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How rare are vintage guitars? Or: Vintage guitars, where did they all go?

Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by hellopike, May 20, 2016.

  1. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 3, 2015
    Philadelphia
    So I've been wondering, and since I'm not very knowledgable on the subject of vintage guitars I figure I'll ask-

    Vintage guitars, let's say telecasters specifically, are highly sought after and valuable; and I would assume part of that value is because they aren't so readily available... But are they actually rare? They're a mass produced item where hundreds if not thousands were/are produced a year. They're typically not considered disposable, perishable, or particularly fragile- so I would think the majority of the guitars made in any year would still be knocking around many many years later... And fender has been making them for 65 years (well 24 if you want to make 1974 the cutoff for "vintage").

    Why aren't we tripping over vintage telecasters? Where did they all go, what was their fate?
     

  2. deadicated

    deadicated Tele-Holic

    875
    Aug 1, 2011
    Baltimore
    You would be suprised how much tone wood can be found in the landfill. Even though most of us souldn't do it others would.
     

  3. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    50
    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    A few are hanging en masse on some rich guy's wall in Japan with a bunch of Strats. The rest are in his warehouse.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016
    nomadh and Ed P like this.

  4. GuitarJonz

    GuitarJonz Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    MA
    Many left the US when they were snapped up by offshore collectors, and there's also plenty of collectors in the US, both typically hold onto the guitars for the long term. Also, plenty got destroyed, modded or parted out, contributing to rarity.
     
    Ed P likes this.

  5. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

    Most Fender stuff isn't that rare with the exception of first year teles and strats. They're just being hoarded by people but they're starting to remerge as the hoarders are starting to sell either because they want to retire or get out while there is still some sort of market. They're relativeley still expensive but the whole vintage thing is starting to go away as compared to the market in the 1980s and 90s.

    There's still some of that "old is always better" mentality. So I see less experinced buyers paying too much for 1975 Strats thinking" well I can't afford a 1957 Strat but I can get a 1975 Strat and that is older than 2015". They fail to understand the Pre CBS stuff was sought after because the CBS stuff was comparably inferior at the time of production.



    This year alone in Minneapolis I've seen 2 different 1954 Strats as well as other pre CBS strats about 30 in total. Teles less but they're out there.

    A lot of vintage Martins are starting to emerge also.

    Some are lost to attrition but for the most part the vintage stuff is still out there. I think we'll start seeing more of it come back into the market.
     

  6. E5RSY

    E5RSY Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    50
    Mar 5, 2009
    Georgetown, TX
    I think this is a big factor that often flies below the radar. I understand what drives it, but it honestly saddens me.

    Scott
     

  7. musicalmartin

    musicalmartin Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    69
    Aug 8, 2007
    Norfolk UK
    My take is that if you want one and quickly find one for sale then its not that rare just overpriced .if you never find one then its rare.
     
    savofenno likes this.

  8. comebackkid

    comebackkid Tele-Meister

    Most of 'em live at Joe Bonamassa' s house...
     
    savofenno likes this.

  9. Stefanovich

    Stefanovich Tele-Holic

    576
    Jan 27, 2010
    Kingston, Ontario
    My (non-scientific) impression is that decent vintage guitars are getting harder to find. Part of it is age I am sure, but I suspect another part is that those who have good vintage guitars are less willing to sell them as they believe they will be unable to get another one if they wish. I see lots of good (but not great) vintage guitars for sale with prices well beyond what I would be willing to pay, and these guitars seem to not sell for a long time - if at all. A local guitar shop here has a good condition mid 50s D-28 that has been refinished. It sounds good but not amazing and the asking price is $15,000. I see that price as double what would be reasonable, but if I wanted a Brazilian D-28 I can get one tomorrow. I also see lots of guitars for sale that are claimed to be vintage but I would not categorize as such. I am talking about 1993 Strats and the like.

    Having said all of that, I still think vintage acoustics can be a fantastic deal. I see nice Gibson and Martin acoustics from the 50s and 60s for sale all the time at prices comparable to buying a new one. Generally, though new guitars are made so well, and cost so little money, that it is sometimes tough to justify spending the money on a vintage guitar. A new Baja tele is a cool guitar that I like better than most 70s tele I have played. This makes shopping for a vintage tele problematic for me. In fact, despite the cost of maintenance, I think I would be more likely to shop for vintage amps than guitars. IMO vintage amps are mostly very reasonable in price. Some of them are cheaper than new amps, especially if we compare to modern handwired PTP amps.
     
    Zebulon Bluze, Flakey and grolan1 like this.

  10. radiocaster

    radiocaster Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2015
    europe
    You're joking, right? In the 80s anything that was not vintage strat, tele or Les Paul could be had for under $1000. O.k., maybe even a White Falcon would be a 900-1200$.

    I know we are talking about teles, but even they were priced comparatively.
     

  11. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 3, 2015
    Philadelphia
    Interesting reading so far. The collector aspect seems understandable, but even then, I feel like you need to have hundredss of collectors hoarding hundreds of guitars if not more, right? Because is think in the heyday of the 60s fender moist be made thousands and thousands of guitars. Maybe not at the level (or speed) that they do now, but still. And I know folks just threw stuff out back then with no thought of future value, but it's not like a guitar was a copy of Spider-Man #1 or whatever. It was an expensive purchase I would think people would tend to keep around even if their dreams of rock stardom faded away... Or at least not trash them outright.
     
    savofenno likes this.

  12. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 8, 2010
    Montreal
    I sold enough gear back then to buy a Mercedes (if sold at today's inflated prices) but still have a 68 tele that cost approx $280 with case.

    There are lots of guys out there like myself who went into other business ventures but still play and have kept a few old instruments from our garage-band days of retro Rock & Roll or Classic-Rock.

    Probably a lot of gear in the closet, attic, whatever. I trashed a Fender case because it was chewed-up almost useless and saw the same thing on eBay for $500 not long ago. Unbelievable that my garbage has become someone's gold just like in the expression...
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016

  13. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's

    Thats what I basically said.

    but note I said 1980s and 90s. In the 1980s for electrics it was vintage teles, Strats and Les Pauls the scarce Korina Explorers and Vs.( these two were legitimately rare and desired). By the 1990s everything 50-early 60s started to take a jump. In 1992 I got a mint 1959 L.P Junior with a Lifton case for $300.00. Two hours later I sold it to a vintage shop vintage wholesale; $400.00 for the case and $1000.00 for the guitar. It was a crazy time.
     

  14. Flakey

    Flakey Friend of Leo's


    Ebay is a distortion of the reality of true price.
     
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  15. amplifiedhermit

    amplifiedhermit Tele-Meister

    488
    Jan 5, 2015
    Western US
    Well, just going by ebay descriptions, pretty-much every guitar is either super-rare or vintage. :)
     
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  16. radiocaster

    radiocaster Friend of Leo's

    Aug 18, 2015
    europe
    It got crazier by the late 90s.

    One interesting thing about the 80s though, most prototypes and one-offs were not worth more, with the exception of a few pieces like those Explorers and Vs.
     

  17. 24 track

    24 track Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Nov 6, 2014
    kamloops bc
    I can tell you exactly where 22 of the Vintage or soon to be vintage guitars are, no real value just massed produced every day players, some getting to the 50 year mark.
     

  18. Bartholomew3

    Bartholomew3 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 8, 2010
    Montreal
    Agreed - plus the asking price is probably not the selling price on most items.

    But even if you deduct 50%...
     
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  19. Middleman

    Middleman Friend of Leo's

    Aug 29, 2007
    MV, CA
    There are YouTube videos of several rock star's collections. In some cases warehouses full of old guitars and amps. James Taylor, the guy from Cheap Trick and others own hundreds if not a couple thousand of vintage guitars. Add to this other high end collectors and you have, well a lot of items in storage. Minus of course all the guitars ruined in the Nashville flood a few years ago. These are all the reasons you see less of them around.
     

  20. Lost_N_Austin

    Lost_N_Austin Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    75
    Feb 18, 2004
    Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
    Many of the guitars are in the hands of people who know how to use them and can afford them. I.E. John5, Santana, Prince (rip), Joe Bonamassa (mentioned above).
    Here is a link to an article in Collectible Guitar Magazine from SEP/OCT 2014 featuring guitars owned by Gordon Kennedy, Nashville guitarist and session player.
    https://issuu.com/collectibleguitar/docs/cg-sepoct14-issuu/39

    (you may have to arrow-over to page 39)

    Many more are held by dealers that show up at Guitarlington (Guitar Show in Arlington Tx in October.

    Some are in attics, under beds, in back of pawn shops or over seas.
     

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