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Discussion in 'Vintage Tele Discussion Forum (pre-1974)' started by Kmaxbrady, Jun 12, 2021.
There is much ambiguity in the word "good". It doesn't come up much in science.
@Guitarteach makes a good point about a guitar you wear with your own hands. That’s different to me. My oldest feels like second skin. And the familiarity of the tone and action possibly inspires me.
But if it’s purely metrics I’d rather collect a pre CBS and I’d rather play a new one because every component of every part is better and the assembly and tolerance are better.
But “good enough” crops up everywhere in engineering and many other kinds of design work. Especially when ‘better’ or ‘best’ cost a good deal more.
All things being equal, yes...
there are very many variables...
not least of which is the 'taste' of the player...
I know my old guitars sound and feel better than any of my new ones.
They need to be well set up and working well.
Maybe some day I'll get a chance to play an all original 51-52 Tele and compare it to a new MFG, or better yet compare it with the 51 I built myself Until then, I guess I can't really weigh in on this thread because I don't own, nor have I had enough exp with vintage to say. However, I can't imagine any guitar being worth 15-100K to me, regardless of how well it felt or sounded, or it's history. I can think of a lot better things to do with that sort of jack
I don't know if old guitars are better but they are a heck of a lot cooler
My opinion (of course... that's why we're all here, right?) is that with guitars, anything modern is going to be better than anything "vintage", since improvements in design are being made constantly over time.
Guitars are simple - wood and metal held together with glue and/or screws. Manufacturing is better now, technology is better now, and guitars are more practical (3-way strat switch vs. 5-way, etc.)
Seriously, we know where Leo would have taken things if he were still alive by looking at G&L.
Yes, no, maybe... I don't know.
Why is the custom shop the metric, and not the actual equivalent, the off the shelf MIA line?
You’re asking if run of the mill guitars built by relatively unskilled hands on new, unproven products are better than the absolute top quality guitars of today, built by masters with decades of accumulated knowledge.
Or compare an early ‘50s MIA tele to the newest MIM Standard or Squier Standard? A ‘52 Telecaster that was the entry level priced guitar then, to one that is an entry level priced one, made or designed by Fender?
You don't think guys like John Petrucci, Guthrie Govan and Tommy Emannual are not better than guitar players from the 1940's?
I have no real experience with very old guitars, the oldest one I've ever owned was mid-60s. But that was the best sounding guitar I have ever owned!
Two data points in favor of vintage: In order for a particular guitar to last 70 years through multiple owners etc., it is likely to be a "good one" that owners recognized and cared for. IOW, survival of the fittest, and then that colors our impressions of all vintage guitars. Also, the wood that those guitars was made from is long gone and will not return. Brazilian RW boards, real Honduran Mahogany and so on. Plus it has been seasoning (drying out) for decades.
Some further thoughts, responses to this provocative question in the "vintage Tele Forum'.
I just listened to a rough recording I made when I first got my '52 - comparing it to a contemporary Tele.
I know what it is: the old one is more 'musical' - it's a subtle difference and difficult to explain, but not that subtle - especially when A/B-ing between guitars.
More responsive to the touch is a big part of it.
More 'musical' envelope.
More expressive - its a tone and a feel thing.
I guess you either know what I am talking about or not.
None of it is scientific or a universal truth - just my experience.
Also it sounds exactly like a Tele 'should' - like all the old recordings from Jimmy Bryant to Keef.
Old wood: old-growth wood, dried out wood, played in wood.
Old electric parts from better materials?
well-played in but not worn out,
hand finished neck carve by Tadeo - who did a few.
Some of the newer ones sound and feel really good too, each guitar has its own voice and strengths and weaknesses, but... side by side... all things considered.
Whether, this difference justifies the price difference, well that's another matter, because rarity and collectibility count there.
Then there are all the guitarists who still choose to play the old ones....
Jim Campilongo, Bonamassa, Keef, You know the list.
In the words of Bill Murray in Meatballs, "it just doesn't matter."
I'm hard on guitars and amps. Even if I win the lottery I'm not spending the cash on vintage gear. I won't even buy custom shop guitars. Since the majority of tone is in the fingers, I buy used Mexican guitars and stick Lollars in them. Then I buy Headstrong amps. Lollars through Headstrongs is the sound I hear in my head, and it's a vintage sound. Time and money is scarce.
The agruments about older woods sounding better, thinner finishes allow the wood to breathe, etc., is all BS when it comes to solid body electrics. Think about it this way: if wood breathing makes a guitar sound better, all those pros that are widely known for having a reputation for killer tone would be playing bare wood guitars. But they're not.
Beyond the nostalgia factor--which is a STRONG drug--it all comes down to this: a good guitar is a good guitar, and it gets taken care of and it gets played.
A vintage guitar that sounds killer today sounded killer when it rolled off the line. Not every guitar that came from the Fender factory in the 1950s was a gem. Just like today as guitar makers turn out their products, most are serviceable instruments. A few are real gems that just seem to play themselves, and some are just mangy dawgs that cannot be redeemed no matter what you try. Guitars being made today by the big names are consistently better than the stuff from even 20 years ago.
The vintage ones that exist today do so only because the owner(s) loved them, took care of them and played them. The guitars that were not so great got handed down to the son, or niece or nephew; they got dragged around the yard and gradually turned into toothpicks.
Back before it became fashionable to play an old guitar, you could barely give them away. This is the reason why the early punk bands often played Jazzmasters, Mustangs, Telecasters, and Les Paul Juniors: they were dirt cheap on the used market. Likewise, many players that couldn't afford a Marshall bought old, cheap tweed Fenders and painted them black to resemble a Marshall.
Remember too that the Les Paul market disappeared in the 1960s and Gibson stopped making them for years because dealers couldn't move 'em. They were considered a "grandpa guitar." The Beano record renewed interest in the Les Paul and Gibson brought it back into production based on dealer demand.
"Vintage" is a thing because of marketing, nostalgia, legend, revisionist history, and smoke and mirrors.
If you like old guitars, that's great. If you like newer stuff, that's great too. Play your guitar and have fun!
I just like old stuff whether it's with guitars or not. I gravitate towards the look and feel of that stuff. I do own new gear but old stuff is just cool and fun for me to play. If I buy new gear it needs to be inspiring to play. I do own a Tele with a thick poly finish but I prefer the look and feel of "old" finish wether it's actually old or not. I have resistors from the 40s and capacitors from the 60s and that stuff is cool to me. Old vacuum tubes. Do old parts sound better in my amp builds than new parts? Maybe maybe not but I like putting them in there if I have it! It's functional art too that's one of the best parts. I mean we still love literally looking at something that was made in the 40s or 50s and is still being produced exactly the same to this day.
That's what it comes down to what you are comfortable playing and what makes you want to bang on the strings or turn on your amp or step on a pedal. If I was into cars I would have an old car (unless you gave me a Porsche). I would work on it on the weekends like I do with my guitar stuff. Some people like driving around in old cars. Are new ones better drivers sure? I think of guitars the same way. I like picking up certain objects, I'm curious about old stuff, and I look for whatever cool stuff old or new makes me want to play.
Those great vintage guitars were great the day they were made. They made some duds back then too.
There are great ones being made now, you just have to find them.
What’s better for some is worse for others. Everyone has different reasons, but I’m glad some people prefer modern custom shop. I can get my hands on the funky old stuff.
I've played many great guitars both old and new.
I've played many dogs both old and new.
When it comes to vintage vs. modern replicas I think we tend to get into minutiae.
It's still the player first and last. It's easier to obsess about the tools than to practice.
I need help in this area.