Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

is the old stuff really that much better?

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by xgritzx, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. xgritzx

    xgritzx Tele-Meister

    May 20, 2016
    northern VA
    I was looking at a 1979 tele at a local shop for $2800, and while it seems nice and I vibe on it for sure, I'm just curious if its really worth $1-1.5k more than a new American tele? and if it is, then why?

    I see so much of this old stuff go for crazy money but the new stuff is pretty kick ass. just curious what justifies it for you. not saying its wrong because I would buy the $2800 dollar one if I could, just curious if there is a defined set list of what makes the old stuff so good.
  2. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    May 21, 2006
    Is it inherently better? No.
    Are there some differences leading to results some prefer over modern alternatives? Yes.
    Does it all get blown out of proportion? Often.
  3. blille

    blille Tele-Afflicted

    I used to have a 79. It sucked. Worst playing neck I've had. Btw, that's overpriced. You should be able to get it much cheaper.

    Some vintage guitars are great but IMHO we live in the golden age of guitars. The value of the guitars currently available is amazing.
  4. nicod98

    nicod98 Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 7, 2014
    I can't believe that older guitars are better per se...

    We live in a time where CNC machines can do the exact same thing over and over again. A lot of production processes (of components) are more and more automated and constant.
    This does lead to the "too much uniformity syndrome". Even in Belgium we're starting to go back to individuality, so instead of going to MacDonalds, we have local hamburger restaurants, each serving their own perfect burger, like in the good old days.
    So older instruments will have bigger differences from one to another... Some will be great, some will be very bad. Newer guitars will have a more constant quality, but will lack individuality.

    I often hear older people (I call myself young) complaining about the quality of the guitars they learned to play on, so at least the beginner guitars will be better now.

    Since I will never be a pro player, I tend to agree that today really is a golden age for guitars (qualitywise), of course the age of guitars with a lot of mojo was a few decades ago.
  5. raysachs

    raysachs Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

    May 21, 2017
    Near Philly
    There was a time when a '79 was considered relative junk. I had a '76 Strat that was looked down upon by all who laid eyes on it - sure played nice though. Back in the late '70s and early '80s nobody wanted to hear about modern teles or strats - everyone wanted the old Pre-CBS stuff. But the 70s Fenders that lasted this long also get to be called vintage and overpriced. But realistically, they weren't great. I loved my 70s strat, it was my only electric guitar for about 25-30 years and it was me. But I'd all but stopped playing and sold it (for a crazy amount of money IMHO) and since I got back into playing in the past couple of years, I've played a lot of strats and owned a few and I'd have to say that the nicer of the MIM strats I've played recently were better instruments than that old mid-70s strat I had in almost every respect. It seems crazy to me that I was able to get about 4 times as much in about 2006-2007 for a mid-70s strat (naturally relic'd!) as I've recently paid for really nice Mexican strats (which I honestly judge to be of very similar quality to almost all of the American strats I've played recently).

    Sometimes you'll grab an old one and it'll speak to you. But I really think a lot of times you'll grab an old one and just hear voices in your head... I'm not even sure the Pre-CBS stuff is as good as it's cracked up to be (I've played some that were, but plenty that weren't), let alone the more pedestrian 70s stuff.

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  6. Nick Fanis

    Nick Fanis Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Mar 3, 2003
    There are around 19.999 similar threads in TDPRI.:D

    Truth is that there are some people that actually believe it and like in everything in life no matter what you do you will never convince them on the opposite.

    Simple logic and actual proof dictates that due to advances in technology and CNCs today's guitars are tremendously more consistent and better made.

    We also live in the world of an amazing selection and variety of great pickups and hardware something that the guitar manufacturers of the past could not even dream about.

    So all that's left for debate is if AGE plays any part in how an electric guitar sounds.

    In my experience and after having owned many "vintage" guitars from the fifties,sixties and seventies it is pure BS.

    Some of those guitars sounded good,a few were horrible and even fewer were spectacular.

    All in all I have experienced way better guitars from recent production sound wise and of course due to technology and consistency way better PLAYING guitars too.

    Many vintage guitar lovers talk about MOJO but I can't comment on non tangible qualities cause I am a science man and don't believe in them;)
  7. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Tele-Afflicted

    Aug 30, 2011
    They're not inherently "better" as musical instruments, but they are certainly more collectible/valuable...for many reasons, not least of which is that our guitar culture has *long* idealized them (since before they were even "old" guitars), and rich collectors have long competed for and hoarded them. So there is a ton of demand...and not that much supply by modern production volume standards. It's near impossible to find a truly clean, truly original one that is not in the hands of a high end collector. The ones we see on the market are usually "player" level guitars...the dregs, in the eyes of the hardcore collectors. Beat ("relic'd, we say now), often non original, etc.

    And I think they generally had specs I like more...but not in the era you are talking about. I like the specs and the aesthetics of '50's and '60's Teles best.

    Personally, I lost 90 percent of my longstanding desire for antique Fenders the minute I played my first guitar in the American Vintage series (around 2013, I think). At that point, they "got it right" to my preferences – finally! Sad they only lasted five years. I guess they finally realized they were too good, and probably killing their Custom Shop NOS sales. I feel lucky that I was able to grab five of 'em when I could. I'd rather break in a very close repro from brand new, with a replacement cost of $2,000 (tops!), and no fear of damage, insurance costs, theft, finding the right repair guy whose work won't devalue it, re-frets, etc., than shell out for an expensive piece that someone else has beat on for 50 or 60 years, that I feel I have a responsibility to take care of and treat a certain way. Old Fenders aren't for me any more...unless as a way to possibly beat the stock market.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  8. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Poster Extraordinaire

    Feb 3, 2017
    Foat Wuth, Texas
    Nick Fanis nailed it....none of you guys are taking into consideration the MOJO that '79 has absorbed by being played by killer guitarists in its lifetime. Probably used by Roy Buchanan, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and no telling who else?
    But seriously.....To me, a guitar is what it is....age doesn't matter, provenance doesn't matter, and former ownership doesn't matter. If it doesn't feel and sound good, it's a paperweight. Current production instruments are (in general) better than they've EVER been.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
    mthowlett and xgritzx like this.
  9. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

    would you rather have a brand new honda civic or a 1974 Ford Maverick? Assume that the Maverick is show room quality and the civic is brand new. You are going to use this as your daily driver and you will need to rely on it. Honest to God, if you pick the Maverick, you are a mutant. Back in 79, the fenders that guys wanted were from the 'pre cbs' era... the 70's were a weird quality era where there were some great things being made but not consistently... and the quality of the Maverick was never in question... it sucked.

    I saw someone with one a few weeks ago and he had kind of badged up as a cowboy cadillac... the only person I knew who had one back in the day were the Garlands (in my neighborhood) and even their high school aged kids acted like octogenarians. So, yeah, if you want to pretend to have something cool and that will get you there emotionally... have at it.... but, for the geezers that were there... 2800 is about 2100 too high.
  10. drf64

    drf64 Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Jul 24, 2009
    Ada, MI
    I had a 1978 tele for about a year. I was going to sell my baja after getting it, but it slowly dawned on me that the baja was better in every way, especially playability.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
    mthowlett and xgritzx like this.
  11. Shidoin

    Shidoin Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

    Jan 7, 2009
    Ventura CA
    The only brand new guitar I ever bought was a ‘79 Tele; it was also the worst guitar I’ve ever owned. Weighed 10lbs, and the neck had a subtle twist that defied any attempts to make it playable.
    As raysachs said, ‘70’s guitars were shunned at the time. I wouldn’t consider buying one of that vintage for that price unless it was pure magic in my hands, head and shoulders above any new one I played.
    Chicago Matt and xgritzx like this.
  12. 83siennateleguy

    83siennateleguy Tele-Meister

    Sep 18, 2017
    Claysburg Pa.
    In the end , it's all up to the individual and what your personal preference is. One man's junk is another man's treasure! I'm old school and even though we all drive a modern day vehicle, I'd love to have an old muscle car (57 chevy, 68 camaro ). Though you would spend 10x the amount of the original purchase price to own one , that's just how things are. Sure a car gets you from point A to point B, you can play the same chords on a guitar wether it's a 79 or a new one. But back in the day you had an American product that was hand made and proud to own and show off. I have a 1983 top loader standard siennaburst telecaster all original that I got for Christmas that year. I've seen review after review of how big of a piece of junk they were and that's fine. Everyone's entitled to their own opinion. I bet if the people who try to discourage you from getting a 79 had the money to buy something vintage, I bet they would have one too. Remember, as the saying goes You only go around once, so if you can get something you would really like to have then I say GO FOR IT. Don't live your life to suit other people , live your life to make you happy. No matter what you choose to do ,I hope your happy in the end. Have a great day !
  13. RadioFM74

    RadioFM74 Tele-Afflicted

    I had a 79 strat and I am happy I traded it in for a 2014 American Standard. I do not believe in generalizations, so if you love that guitar I’d say go for it. As for me, I would rather spend that money on two used American Vintage.

    I can’t say I have extensive experience of vintage instruments. But out of the few ‘60s and ‘70s strats and teles (and ES-125s) I’ve laid my hands on, the only one that struck me as somehow special was a lovely blonde ’66 telecaster (I kick myself for not buying it, sometimes).

    Amps are a bit of another matter. I love old amps…
  14. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

    a seventy nine ultralinear twin? an 80's red knob? no way.
    moosie and xgritzx like this.
  15. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Near Detroit, MI

    Once guitars get to a certain age the collectors, not the players, begin to appreciate them.

    For the players, there is some survivor bias in the old guitars since the horrid ones were dismantled and scavenged for parts. So the old guitars that are still around had some redeeming quality to them that made someone store them, repair them, and play them. That old advice about when looking for a guitar make sure to 'run the racks' to 'find the good one' came out of those good old days for a reason -- there was a lot of poorly built guitars as there were gems among them. Now everyone thinks all the guitars back then were gems if they were all like the survivors.

  16. Old Tele man

    Old Tele man Friend of Leo's

    May 10, 2017
    Tucson, AZ
    No, but it *IS* that much OLDER! (wink)
    xgritzx likes this.
  17. Guitarteach

    Guitarteach Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 6, 2014
    Tonight my amp was a ‘79 JMP 50w and the guitar I played all night was a ‘72 ES345. That’s a lot of decades of mojo.

    The guitar really plays like butter and the original T tops really sing and punch out the high notes. The Tele stayed at home and a Strat sat on its case all night.

    A guitar with some years of playing with your own hands on it is like like a pair comfortable old shoes. No rough edges.

    I am sure i could nail the sounds with a modern version but it felt really really good to play the same gear from the era that inspired you.
  18. JustABluesGuy

    JustABluesGuy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 2, 2016
    Houston, TX
    I’m into vintage music, tones, antiques and nostalgia, and all kinds of old things.

    When it comes to music gear though, the only “vintage” gear I’ve “collected”’so far is speakers. Like antique furniture, I started buying them because I like old stuff, and many can be had fairly cheaply as well.

    Are my vintage speakers than better new speakers? It depends on one’s definition of better. They don’t handle high watts. They aren’t very efficient. A couple of them even sound ratty, like they’re about to blow (they probably are!). I can only use them with low wattage amps, or in multiples, but I like their vintage tone.

    The only vintage guitar I have is an early 60’s Stella acoustc that is bearly useable, even for slide. I paid next to nothing for it though, and it looks cool hanging on the wall. I’m a player, not a collector, and have no desire (or need) to spend a fortune competing with Joe Bonnassa, or even my Dentist.

    As many have already mentioned “old” doesn’t automatically mean “great” when it comes to guitars.

    There is a phenomenon that I call the “Rose colored glasses effect” that makes us (the fortunate ones anyway) remember things in a way so that the past seems a lot better than it actually was. We tend to automatically minimize, and even forget the bad stuff, and remember, and often embellish, our memories of the good times. That’s why most people remember the past as being much better than the present.

    Sorry, I forgot that this isn’t a psychology forum!
    nojazzhere and xgritzx like this.
  19. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 16, 2003
    There's probably only a couple hundred 79 Teles still in existence unmolested.

    If it was a pristine 69 it'd be worth $5-6 bills. A pristine 59, double, easy.

    CBS era instruments and especially 'old cowboy guitars' like the Tele are/were on the nose, because Page, Clapton, Hendrix, Green and a host of others convinced us the Strat and Lester were the guitars to use. Plus, Leo was there with Music Man, Schecters appeared, Ibanez with Artists. That's why FMIC were in trouble. Yes, some CBS changes like the Gumby body shape and thick finish didn't help. In the era of spandex, big hair and pointy headstock guitars, very few kept the faith. Keef, and Brooce, some Blues dudes, jazzers, Joe Strummer. Status Quo.

    But there's not much difference empirically between a 69 and 79. Especially a blonde or sunburst. Same neck profile, tuners, pickup and electronics, finish, even weight. That's part of Fenders problem. They were trying new models like Thinline and Deluxe, trying to break out but the market had them in a box. So making the same standard tele for over ten years would be on a hiding to nothing. The one meg pots especially through amps like Ultralinear or MM or SS of the era hurt them, too.

    It's said Seymour Duncan got started in business driving around guitar shops buying unwanted trade-in Strats and Teles with busted pickups or other faults and fixing them. When vintage became a 'thing' he cleaned up bigtime That was when you could find pre-CBS for hundreds.

    I wouldn't pay above the odds for a 79. Or 69. Or 59. Or 49. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't pay fair price for it, if the price is right. I had a 78 that was awesome - but it was original, and I couldn't bring myself to even change out the vol pot for 250k, plus it had a narrow A neck and slightly microphonic bridge pickup. I passed it on to a guy with small hands and matching A neck blonde 77 Strat. He was over the moon.

    Awesome guitar to play, looked cool with an aged poly coat and bwb pickguard, great clean snap and bite. 8lb, almost shred action. Intonated perfectly. Pots (plastic shaft) and switch still perfect. Solid tuners.

    That's it in my avatar with Thinline and Framus hollow body. I bought and sold it in a year for $1800 ten years back. I'd pay $2500 for it today, confident I'd get that back plus more in a few years. Mojo? It had. It's one way of preserving and using something with some history - it wasn't an under the bed, someone had used it from the forearm wear regularly.

    But - my MIM Thinline is a player with NOS bridge and threaded saddles, 250k pots 5-way switch and other changes. I'll never get even the $650 with case back I paid 20 years ago. Buy smart 60-70s Teles and Strats can be sweethearts. Like old amps.

    My 84 Superchamp is a winner. Like 3 vintage amps in a 30lb package that's giggable. Once, you couldn't give them away.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
    JustABluesGuy and xgritzx like this.
  20. bluesky1963

    bluesky1963 Tele-Afflicted

    Apr 1, 2011
    Glendale, AZ
    Having been the not so proud owner of a 1972 Ford Maverick, with a 302 V8 engine; I'd take the Maverick! :D

    You're right; they suck as far as cars go, but it'd be great to be able to blow people's doors off once again!
    Rustbucket and xgritzx like this.
IMPORTANT: Treat everyone here with respect, no matter how difficult!
No sex, drug, political, religion or hate discussion permitted here.