Getting Permission to Buy Your Gear: A Practical Guide for Guitar Addicts
Most of us suffer from various degrees of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and, like any itch, you'll have to scratch it eventually. Unless your significant other is afflicted with the same issue you'll find that they aren't always very supportive of your habit,' telling you to spend it on things they care about instead. Don't let them fool you into believing they have your best interests at heart. You are an axe-slinging fiend who deserves a different color for each room of the house!
This is a guide for pathetic guys (and gals) like me who have to find a way to convince their partner to let them take home that new beauty. Obviously this applies to anyone whose parents or guardians are curbing their expenditures as well.
Step One: Identify the Problem
If a new acquisition is on the horizon and you're getting heat from your partner, try to find out what exactly the problem is. If you share your finances and/or you're already in rough shape with your bills, the answer should be fairly clear: It probably isn't a good idea until you can afford it.
On the other hand, sometimes when they complain they're hinting that they would rather you spend your money elsewhere. This could be stemmed from the fact that they simple aren't interested in guitar gear and can't appreciate updates to your rig. It could also point to a gift they were hoping you'd purchase them or funds you would save towards a trip. The goal here is to learn where they're coming from so that you can make any necessary adjustments to your plans and move forward with getting that shiny new axe through common-law customs, if you will.
Step Two: Explain the Benefits
Once you've addressed the problem and decided to move ahead, it's time to spell out why you should be buying it. Just saying you want it because it's gorgeous and awesome isn't really going to make your case. Even saying it just sounds better or feels right won't help. This is where you have to get practical and justify your purchase order.
Are you in a band? You have many advantages here by pointing to flaws in your equipment. Maybe you need a backup or another guitar for alternate tunings? Perhaps finally having that single coil strat is going to round out your tonal pallet after sitting on five Les Pauls? And don't forget that if any gear is broken or hinders you from standing out in the live mix it's going to need to be replaced or updated.
If you're recording, there's no reason you can't justify an expansion in pedals or amplifiers. If the studio doesn't have it, what's going to provide that trademark sound? Without the finishing touches of that special chorus pedal, is that outro on Track 4 going to leap off the album? This is your career, after all!
While not always the best solution, the significant other will respond well to any propositions of the sale of your old equipment. This diminishes the cash being moved and makes the purchase seem smaller than it is. If you particularly care about that vintage acoustic I'd recommend you just hold on to it instead of selling it and regretting it later on for whatever reason.
Something I've done is explain that the new song I wrote for them just doesn't sound as good without the help of this new piece of equipment. It's always a lie, but the eyes light up. But it's like buying things on credit you'll have to pay that off as soon as you get it in your hands. I hope you're good with lyrics!
Hopefully you've made your case at this point and they can understand that you'll be much happier with the new gear. If everything up to this point has failed, it's time to play hardball.
Last Resort: Wear em Down or Just Do It
Talk about the gear day and night. Have sound samples looping on YouTube. Leave open reviews on the coffee table. Unleash the hounds on this one! You don't need to beg. Eventually they're going to get really sick of you dropping the hints, and more often than not they'll decide it's more important for you to get what you want instead of daydreaming about it.
If you're impatient or you don't think they'll ever give in, you can just run out and get it with the understanding that you'll suffer a short period of chastising and screaming, or you can take advantage of that stockpile and make it work for you. There's an old trick that collectors will use to get by: Get a new case for the guitar while you're at it, but have a buddy hold onto to the guitar for a couple weeks. Show your loved ones the fancy new empty case and how it fits your guitars so well. Eventually you can bring the new guitar home in the decoy case and they may just assume you've had that one for a while. See why this is only useful for collectors? You have to already have more guitars than they can keep track of!
GAS is a condition that often goes under appreciated by those who love you. You must build a support network of trusted guitar techs, sales personnel, and like-minded individuals who will truly understand why you need just one more 12-string or a second pedalboard. You are not alone. They will eventually forgive you.