Instrument acquisition syndrome

Instrument acquisition syndrome

A while I was fishing with my brother. We were talking about the fishing rods in my collection and he said that in at the years we’d fish together I only used one (out of many)…ever! That got me thinking.

In conversations with a well known fiddle player, and well know flute player, they both claimed to own only one instrument. Compare that to other discussions with other players about their instrument collections. This site often has references to instrument collections, acquisitions, "for sale". So I ask "why".

Why do we, including me, seem to buy new instruments all the time. Personally I have 4 flutes, 3 banjoes, 2 mandolins. 1 tenor guitar, 3 guitars, 2 bodhrans, a box of harmonicas, and 1 double bass. Or conversely how do some seem immune to new instrument purchases. Are we looking for the "perfect sound? Do we see them as art? Do we live with the thought that a new instrument will make us play better (I believed that for a time)? Do we think of it as "trading up". Are we playing the "mine is better than yours" game? Is it a choice to be uncluttered and one is enough? Do we find that familiarity makes is better? I’ll bet that this only scratches the surface of possible reasons. Personally I play more than one instrument because, 1) I’ve been playing multiple genre for more than half a century (and still do), 2) sometimes the local sessions get a bit "tooty" so I’ll play banjo, 3) sometimes I’ll be called on to fill a specific hole, 4) I like variety and have a short attention span, and 5) I like to think that some tunes just lend themselves to one instrument or another and I’d like to think that I’m becoming astute enough to hear it.

Really, I’m only very curious about this community of Irish players that I’ve come to know and love. There is no one right way to be, just "data points" in the scope of possible human behaviors. It’s a big world and there’s plenty of room for us all. Maybe I’m feeling a bit sentimental here but I’d like to learn something about you in the hope that maybe I’ll get a chance to share a tune, a pint, a dram, and a kind word with you. Share what you will and no more.

So. How many instruments do you own? How many do you play often? How many have you ever owned? And why? What is it that makes us spend our time talking and thinking about our instruments and ultimately owning them?

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

I am probably the perfect poster child for IAS.

I own loads of instruments. Probably something like 10 guitars (acoustics, electrics, 12 string, yadda yadda), at least 6 fiddles, 4 mandolins, 3 bass guitars, a digital piano, a variety of hand percussion things, several harmonicas, an accordion, a half set of pipes, a melodica, and I am sure there are several others I am forgetting. I suppose it’s kind of ridiculous. I have thought of divesting but honestly most of these instruments have what seems to me to be relatively little recoupable value. Also, I am truly fond of them and play many of them although not necessarily that often. There are 2 fiddle and 2 guitars that get most of my playing attention nowadays. I keep one of each out the case at home for instant playability and one in the case for gigs.

One benefit of having such a big "stash" of instruments is being able to loan or gift instruments to people who have musical aspirations but lack access to a suitable instrument in their present life situation. This may be a facile rationalization but that’s OK with me 🙂

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

PS: I forget the tenor banjo, octave mandolin, banjo mandolin, tenor resonator guitar, and 5 string banjo…and probably others.

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Timmy, do you mind if I let my wife read this? Might take some of the pressure off!

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Almost all of my instruments (no idea how many I have without counting) are old, but good - some almost actual antiques. They all play and sound great, and I rationalize my IAS by thinking of these instruments as ‘investments’ that will most likely at least hold their value, and maybe even appreciate. I love the idea of having an investment that you can actually use. So far, I have been able to sell some instruments on consignment at Elderly’s or on eBay for very close to, or even a little more, than what I paid for them. I don’t think I’ve ever owned a new instrument.

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Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Let me think… something like mandolin, anglo concertina, tenor banjo, a dozen whistles+low whistles, mandocello, bass guitar, keyboard, pan flute, concert flute, polymer flute, five-string banjo, guitar banjo, Greek bouzouki, two electric guitars, fiddle, button accordion… maybe I’ve forgotten something. Yeah, a nylon-strung guitar and a resonator guitar.

I play mandolin/fiddle/button accordion/flute/guitar/five-string banjo regularly.

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Ross, if I can be of any assistance, feel free to use my words as you see fit.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will point out that I used to be married and no longer am…

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I have a pile of whistles, a bodhran, boehm flute, a Meyer system flute, a beautiful little blackwood piccolo that I paid next to nothing for, a high pitch Hawkes and sons band flute that I paid next to nothing for as well, Bb scottish smallpipes and a C uilleann starter set.

I actually play everything depending on mood but only take my whistles to sessions. They all scratch a certain itch in me and provide that sound when I need it.

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I have a bodhrán, a banjo, a fiddle, and a mandolin and have been in remission from IAD for some time having recently divested an octave mandolin, two guitars, and another bodhrán.

You have to take it one day at a time really, although having read this I’m thinking of getting a new fiddle, so I am.

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Currently I own and play, one each:

Keyless wooden flute
Mandolin
Octave mandolin
Steel string acoustic guitar
Nylon string acoustic guitar
1930’s metal body roundneck Dobro

I play the first two almost every day, and that’s what I would bring to sessions and workshops, although the flute is more aspirational at this point. I play the octave mandolin and steel string guitar at least once or twice a week. The last two — nylon string and bottleneck Dobro are less frequently used, and might hit Ebay before long.

Go far enough back and it would be piano, keyboard synths, kit drums, upright bass, Boehm flute, bamboo flute, various percussion instruments. All of that was gradually whittled down, but a year and a half ago I still had a dozen guitars in the house. I decided to sell what I don’t play often enough… all the electrics, some extra Dobros.

They’re gone now, and I feel relieved. I’m gradually stripping down to the core of what I really need to make the music I want to play NOW, and not what I was playing 20 years ago, like the electric guitars. Those instruments listed above are all I need. And this lamp… and this chair.. (cue "The Jerk" movie clip).

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Do spoons count?

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I’ve been learning guitar for 50 years. I’ve had lots of guitars. Currently have a Japanese Stratocaster which I haven’t played much for a year or two, but I’ll be brushing up on it for a concert in March when I intend to play Country and Rock. I’ve played this venue once or twice and they’ve heard me play Folk and they’ve heard me play Gospel, so this time they getting that C&W thang! I also have a Crafter ElectroAcoustic Stadium Concert guitar which I’ve been tweaking for about 2 years and I think I’ve got it set up as good as it can possibly be. The guitar is better than I am, but a friend whose playing I rate has given it his nod of approval a few days ago, so I now don’t have to wonder about scraping up £800 to £1000 to upgrade. (Totally serious about that.) He hasn’t heard it since my brass bridge pins went in. Cost me £2.70 post free from China. I didn’t really believe that bridge pins would make any discernible difference to the sound but I can’t believe the brighter tone I’m getting!
So I have two guitars. I’d like another for DADGAD.
I have a fiddle. Last week I had 2 fiddles, but I showed my 5 string electric fiddle to my guitarist friend who I mentioned a minute ago and he bought it off me.
Having money in hand from selling a fiddle, I was able to replace my old battered G Banjo. I bought it in Belfast about 30 years ago, on the drip. Got home to Dromore on the bus and nipped into Boyle’s pub. The new banjo scored me about 6 pints & 6 whiskeys before I got home!
I have a Mandolin which my wife Kate bought for me in Perfect Pitch in (I think) Suffolk Street in Dublin about 20 years ago. It gets a rattle every now & then.
If ye look at my profile here, I mentioned Bouzouki. I fancied a Bouzouki for 40 years or more before finally getting one. I sold a guitar and a tenor banjo to raise the funds for a Bouzouki. Kate paid for a course of lessons for me as a Christmas present in the Tenor Banjo/Mandolin class with Belfast Trad Music and Dance Society in the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. Off I went with my Bouzouki only to find that they’re no use for playing Irish Traditional Music - great for accompaniment on ballads (Bantry Girls Lament & suchlike) but not suitable for the dance music. Others please take note! Back to the fiddle!
Back to the chase - I have 2 guitars, 1 G Banjo, 1 Fiddle, 1 Mandolin and 1 Bouzouki. I also have a Yamaha keyboard, a small keyboard accordian, several tin whistles, some blues harmonicas and I want a better fiddle!

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And I’d like a Tenor Banjo too. Please.

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2 Bohdrans
1972 Oscar Schmidt Appalachian 21 chord Autoharp
1988 Jerry Read Smith 18/17 Hammered Dulcimer
1996 Washburn EA-26 Craig Chaquico signature model
1997 Joe Foley Mandolin
2011 Luna Celtic Knot Bouzouki
2012 Ibanez Artcore AG95
2012 Michael Kelly Legacy Dragonfly Mandolin
2013 Taylor 414CE
2014 Clareen Celt Banjo
2014 Phil Crump B-1 Bouzouki
2015 Phil Crump Cittern
http://www.thisoldtractor.com/guzzi007/instrument/Wall-of-Sound-sm.jpg

I figure I have maybe 4 years if I’m lucky before my left wrist has to be fused for the final salvage of my left hand (3 bones removed last August) and I’m gonna play the crap out of what I’ve got until then. The picture is side of the room with the stuff I play, another wall holds the stuff that I don’t play and can’t sell for enough to make it worth the effort. Too bad the cittern took so long to be delivered that I never got a chance to play it before my operation. With the left hand now a quarter-inch shorter than it used to be and half the bend angle, the cittern is turning out to be somewhat difficult to play. So… IAS. Yeah, I’m guilty too.

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Ross Faison asked:
"How many instruments do you own?"

Three sets of pipes and an extra couple of chanters, a jar full of whistles, and a bodhran.

I had a lot of guitars, banjos, mandolin, etc. before but got rid of them all upon taking up the pipes.

"How many do you play often?"

Two sets of flat pipes (in different keys) I play every day, though currently I am playing the B set more than the C set. The concert pitch set I only play when I want to play with someone else, and even then I will often just take a concert-pitch chanter in the case with one of the flat sets.

Never play the bodhran.

"How many have you ever owned? And why?"

Too many to count (I am old and have been playing music for a long time).

As to why, because I enjoy music, and have never regretted spending money on music, including instruments.

"What is it that makes us spend our time talking and thinking about our instruments and ultimately owning them?"

Music brings me joy; no other reason needed.

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Four tenor banjos, two six-string guitars, one tenor guitar (scratch-built), two mandolins (one scratch-built), one bouzouki, one fiddle, two violas, and three sizes of whistle.
I know a number of fiddlers who only own one fiddle, but I have never met a banjo player who owned fewer than three banjos. Someone should do a study…
The banjos represent a gradual upgrade in quality (and price!); my most recent one is the only one I play, and really the only instrument I play very often. I just haven’t sold the others, yet…
The other instruments result from promises to myself that I will learn to play this or that, always well-intentioned, so far without much result. I tell myself that in the event one of my musical friends stops by and needs an instrument to play, I’ll always have something on the wall. Like timmy! I’ve also had the pleasure of feeding other players’ IAS by loaning them instruments about which they may have expressed curiosity. At any given time, at least one of my instruments is in somebody else’s house.
At least I don’t have to feed them or take them on walks.

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Hmm guilty as charged; 4 mandolins, 1 mandola, 1 octave mando, 2 tenor banjos (one strung jazz tuning), 1 acoustic guitar, 1 Les Paul, two wooden flutes, two polymer flutes one with 8 keys, three fifes, low D and low G and various C and D whistles (one lives in the car), button accordion, bodhran, cajon, then a semiacoustic bass I haven’t gotten rid of yet, two tanpuras, then my Persian instruments - 2 tars, 2 setars, santur, daf. I can’t really play the button accordion, don’t really play the daf, elec guitar, fifes, bass or tanpuras more than once every 6 months, mostly playing mandolin, mandola, octave mando and flutes plus keeping my hand in on the Persian ones. Have ordered a beginners set of pipes and strongly resisting getting a concertina. At least I don’t have any brass band instruments (where I started) or all the stuff from my band days and have gotten rid of the balalaika, sitar, talking drum…

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…yibyib…

instruments i play often:

nylon strung guitar
dixon whistles in d, c and G
hedwitschak bodhrán
human body (male)

other instruments i own:

fiddle, electric piano, nylon strung guitar, irish zouk, djembé, darabuka, a dozen crappy generation whistles, e-bass, german concertina, kazoo with extensions, 2 melodicas, harpsichord, a crappy bodhrán, 2 fifes, ocarina, mandolin, low whistle and 2 didgeridoos.

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There’s such a buzz about owning a new instrument - for me it is about all the possibilities that you open up through the purchase.

And just to join in the fun:

3 violins (one nice violin, one cheap one tuned as a vi0la, one a very broken and unusable family "heirloom"), M&E baroque flute, baritone uke (tuned like a tenor guitar), metal flute, at least three working high-D whistles (plastic Dixon, brass Dixon, Generation), one low-D whistle, nice classical guitar, dodgy classical guitar, electric guitar (not played in decades so should really sell this one), plenty of drums.

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Instruments I own

Alto Sax
Soprano sax
4 Keyboards
Fiddle
Mandolin
2 Flutes
12 Whistles
Pan Flute
Ocarina
2 x Bodhrans
2 x 6 string Guitars
1 x 12 string
1 x Acoustic Bass
Harmonica
Cajon
Djembe
Various small percussion

Instruments I play often

Guitars
Mandolin
Keyboards
Flutes
Whistles
Bodhran
Percussion

Next purchases - Flute / F5 Mandolin / 5 String Banjo / Tenor Banjo

pkev

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Eek - I started to notice the symptoms of IAS and nipped it in the bud before it could get too bad…
I was reading this thinking, oh not many really anymore. But I actually still have:
1 upright piano
1 digital piano
My beloved fiddle
My old fiddle - currently on loan to my nephew for lessons at school
A piano accordian -bought at auction - can’t play it - lives in the loft
Flute (ditto)
Tenor Banjo - H is trying to teach himself this
Electric guitar - H tried to teach himself this and gave up - lives in the loft
Tin whistle - planning on loaning to my Dad to learn
Old wooden alto recorder

I really only play my fiddle now. The piano playing dropped off a long time ago.

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Although at the moment I only own a piano accordion, fiddle, didgeridoo and acoustic guitar, I used to own

keyboard
bass guitar
ney (handcrafted for me IN Iran, lost it before I could learn how to play! Arghh!)
one-row button accordion
a Nepali flute

Sold the keyboard (regret that), bass guitar got thrown out by accident, lost the ney while traveling, sold the button accordion to buy a fiddle, broke the Nepali flute. Fiddle and piano-box are the 2 instruments that I truly play, and I’m eyeing up new set of each. In the future I’d like to get a banjo, or a bouzouki, probably banjo because it would be easier to learn as a fiddler. I imagine I’ll continue building a list of instruments that I may not necessarily master or get particularly skillful at like the flute, mandolin, concertina, hurdy gurdy (definitely want one of these!) etc but my dream is to one become adept at the uilleann pipes. I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to afford a set but hopefully in the future! I’d also love a hardanger fiddle…

There’s just way too many instruments! As someone said I love the possibilities each one opens up. The differing characters and personalities of each instrument, how different styles of music are more suited to others and so on… It’s addictive really.

Why? Because music is fun, and brings us all great joy. Some people obsess about sports equipment, others about cars, others about food, some about art, etc… We all have our passions in life 🙂

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I also have one very large cow horn… like this!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uh1dYVloUqc


The one I have is huge and has such a deep, penetrating sound. I bought it for a performance troupe I was once a part of but sadly it seems like that project has come to an end, and now it just sits on a table at home…

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Ah now, if we’re talking about instruments we’d like to acquire then it’d have to be a Harp. I would *love* to be able to play the harp. But funds and time do not allow at present. One day…

Magpie doesn’t cover it LOL

3 full sets and one half set. Chanters, I think 16 now
13 bodhrans - 2 out on loan that I will probably never see again.
2 darbuka, 1 udu.
No shakey egg, but I have a rain maker.
Spoons - lots of them :P
Low whistles - 2 C, 5 metal, 2 plastic and one wooden Ds, 1 Eb, 1 E.
Alto - 2 F, 3 G, 3 plastic A, 1 Wooden A.
A full Syn set 1 head and 8 bodies. plus a Syn D/C set.
Rose, Ormiston. Bleazey and O’Brien Wooden D whistles.
Alba and Susato D, probably more that are scattered about.
Generation Bb.
Flutes - German 8 keyed, circa 1850, Bamboo in concert pitch.
Little harp that my great niece appropriated :D

Is that enough to qualify for IAD?

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A Mandolin, Guitar, Banjo, Bouzouki, ukulele, Electric Guitar, electric Bass, a fiddle, a 2 cent keyboard.
Of late, I play Mandolin almost exclusively. (BTW I know someone with 33 fiddles!) Now all this collecting makes instruments expensive, but it’s a disease, so it’s ok?

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I’ve had quite a number of instruments over the years: Boehm, bamboo, and wooden flutes, lots of whistles, some guitars, a baritone ukulele, etc. But I don’t tend to have a lot of instruments at once. That’s partly because I don’t enjoy having lots of instruments around (I’d rather bond with one or two), and partly because buying a new instrument is usually facilitated by the sale of another. Right now, I have the six-key flute I’ve had for 12 years, an electric bass (a relatively recent but permanent acquisition and which now gets much of my playing time), and two whistles.

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It’s not limited to musical instruments, but to practically any hobby or vocation whether amateur or professional. I am also an amateur stargazer and I have several dozen telescopes collected over the years. And eyepieces- OMG I must have 200 eyepieces! Most fellow stargazers I’ve run across seem to be content with one or two telescopes and eyepiecesw.

I can easily play all I want to play on one hammered dulcimer that I own, but I’ve "collected" three more. Two of them, admittedly, attracted me because of the historical value, which is one of the reasons we like to collect and hoard instruments. But it all boils down to how much disposable income we have (and, sooner or later, available space!) Some musical instrument makers (especially if they’ve passed on) have high desire factor. In the hammered dulcimer world it’s legendary names like Jerry Read Smith, Sam Rizetta, and Lee Spears for starters.

And then there’s accessories. Now some instruments really don’t have or need extras. I have at least 2 dozen pairs of hammers though, all of them made with different designs, woods, and other materials that provide different sounds out of the dulcimer. With guitar players, I imagine it might be picks or capos. For fiddlers, bows perhaps. (Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw kept a bucket of bows on stage because he played so wildly he literally tore the heck out of the horse hair when he played, often picking out a fresh bow in the middle of a song. The famous golfer Arnold Palmer had thousands of clubs and putters in his basement, so many he had to hire someone to keep up with and maintain them all.)

With my dulcimers, I guess the main reason I have more than one is to keep my hobby interesting. Whenever I get stuck in a rut, I pull out another dulcimer and get a fresh start.

David E

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With me
Two family heirloom fiddles

1 heirloom 1 row

4 boxes 2 rows

2 half fiddles for kids

Grip of whistles

Homemade flutes (lost count)

How I fight this acquisition is by stashing them in my favorite places in the world. For example, I have a collection of accordions and surfboards in four major countries. When you leave your wealth behind, you are always assured good company and good sound waves.

Anyway, don’t feel bad. The instruments are better in your hands than rotting in a basement or attic.

Each instrument has a story and you are gracefully protecting it.

As far as wives are concerned, last time mine complained I made a spreadsheet about her shoe consumption. Your instrument consumption can’t hold a flame to a wives obsessive nature with shoes, knee high boots and the most stylish loafers. Lol. And she knows it.

I always remind her she met me at an airport with an accordion on my back and a surfboard on my shoulders

Shoes die, instruments are mans greatest gift

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After 40-some years of hoarding - which entailed studying and summarily ‘collecting’ multiples of each style of instrument, my progression (starting at age 11) basically went: saxes, clarinets, flute, guitar (of every variety), 5-str banjo, fiddle, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, doublebass, CBOM, tenor & plectrum banjo, accordians & concertinas of nearly every type, nylon harp, wire harp … but only possessing one gurdy, one charango, one saz, 2 ouds, 3 pedal steels, several synths, scads of amps and drums, and 1 guzheng (my latest obsession)..

- we’re now moving out of state and I get to unload it. I’m not into hauling, so I’m giving away my collection to friends.. Basically I’m taking ‘only’ 4 lever harps, 2 favorite hammered dulcimers, 1 oud, 1 zheng, several boxes and concertinas, and of course small stuff like fiddle and flute.

I recall an interview I read decades ago - Laurindo Almeida claims that he owned roomfuls of (nylon-string)guitars - not surprising, I had a good roomful of them myself - and eventually eschewed them all for a Taki E-90 (presumably for its performance efficacy). At some point, the miasma of instruments becomes ‘too much’ for a variety of reasons…I’m feeling it. Although I would still acquire hardingfele, nyckelharpa, sarangi, dilruba - if the opportunity presented .. basically I chucked it all for harp, which for me was the ‘mother of all strings…’

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>"As far as wives are concerned, last time mine complained I made a spreadsheet about…"

Ha - mine would only be further ‘aroused’ by such an approach.. 🙂

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You guys put me to shame. I have a Boehm flute that I use for anything not Irish; I have my first Irish keyless flute from Casey Burns, plus a high-end one for which he recently made me a new head joint; I have an eight-key made in England in 1882 by WD Cubitt, Son & Company and a Siccama flute by William Hall, Son & Co. that I bought because it helps with a loss of sensitivity in my fingers due to having G and D keyed - it is also the best flute I’ve ever played, made around 1850 in New York. So each flute was bought for a purpose, not to collect.

I have a wonderful 1910 restored upright piano that I sometimes play, but not well. I also have a guitar I used to use to write songs. I have a custom bodhran that I bought and a collection of bodhrans as gifts from friends who thought they were going to learn and then didn’t.

The only collection I have is of flutes in various keys made out of porcelain by a good friend of mine who lives in Holland. They are beautiful, unique and play marvelously in tune.

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I own more than 100 playable instruments (half of which are percussion), almost all of which are different types of instruments. The closest to multiples would be a nylon-string guitar, steel-string guitar and electric guitar, but then those are all different, right? (Oh, yes, three drum sets, which are only kind of different.) On my last album of original tunes, I multi-tracked 25 different instruments.

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I always thought a kit of fiddle, flute, concertina would cover it. However, music was always my madness..

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Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Eko Ranger VI
Gibson SG2
Fender Telecaster
Watkins Rapier x 3
Copy flying vee
Epiphone Les Paul Junior
Framus Star bass
Fender Jazz bass
Epiphone EB0 bass
Grafter bass acoustic guitar
Dan Electro long horn bass
Blue Moon lap steel
Ashbury bass uke
Cheap Romanian baritone uke x 2
Pink baritone uke
Ovation-style baritone uke
Mahalo baritone uke
Carlo Recordo treble uke
Ashbury tenor uke
Ashbury soparino uke
Solid SG style treble uke
Banjolele
Mandolin
Banjo mandolin
Bouzouki
Sitar
Nylon strung classical guitar
Cello
French horn
Trombone
Bugle
Stylophone x 2
Melodica
Silver flute
Hohner pianet
Yamaha two manual organ
Vox Continental organ
Cheap keyboard
Small midi keyboard
Percussion toys
Thumb piano
Harmonicas
Recorders tenor and descant
Whistles (tin)
Whistles salsa
Drum kit
Dulcimer Joni type
Auto harp
12 string harp
And other various…

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The worst thing about IAS is controlling the humidity.

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For me it’s the backache I get from having to sleep on the couch.

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That would be the result of a related disorder known as Spouse Inquisition Syndrome.

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Yes I have a few instruments that lived at work for a few years to avoid questions….

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Greg, that’s an interesting way to handle the situation, I like it 🙂

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Acquiring shoes never had that effect on me, but after reading the freaking LISTS of instruments some of you have… Oh my!

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Thanks for all the responses. I’m on my way to pick up a 20’s vintage Gibson short scale tenor banjo. Damifiknow why.

Full disclosure, my wife’s displeasure faded a bit a couple of years ago when I bought her a baby grand piano. I’m grateful that she is a problem that I can solve by throwing money at it. She still thinks all this is just diddley-nonsense and I doubt if she realizes that my collection ( which I see from all your responses isn’t particularly impressive) is still worth more than her piano…and I’m not about to tell her! But, she tolerates me and that’s not bad.

By the way, anybody out there with only one instrument who wants to tell me how they avoid the curse?

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@ross…are you kidding?

Anyone here who would possibly have only one instrument (by choice) wouldn’t admit it after reading this thread. Or they just started playing in January and are off to their local (luthier) as we speak. ;)

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And you are a nice hubby…baby grand. Sweet! Or just brill. hehe

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9 banjo mutes.

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This is a fun thread !
Although I have built many Appalachian Dulcimers, I have gifted most and kept just one. I have had that since 1988, when I built it. I hope my children keep it when I am gone!
My latest love are my Bagpipes- I started "exploring" with a McCallum Great Highland Bagpipe, until I learned about Scottish Small Pipes and bought a lovely mouth-blown "D" Shepherd Small Pipe two years ago, my first one ever.
I sold my Highland Bagpipes in order to help me afford another set of Small Pipes, this one a bellows-pumped set, also in D", from Simon Hope.
My newest set is Border Pipes made by Alexander Anistratov. It is in "A". I requested and was made a beautiful Scottish Small Pipe chanter (in "A") from Seth Hamon that can fit the Border Pipes, which also sounds amazing.
My next dream is for a set of "A" bellows-pumped Scottish Small Pipes, that would be more comfortable in sessions and workshops down the road. In order to do that, though, I may have to sell my beautiful Shepherd mouth-blown Small Pipes, which saddens me, as they have such a warm, full and lovely sound…
That’s all I have, which is probably enough, for now 🙂

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>"…all this is just diddley-nonsense…"

Of course it is. (Yet, that doesn’t stop us)

Times were - a person only needed ONE instrument to play tunes. (Of course, times have changed too..)

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I hope those people posting massive lists of instruments have not put their specific addresses into the google maps function of this site.
Like most people, I have more instruments than I need, but not quite as many as I want.

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Just got my Gibson tenor. Made in "21 with replacement calfskin head and a warm, vintage sound. It’s a "player for sure!

Diane, I know a few world class players who have only one instrument by choice…in fact they seemed curious as to wonder why anybody would want more than that. I’m just wondering what makes us think so differently (without argument, just observing). Also I’d been promising her a piano for a long time, she deserves it. She does a lot of wonderful things for a lot of people, including me!

And, yeah she thinks that (she is an accomplished pianist). But as you say catty, it doesn’t stop us. Maybe that’s a topic for another time.

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Leo Kottke said - with his usual jocularity - he plays guitar because it gives him something to do with his hands. Likewise, on the physical level alone - my body needs the variety; of the eye and ear and hand they are things of beauty.

Then, every instrument is a door into vast worlds. If one is to research, one needs the tools.

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Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Ah, my heart! You guys all have such splendid answers! This is indeed a fun thread. Al, yes to the google thing! hmm… methinks one of you with multiple fiddles indeed lives in my town. (hehe)

I was going to mention my paltry few fiddles, a cheap whistle, a fake keyboard for some quick use in the studio and one remaining guitar, but after reading all this I will just go back into my studio and have a good cry. Not that I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. Nope, not me.

sniff.

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

I’m with Conical Bore up there.

I just don’t have the "collector" thing in my bones. When I have multiple instruments that do the same job it strikes me as a waste of resources and I sell off the excess.

I do quite a few Highland pipe gigs and I maintain two sets in case anything goes awry.

With whistles I tend to want only one in each key, or at most two (a player and backup). I’ve bought and sold 20 or so Low D whistles over the last few years looking for that perfect one, and at any one time I might be evaluating three or four, but the end goal is to have two.

I used to have more instruments around, but around 10 years ago I began selling off all the things that didn’t get regularly played, including a guitar, several types of bagpipes, and all my flutes.

So currently it’s

- three sets of Highland pipes: c1905 Lawrie, c1945 Starck, c1890 Glen, the Glen not in playing condition.

- uilleann halfset in D, plus a C chanter (been playing the D chanter since I bought it new in 1978)

- Scottish Smallpipes c1900

- Scottish Doublepipes (a funky things I cobbled together myself)

- whistles in almost every key, with 3 Low D’s and 3 or 4 High D’s

- bodhran (bought in 1977, the only one I’ll ever need)

- Appalachian lap dulcimer (which I never play, but I’m from West Virginia, and the sound-holes are in the shape of the state, and it was made by a local hillbilly guy… perhaps more of an artifact that instrument for me)

- Bulgarian Kaval (the one thing left over from my days in a Bulgarian dance band… I never play it)

The old Lawrie pipes are on Ebay now. One of the Low D’s is going on Ebay soon.

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

BTW some of you guys could open a well-stocked Music Shop…

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Let’s see….I have many different instruments, but not TOO many repeat instruments (mostly different keyed whistles).

I have:
1 Flute
5 Tin whistles
1 Piano accordion
2 Ukuleles (one I plan on giving away, once I find a good recipient)
1 Violin/fiddle (depends on what I’m playing on it :P )
2 Guitars (one electric, one acoustic/electric)
1 Bass guitar (4-string, because they are the classiest)
1 5-string banjo

I plan on adding a better flute here soon (just ordered a Lehart) and an ocarina in the next few months.

I simply enjoy owning a lot of different instruments. Mostly, I play the Flute and the Ukulele.

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Some very interesting collections here! I am mainly a guitarist but fell in love with the banjo again recently. I am playing tenor banjo GDAE but looking now towards a separate banjo for CGDA tuning… maybe a mandolin too. I own at present (just counted) 16 guitars and getting another in a few days, and obviously a half dozen amps or so,, and countless fx pedals. I record a lot so, I try to justify my IAS by telling myself that I need them!

My guitars range from acoustic, nylon string, old school semi hollow body, stratocaster, telecaster, les paul, sg etc. basically a range of tones from the invention of "electric" guitar, up to present NU metal tones. Playing the Irish tenor banjo has really pushed me further back in time, - back to a time before electric guitar, when banjo ruled! New Orleans,Creole, Dixieland style of strumming and chords etc. Dang, now I want a 5 string banjo!

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Bloody marvellous!

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Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

"So. How many instruments do you own? How many do you play often? How many have you ever owned? And why?" - ross faison

Hi, Ross, good to hear from you!

At age seven I began with a trumpet but after a few years I discovered that I do not have the "lips" for it. I then spent my teenage years on guitar, playing for hours a day and became moderately good at it but eventually I burned out on Equal Temperament tuning. I missed the tuning flexibility of a wind instrument. And so in my early twenties I took up flute and that turned out to be a perfect match.

After all these years I now own a literal armload of flutes. Why? Imagine going to a restaurant in Italy and asking for a plateful of pasta with sauce. OK, so pasta is pasta. But the sauce can and does vary so much from one region of Italy to another region of Italy. And so flutes can vary, too.

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

PS

Let me add that most of those flutes that I have I do not play often at all. But I do have a few favorites.

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Music is such an expressive modality - I’m sure many of us were preeminently compelled at a young age; when I first saw all the buttons, levers and linkages on a sax, I said ‘that’s for me.’ I loved sports too, but the arts are more conducive to lifelong pursuit, aren’t they (I played many different sports, too - with many different types of ‘balls’ - I’ve never been able to narrowly restrict my craving for variety). Music is a tremendously gratifying heuristic - not only of the senses but of the intellect too; it’s a method of research, and so the more one invests, the greater the rewards.

Instruments have always evoked in me imaginative inspiration. And each instrument taught me, and led me into still other forms, traditions, aesthetic experiences and perspectives of being. Assuaging curiosity, creative expression, utilitarian functionality, aesthetic research.. Oh, and - fun; I like to twiddle things with my fingers.

Too many gets distracting for sure, but I probably wouldn’t have found what I’m now doing without wide study and exploration.

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Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

I thought I had this problem, too, but some of the lists above make me feel like an underachiever.

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Let me add …

I got hooked on flute and so I stayed there. But there are so many other interesting musical instruments, too. My foremost regret is in my never having learned how to play a piano. Actually, I detest Equal Temperament tuning, piano tuning, but the piano offers several octaves worth of exploration all on two hands. Another great instrument is the violin, also played as a fiddle. Oh! If only I could live for several lifetimes to explore them all.

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Yeah, i have serious difficulty with equal temperament after a long detour through Persian music for 20 years, as almost every musical lineage over there has slightly different notes (in cents) depending on which (sub)tradition (major city, family, instrument…) you are learning from, and it the feeling that counts as to whether the notes (cent values) are correct.
I’ve just got my first fiddle, to add to what I mentioned (and I forgot a couple of Maori wind instruments) because my grandfather and mother played it but never taught me. They both played the piano as well but that’s too much trouble to take up (I can knock out something very basic on a keyboard though).
I agree that its about expression, this being the way our brains/ minds engage with different modes of possibility when confronted with different physical parameters (oops Ive had too much to drink).

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Instruments too many to list but to be fair some were bought as presents.

Partly for me it is the excitement of the possibilities of new instruments……maybe this new instrument will be so easy to play I’ll become a virtuoso overnight!

Also have been through many genres of music over the years so when I was in a rock band all my gear was electronic. Then got into synths and bought keyboards. Also played some classical so bought flutes. Tried to learn piano properly and got up to grade 7 and then realised I had reached the extent of my ability (buying an upright piano in the process).

Now I am into ITM and am buying things like mandolin (which I am really loving just now) and have an eye on a tenor banjo and would like a new bodhran.

Like with books, I think your money is never wasted on a musical instrument, look at how much you pay for things like Xboxes and the like. Playing any instrument is a joy and something you can constantly improve and learn more about.

Re: Instrument acquisition syndrome

Good discussion to read when you feel that IAS rearing its tantalising head, and it makes you realise you’re don’t have it as bad as some ;). I think I’ll make that quote my motto: "Money is never wasted on a musical instrument". 🙂 When it comes to music I’d say "better the occasional false note than to never have plucked a string".