(apologies in advance for poorly constructed post, I’m tired and just went with the “stream of thought” method here!)
For me personally I find it important to identify which equipment I truly love and identify with. I’ve gone through a lot of “low to midrange” gear and at this point the only things that I truly love are the Digitakt, a recently purchased Moog Sirin, and my PRS guitar. They all look good, feel good, and sound good, and have little qualities that “speak to me” on a more personal level. Me and my wife have a “bird & bunny” thing going on (don’t judge… was originally because of our Chinese horoscopes, me being rooster, her being rabbit, but progressed into its own thing from there). So the Moog Sirin has a bird. And it sounds good. And it looks cool. And from a technical perspective it is great, with MIDI control over all parameters. How much more perfect of a match can you get? My PRS guitar has birds on it. It is also a deep plum purple (favorite color). Sounds good, feels good. I love it. What need do I have for any other guitar? The Digitakt was a gift from my wife and was my first (currently only) Elektron device, which I had wanted to get into for years. I’m also a little bit of a goth at heart, and I have a TC Electronic Dark Matter distortion pedal. It’s not the most amazing or expensive thing in the world, but it has a cool name and looks cool.
I have a few other instruments that don’t speak to me on NEARLY the same level as those mentioned already. They are just kind of “there.” And they might be good tools, but I don’t feel any particular connection with them.
I guess what I’m getting at, is finding contentment and joy in the equipment, and getting some kind of inspiration out of it, and for that I think it has to have some kind of personal connection. And it might be that NONE of the stuff you have speaks to you on that level. It might be that you’ve been blinded by GAS and “new feature syndrome” and have acquired stuff just because it’s the cool new thing or because someone else said it was good or whatever. That’s something you should think about, and if you aren’t happy with any of the gear you have, get rid of it, and think about what you truly want.
Also, regarding GAS in general, I think we have to be careful not to idolize the machines or see them as more capable and powerful than they really are. They are not wizards, WE are the wizards. The machines are just metal and plastic. They are just tools or toys. And I think it’s important to identify what you want out of the tools, or what kind of fun you want out of the toys (depending on how you approach it!).
My wife often has a hard time making final decisions on clothes and makeup. She’ll come to me with like 10 pages open of different stuff, wanting me to help decide what to get. I always tell her, “If money wasn’t an issue, and if someone came up to you right now and laid those out in front of you and said you could have ONE for free, which one thing really stands out to you the most? Which one thing would you REALLY not want to miss out on in that moment?” That usually helps identify what it really is she wants and overcome the choice paralysis.
Rambling quite a bit here… but I guess it comes down to identifying what you want.
Tool? Or toy?
If tool, identify the NEED first. What purpose do you need the tool for, what qualities and capabilities does it need? Then find the right tool.
If toy, identify what makes you happy and what you feel a more personal connection with. And when you find that thing, and you know it’s more special than the others, commit to it and don’t look for anything else to replace it.
Finally… I think it’s easy to get addicted to that feeling of always looking for “new and exciting stuff.” It’s not just in music but other industries as well. So that feeling of restless GAS without any specific piece of gear in mind could very well be that you are looking for the next “new and exciting thing” and either there isn’t that much exciting stuff out there right now, or you’ve exposed yourself to too much of it and there isn’t much left that’s going to bring you that sense of satisfaction that you may have experienced in the past with a particular piece of equipment. So again, recalibrating and figuring out what it is you really want is important. Are just wanting something for the sake of getting something, or are you looking to fill a gap in your current equipment, or to make a particular style of music, or to get a certain level of “fun” just from using the gear?