Instead of buying a new acoustic guitar, I have decided to hold out until the summer and hope that I can bring a better one from PoCo to Berkeley. A quick strum of a Martin D-28 reminds me to accept no compromises, and so this seems like a less wasteful solution. Besides, both the Epiphone and the Gibson are gone, and the other Gibsons in the store just don't compare to the D-28, which makes this decision a lot easier. And thus ends my first (internet-documented) bout with GAS.
Instead, I decided to pick up either a banjo or a mandolin with my 10% off coupon. I've always thought about trying my hand at both instruments, and what better time than when you have a small discount. I was leaning banjo, but they didn't have any really cheap ones in Guitar Center last night and so I went with the mandolin. Unfortunately, the cheap mandolin they had didn't have a bridge, which is an important part of a stringed instrument, so I have to go back and seal the deal sometime in the next week.
I brought Mike along with me as he expressed interest in picking up some strings and picks, as well as in taking up the bass. He found a rather nice Squier bass for $200: nice neck, P+J pickup configuration, and a nice light construction (which may suck for sustain but whatever). He didn't buy it though because it had a big skull and crossbones design on it. How vain. Beauty lies within, Mike.
While I typically get frustrated very easily with the mandolin whenever I play one in a store, I think that's because the only thing I know how to play is the little opening riff to "Losing My Religion", and I don't even know how to play that very well. I think I'd better go back and recreate how I started playing the guitar, so that I don't get too ambitious and just get frustrated. After that, I think the mandolin will suit me, as I have a high voice that tends to be shrill and grating.