Schon's collection has long since expanded to a warehouse. He tells People in a new interview that he is as fascinated with the guitar today as he was when he first started playing as a child.
"I kept buying, buying, buying, buying, and it became like a hobby," said the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. "It was like being hooked on something, like gambling — I don't gamble. That became the thing that I liked doing during the pandemic, besides writing new material. ... It was a lot, and it was a lot of money, too."
The breadth of Schon's guitar collection will come as less of a surprise to those who follow him on Instagram. For the past few years, Schon has shared weekly videos of himself putting new arrivals through their paces.
He tells People that while he loves all of his guitars, he's had the same favorite since 2019: a 1956 Les Paul that his wife Michaele gave him for his 65th birthday.
Last summer, Schon partnered with Heritage Auctions to sell 112 guitarist from his collection, including many instruments used onstage and in-studio with Journey and Santana over the years.
Speaking to Q104.3 New York's QN'A last July, Schon estimated his collection had ballooned to near 800. But he wasn't holding on to old guitars out of sentimentality; it's hard to sell that many instruments in just one sale.
"I get a lot of inspiration from playing new guitars," he said. "It’s not always that special old guitar that you played way back then. Sometimes those guitars have had their time, and it’s kind of like voodoo to me. They’re beautiful instruments; they sound amazing, but they’ve kind of had their time with me, and I like moving on and moving forward."
Schon has bandied about turning his collection into a museum, but Journey and other musical projects have kept him plenty busy.