10 Reasons Why Vintage Guitars Are Not Worth The Money

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Diceman

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The basic design of Fender, Gibson, and other brand name solid body electric guitars hasn't changed in 50 years or more. They were mass produced in the beginning (that's what they were designed for) and they are mass produced now. The only thing that has changed is (in some cases) pup design, and old tools have been replaced with new ones (generally more precise and higher quality). The woods that are most often used aren't that much harder to get than they used to be, just more expensive (what isn't?). Sure, there is variation, some guitars are better than others; some times the assembly process happens to hit the right body with the right neck and the right pups, it happens in any mass production operation. Sure some of those old guitars are some of the greatest guitars ever built. But, some of the best guitars ever built came off the line yesterday, too.


Your "average" new guitar has nothing on the "average" 50's/60's." You can't get a Fender w/ a decent "comparable" vintage type Nitro finish without going to the Custom Shop. Even my $2k AVRI Strat has a "meh" finish on it compared to my old Jag. Woods and playability on Fenders - sure - but that great "feel" that comes with a good Nitro finish... tough to find - hell, impossible to find in the regular Fender import or USA lines - and you pay a whole lot for what was once "the norm" through the Custom Shop.

As for Gibson - they've kept the basic shape but that is about it - unless you go to the Custom shop. Short neck tenons, giant chambers to reduce weight in an effort to combat the crappy dense wood they use now... Even the Custom Shop "reissues" have a ton of plasticiser in the finish. I own one - and it is "a good one" - yet it has nothing on my '69 Les Paul. Better wood? Who knows - but there is no question that one is much nicer than the other - which is the best that Gibson has to offer today. The light weight old growth Honduras mahogany can be found today in limited quantities, but Gibson sure isn't using it on their "regular" production models.

There is a difference - I'm not just talking out of my arse. Maybe some people prefer the feel of Poly Armor under their fingers, but it just doesn't do it for me.
 

stevieboy

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There are a lot of great guitars being built today at all price levels, no doubt.

I wonder what Mr. Roman would say on his website if he suddenly acquired a bunch of vintage guitars though. Think his tune might change?
 

Diceman

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They may not be "worth" what they go for, value wise - but objectively, if I were to be blindly offered a "new" or a "vintage" Fender and all I cared about were feel, playability, and tone - I'd say "give me the vintage one" every time.
 

randysmojo

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All I know is this, I have played on a '63 and a '66 stratocaster that in my opinion where the best playing and sounding strats I have ever put my hands on. A very close one was a Custom Shop '65 strat at a music store here in Austin. It felt really good and sounded great, but I don't think it quite had the magic that I felt from the '63, which I used in the studio to record with, so I got to know it pretty good. If I can't afford original vintage, I'm going for custom shop. If I can't afford that, then I'll have to try everything I can find and hope I find one that feels great to me.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Okay. I find myself agreeing with both sides of the conversation. The important thing to a musician is the music, not the instrument's story. But to a collector or investor, it is the instrument's story. Both make sense to somebody.

I have six guitars. One is an '80s Fender. Two are 1970 Gibsons. One is a late '40s Gibson.

You've probably already guessed: I mostly play the two partscasters. Why? Because they're great guitars.

I hardly ever play the Fender. It just doesn't sound or feel that good. On the other hand, I like playing the Gibsons. Is it the vibe? The age? The sound? The little slice of history in my hands? I have absolutely no idea.

And who needs to analyse this stuff, anyway? I guess I just think fun is where you find it.
 

emu!

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It's worth it if you know for sure someone will buy it from you at a price that beats any other form of investment you could make with that same amount of money.
 

slickschoppers

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humm....

I think he made some good points.

generally speaking, a CNC is going to do a more acurate, and consistent job than a human. I look at manufactured parts all day long. the way I can tell if they were made by hand or by cnc... if they look sloppy and irregular, chances are they are made by hand, if they are precise and consistent,,, CNC....

"personally" I think that they are making some of the best guitars now. I have a couple nitro guitars, and more than a few poly.... either is fine for me, I actually think I prefer satin poly to nitro....

I think what the article was saying was,,,

if you are buying the guitar to play, and you have the money GREAT.. buy it if you think it is worth it and be happy

if you are buying it as an investment thinking the price will only go up... be prepared to baby the guitar, and make sure you never break it. also be prepared for the bottom to fall out of the market like it has with pretty much every collectible.

right now vintage guitars are at an all time high.... they may go higher,, but I think the prices will drop eventually,

I've played a few 50's and 60's guitars,, I just don't see that they are any better than the new ones,, matter of fact quite a few have been worse.
 

Dave_O

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Having not been alive in the 50's/60's I never played a "new" what is now vintage instrument, so I don't know how much of it is the "ageing" and how much of it is the "better quality of the day," but there is something about a 50's/60's Fender and Gibson that is special.

As for the 70's... while they may be "old," they weren't exactly "golden era" guitars. Age isn't necessarily determinative of "vintage status" with guitars. Not that there weren't some great Fenders in the 70's - but they aren't in the same league as the 50's and early 60's. Some guitars are just old pieces of crap. Some are the greatest guitars ever built...

Hey there, Diceman.
I got no beef against old guitars. I just cant see $100,000+ in any guitar-not even one made from Les Paul's personal toenail clippings:D
What I was getting at is kinda like this... I was born 1960, do I didn't play any of these uber-vintage guitars new either. But I was hanging with older musicians in the mid 70's who had. And their experience was that the quality of gear wasn't all that consistent. But folks spent comparitively BIG bucks to buy them new, and the imperfections had to be dealt with to make them reliable workman's tools . Now I know I'm banging on about it, but that's what I think Leo had in mind when he designed this thing. It was designed to be played, worked. Not put in a vault.
IMO.....yadayadayada

And maybe our experience of 50's-60's guitars is coloured by a kind of natural selection- the good ones get worked on over the years and are like the guitar equivalent of a restored Customline. The bad ones get turned into race cars-- you know, the 62 Strat with a Floyd Rose and hb pups. Or they get "Townshend-ed":D
 

porgy

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crispy creme donuts and a tele

Next time you have crispy creme donuts and a cup of coffee you can look at your donuts and think about it like this. Foreign made guitars and American made. I don't have the links, and there will always be controversy. But, as i take it, the American made guitars of the past were mass assembled, just as the Foreign made are today. The difference is in the equipment. In the past there wasn't robot mechanized equipment like there is today. More handmade stuff, other than routers. So, when buying an American made you were more apt to get a different sound from each individual instrument, as compared to today's mass built instruments that use robot technology. In using robot technology most instruments pretty much sound the same, feel the same and look the same. And that is what manufacturers, especially foreign manufacturers are striving for, to have instruments that all sound and look the same,like crispy creme donuts. As for me, I prefer the good old American made.
 

smsuryan

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They are worth exactly whatever you can get for them or whatever you are willing to pay for them. There is nothing else to know.

+1.....whats an old 57 chevy belair worth? the same as a vintage guitar...whatever someone is willing to pay...2 grand?..200 grand?....depends on who sees the ad...
 

Big John

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Johnnies 10 reasons for not buying it just 'cos it's old .........

1) The
2) market
3) will
4) decide
5) the
6) value
7) not
8) the
9) seller's
10) imagination.

As yet i'm not aware of any legislation passed that say's you must buy a vintage guitar ! ;)
 

stevieboy

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Because so much selling today is done in internet auction form, instead of "Whatever someone is willing to pay" might be better expressed as "Just over what two people are willing to pay."

As yet i'm not aware of any legislation passed that say's you must buy a vintage guitar ! ;)

But those voices in my head say it... and they won't shut up about it!

Kidding of course. While owning vintage guitars would be fun and if I had a lot of money I probably would, they are certainly not necessary to make good noises.
 

iris186

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A funny thing with classical guitars, know at least with my spruce classical, is that all classical guitars have a peak, then a slow descent into crappyness. The peak usually happens after a year or 2, but the guitar becomes sub concert standard at the 10 year mark. Every classical guitar has a lifespan, its a living breathing instrument, so vintage doesnt apply. Plus the technology used to create sound, the various soundboard braces, are improving all the time, so definitely the instruments are better than they were 50 years ago, and theres still alot of improvements to come Im sure.

Guess all vintage instrument fascination started out with the Stradivarius violins. The only true vintage instruments, because even at their cost they are still played, and recorded and valued by some of the best musicians on earth. They arent artifacts of a time gone by, or a fad, but just some of the best instruments ever created. I remember I saw a luthier giving a workshop on how classical guitars were made. He told us an anecdote, where Stradivarius was asked by his son to show him the secret of making his violins. And he said simply, he couldnt. The tensions he used in bending the various parts of wood and bracing was from his fingers. Muscular memory. He just couldnt pass on this knowledge. It was in his bones.

There ya go, a good anecdote.
 

teletail

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I saved myself time and aggregation and skipped the link. If you don’t like vintage instruments, don’t buy them. No need to rain on the parades of people that like them.
 
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