No, not that…

To musicians, inclining wannabes and used-to-bes, GAS stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome.

Of which I recently got, and recently succumbed to.

It all started with me poking around in the toy store where I have absolutely no business being. I am officially retired, and only play my resonator for a few hours a year, maybe, and mainly because I really like the variant tones from different slides ( brass, kiln-fired ceramics, glass, etc. ) Hadn’t seen one of my electrics in five or six years.

But I still like to peruse the online stores just to see what new toys are out, and if anything ever really changes. Most of the time, I could only clearly identify about half the stuff that appears in a Sweetwater catalog. Or why someone sitting at a laptop would want convincing sample programs of instruments he doesn’t know how to play, to misuse in ways he doesn’t understand, to create synthesis that convinces no one.

Anyway… and then… an ad appeared for a small Marshall combo amp.

The DSL40CST.  40 watts of Marshall driving a Celestion 12′ speaker.

( There is a secret musician joke in that last sentence. If you need to, please watch ‘This Is Spinal Tap”, and I envy you if you have never seen it. It is phenomenal, and almost completely true. Stonehenge Forever…) And although I’ve known many a drummer with emotional issues and prone to dramatic outbursts, I’ve never actually seen one explode. Only in the figurative.

When I saw the ad for this amp, I was flooded with fond memories of playing my Les Paul through my 1974 JMP 50w MKII into my fawn 4×12 cabinet, and how that is more fun than anything else on this planet. And if a 40w combo could get me a little of that back… just a touch…well worth $699, you would agree. So GAS happened, and I began diverting funds from anywhere to support the endeavor. Girl Scout cookies… eating, not selling… while I tried to figure out how to divert mortgage funds to a better cause. And if I looked a little more convincing in a Girl Scout smock, I would have been out there pushing Thin Mints. Smocks are a little tight, and don’t typically run in XXXXX size…

And finally the day came…time to place the order.

I called Sweetwater, got a guy named Dennis, and explained my GAS attack. I was almost done… just seconds away… and I suddenly had to get all mature on him.

I asked him if he were a guitar guy…yes, he was…I asked him if he’d ever tried this amp…yes, he had, as soon as it arrived…did he like it?…fucking awesome, he said…well, not entirely in those words, he was after all on a monitored sales call. But the sentiment was quite loud and clear.

And did he think it was still too much Marshall for in the house, I said. Even at the 20-watt half- power setting?

Yes, probably, says Dennis. After all, a Marshall is always a Marshall. But it’s way quieter than a 100-watt stack.

Damn it, I thought to myself. Am I about to purchase a great little amp that can live out in the garage with my great big amp? That I don’t even use there because I’m a considerate goddamn neighbor?

Fucking maturity. What I was really hoping was that I could somehow revert to one of my many totally immature former selves and gleefully indulge in some modernized Marshall folklore. Fuck the neighbors. I hate them anyway.

And then Dennis, possibly sensing that it might be slipping away, earned his phone rep wings. I commented that I really knew all that the whole time, and there’s no real substitute for a killer tube amp.

Hold on, there, says he. That’s not the case any more. We just got a new one in that would surprise the hell out of any tube junkie. And you never have to replace tubes…

Ten minutes later, and I bought a Boss Katana 100w head. 5 amp models to build on, 15 effects onboard, a variable power output down to 0.5 watts, and a 5- in. speaker built in so you can practice very modestly. It has a matching 2×12 cabinet that I may get later, but it can easily drive a 4×12. Plus a nice set of AKG headphones, and I’m good for a while. You also get software access to any of 58 Boss effects pedals, so you can completely rebuild the effects chain if you like.

And Dennis says this is a really simple example of a modern amp…

So far, I like it a lot. I can’t quite get the software working yet, not Roland’s strong suit, or mine either.Goddamned BIN files.

And the last bit to consider…I have been out of practice for so very long now…that I really do kind of suck at this. I have a lot of work to do.My audience consists mainly of my dog Bentley ( a Morkie, the cutest thing ever) and I can sense his disappointment. He barks plaintively and piles all his toys at my feet…as if to say…please, this is all I have, just stop, for God’ sake, stop the madness…

So apparently, I play guitar again. I guess that makes me…a used-to-be-hope-to-be…