January 10th, 2005, 02:32 AM
I'm looking to get a real vintage strat, and I'm curious who you all would recommend. If the dealer has a website, I have it bookmarked in my favorites. I've been looking locally (WA state), and figure I'll have to resort to a dealer in another state...
January 10th, 2005, 11:24 AM
The problem is that there aren't really any "vintage dealers" in the same sense as for new dealers. There is no consistent supply for such a network of retailers. Vintage guitar magazine loists a bunch of ads, but the inventory is hit and miss, and so are some of the comanies. The most consistent, reliable, and knowledgeable company is Gruhn Guitars in Nashville. George Gruhn "wrote the book" on vintage guitars, and his reputation goes back a long way.
January 10th, 2005, 12:35 PM
nice bunch of folks and they often have access to stuff that's not "in stock"...if you're serious call 'em and let 'em know what you're looking for....
January 10th, 2005, 01:56 PM
Maybe "dealer" is the wrong word...
I usually check gbase once or twice a week...
January 10th, 2005, 02:43 PM
The problem is that the larger dealers such as Gruhn, Mandolin Brothers or Buffalo Brothers are often the second in line. Good vintage guitars often come out of the closet (literally) to small hometown dealers who may put them on the web, sell them locally or sell them to the big guys. I live near a town of 1500. Two years ago the local shop got a 1942 Martin 000-28 in superb condition, a 1948 D28 in good condition (lots of pick wear), and a 1954 Fender Dual Pro steel guitar, all from the same local family. I got a call from the shop owner. Since I couldn't afford the Martins and I know more than he does about steel guitars, I ran copies of several Fender Dual Pro transactions that I knew about off a website and took it to him along with an offer. I paid a reasonable price. He offered the 000-28 to George Gruhn who said it was worth $14,000 retail and offered to buy it for his store stock for $10,000. The local shop owner put the guitar on the web and sold it for $21,000 to a Japanese buyer. The D-28 was sold on the web for $8,000. Last year the same shop owner got a 1957 sunburst Strat in from a community of 800 about 10 miles away. It was in "closet classic" condition and he sold it on the web. 2 months later he got a "twin" Strat in from the same town! He sold that one on the web also.
The point is that these small shop owners, if they are savvy about the market and the web, are often the ones selling the pick of the crop, but they only get these guitars in on an intermittent basis. Also, they often know about each other and sometimes trade or buy stock. If you find one of them, they may be able to clue you into other dealers in other parts of the country to call. It takes time, but you can often save up to 50% by developing the right relationship and having the cash available for a quick purchase.
January 10th, 2005, 02:53 PM
When buying Vintage unless you know the owner and know they have owned the guitar for the past 50 years you gotta hold it see it smell it to tell if its the real thing.
Now a days the guys who do the fakes are so good they fool many dealers who arent too sharp on all the small details.
Personally I would never buy Vintage mail order too many chances.
Hi Aaron steel pal.
January 10th, 2005, 03:37 PM
even Gruhn is mostly out of the business of selling old Fender stuff -- apparently he felt like he was having too hard a time authenticating the old ones, and he didn't want to risk his reputation. so now he only works with instruments where he knows the history cold.
and if Gruhn can't tell a real one from a fake, who am I to try? risky, risky business.
January 10th, 2005, 03:42 PM
I was at Guitar Center in Hollywood two weeks ago. They have a vintage room. I walked down into it and couldn't believe my eyes they had 15 white blonde Teles from 1957 on thru the mid 60s hanging on the wall. I was drawn to a '58 and asked the guy if I could pick it up he barely looked at me and said "sure go ahead."
So I 'm sitting there playing the oldest and most expensive ($16,000) Tele I've ever had in my lap and I'm thinking "well it's not a Nocaster Relic, damn neck's almost anorexic".
The selection was incredible as were the prices. the Les Paul Jr. section was appealing and more affordable but I was in too big of a hurry to go out and try a hollow Nocaster from the custom shop they had two of em. This is the place to go if you have a bunch of money and want to sit down and play alot of guitars.
January 10th, 2005, 06:22 PM
I agree with all that's been said about the issues involved in authenticating vintage guitars – but if a particular instrument has any sort of documentation, and you've got a reputable dealer, you should be reasonably safe.
There are several dealers who try to maintain some inventory of vintage pieces almost all the time. Larry Wexler comes to mind, as does Buzz at Lark Street Music. And of course, Mandolin Bros. for archtops and flat tops. Southworth Guitars in Bethesda always has plenty of cool stuff (although their attitude on any given encounter can range from helpful to downright insulting, depending on... well, who knows what it depends on?). ;-)
The only other issue with dealers is pricing, of course. Some dealers seem to consistently price their guitars at about three times the going market value, so you can negotiate them down to where you're only paying <u>twice</u> what it's actually worth. :-| Others are a little more reasonable, at least in their initial asking prices. All IMO, of course. Best of luck, CS
January 10th, 2005, 07:07 PM
For what it's worth, I bought a vintage Tele from Elderly Instruments and was pleased with the deal.
January 11th, 2005, 01:09 AM
I have seen some real nice vintage guitars come though Solidbody Guitar. The prices are up there, but so is the quality.
January 11th, 2005, 02:16 AM
Hopefully, I can find what I'm looking for without too much travelling...
January 11th, 2005, 02:25 AM
I had a nice chat with the owner the other day, and he doesn't buy any vintage Fender until at least four of his local sources agree on authenticity. This is from a guy in the business for 40 years. He is full of stories of people coming in with their " deal" guitars. This usually starts out with something like how they bought a 58 Strat for only $5000. He has been buying some of the better fakes just to educate people on how difficult it is to tell the real from the fake. If Gruhn is leary, that tells you something. Buyer beware.
January 11th, 2005, 11:13 AM
Keep your nose in garage/estate sales, and make sure you actually get up and get to them early. I got a 64 blackface fender super reverb for under a hundred bucks that way...(all it needed was some new tubes and a cleaning) as well as other guitars and stuff in past years.
Even if the garage sale looks cheesy, get out and look/inquire anyway. I remember one time I walked up to one and asked if they had any instruments. The lady running the sale had nothing...but her friend from next door helping her said she did....which led me to a very nice 70's Guild flat top I spent 130 bucks on (and sold for much more). You just never know when these buys will present themselves.
I can't stress enough being one of the early birds at these sales....others wise to this are going to be early too.
January 11th, 2005, 01:38 PM
There is no dealer from whom one can safely buy vintage equipment. Even the most honest can be fooled, and no one knows everything. Even so, they may not treat every customer the same way. If they realize you're sharp, they may be more honest about pieces than if they think you're a neophyte.
The best solution is to pick a specific guitar and year (or era) and study the material about its details intensively. Don't focus solely on the internet or bulletin boards, though, because there is a lot of bad information out there. Some inexpensive books like those of A.R. Duchossoir, while not perfect, can be useful. And play every one you can; they're all different.
Old guitars tend to have dead strings and be wildly out of adjustment in almost every way. Most dealers are too lazy to restring them or set them up. If a guitar is not working right, it won't sound right. That doesn't mean there's necessarily anything genetically wrong with it. Even a new guitar with the same problems would sound bad.
When I visited Dave's, it had a separate 'museum' area with vintage equipment. Every instrument in the 'museum' was correct. Every piece for sale was clearly not (refins, etc.), and that was noticeable without removing any parts. Nevertheless they were claimed to be original and priced accordingly.
Gruhn uses its weight to authenticate instruments that are sometimes questionable for store sale and via super-cursory appraisals. I would be careful with either their guitars or guitars which they appraised.
Be careful, and good luck.
January 13th, 2005, 05:40 PM
Guitar Maniacs in Tacoma is a very good source. since your in seattle their worth a look. Located in downtown Tacoma.
check em out, I bought from them and they are very reasonable.
they have a great vitage amp collection.
January 14th, 2005, 12:09 AM
Thanks. I've seen properly every vintage site on the net, but I'm sure there are "smaller" dealers that don't bother with the www, becasue they don't have to.
I'm guessing that a lot of dealers also have "back rooms" containing even cooler vintage stuff, that may not be in their window or web site...
January 14th, 2005, 12:15 PM
There's really no pattern, but there are a number of dealers that don't bother with the web and its hassles for various reasons.
In extreme cases, some of them have been in business for a long time (late '60's) and have an established clientele of musicians, collectors or speculators that buys vintage from them repeatedly. Frequently, they are on a first name basis with rock stars and deal with them directly, as they have for decades.
Often, they don't put the old stuff out in the shop. That'd be risking damage and theft as well as having to tell the curious that they can't play it. If they know who you are and think you might buy a piece, they'll call you. Otherwise, you have to let them know what you're looking for and keep in touch.
Gruhn will deny to your face they have a separate floor for VIP buyers, but they do.
January 19th, 2005, 09:49 AM
[quote="Mark Davis"]When buying Vintage unless you know the owner and know they have owned the guitar for the past 50 years you gotta hold it see it smell it to tell if its the real thing.
Bang on! The level - and quality - of vintage fakes is at an all time high. Big money can be made, so the incentive to reproduce every detail and nuance of 30 to 50 years is huge. BUT the genuine articles DO have a smell about them that is sheer age. Trust your nose?!