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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. Uncle Daddy

    Uncle Daddy Tele-Holic

    Sep 26, 2015
    Maldon, England

    The decent ones are already in someone's collection. I have no interest in worn out dusty relics. Wood doesn't sound better for ageing, paint doesn't breathe, and lacquer has no tone.
    LocoTex and xgritzx like this.
  2. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    I agree. I have played a 1928 Gibson L-000 and,that was 30 years ago, I will never forget the tone of that dried out old wood. Have not heard anything close to it since. I do like Neil Young's old Martin.
    xgritzx and 2 Headed Goat like this.
  3. 2 Headed Goat

    2 Headed Goat Tele-Holic

    Jul 28, 2012
    Here & Now
    One thing that no one I believe has touched on except for AndrewG a bit (vintage cameras) was back in the day, things were made to last and quality was the hallmark of a good product. That mindset started to die out in the 60's when Corporations became more prominent and 'bean counters' arrived on the scene...

    One of the reasons I'm so fond of early models G&L is not only because they were designed by the gentleman who IMB started it all but he and associates were of this old school mentality where it was all about top quality instead of making a quick buck.

    Many folks don't realise that G&L in the 11 year run of the original company never turned a profit - not that they didn't give it a fair go. Dale Hyatt said they might as well included a $50 note along with every SC-1 guitar they shipped. Leo had deep pockets due to the 13 million sale of Fender in 1964 so he was in a unique position but he wasn't about to sacrifice quality and his reputation in order to turn a profit. He even at one point considered having instruments manufactured in Japan but didn't like the quality of the sample instruments so he bagged the idea.
    The ash, maple, mahogany, rosewood and ebony used back in the day was top notch in comparison to what the current incarnation can even offer today. And the hardware and components not to mention fit and finishes were of the same. Now granted, they're not everyone's cuppa but quality-wise across the board, its pretty hard to argue they are not superior to models being made today...

    Also IMO, it comes down to how one defines 'old' and 'vintage'. Both are general and relative terms. Back in the 1970's 'vintage' electric guitars were considered those built in the 1950's and the early 1960's and many professional musos favoured them over the current day offerings. Not all that long after CBS bought Fender, Norlin purchased Gibson and the quality pretty much sank. Not to say there weren't good guitars being made then but the number of instruments being produced daily increased significantly as did cost cutting tactics.
    IIRC A.R. Duchossoir mentions in the Stratocaster book that CBS was pumping our nearly 500 instruments per day by the late '1970's and this was before CNC machines were involved.
    Having said that, not all pre-CBS Fenders (and perhaps pre Norlin Gibsons, don't know - I'm a Fender guy) were stellar. I've played a couple early 60's strats that were dogs and I owned a 50's tele body that was dull and lifeless. Still, IMB old wood and old world methods/mentality wins out.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
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  4. claes

    claes Tele-Holic

    Aug 20, 2007
    Guitars no. Amps is another thing. The amp quality was definitly better. No pcb, tubes had to have military quality. Plus tweed sound (holy grail for many of us) isn't in flavor.
    Cars definitly did have thicker metal.

    Some arguments are just stupid. My favorite must be the person who said that the metal in a vibrola tremelo had higher quality in the 60's (in the 60's metal production was made local by just about anybody and is today a specialized high tech industry).
    LocoTex and xgritzx like this.
  5. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    claes NO. You have obviously not played an old guitar by your comments.
    I have played a 90 year old Gibson, a friend ( dealer) has a pre-war Martin and LOOK at what happens to Spruce tops as they age, they turn from white to amber after 20 years and the tone gets better.

    My son has a dark Carpathian Spurce top violin and it sounds great.
    You can make a hand wired amp by building a kit, many offers out there, but they still need the tubes , cabinet and have to be hand wired - and that's just the start of that amplifier. Playing ages that sound.

    I grew up near a wood yard and the guys there taught me about woods. Do your homework.

    Check out Olef Guitars- brilliant! Martin Tallstrom also uses Australian Maton guitars ( so too did members of George Harrison's tribute concert).

    Quite frankly, I am surprised that a European, Living amongst the last good spruce, can make such a comment about guitars and amps. No comparison.
    xgritzx likes this.
  6. viking

    viking Friend of Leo's

    Jan 23, 2007
    I dont believe for one second that solid bodied guitars are better because they are old.
    Sure , they get worn in , and that can be a really comfy thing.....With all the experts out there that does everything and anything to guitars , there must be some of them that can copy the rolled edges of necks and so.......If most old guitars play great its probably because of the countless set-ups, refrets and so over the years ....And , no , they sure didnt sound great/better as a rule back then either.........
    LocoTex and xgritzx like this.
  7. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 3, 2015
    I love these threads on this board, trying to find truth to a totally, *totally* subjective topic.

    I’ve said this before, but it’s like trying to answer the question “who makes the best apple pie?”

    Petson 1: my mom made the best apple pie

    Person 2: no, the best apple pie was made by this little bakery in my hometown in 1965, it’s been closed now for 20 years. I miss it.

    Person 3: no, *my* mother made the best apple pie.

    Person 4: there hasn’t been a good apple pie made since people started using bleached flour and disposable pie trays.

    Person 5: I like McDonald’s apple pie

    Person 6: I once shared a pumpkin pie with bob Dylan in 1970... (you get this guy a lot at tdpri, that just wants to go off on a tangent to tell his stories that aren’t really pertinent to the topic at hand)

    Person 7: modern advancements in large scale baking ensure that you can get the same apple pie consistently no matter where you purchase it...

    Person 8: I only use canned apples because it gives the apples time to age. Fresh apples need to breathe.

    Person 9: I had an apple pie last week made with a new hybrid breed of apple that was just cultivated recently. If you’re still using Granny Smith, you’re missing out.

    Person 10: Granny Smith apples? It’s funny how years ago you just made your apple pie with which ever apples you could get, but now the big Granny Smith Apple corporations have led you to believe that their apples are the only ones suitable.. it’s all marketing.

    Person 11: I only eat apple pies that have had the edge of the crust pinched by hand. If the edge was rolled over by hand, I can taste the difference. It doesn’t have that “tang” you only get with pinched crust.

    And so on and so on.

    You’re never going to get an answer to who makes the best apple pie. Everyone’s idea of the best apple pie is going to be different. So just eat the sort you like best that is available to you. Or go out and eat every different variation you can on the apple pie- but don’t go around in circles arguing about which sort is best on the internet, because it’s not a question with a concrete answer.
    Mr Scallywag, Flaneur, tfarny and 2 others like this.
  8. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

    Feb 10, 2009
    1979? No.

    That's a used guitar that has become "vintage" because when you can't afford something from the 50s/60s it makes someone feel like they have something special. 1979 wasn't exactly a high point for Fender, that being said neither is 2018.
    xgritzx likes this.
  9. xgritzx

    xgritzx Tele-Meister

    May 20, 2016
    northern VA
    well, it was really opinions that I wanted. I was curious to see what made them better or worse to the individuals with experience. I know there is no concrete answers. one thing I was curious to see is if there is a checklist of sorts of features or quirks that people look for in older guitars that may have gotten lost over the years. I am a sucker for hype though as much as anyone but im becoming more aware of that too, which is another angle this question was taking. at the end of the day I really don't mind how old a guitar is or isn't or what the tag says, if its worth it to me then it is. I overpaid for my Baja partscaster from that very shop (everything is too high in there) I mentioned because I didn't really know what I was looking at or for at the time but I still love that guitar and I can't find one better so far, or certainly not one I connect with the same way, so the tag was alright in the end.
  10. claes

    claes Tele-Holic

    Aug 20, 2007
    It hit me that I had commented on electric guitars. Acoustic are different - yes
  11. FenderLover

    FenderLover Friend of Leo's

    Jun 11, 2009
    Electric guitars, no, because of their construction.
    Amplifiers, yes, because of their construction.
    Acoustics - lots of cork sniffing there. In the context of a performance, it doesn't matter. Under a magnifying glass vintage has its charm. Neither will make you play any better.

    I think most of the appeal with vintage equipment is pride of ownership. It's like a classic car. They don't make 1950 Mercurys any more. Cool ride to own, but no better than what is made today.
  12. teleplayr

    teleplayr Tele-Holic

    Older doesn't necessarily mean better.

    There are as many duds in older guitars as new ones.
    xgritzx likes this.
  13. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

    Sep 4, 2008
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Ai yai yai.

    Here's what I do believe: The old stuff that is still around after all these years is very likely to be better, IF ONLY because it started life as one of the good ones and was recognized as such, and so never ended up in the dumpster as most of its year-mates did. If it did have imperfections, they were probably sorted out in prior decades. So what remains is more than likely an exceptional example. When we compare it to a run of the mill modern guitar, simple probability is going to suggest we are likely to prefer the old one.

    Add to that powerful confirmation bias (the tendency of people to latch onto information that confirms their prior beliefs and to reject information that counters their prior beliefs) and the absence of credible scientific info on the topic and well, here we are.
    xgritzx likes this.
  14. Theslack5

    Theslack5 Tele-Meister

    Mar 13, 2014
    Southampton uk
    I’ve only owned 2 old guitars a 65 jazzmaster which was great and a 77 tele which weighed a tonne and was nothing special. I think there are as many bad old guitars as there are good. All my guitars these days are no older than 15 and I can’t say I miss much about the vintage stuff except that they do look cool with a bit of wear on them.
    xgritzx likes this.
  15. doc w

    doc w Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 9, 2011
    I think you can get really terrific guitars NOW more than ever before. 1970s Teles and Strats usually - not always - lacked the quality of those from the previous decades. However, to quote one of my favourite lines of all time (from "Chinatown' and I hope I got it mostly right): "even politicians, whores, and ugly buildings gain respectability with age"
    xgritzx likes this.
  16. MagicTwanger

    MagicTwanger Tele-Meister

    Jun 20, 2007
    YES, but more practice trumps worrying about it.
    RadioFM74 and xgritzx like this.
  17. johio

    johio TDPRI Member

    Jun 1, 2018
    I think a big problem is that too many people buy guitars with the concern of what they can sell it for later rather than the concern of actually playing it. In the end, it’s all wood and wire and it’s been made the same way for over 50 years. A Tele is a Tele is a Tele. Find one that feels good and play it. One chunk of Alder is worth no more than any other, regardless of age.

    It’s all hype.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
    nicod98, hellopike and xgritzx like this.
  18. qblue

    qblue Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 12, 2009
    Clarks Summit, PA
    For example, I own a 1970 Stratocaster. It's just old and sounds as if it is from the late 60's. But it's just old. The pots need cleaning/replacement. The bridge pickup is whiny and microphonic. But you cannot buy one at your local stores today. That's its only value to the retail world. That is its allure.

    The same is true of my 1990 Strat Ultra. The line was discontinued in 1998, but the Lace Sensors it has are unique. It is built like a custom shop instrument. At 28 years old, it's value may increase due to the scarcity and no reissues will ever occur. But it's just old and works perfectly. But I think the new Elites may blunt the value because Gen 4 pickups are really good.

    I think it's all in the head of the buyer. If you perceive that this older guitar has a certain something, mojo or whatever it is, then it's worth it to you. In my experience it's never the instrument, it is the one playing the instrument. So to buy an old so-and-so, so you can just sound so-so, doesn't make logical sense. Remember it takes more maintenance for an old guitar, than an entry-level guitar, which are usually better built as manufacturing tolerances are better (CNC).

    You do realize that solidbody guitars were built to be identical and easily repairable, with stock parts so they would only have to replace worn parts. This is the legacy of Leo Fender. He was a radio repairman, who built good stuff with cheap modular parts. Licensing has expanded to Southeast Asia, China, Korea, so you can get the planned identically produced instruments a lowered cost.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
  19. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    Yes, there is a bit of cork sniffing, and not all old guitars are great. Some are and if you have an ear for a lovely sound you will hear it.
    I have played for 50 years now and only three acoustics have wowed me.
    The 1928 Gibson, an old Martin D-18 and that friend who has a pre- war Martin Dreadnought ( he sells vintage instruments and this one he's keeping).
    Electrics too can also be similar in ageing. I was stunned by a 1961 SG style Les Paul jr.- all mahogany and, curiously, an old Fender Bronco.
    Wood dries out and "in the old days' my lumberyard friends air dried hundreds of various planks for 20 years before cutting and use in furniture and some instruments. It also dries within in that the sap crystallizes. So even electrics can benefit from ageing- not all though.
    So if you are in the vintage market play the guitar, come back a couple days later, and see if it sounds as good. I once tried a Martin D-45 as a gift for my 50th. but came back a few days later and it just didn't wow me the second time round.
    It's all in the ears, your ears, some will do it, some won't
    There is some truth about aged woods that's why my son's violin teacher uses a $30,000 instrument teaching and hasn't told us what her concert instrument cost.Put it this way she has shoes with diamonds on them and gets 15.000 Euros and more for her performances in the Ukraine and Russia her place of origin. ( She looks like a certain 6' tennis player too!!).;)
  20. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Tele-Afflicted

    It is, but not because its superior. Its because folks my age associate those years and a real Fender with the successful musicians that were playing them then and in 1979 there were no really good copies. The imports screamed "import" even if they were clones.

    I'll never forget that feeling of something sacred that I wanted, but couldn't have then, and the hope that someday I'd have one. Many folks my age just want those things from that time period, that they can now afford.

    If you wait another decade or so, they will drop in relative cost, as that generation dies off, and the new generation doesn't have the same sentimentality for them...;)
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