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Thread: "What am I gonna do with all this crap?" -- Tales of a Recovering Gear-A-Holic

  1. #1
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    "What am I gonna do with all this crap?" -- Tales of a Recovering Gear-A-Holic

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    Any addiction makes messes...relationally, personally, physically...

    I've made positive headway on all fronts I think from the last year or two, but I was out in the shop the other night looking for a couple parts for a buddy and for the first time in awhile I really looked around. I'm out there every day but its pretty easy to just pretend I don't see it all but it was time I really looked again, and I said to myself "What am I gonna do with all this crap?"

    I recall a thread sometime back by...technoplayer? An estate sale of somebody who was obviously a hoarder and it was scary-sad. My "mess" isn't to that level but its not good, so I thought I'd rhetorically ask the question above and put up some pics of the mess. Maybe it will deter some of you from that next unnecessary purchase, or give you a nudge to keep you on-track for the sake of those that are counting on you.

    Of course, if y'all want to comment let 'er rip...after all its a public forum.

    Disclaimer: since moving here about 6 years ago its been a challenge to come up for air and really organize the shop, and right now is at an all-time worst because the shop has become storage for everything that was in our old garage and enclosed porch due to our remodel, as well as housing my friend's woodworking equipment while he's away on a long-term mission...and we stocked up on hay (3 tons worth) a couple months ago. Excuses, excuses. Anyway, that does explain some of the state of things but I certainly haven't made things better.

    On to the "crap".

    Ampex 34U rack...can't bring myself to get rid of it...don't need it but it is a matching unit with my Ampex MM-1000...does a nifty job of housing my drum rug.

    How about an Ampex 440 rolling console? This one is slated for the 440C I have that's in need of a headblock and some fixin'...the console is in good shape...will clean up nice and I have 4 sets of the electronics risers for it. The clincher: don't need another halftrack...really like my BR-20T.

    What's this? Another Ampex 440 rolling console? This one even has a transport in it...440B 1/4" fulltrack. It works. Needs some fixin'. Console isn't as nice...was actually the console for my parted-out 440B-8. The clincher: not really interested in having a fulltrack machine. Could easily convert this to halftrack, but I don't need another halftr...wait...already said that...

    Oh look! Is that a 440 transport??? Okay...that one is mostly stripped...that's the Russ Lang console that I have tried to GIVE away for the last 3 or so months. Keeps that side of the hay bales from toppling though...

    From left to right: Sony TC-630 consumer of tapes on top...that's the machine I grew up with...needs some help; a whole stack-o 440B and 440C electronics modules for parts; miscellaneous 440-8 parts; boxes of snakes and cabling and Tascam M-300B parts; next stack of boxes? Caps, caps and more caps...some IC's and other semiconductors, a spare TimeLine Micro Lynx system, miscellaneous Ampex parts for sale, and a crazy array of jacks and plugs for making up cables; a spare 388; records and tapes on the right; some of the drawers below are full of audio drawer is just stuffed full of miscellaneous cables and cable-making stuff...bulk snake cable, etc...another two drawers are Ampex stuff, 440 and MM-1000 stuff...headblocks for the MM-1000, NOS reel motors and such for the 440 series...don't even really remember what all is in there but its stuff I determined at some point was for sure "keeper" stuff...

    There's the 440C on the left...I think there are MM-1000 related bits behind that like power supplies...can't remember, but stuff for the 2" conversion IIRC, and, yep, that's the Tascam M-__ mixer there on the right. Now here's the kicker: that's a sizeable rolling work-table those things are sitting on and its an enclosed cabinet below which is *chock* full of stuff. Mostly Ampex and mostly MM-1000. A good portion of it is for the 2" conversion, like the amplifier electronics modules for channels 9~16 are down there...more spare power supplies...spare reel motor, spare sync boxes...all the spare stuff that came with the MM-1000. There are also some Tascam bits down there...wire harnessing I kept from the 48 I parted out...good for repairs...oh and the main transformer and power supply from the 48...a bunch of those nice tall ALPS long-throw faders...jacks...knob and switch caps...*sigh*

    Last but not least, before I was an audio gear freak I was a drum freak. Again, part of a strange process of seemingly trying and going through all kinds of things, eventually settling. I did settle on a drum I made, but lots of leftovers...marching percussion, vintage Pearl kit I'd like to finish refurbing for a different sound...hardware...Rototoms...oy...

    Right below those drums is the odd little hovel that used to be my "studio"...made out of office partition panels...about 6' x 8' inside and a towering 44" your head. The Soundtracs MX mixer is tipped on its back leaning up against the side...right now all the more critical known keeper stuff is inside. My drums, the rack with the BR-20T and all the mastering combo amp...mics...monitors. Yes its tight in there.

    What a mess.

    Bit by bit I see this straigtening out with the new studio room. Only the known keeper stuff is going in there and what gets left out is kind of where the question in the thread title comes from. Feng shui my a**.

  2. #2
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    I can seriously empathize!
    I grew up with a bunch of hoarders! I am a hoarder!
    wish there was a 12 step program!
    least i didn't have the gross kind of hoarder family that had a million cats etc....ugh!
    it's taken us years to get rid of stuff after my dad died......long story but he had several buildings full of stuff...........
    i bought my friends demo studio last year and planned on living in one bedroom of a small house i bought and use the rest of the house as a studio.
    Well, between realizing my arms are really too screwed up to play guitar anymore i finally decided I'm done...........and the fact i may not be single in another six months! she says she can put up with all the stuff but there's no way two people can live in a 650 sq ft house and have a studio in it specially if i'm done........................
    plus i have a huge record collection,reel to reel tapes, cassettes, books, have probably a double cars garage worth of various tools from various weird hobbies i've had in the past!
    and this is after 4 years of at least a garage sale a year and tons of trips to the thrift stores to donate!
    it's way too easy to get this way...........
    and my soon to be great gal? she's got like maybe a half dozen large plastic storage containers that fit in a closet and that's it.............
    fortunately she knows what she's getting into!
    so, from one hoarder to another...........i'll say a prayer for ya and leave the light on at the dog house!
    U can change but it does take time!

    "i'm a man, and i can change, if i have to, i guess" Red Green

  3. #3
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    that is scary because it's familiar.
    It's a constant struggle for me to keep on top the junk that finds it way to my place.
    I've stopped "rescuing" stuff that's heading for the landfill.
    It's sad, but i realized that it's not my problem.

    We are not museums.

    stuff takes away your energy and productivity.

    I've been the executor for several estates.
    you realize that at the end, it's just stuff.
    It's a burden for the people left behind to deal with.
    If no one else want's it, it just has to go.

    besides selling on ebay, craigslist, or using the 'free" section, there is something called freecycle.

    there is also the organizations that will accept donations, but they are getting picky about what they take, which i understand.
    there are also brokers that specialize in analog recording gear.

    Why don't you just settle in on a basic setup, keep a FEW parts for backup, and get rid of the rest.

    or, trade it all for a laptop and an interface.
    whatever it is...i'm against it.

  4. #4
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    While I am no where as "ambitious" as Cory, I am also more enamoured with gear than I am either talented or motivated. I fortunately (unfortunately) have a very large home with a very large garage and shop which means I have never had space be a limit to my obsession with gear. Within the last year or two I have tried to get more realistic about what I need ( very little) vs what I have or want (way too much). This has led me to realize:

    1) I am not going to be doing any serious recording. Ever. I am a LISTENER and a tinkerer.
    2) No one in my family is going to want ANY of this stuff.
    3) It is NOT going to be worth a fortune some day.
    4) If I ever really need it, someone else will be selling it. If I dont want to pay the asking price, then I dont really need it.

    So, I have been selling off stuff... probably 20 reel to reel machines, mixers, various bits and parts, etc...over the last two years of so. Yeah, I am still buying stuff (last months 440C 4 track) but absolutely NOTHING is going in storage. I have been for the most part focusing my efforts on making sure everything I have is fully functional and is set up and ready to use, and I USE it. If i do not or am just being stupid like "well I am going to use it someday" then I am trying to let it go. So I am taking care and of or restoring the few keepers and setting the rest free.

    How many quarter track reel machines do I need? How many half tracks? How many mixers? How many xxxxx?

    NEED....not have or want.
    Its just hard to get rid of nice gear.....sigh

  5. #5
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    The other day I had to ask, "do you mind if I just take this to Free Geek (electronics recycler) instead of trying to sell it on eBay?" I already knew the answer, but the asking was therapeutic. Somewhere along the way I went from a small four track and little mixer to half the basement.

    It took me 20 years just to get rid of the radio restoration (a Grimsby-Grunow) a project my own dad never got around to. The radio had literally been sitting in my or my parents basement for at least 60 years total....

  6. #6
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    Deep Thoughs

    So Cory, I'm going to give you 2 points of view.

    The philosophy class, and the jar:
    -- A philosophy class saw a large glass jar filled with rocks. Everyone in the class agreed that it was full.
    -- The professor then added a ton of small marbles to the jar. The marbles trickled down and filled all the crevices which were not occupied between the rocks. The class agreed that the jar was still full.
    -- The professor then poured sand into the jar. The sand completely inundated all the open space in the jar. The class agreed the jar was still full.
    -- Then, the jar was dumped into the trash can. It was filled to the brim with only sand. But when that happened, no rocks or marbles would fit.
    -- I'll let you dwell on that metaphor. (The jar = your life. rocks = health, family, sand = recording gear etc. etc... That's a lot to chew on.)

    The practicality approach:
    Think of a use-case scenario for when your housing addition and recording studio are finished.
    -- Within a typical year of operation, think about (realistically) what you will use, and what you won't use. Part ways with all the stuff that you will most likely not use in a year's time. Keep in mind that it's not the medium or recording method that counts, so much as the music itself. A skilled-enough musician will always sound good, even if recording to a mono wax cylinder.
    -- That in mind, I'd hold on to Matilda, and either your M-____ or your Soundtracs MX large-format console.
    -- Hold on to your Tascam BR-20 (if it's functioning good? yes?)
    -- Between Matilda and your BR-20, you should have enough rack ears to get the job done w/ your outboard stuff (right?)
    -- Hold on to a DAW of some kind for cross-compatibility. That way people that wanna get their digital mixes out into some analog outboard gear, or mixed down to the BR-20 can do so.

    I see no reason to hold on to all the old half-gutted Ampex boxes. As for the 388 - man I'd bet it's nice an juicy, but c'mon now - if you've got an MM-1000 sitting there humming away, is it really necessary?
    --- If your primary use of the studio is personal and occasional friend/non-friend outsider recording, the above is awesome.
    -- If you plan on using the studio as a conversion studio where all kinds of formats can come to be converted to digital formats, then that's the only reason to hold on to any other format of tape machines.

  7. #7
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    Believe me, I understand completely


    In about 20 years you will just about catch up with my cache EXCEPT for the fact that my Father also was a collector of the highest order and I inherited some of his stuff too. So I got it honestly. In fact, it took a couple years just to get most of everything out from the attic, under the house and even dig things up out of the yard when my father passed away in 1999. Even then, I just couldn't bear to get rid of some of the antiques that he had dissasembled and never got had time to get back together. I still have tons of motors, pipe, machinery, 3 pump organs, you name it, to go with my own personal collection. And that's not counting 20 years of running my own business as a remodeling contractor and the untold amount of left over stuff I can't throw out.


    PS: Wish I was there. I would be glad to help you get your house finished.
    Last edited by pianodano; 10-11-2010 at 16:32.

  8. #8
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    Free Geek


    I used to live down the street from Free Geek in Portland (Gosh, I miss my old neighborhood) and I absolutely recommend you at least donate the rack cabinet to them. The equipment they receive is refurbished and then used for free community education programs, or given to local non-profits.

    FreeGeek's Website
    Don't let schooling interfere with your education - Mark Twain

  9. #9
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    "Recovering" riiiiiiiiiiight...

  10. #10
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    My wife is a hoarder from a family of hoarders {they have still unopened stuff from the mid 60s !}. We have two young kids and live in a rabbit hutch. Before the kids came along, I had an upright piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, cello, double bass, sitar, tampura, drums, congas, bongos, bass, 3 guitars, soon as my wife told me she was expecting, I determined in my mind that the piano, organ and electric piano had to go. I loved them and had we had a big place, they would've been with me forever. But they had to go. Then when we were expecting our second, the double bass, cello, sitar, drums and tampura had to go. It doesn't sound like much but our flat is small and besides, I loved the sound of those instruments. But that's all they were. Instruments. With what I have left, they fit in this tiny cupboard that used to house this heating flue that I cut out and made into a space just big enough for the guitars, congas and 2 recording portastudios. I did have electric drums but have since gone back to an acoustic kit, a flatlites set which fits in two bags. The other things I've had to replace with software VSTis.
    We're all different, I know, but my point really was to never become so attached to lots of stuff that you can't let go and more importantly, use what you need and be sure to use what you have. It's often when you don't that hoarding becomes normal.

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