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Gear Minimalism and GAS Support Group

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by CaptainWally, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. I'm continuing my adventures in gear minimalism and earnest GAS reduction. My objective to use time, money and energy I once spent on gear I didn't really need on other things, both musical and otherwise.

    Surfing. Considering unrealistic, hypothetical scenarios in which I would "need" something. Or how great a new piece of gear is going to sound. Purchasing. Maintaining. Selling. Rinse/repeat.

    A "minimalist" amount of gear will vary considerably pending the person's needs and outlook. But the general principles involve fully using, appreciating and enjoying what we have. And not spending time chasing white whales that don't meet a need. And won't ever scratch the itch or fill the empty hollow.

    Below is a photo of my current minimalist setup. It's pretty expensive gear, and I'm lucky to have it. But the ideas here have nothing to do with cost, albeit quality over quantity isn't a bad idea. (note: I'm still in the process of selling some stuff)

    I expect the usual humor to ensue, which is great. And I know TalkBass is generally antithetical to this topic. So I might be a group of one. At least I can check in with myself here instead of going to the classifieds. ;-)

    Feel free to join in discussion and share your story if you're interested.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 23, 2016
  2. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    Not so much to tell - I have 1 EBG, 1 amp, and 1 borrowed DB. The upright is the only thing getting played out, and that's with an amplification-hostile group, so, no need for anything else, especially at my current level of not even mediocre enough to join the mediocre bassists club. The wildest of my wild purchases (other than getting a bass & amp at all as a trombonist) would be 4 rather inexpensive speakers with an eye to making a more portable cab for my amp (having already moved its amp portion into a headcase) but I'm slower than a snail on getting that done, evidently.

    I could afford a lot more. The reason I could, is that I don't, unless there's some darn good reason for it. The main thing I need more of is free, other than the time (practice; though in point of fact "playing with other people" has done a lot more for me in 2 months than practicing on my own did in 3 years.) If the EBG was getting played out I'd probably look for a similar spare, but spare DB's are neither affordable nor portable, so, no spare.
    CaptainWally likes this.
  3. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    I honestly believe this is one of the most important discussions we can have on this forum.

    Late last year, I was blessed to go broke. It didn't seem like a blessing at the time, but it put the brakes on a very unhealthy obsession with gear. In the ensuing time, I've come to realize that GAS is very much like the legend of the lotus-eaters as told in the Odyssey. It's a dangerous addiction that can permanently derail you if you're not careful. Less time obsessing over gear means more time in the woodshed.
    dregsfan, booch29, wmmj and 7 others like this.
  4. Yeah, not much there :) I think you're right in that practice and playing are going to enhance our musical endeavors far more than GAS. As a side note, I joined Scott's bass lessons, and I'm digging it as a nice alternative to gear surfing.

    You raise an interesting point: the notion of a "spare" or "backup" bass...by which I've justified the purchase of plenty of nice basses. I've never needed a backup at a gig though. Not once. I have played some bigger gigs where it would be pretty awkward to break a string, but the Earth wouldn't have ended or anything. So I get the idea. But if it's really a "backup" bass....surely the only thing one would need is a really inexpensive SX, Squier, etc. to get through the set. Thoughts are welcome. Arena artists excepted, of course :)
  5. "I was driven thence by foul winds for a space of 9 days upon the sea, but on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eaters, who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. Here we landed to take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they had a third man under them. They started at once, and went about among the Lotus-eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eaters without thinking further of their return; nevertheless, though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made them fast under the benches. Then I told the rest to go on board at once, lest any of them should taste of the lotus and leave off wanting to get home, so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their oars."[1]

    Interesting. Didn't know that one. Nooooo! Don't take me from GAS island....just one more....Lakland....just one more....I NEED a fretless 6!
    MoonChild2112 likes this.
  6. T_Bone_TL


    Jan 10, 2013
    NW Mass/SW VT
    ... yet. Plenty of cautionary tales from those on the other side of "yet", but certainly no need to go outrageous, expensive, etc. unless you are busy living "you've got to be smart to keep fooling yourself." I'd shoot for similar (or identical), but my main axe is a Yamaha that set me back under $100 before strings, $125 with. Carefully selected from the ranks of under-rated over-performing used gear...
  7. GnarwhalNick


    Jan 18, 2011

    Exactly. My "back-up" or "emergency" bass is a Squier P that I got to match my main bass years ago. I got it for $90 off CL but it also came with a heavy duty stand, straplocks, a strap, guitar polish, extra picks, and some other nick nacks I can't remember. So in reality I got the best deal I could plus a bass to sit on the bench until it got called to duty. I used to play it a lot back in the day but after my frequency of playing went down and recently buying a new bass, it is collecting dust in the corner. I pulled it out again the other day just for s&g and I've considered selling it many times but the amount I would get for it isn't even worth the effort haha. I'll probably keep it and give it to one of my kids down the line.

    If you have the money and budget that allows you to get a $700 bass as a "back-up" or "emergency" bass, then go for it. But I think it's not financially smart. Get a cheap but reliable bass (craigslist is usually a goldmine of cheap but solid basses for <$200) that will hold you over if something happens during a show, not an expensive jewel that will collect dust because you already have too many in front of it in your line of basses.
    Bassist4Eris and T_Bone_TL like this.
  8. twinjet

    twinjet Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Ya know, Beef, I have to agree. Not having much disposable income makes you appreciate what you have. This year, I sold two basses to pay off a large sum of credit card debt. Totally worth it.

    Here's my minimalist setup.


    My L-2000 and a single GK MB210-II combo.

    I have been having serious GAS pangs the past few days; I basically had the option to buy back a bass I had sold and missed dearly. But, I realise that I just don't need it. Now, I focus only on technique and the music itself, not just the gear aspect of bass. I've been doing that too much this past year.

    I told myself this to justify GAS for a cheapo bass. Then I realise if you don't buy utter crap, you ought to be fine. Would I point and laugh at someone who brought a backup? No. I've played ten, nearly eleven years and never once needed a backup (even if I had one). Does this mean I will never need one? No, but I am confident enough in the quality of my equipment that I don't feel I should have to worry about failures.

    I can see both sides of the argument here, though, and anyone who disagrees likely has reason.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
  9. btmpancake

    btmpancake Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2015
    Apollo beach, Florida
    We all know that backup basses for some people is an excuse for cheaper G.A.S. purchases. Most of us never needed a 2nd bass on stage unless the song required it. Now if I can only keep my pedal count to 6 pedals, I'll be doing good-real good. Buying the right (6) is the challenge.
    wmmj, CaptainWally and twinjet like this.
  10. tycobb73


    Jul 23, 2006
    Grand Rapids MI
    Is that a gk mbf I see? I have 1 of those, along with a streamliner. I'd never have only 1 head, especially with tubes. In fact my gk has been making noise lately. Would hate to halt 2 bands to a stop as my amp got fixed, especially with how cheap the rb series is. I get minimalism but would never have just 1 bass and head if other people depended on me.
  11. GnarwhalNick


    Jan 18, 2011
    Beautiful bass man!
    twinjet likes this.
  12. I'm a die-hard minimalist in other areas of life, just not bass gear.

    Most GAS is pointless - except if you have a genuine need (eg. Smaller, lighter, louder, aches/pains, etc), or entering new musical waters.

    I'm not a one-bass person... more a five-bass person. Each is regularly used in a different context, and each bass has expanded my musical vocabulary.
    CaptainWally likes this.
  13. Seriously smart setup. Swiss army knife bass. Grab-n--go GK tone. You're set.

    Hang in there on the GAS, my friend. We're here to help you if you need talking down from the purchase ledge. It's not nearly as easy as I thought it would be, and I need all the support I can get too. I caught myself snooping in the classifieds again, and I had to quickly exit.

    My GAS's latest ridiculous argument: "Well, hey, you're playing a R&B/MoTown gig these days. You need a P Bass!" No. No, I don't. I've owned many. They are not for me. And my bass sounds great in that band.

    As far as backup basses. I think we all pretty much agree. There is a case to be made, but the need to rare. It probably depends a lot on your gig. And it's too often used to justify unneeded purchases

    I'm painfully aware that the most important element at stake here is time. And mental energy/focus, which is essentially the same thing.
  14. That works. My only advice here is resolve to just keep the Squier P and free yourself from ever having to mull over selling it.
  15. Nothing wrong with 5 basses if that's what works and those are the tools you need for the job. Are you GAS free then?

    When I'm saddled with a bass collection, I end up fiddling with and comparing the basses more than playing any one of them in earnest. The funny thing is....I had more GAS when I had 7 or 8 basses....or whatever ridiculous number it was.

    I tell you. Buying gear is fun. But selling gear.....sucks. What a hassle. That's a thought that will help keep the GAS away.
    wmmj and Groove Doctor like this.
  16. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    I have one bass, a MIJ fender p I found at a pawn shop for <$100 around '99 or so. It was in BAD shape. I've had it worked on since, and it's playable, and sounds great. Not perfect, but it works. I have no back up, but I don't gig enough to justify one, anyway. I have a cheap amp, cheap comp, and cheap DI. I have a couple of acoustic guitars, and tele. No giggable amp currently. Some random PA and recording equipment - just enough for a solo or duo to play with. As much as I would love to have more and better equipment, reality reminds me that it wouldn't make me play any better (or more). Been there and done that.

    I've had to learn to restrain myself over the years, for personal and financial reasons. But in doing so I have come to appreciate the challenge of trying to do more with less. With more equipment comes more complexity, which in turn is stressful, and can even stifle creativity. Less to fiddle with means more time to just play.
    wmmj and CaptainWally like this.
  17. This Thread is over a week old and less than one page. :bored:
    Not a very popular group, is it? :smug:

    Do not worry about me, until two months ago I have not purchased anything music related in over three years.
    Including strings or cables.
    wmmj, StayLow and CaptainWally like this.
  18. Awesome! Was that a conscious effort, or just how our naturally roll? Do you surf gear or have GAS?
  19. Resale price and Demand for that item are factors in flipping gear. I'll advertise "less for local pickup" to avoid the hassle of shipping an item. Won't make top dollar, but keeping it simple wins.

    That said, I'm really content with my gear now. I still keep an eye out for rarities and collectibles at bargain prices.

    I do agree.... to a point. My first 17 years of gigging was one amp, one fretted, one fretless. All gear has limitations & eventually your abilities exceed your gear. Time to expand & grow.

    Buying gear taught me new things plus learned to appreciate things I had glossed over in the past.

    eg. Flatwounds strings + pick in pub rock bands sounds PHAT.

    TI flats on a jazz bass really suits jazz/big band. You can really hear the strings nuances in this context.

    Roto SS rounds on a passive P bass = a tone I couldn't get with anything else.

    A lot of vintage gear is pretty average, with some outstanding exceptions.

    I dislike both Pristine and OverlyColoured amp tone, but they all have a place.

    EQing - what I've learned is invaluable.

    The better your setup, the pickier you are with pedals. Same pedal can improve the tone of one rig and ruin the tone of another.

    Online reviews are pretty useless, so many variables at play. Try it yourself is the best way.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2016
  20. MoonChild2112


    Oct 16, 2013
    while I admit to a certain amount of GAS (I need a fretless badly), being on a permanent (military disability) low budget make me a minamalist by default, not really a problem though... I currently only have a franken P, a cheap J copy ( that hasn't been out of the case in at least 5 years) and an 80's vintage Crate B150... more than sufficient for the type and amount of playing I do...
    CaptainWally and Groove Doctor like this.

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