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FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / How do you feel about vintage guitars?

Next 20 Messages   Newest 20 Messages
Contributing Member


Dec 26th, 2017 06:31 PM   Edit   Profile  

For this we can exclude the crazy ones like bursts at $250k and the best examples of Strats and Teles at $25k+.

Let's focus lower on the totem pole around those under $10k. How do you feel about these as a player? Do you think modern production more than makes up for old wood? Would you pay the asking price if you intended to play it rather than resell it? If you found one at a yard sale, would you flip it and buy a reissue instead?


Philly, B-3 Capital

don't dream it, be it
Dec 26th, 2017 08:28 PM   Edit   Profile  

Personally I don't do new.
There's something about well played in old wood that's magical.
I'm certain there's plenty if good new guitars, I just don't have 50 yrs to break em in.



Look at my hair ...

Dec 26th, 2017 08:48 PM   Edit   Profile  

It's no never mind to me ... my oldest is from the '30s (an acoustic); among my electrics, '90s. I have guitars from 2017 as well ...

Oddly enough, I sound like me on all of them ...

Contributing Member

Paris, France

It's just a guitar, not rocket science.
Dec 26th, 2017 09:11 PM   Edit   Profile  

I don't think old wood makes a difference. I think it;s a myth, superstition, and utterly impossible to test so it;s a moot point. (Because nobody can make two identical guitars from the same piece of wood and send one off in a time machine to age and then bring it back and compare to the other guitar). Besides, ask a violin player how they feel about 60 year old wood. They'll say it needs to be centuries old. And remember the blindfold test with virtuoso violinists who couldn't tell the difference between 200 year old instruments and modern ones and tended to prefer the modern?

Yes, if I found one at a yard sale I'd probaly sell it and get many more modern guitars instead. I feel the same way about vintage guitars as I do about highly figured tops - nice to look at and say "gee, that's really cool" but when it comes to actually playing and creatinfg real music, I couldn't give too hoots if the guitar doesn't feel right and stay in tune well.

(This message was last edited by DrKev at 11:12 PM, Dec 26th, 2017)

Contributing Member


Dec 26th, 2017 09:48 PM   Edit   Profile  

Our late FDPer Seth Rosen once opined about getting a Gitane to play some Gypsy jazz. Something to the effect "it ain't a real Gypsy guitar but that's ok, I'm not a real Gypsy".

I think that can be applied to a lot of the voodoo we players embrace about our instruments.

Contributing Member

juneau ak.

If you must smoke, please smoke salmon!
Dec 27th, 2017 01:39 AM   Edit   Profile  

Vintage covers a lot of aspects. I'm a custodian of some old Banjos, fiddles, Mandos and a couple of Dulcimers. Most of these where made before WWII and only one of these items is a truly exceptional instrument, another would be valued because of it being unique. But all of them were inexpensive "player" instruments used for family recreation and the true value in them lies in the fact that old Gramma Jean and uncle Bill and his wife and their friends played and listened to the music that was made on them.

As far as guitars goes, the best playing and sounding guitars I've played were both Gibson's made in the early 60's one was a beautiful Super 400 and the other was my cousins red ES335, I'd pay 10K for those today if they were offered to me. Ive also played some old SG's and Jr's from that same time that just didn't really seem to have "it". My new models are easily every bit as good,they play and sound great.

I like cool old stuff as much as anyone but they made plenty of clunky instruments way back when as well. I don't own any true vintage guitars (prior mid 60's is my understanding) if I found one out there at a super bargain I'd buy it if it played and sounded good, especially if it's a Fender, Gibson, Gretch, Epi, Ric, or Dano.

Grey Goose
Contributing Member


Dec 27th, 2017 05:04 AM   Edit   Profile  

I don't have either the talent or the money for even modest vintage guitars. They are without a doubt, very cool.

Contributing Member


Life makes a man tired.
Dec 27th, 2017 05:23 AM   Edit   Profile  

I hope for a lefty yard sale find. Other than that, I’m not terribly interested.

Contributing Member


Dec 27th, 2017 05:47 AM   Edit   Profile  

I owned some really nice vintage guitars BEFORE the prices skyrocketed ('57 Les Paul Custom and '63 Firebird V, among others).

Modern guitars are so well made, including imports, that I don't have a desire to get any vintage guitars (nor do I want to spend the money).

Contributing Member


England's Sloppiest Guitarist
Dec 27th, 2017 05:52 AM   Edit   Profile  

I've got an original 1977 Strat. It's a nice guitar, but it's nowhere near as good as my AV62RI hot rod.

A couple of months ago I played a daphne blue Strat at a local buskers night. Afterwards it's owner asked what I thought of it. I said it was ok. Only then did he tell me it was an original 1963 Strat. I would *never* have guessed.

Contributing Member

Wichita, KS USA

It's all gravy from here on...
Dec 27th, 2017 06:03 AM   Edit   Profile  

The oldest guitar I have is an 80's Yamaha 12 string. It really needs some attention. After that, a 17 year old Strat is as old as I have. If an old guitar presented itself that was "all that" and I could afford the admission, I'd do it. Neither is likely.


What It Was!

Fairly Unbalanced
Dec 27th, 2017 06:27 AM   Edit   Profile  

Borrowed a friend's 55 hardtail strat for a recording session.

The Instruction Manual says "Thou Shalt Not Covet.." - but I coveted!

I think it depends on the specific unit.

(This message was last edited by Dolemite at 08:27 AM, Dec 27th, 2017)


Buckeye Country, USA

Motorcycles, Guitars, and Golf
Dec 27th, 2017 07:23 AM   Edit   Profile  

Being a lefty, it's never been an option.

Contributing Member

The prairie

Dec 27th, 2017 08:16 AM   Edit   Profile  

I have a friend who owns some great early sixties guitars. Jazzmaster, SG, Telecaster, and a couple others I can't recall. Nice guitars with a lot of cool vibe, and they sound great. He's a very good player. He absolutely adores my bone stock 2004 ES 137. He has borrowed for recording sessions. He calls it a "forever guitar". Never sell that one he says.
Like 5Strats says, modern guitars are well made. And sometimes you get lucky and find exceptional ones.


Philly, B-3 Capital

don't dream it, be it
Dec 27th, 2017 09:13 AM   Edit   Profile  

I've a lot of vintage guitars over the years and can tell you that I've never played a newer production guitar that touched most of the vintage ones I've played or owned soundwise. I'm not talking about playability, I'm talking tone. A lot of older guitars play superbly, but just as many don't and require maintenance setup

Now of course there's plenty of vintage duds as well as modern, every guitar is different.

For example, I've owned or played many newer Gibson L-5's and Super 400's and not one has come close to to most vintage ones, but of course ymmv

Contributing Member

USA/Taos, NM

Dec 27th, 2017 10:06 AM   Edit   Profile  

"And sometimes you get lucky and find exceptional ones."

I believe this to be true regardless of era of manufacture for any instrument.

Contributing Member

American Patriot

About as ordinary as you can get.
Dec 27th, 2017 11:07 AM   Edit   Profile  

Vintage ruined things for real guitar players. Suddenly, guys with money were buying up all of the older guitars. I remember when it happened. "Guys" from other countries hit the west coast and started buying up all of the older guitars. It seemed to be a different type guitar each year. Then, they were gone! Prices were too high for musicians. Tons of guitars were just sitting there not being played but looked at. Big guitar shows started and it seemed only a few dealers owned all of the really good guitars and amps. Heck, I'm tired of writing about it. Rant!

Contributing Member

I tried to think

but nothing happened!
Dec 27th, 2017 11:44 AM   Edit   Profile  

Had an old one once and sold it. It was cool to have for awhile and was a good guitar, but got too valuable for me ('69 Goldtop). Sold it for a good price and got a lot of modern gear.

Once I went into Rainbow Guitars in Tucson in the late 70's with a fistful of money to buy an older Strat. I was disappointed that their vintage room was completely empty! The salesman said that 'some guy from England' came and bought them all. Damn.

Coral Head

Sunshine State

Groupies needed
Dec 27th, 2017 11:57 AM   Edit   Profile  

Being relatively vintage myself, I owned a number of vintage guitars before they were vintage. A Firebird, a Jazzmaster, a Rickenbacker 12 string, and various others in the sixties.....most of which I kept until a few years ago when I "cashed in". I have a variety of guitars today and I am exposed to many more that my friends own. I really do not like old semi-worn out stuff. I would rather play a guitar that is recent that doesn't need a bunch of TLC. IMHO electric guitars are mainly dependent on electronics for their sound. Pickups, pedals and amps make the sound - new or old. And I know people who have new good acoustics that sound better than my vintage Guild and Gibson. So for me, the mystique of a vintage guitar is about nostalgia, not about playability or sound.

Contributing Member

Curled up

in the fecal position
Dec 27th, 2017 01:18 PM   Edit   Profile  

Here's my view of this.

The way the brain works--it makes us humans behave in an odd way when when comes to old guitars vs. new guitars.

In blind listening or blind playing tests, the vast majority of players could not reliably tell the difference between a guitar that's five years old and one that's 70 years old.

I'm gonna get philosophical for a minute.

A guitar is something with qualities that go far beyond just making sound. "Tone" is way more than something that hits the eardrums. Someone said years ago that guitar players listen with their eyes too.

Guitars are a very personal instrument, because unlike most other instruments, you don't simply address or hold the guitar. You wrap your arms around it; you hug the thing. It has to fit your hands, body, and playing style. It becomes an extension of you.

Players can have intense emotions that connect them to their guitars. They develop relationships with them and assign/attribute human qualities. The guitar becomes a sentient being; it communicates with the player. Many players even go as far as naming their guitars.

Guitars also provide a connection to the past. Virtually all players are influenced by others that came before them. Nostalgia is an extremely powerful force, and we humans are superstitious creatures. For some, simply knowing they're playing an old guitar (or one similar to their mentor/hero) inspires them to be a better player.

And being a better player is what really matters.

Many players pay money to go to museums and see guitars that were played by famous people. They can get close to a famous guitar. It's a religious experience; it's like getting blessed by the Pope Hisself. If photos are allowed, they take pictures so they can relive the experience later. This reinforces the connection to the past, and provided further inspiration.

It probably also has a lot to do with re-capturing youth for some players, but I'm no Sigmund Freud.

I have some old stuff (1965 Mustang, 1920's banjos, and a few others). Is it better than newer stuff? No, but it inspires me when I need the inspiration. And I hope that makes me a better player.

Beyond strictly collecting, there is a reason why there are guitars from the past that are desirable today as player instruments. Just like the good ones, there were plenty of bad guitars that rolled of the lines back then. The crappy ones were given to the kids over time and they got thrashed and trashed. The ones that survive today were treated well for a reason: they were good guitars then and they're still good guitars now.

Modern production is even better than in the past: quality control is more critical because margins have dropped. As a result, a good guitar is cheaper today than in the past (accounting for inflation). You can spend $300 and get a guitar good enough to gig with.

There is no correct answer to the "which is better" question. If you think you can hear and feel a difference, then you hear and feel it. If you think you don't, then you don't.

What we each perceive is our own reality.

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FDP Forum / Miscellaneous and Non-Fender Topics / How do you feel about vintage guitars?

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