Fuzz.

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Sometimes we find ourselves captivated by objects.  We give them little personalities and expect great things from them.  It’s like Toy Story.  We want everything we own to come alive at night and wreak havoc on the Museum of Natural History while Ben Stiller fumbles with a flashlight.  Is that a different movie?  I think it still works.

The Zvex Fuzz Factory is like the mean popular kid in school.  Where I came from, I don’t know if we had mean popular kids, most people seemed fairly nice, but I’d imagine that’s what it’s like in the Disney Midwestern Version.  You can’t get it to agree with you, it keeps screaming at you, its way out of your control, it occasionally self-oscillates (yeah, you heard me).  And yet there is just something about it you want to hang around with.

I’ve tried this box out in stores on two separate occasions.  Each time, it was just too out of control for me.  The thing is INTENSE.  Think of the fuzz guitar sound The Flaming Lips have on the “At War With The Mystics” album, that’s this guy.  It squeals.  It sounds like your amp got in a fight with a wild wolverine (as opposed to domestic) and is limping away to safety.  Its far beyond the realm of anything normal.  But it certainly is intriguing.  I vowed not to pay full price, staying true to my heritage of bargain hunting.

Continuing with my CL/Ebay sell and trade-off, I got rid of a 1920’s Ludwig Snare that I’ve owned for years.  I bought it on Long Island from a dude who is exactly what you think of when you hear the words “Long Island” and it basically sat for those few years.  Finally, it was taking up more space than it was worth, and a friendly drummer on tour from Seattle bought it last week.  That same night, a Fuzz Factory appeared on the CL.  So I figured, why not?

There is no final point to this story.  Except that a few days after it was acquired, I ran into Nels Cline on the street, who was a lovely fellow.   I’m going to take that as a sign that I made the right move.

How Much Gear Does One Truly Need?

Oh gear, what a tempting mistress indeed.

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At times, I have been guilty of the utmost American Pickers Style hoarding.  At times I have overdone it, other times I have made the score of a lifetime.   Instruments are mysterious, it’s like having a tool to create art, which is also art itself.  You need more than one type of screwdriver to build a fancy Armour or accurate reproduction of the Batmobile…so shouldn’t you have multiple guitars/effects pedals/amps/drums/cymbals/synths/peruvian pan flutes?  You can see how it can get out of control.

Recently I have decide it’s time to purge the collection.  The first serious move was letting go of my 1969 Fender Twin which I had owned for 14 years…which opened the floodgates.  It continued with a recently acquired Microkorg, then a few effects pedals not getting proper use, and some old and broken cymbals.  Several craigslist transactions later, it was a 6 string banjo, a small tube amp, and a Line6 Pod.   It is now continuing with a Budda Bud Wah, and an old 1920’s Ludwig/Slingerland Frankenstein Snare Drum.  With each piece of gear that goes, it feels like a weight has been lifted.  Strange words coming from an obsessive collector, but it’s true.  I am now constantly cataloging my collection, seeing what can go.  Eastwood Electric 12 String?  Probably.  A few random cymbals?  Definitely.  My first ever drum kit…the silver sparkle Spaun kit I saved for months to acquire?  Yep, it hasn’t seen use in literally years, it’s time to go.

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I don’t know what triggered i, but it feels unstoppable.  Maybe it’s because my life now feels filled with things other than instruments?  Maybe its a sudden streak of minimalism?  Maybe it’s because I feel a sudden need to focus on the act of playing… rather than acquiring instruments?  Perhaps above all, being a city dweller for the past 7 years might have finally gotten the best of me.  Space is at a premium wherever you go, and transportation is net to impossible when carrying more than a backpack.  It’s probably all part of it.

So let’s all take this time to inventory our personal collections, and figure out some stuff we can strip down.  Is that 4th distortion pedal really going to make you a better player?  That delay that you use for 3 measures of one song, is it worth the extra space on the floor in front of you? Who are you, The Edge?  Why don’t you just change your name to “The Border” and fight locals in Jersey City while building a massive mansion on the cliffs of the Palisades.  Is the 2nd floor tom REALLY that necessary? Who are you, Terry Bozzio?  You probably didn’t play with Frank Zappa.

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Think about it.