Herbst, Jan-Peter (2017) “Gear Acquisition Syndrome”: A Survey of Electric Guitar Players. In: Popular Music Studies Today. Proceedings of the 19th conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. Systematische Musikwissenschaft . Springer, Wiesbaden, pp. 139-148. ISBN 978-3658177393

In 1996, Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker coined the term ‘guitar acquisition syndrome’ to describe the guitarist’s compulsive and unrelenting urge to buy and own instruments. As this tendency applies to other musicians as well the term soon became what now is called G.A.S. – Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Although popular music research has emphasized the relevance of music technology, this cultural practice, shared by amateur and professional musicians alike, has not found any considerable attention yet.

By following a quantitative design with a sample of 418 electric guitar players, this article contributes to an empirical foundation of G.A.S. from a music technology perspective. It evaluates the dimension of the syndrome and explores the musicians’ intentions and aesthetic ideals behind their use of technology. The study found indications for the guitar players’ tendency to be afflicted with G.A.S., and provides insights into person-related factors like age, experience, professionalism and genre affinity.

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