April 26th, 2004, 02:12 PM
A friend recently got an immaculately refinished '54 Strat in the shop. I played it Saturday through a Dr Z Maz 18 Jr. and compared it to an original '58 and an Am Vintage '57. The '54 won hands down in every department. It is flat-out a comfortable playing, good looking, light weight guitar with the tones a Strat should have with no compromises. The first thing that impressed was the weight. We didn't have a scale in the shop, but I would guess between 6 and 6.5 lbs. The second thing was the neck: smooth and very easy playing. The third thing was the tone. The pickups were rewound to original specs by Lindy Fralin. The tone was full, clear and articulate in all switch positions. I know that lots of people would prefer that this guitar hadn't been refinished and renovated, but when I compared it to the original '58 that is also in the shop, I'd take the '54 any day. Of course, I'm a guitarist and not a banker and I am interested in how it plays, not the investment value as a wall hanger or "stick it in a safe where nobody can see it" value. The only problem I've got is that the price is $8 grand.
April 26th, 2004, 02:21 PM
But 8k? ouch
I guess the price is the price
But still I don't think I could handle that even if I had the spare $$$
I mean you could have a clone of that for 2k tops but not the resale value.....probably..
Although Strats like a Callaham for 2200 would always get at least that if not more.
Lastly you could build or have built a close clone for way less than 2k too.
In the end its your $$ though & if you really want it & can afford it what the hell ;-)
April 27th, 2004, 06:21 AM
You raise some interesting points. I, for one, am getting tired of this vintage mania and the demand for perfect, untouched originals. If a guitar has been refinished WELL, then the price should not be too far adrift of an original. Sadly, we all seem to meekly accept the , ahem, 'experts' telling us that totally original means silly prices but excellent refins are suitable only for playing ball games, or paddling a canoe.
Put it like this, are you going to turn your nose up at - what sounds like - a phenonenal '54 guitar because it is refinished? They don't exactly grow on trees anymore!
Even with a refin and rewound Pups, $8k is laughably cheap. :shock: Over here, in Rip Off UK, you will pay $8k for a refin '60s strat....... if you are lucky. Check out the crazy vintage prices at any of the UK vintage dealers and you will realise just how lucky you guys are! :wink:
I reckon that '54 would go for $16 - 20k in the uk, no problem. I am getting seriously worried about the sanity of UK vintage guitar buyers!! :lol:
April 27th, 2004, 11:14 AM
That's what I did! Looked around forever for the right piece. A 6lb strat is a rarity these days unless you are using one of Warmoths chambered bodies. I have tried to build strats that light and the closest I came was about 7.2 lbs. If you can find a 3lb piece of alder or ash, you will pay a premium for it. Anyway, for under 2K, you can find a lightweight relic from Fender that will have a killer vintage vibe and you won't really care if you bang it around and punish it when squeezing out that tone. I love mine anyway.
April 28th, 2004, 08:57 AM
In twenty years time your relic will be a, erm, ah,....well, a 2004 relic. A good guitar, there is no doubt, but a facsimile nontheless. It is ironic, but the more relics sell, the more the 'proper' originals will rocket in value.
A refin '54 strat will be worth a tad more. But, for now, $8k? :shock: A snip for something that is no longer available at your local music store, but under ever growing, constant demand. Plus, it has that strange thing called 'age' that does add a mystic 'X' factor to the sound of most old strats. 8)
Beg, steal or borrow that $8k...or you will surely refret it.
April 28th, 2004, 09:06 AM
True, and if I had the 8K I would probably go for it. On the other hand, would you feel comfortable beating on that thing without reservation of nicking it up, etc....? I like the freedom to play hard with peace of mind that my Relic gives me. I'm sure others will disagree.
April 29th, 2004, 05:39 PM
I'd love to have that guitar, but I can't imagine paying $8K for anything other than a hand carved archtop. I could buy a 1950 Epiphone Emperor Regent in pristine condition for $6K and a pristine Gibson Super 400 or Johnny Smith for less than $8K! This was definitely the best Strat I've ever played, but Fenders are workingmen's tools. I'm keeping my '86 MIJ Stat that I bought for $350 a couple years ago.
BTW the shop owner thinks his personal '58 Strat with no refinishing in "true relic" condition is worth about $15K to $16K. Since he sells vintage Martins, Gibsons and Fenders all over the world, he is probably right. The neat part is that I get to play some great guitars before they make their way to a vault in Japan. My second favorite in the shop right now is a 1946 Gibson ES 300 w/ a single P90 at the neck and an amazingly gaudy armrest and pickguard by Semie Mosley. Just right if I got myself a rhinestone suit to go with my Stetson.
April 29th, 2004, 06:20 PM
I like to look at it this way - there was a time when I only had one guitar, cause it's all I could afford. It might as well have been $8k to me, back then. It's all I played, and I loved it. And I don't think I'm really any happier now, with a closetful of axes, than I was back then.
If I had the $8K, and this Strat had that magic vibe so many of these do, I'd buy it in a heartbeat and play it everywhere. You really only need one good guit imo.
April 29th, 2004, 07:21 PM
I'm glad you have the opprotunity to play some cool vintage pieces. I used to get my hands on a few ( my old boss had a nice collection of 50's & 60's Gibson archtops ) when I managed some music stores back in the 70's, 80's. You are correct in the statement "Fenders are working mans tools." I think we have a tendancy to forget these all things vintage crazy times! Thanks for the post on that cool 54! I have a 78 Tokai copy of a 54 and it's a nice guitar. I'd sure like to try the real deal though!
April 30th, 2004, 11:30 AM
What you seem to be saying, then, is you prefer a big, archtop jazzer to a strat. That's fair enough.
However, in years to come, that 54 refin will be worth much more, and probably last longer, too. Archtops are not as sturdy as a solid body Fender.
Personally, I believe the stratocaster to be quite simply the best guitar available for tonal variation and playability. I still believe you will be kicking yourself in 10 years time, and I think you will look back and realise it was a snip at $8k. You could bring it to the UK, and easily double that, and have change for your archtop and a nice vacation.
April 30th, 2004, 11:59 AM
Both have their places, as do purely acoustic guitars. For instance, I travel with a Strat or Tele and a lap steel (as opposed to my Stromberg or Gibson Console Grande) due to their durability and compactness. But a solid body guitar can be made with a band saw and a router, or a CNC machine. There is just not that much work involved in making a solid body. But you can't carve and tap tune the top of a good jazz guitar with a machine. There might be enough work in a superb solid body to justify $2,000, but not $8,000. The rest is hype IMHO, no matter how good the guitar is.
This '54 is the best Strat I've ever played, which means I think it is about 10% to 15% better than my $350 MIJ. I've made my money the past 25 years as a financial analyst, but I play music for fun. The analyst in me says the price for old Fenders is a bubble based on hype and PR and unrelated to their utility. While there might be money to be made, they are a risky investment and the market would need to be watched closely. I'd rather invest my retirement in more secure areas and keep my instruments for pleasure.