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Why I Love... Collecting Gear

Simon Horrocks

Why I Love... Collecting Gear

My name is Simon and I have Gear Acquisition Syndrome....

Most people's early morning routine consists of stretches and health shakes, but these days mine is more about fine–tuning my email alerts, scanning social media for new pedal releases, and checking that Roland's marketing team haven't dedicated another calendar date to their vintage kit. (OK, so 808 and 909 day, fine, but what about 202, 303, or even 106?)

My name is Simon and I have Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

It's a tough confession to make, but regardless of cost, brand or expediency, if an object transmits a noise, features shiny potentiometers and a curiously busy back panel, I'll be adding it to my growing studio arsenal, and I usually get the tremors if I don't.

Today is no exception. Firstly, and most importantly, my SOS subscription copy is due — chock full of tempting reviews and features to get the circuits flowing. Furthermore, a new audio interface awaits its unboxing in my man-cave... and joyously, an original, pristine Speak & Spell will arrive by courier and will be forwarded, almost immediately, to my bespoke circuit bender.

I have also finally managed to convince my wife (she from whom I hide brown packages) that high-end, rare sound equipment makes sense as a serious financial investment, and armed with our — sorry, her — inheritance windfall, I now have high mandate to research such a topic.

The magpie instinct in me has been forever present. Back in the day it was vinyl that would get me high; the sniff of a record shop within 20 minutes of arriving in a new city. Charity shops, jumble sales and car boots moved me on to harder stuff. As I gravitated to music making, there'd be regular trips to London's Tin Pan Alley. A single tear is now forming as I recall the Turnkey shop, with its downstairs DJ area and the infamous synthesizer museum. I could continue this paragraph with my remorse for sadly departed high–street electrical stores and music marts where I would regularly pester a salesperson, not to mention the fear of touching anything in the posh piano shop, and the grumpy bloke who sold second–hand guitar pedals in the indoor market.

As my gadget mountain grows, the wish list now extends to more storage racks to house it all.

So now I purvey the landscape digitally. The social media groups and marketplaces, the endless forum posts and Wiki searches to iron out ridiculously convoluted compatibility issues. Jim Heywood genuinely deserves a knighthood for his 'therapeutic' Synth Memes group, where GAS-heads like me can gather and feel slightly more normal about the way gear acquires us.

And so, as my gadget mountain grows, the wish list now extends to more storage racks to house it all. The studio itself is in need of a rethink. Even the loft space is running out with all those empty boxes, kept for the non-existent resell.

You'll be pleased to know I have considered income streams to compensate these treacherous outgoings. Writing online reviews of all the guff I have bought is the obvious one. I've even browsed the Chinese wholesale sites to see if I could start up my own musicians' enterprise flogging kazoos or modular units, seeing as all this shopping has turned me into an expert.

The real money spinner, however, is to actually make music itself. It's a remarkable revelation but I could conceivably use all this rottenly overpriced gear I have spent years investing in.

Alas, the most regrettable part of this story is that I am not making as much music as I should. Please don't let me be the only person this is happening to, but each time I sit down to create a momentous new chord, patch, or lyric, my phone pings with news of an item I'm bidding for, or a review from my favourite vlogger.

So how on earth can I rid myself of these horrific consumer-driven addictions? On reflection, perhaps waking up with a smoothie and some yoga would be the killer cure for my repetitive shopping injuries.

Published January 2020