed I’d have to act decisively or go without. I bought a lot second hand on Gumtree or eBay, in ‘first in best dressed’ or auction-style scenarios. Being a left-handed guitar player, getting these instruments was difficult. When I’ve felt that I didn’t have long to make a decision, I’ve tended to err on the side of purchasing, as long as I thought it was what I wanted. This led to purchases made earlier than might be optimal given how much money I should have been prepared to spend on these sorts of things This in turn led to moving further along the ‘road map’ earlier than I otherwise would have. Partly this was a result of a lack of self control, but the purchasing windows thing had a real impact.

My worst nightmare? There were times when there were opportunities to get great prices on things I know I would use but didn’t have any immediate need for. It’s happened a couple of times, but for a couple of days last month I was particularly preoccupied with a situation like this. It wasn’t an impulse thing, it was on the road map. I considered calling, then I’d go cold, and then the cycle would repeat. If someone offered you their Rolex for $1 would you buy it even if you already had a nice watch? There has to be a line where you go from ‘I don’t need to buy that now’ to ‘I’m going to want that eventually and I probably won’t ever get it at this price again.’ These are always the tough ones.

Just to be clear, none of this has harmed my life in any significant way. I haven’t resorted to stealing VCRs to fund my habit. But it’s simply time that I stopped. It’s immature. I made one big purchase on Monday and now I’d like to think I’m done. I don’t know how well I will be able to hold it together but my intention with this post is to have an ‘on the record’ statement about why I should stop doing this and have a reference point
to hold myself accountable to. God knows, I’ve said things like this before, both to myself and others, but never really managed to get out of the habit. Hopefully this approach works better. I suppose we’ll see.