vintage telecaster build quality

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by horax, Mar 26, 2020.

  1. Ronzo

    Ronzo Tele-Afflicted

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    Yes, but the percentage of bad ones, in my limited experience, is significantly lower today than twenty years ago.

    Twenty years ago, I tried a MIM Strat that was just glorious. It was just as I was getting divorced, Fender had just dropped the price to $399 USD (including a tweed gig bag), and it was absolutely the WRONG time to buy it. So, since I had, at that time, a Sam Ash, a Mars Music, and a Guitar Center all in the same area near my office, I played every MIM Strat they had in stock.

    None of the others felt or sounded nearly as good as the one I had played.

    When I got back to the office, I called the first store. It was still on the wall. I gave them my credit card number and told them I’d pick it up that night. I’ve never regretted it.

    That was twenty years ago. I remember when Leo Fender sold out to CBS, and how quickly “Pre-CBS” became a thing. 70s Strats and Teles were, if not despised, certainly not sought after. Gibsons weren’t that much better, during the Norlin era. Cost-cutting and poor QC - in my opinion - poisoned their own wells.

    CNC manufacturing took a while to mature, but the “bones” of most instruments today have better fit and finish. No more old growth aged wood, but what craftsmen learned by making mistakes on good wood doesn’t happen, either.

    The percentage of poor quality instruments in today’s manufacturing environment is much lower than I’ve ever seen. So much so that I’ve bought my last ten instruments sight unseen. Given the ability to set up an instrument to my taste, my risk of an unsalvagable instrument is low.

    What a difference twenty years has made.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
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  2. gobi_grey

    gobi_grey Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm thinkig the fretwire metal was tougher back then.
     
  3. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Friend of Leo's

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    well, if thats the case, Im happy with my AVRI and Japanese 62!!

    but of course, a magical real 62 would be nice, but I dont think I'll let go of my guitars
     
  4. dickey

    dickey Friend of Leo's

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    The cheapest Squiers today have better build quality & fit & finish than Fenders from the 50s, but those guitars have something the new ones just can't capture. That's why they go for the big bux.
     
  5. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Did Tele players/buyers of the 50's go over their new Teles with a fine tooth comb and magnifying lens...?
    I'm sure the fit finish was adequate for the days expectations.
    or we wouldn't be fighting over them today. :twisted:

    ...or were they glad to get hold of the latest dance hall rocket, could choose the same colour as their favourite car, twang like a banshee... and be sturdy enough to fight your way out of any club brawl without going out of tune,,,

    here, Take my money,,,,:lol:
     
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  6. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    There are two reasons the old guitars seem to be 'so great!':

    -Survivor bias. The best examples tend to survive. A terrible playing guitar got parted out or discarded long ago.

    -Maintenance and grooming. The old guitars are old enough to have been through several repair people and likely to have been seen by a good one along the way. As the value of the guitar went up the owners certainly sought out the best workmanship they could find and afford. The best repair people are like getting a guitar made by the Factory Custom Shop personnel. The fretwork will be made perfect, the action will be low, and any peculiar problems will have been corrected.

    The quality that matters from a manufacturing aspect is repeatability. Every guitar off the line is 'a good one' and they are all alike. CAD and CNC systems ensure getting closer repeatability, but there is still hand sanding going on at the factories -- adding variability.

    No other products are people advised to 'go run the racks!' like guitars, because you really needed to verify you could play the guitar you might choose in the old days. Modern guitars at all price points can be ordered off the Internet with generally satisfactory results. Sure, there are some picky buyers returning multiple guitars for inconsequential reasons, but in general most players can expect a good guitar through the mail.

    .
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
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  7. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If you made the tele neck pocket joint so perfect that you had to tap it in with a hammer....

    first time you hit some high humidity and the neck wood swells just a tad.... it might be just enough to split the body wood down the middle.... why make it too cute?...

    it was meant to be easily removable... you don't want to be hammering it back out, either....
     
  8. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Afflicted

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    There are a lot of great guitars being built today. If anything, there is more of a science to it today versus just getting lucky in years past.
     
  9. Ripradiant

    Ripradiant Tele-Afflicted

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    I think you get a lot of guitar for the money today. I think the assumption that vintage is "better" needs to be unpacked a bit. IMHO not "better" just more expensive because vintage is a commodity where demand far exceeds supply. Vintage may have character, may have "better" wood (ie nice figuring, maybe real rosewood etc) but a good usa fender from 80s on is pretty damn good guitar.
     
  10. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Friend of Leo's

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    If I've noticed any difference between the vintage and new models it was usually the way the necks were worn down on the older models. As far as sound and playability, it's like someone mentioned erlier, there is a lot of variety in the quality of either the old or new.
     
  11. Corvus

    Corvus Tele-Meister

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    I think the quality at the lower end particularly is quite amazing. A good idea for a thread might be "horrible guitars I had to learn on!" I can go back to the 60's - Certainly in the uk "cheap" instruments were generally a real challenge to learn on - no truss rods, huge necks and lousy pickups and a playing action you could drive a bus under. And not so "cheap" either. In 1968 for my college band I bought a used Jolana Futurama II. I paid £25 - (of my college grant I was supposed to buy books with!) That translates to something like £475 in today's money. So what could you buy pre-owned today for £475? - something pretty damned good I'd say! In fact we would have killed for something as well made and affordable and playable as a Squier. Folk today just don't know how lucky they are.
     
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  12. bo

    bo Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Some guitars are better than others regardless of when they were made. Try before you buy.
     
  13. dave1z

    dave1z TDPRI Member

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    In my opinion (pop the corn folks!), I think guitars are like snowflakes. No two are alike. The attraction to so called "vintage" instruments is due to their rarity and a little bit toward sentimental nostalgia. I'm of a certain age and can remember a time when you hoped that a manufactured item was "a good one". Let's face it, a tele manufactured today is still made of wood (no two trees are the same), assembled and finished by people (no two people are the same), and have the same basic shape and function as the old 'uns! You can get a good one, that suits you, or you can get a clunker. Hell, one guitar that may not "sing" to a person in a shop may be "just the ticket" to the next person who picks it up. If someone wants to have an original "vintage" instrument for the wow factor of it ... all the more power to them! If it makes them happy and proud to play and own it ... so be it. I myself have a couple of old 'uns that I am proud of and they make me smile with the memories they hold for me. Would they be considered valuable ... to me they are ... but not to the big $ some people ask for these things. When I am dead and gone, maybe my kids can cash in on them. But for now, I enjoy taking them outa their cases and remembering playing them for friends and family and the occasional outing at a gig. But I have some modern ones that I am just as fond of. Going to the store (with enough $ to buy one, which is rare), pulling a new one off the shelf, playing a few chords and riffs and saying ... yep ... it's a good 'un. Wrap it up! When my kids go through my collection after I'm gone (one of them is a better player than me!), I hope they value my toys for what they are truly worth. The fun and enjoyment you have ... while you can have it, not the $ value or bragin' rights.
     
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  14. Kloun

    Kloun Tele-Holic

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    One thing left out of the equation is that the woods in the "golden age" guitars are becoming a scarce commodity and may become unavailable. Brazilian rosewood which was used in the Pre-CBS days, was placed on the CITES treaty as an endangered species. 60 years later, it's still an endangered species. Per another thread, Fender has discontinued using ash in some models because of beetles. We may find that on the endangered species list too. Even before, it was difficult to find a lightweight "swamp" ash body whereas in Leo's days at Fender there was no problem getting swamp ash. So if you have a modern guitar with an ash body or Rosewood board, maybe you want to hold onto those.
     
  15. tele12

    tele12 Friend of Leo's

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    When you think about this logically , in the 50s Fender was a start up at making and selling guitars where the owner was putting his name on the headstock.

    He was trying to sell his newly designed guitars to Professional Musicians and asking them to pay about 2 to 4 weeks salary for these guitars.

    I find it difficult to believe these guitars were not comparable quality to the guitars built by today's Fender run by MBA'S.
     
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