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What are your thoughts on Vintage versus New Telecasters/Guitars?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Digiplay, May 22, 2020.

  1. Masmus

    Masmus Tele-Meister

    Feb 21, 2018
    San Jose
    The younger people I know are more interested in modern guitars, one friend in his 20's that plays death metal just bought a fan fret and he is completely uninterested in anything vintage, another guy I recorded has a RI Les Paul and thinks it's better than the original. There is a cost to using vintage equipment. I once lost an hour of recording time because a Neumann U67 was acting up before we could figure out where the noise was comming from. I own several vintage guitars but if you are unwilling or unable to spend the money a CS or RI is not only cheaper but also IMO better made. Additionally cheap guitars today are far superior to vintage cheap guitars and cheaper adjusted for inflation. A little off subject, I would never and have never bought a guitar as an investment. If you could go back in time and invest in a pre CBS anything or take that money and invest in the DOW you would be far better off in the DOW. I only buy vintage equipment because I want it and play it.
    Telenator likes this.
  2. gnatp

    gnatp TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

    Jan 7, 2010
    New Hampshire, USA
    When I was a youth in 1982 I bought a reasonably priced 1972 telecaster that was viewed as mediocre garbage due to being post-CBS. Guess what, it was mediocre, but some pickup swaps and TLC has made it great, it's mine and it somehow magically turned vintage without me knowing it.
  3. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Meister

    Jun 16, 2019
    My 1st electric was a brand new 1988 Fender American Standard Strat. I like the newer Fenders because they have 22 frets instead of 21, a flatter fingerboard radius and larger frets.
  4. cruiser32

    cruiser32 TDPRI Member

    Jan 2, 2020
    To gnatp. When I bought mine in '72, there was no such view. It's amazing how 10 years can change something. And while there were some mediocre late 70's Fenders, your 72 is identical to a 68,69,70 or 71 in everything except string trees in some cases, including the internals, like pots (they all date back to '65) .

    1) If Jimi Hendrix had just turned 26 TODAY (when he started using a Strat), would he use a 1968 one, or a newer one?

    Maybe a vintage guitar now, as the originals do have a different sound and custom shop guitars for the most part are never exact copies of the "vintage" guitars. It was a different time then. Old were just old and usually, but not always, more affordable. I still think about how back in the early 70's I couldn't understand why my cousin would buy a '58 les paul for $400, when you could buy a brand new one for the same or less. It was a great playing guitar, but to me no better than a new one.

    So I bought a new '72 telecaster, instead of a les paul, since our lead player had a gibson and played it everywhere, spun it around my neck at shows and did all those cool things that bands did, save destroying it, since it was still $200 on top of what I got for my Dan armstrong lucite guitar.

    Now I never take it anywhere. I can't risk losing it. I will never sell it, because I never could afford to buy another one. So I now also have a new American tele. It's not cheap but I don't worry much about it.

    But it is a completely different guitar in every way, except the general shape and headstock. Deep baseball neck, incredibly low action without buzzes. The ashtray cover isn't even close to the original in size or shape. The lead pickup sounds nothing like the twangy one on my new one. I like them both, but they are absolutely not interchangeable. If Jimmy was used to a thin neck, he's not going to like either the old tele or the old strat with the deep C shapes. And the neck shape on a new tele and new USA strat, which I also have, are much thinner and basically identical in feel, with different headstocks.

    2) Will whatever current model guitar/gear that the current youths favorite band are using today be considered vintage in 50 years as well?

    I think some will be, but it will still be tube amps and it may still be the original vintage stuff or new reissue tube amps. Katana's are great, sampling is great to a point, but an AC30 only is an AC30, a plexi whether it's a circuit board Marshall, a point to point wired '73 Garnet deputy or a new Dr. Z plexi circuit in a new amp are the only ones that have that true sound. And a Fender twin, deluxe, or champ and their circuit correct copies have that sound that can never be quite as good. Heck even Fender can't make it's sample twin sound the same.

    3) If vintage guitars are "better" than new guitars, how can Fender/Gibson/etc. stay in business selling "inferior" new guitars?

    Whatever works for you to get your sound is all that matters. Old or new doesn't matter. Better is in the player's mind and fingers. What ever is best for you, that's all that matters. When you get to the point that you have your own sound, based on what and who you like and what sounds best to you, not just trying to sound like someone else, that will be better.

    Unfortunately, the worst thing that has happened, is that collectors, not guitarists are buying up nice old guitars, like they buy gold or classic cars to the same end. Screwing it up for the regular person who just wants a guitar that plays and sounds the best to them.
  5. mrBun

    mrBun Tele-Meister

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sydney, Australia
    Vintage guitars are of no use to me as all my instruments are adjusted to taste. They are tools.
    A dear friend of mine, who was an avid collector of vintage instruments, passed away a few years back. His wife rang me and asked me if I wanted to buy anything from his collection.
    I passed because any instrument that comes into my studio goes immediately to my luthier, gets adjusted and this removes 50% of any value instantly.
    I'd imagine the same process is true for many other musicians who rely upon their equipment to make a living.
    I also grew up in the 60s and as a kid, if an instrument was a poor fit, had intonation issues etc. then it was sold and I'd spend considerable time sitting in music shops hunting a replacement.
    Now I understand that any instrument within reason) can be turned into a decent tool by giving it to competent craftsmen/women.
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
  6. Alex W

    Alex W Friend of Leo's

    Aug 29, 2003
    In my tube amp coccoon.
    FWIW I see that 1980s 52 reissue Telecasters are now priced around $3000. Whether they actually bring that kind of $ with completed sales is another thing. I am not sure why someone would expect to pull in that kind of price for a 52RI but I do notice that they like to state in the ads that they were made at the Fullerton factory.

    IMO that is not necessarily an indication of a better guitar but it does support my belief that a lot of the extra price of a vintage guitar is the cost a/w something that can claim in any way to be from a former time, a bit of history. Sort of like how a pound of gold is worth something, but if an archeologist dug up a 1-lb gold crown and historians all agreed it was the crown of King Solomon (or whoever), then it would be worth a lot more than the market value of 1 lb of gold.
    yojimbo likes this.
  7. Ebidis

    Ebidis Tele-Afflicted

    Jun 27, 2016
    I have gone through many guitars in the last 3+ decades, and I am down to a select few.

    Over the years I have determined exactly what I like in a guitar, and hand selected a few real keepers. I own 6 fine guitars; three of which I consider to be stellar, and irreplaceable.

    My number 1 is a Baja Tele that just drips "mojo". It is one of the best sounding and feeling guitars I have ever had.

    I have never owned a pre CBS Fender (played a few), or 50's era Les Paul, but I can't imagine that any of them could possibly be substantially greater than my top 3.

    I don't believe that age, price, or country of origin has anything to do with it. Exceptional guitars have been made in every era, in every country. If you stumble upon one of them, keep it.
    FuZZBoY and yojimbo like this.
  8. drumtime

    drumtime Tele-Holic

    Mar 17, 2018
    the mountains of Virginia
    I keep having a strong desire to sell my 75 Strat and put the money toward a nice new Ron Kirn piece. The Strat is great and all, but it's a production guitar from 45 years ago. Any guitar that comes out of the Kirn shop is easily the equal of Fender Custom Shop. It would be a far better guitar than my Strat in every way.

    The Strat has a great neck, lots of nice, deep poly. Bridge pickup crapped out and was rewound by Lindy Fralin some years ago. Several experienced players have declared it to have mojo. I like it, and I've had it since the early 80's, and I don't sell gear much. So I guess that "vintage" guitar still stays, even though the vintage-ness of it would not hold up against a nice new custom guitar.

    My other vintage guitar is a late 50s - early 60s Guild Freshman. One of the best guitars I've ever experienced. I'll never sell that one.

    I also love my CV & MIM Teles, my Douglas HB Tele-ish thing, and my Agile LP. They all play and sound at least as good as the "vintage" Strat, in their own way.

    I like guitars.
    FuZZBoY likes this.
  9. Slim Chance

    Slim Chance Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 1, 2011
    Beltway, USA
    I can’t read the entire thread, but I will suggest that the vintage guitars that remain today are the best of their lot. (Yes, some stinkers remain, too). The ones that weren’t particularly good were most likely trashed or parted out the so the proportion of good guitar skews towards better instruments. I fail to see, with today’s technology, that the manufacturers can’t make a superior product. Custom shops, in particular, must have much more time invested per unit than anything Fender or Gibson produced in the ‘50s and early ‘60s.

    If you want vintage, put your money into amps. I do. For better or worse, there is less difference between how a guitar is made now versus the vintage era than how vintage amps compare to current amps, whether tube or SS.
    FuZZBoY likes this.
  10. GearGeek01

    GearGeek01 Tele-Meister

    Jan 26, 2007
    In my 20's the only guitar I pined for was a Les Paul. Fender's quality in the 70's sucked bad weenies, so I didn't even consider a weenie sucker guitar when I was young. And now we know about Norlin era Les Pauls, so my 1980 LP Artisan I've had since new and a pimple-faced Les Paul drooler we now know is really a turd, howbeit a happily inlayed turd. (not to mention it weighs 13lb 6 oz... OUCH !!) (A turd still made in Kalamazo by (I suppose) the same guys running Heritage now... does this make Heritage guitars equally as turdful?)(Aren't they always telling us how they are the old Norlin era guys who stayed behind? Often wondered about that, haha)


    Once Fender got their poop together (and somebody besides CBS owned them), I figured out the wonders of the Stratocaster and the Telecaster.

    As far as what I own today, its been a long harvest, many items sold and purchased, and I'm settled that I have all the Fender guitars I want. I am no where near owning all the G&L guitars I want (who make a helluva lot better production guitar these days then the name-whores at Fender who don't mind putting Leo's name on a guitar (or amp) made on Mars if it cuts the cost). G&L is the only company carrying on Leo's Legacy today. Fender whored out years ago. That's my take, anyways.

    I wouldn't want a vintage anything. If you gave it to me, I'd sell it and buy about 50 guitars under $1,000.

    As far as Teles, I have a (Mexican) Classic Player Baja Tele... it does everything Tele-wise I need to do, I don't need any more Teles...

    As far as Strats, I have a 2018 American Elite Strat, a 2000-something (candy apple red) Eric Johnson Strat, and a (Japanese) '57 reissue Fotoflame w/ a chunky soft vee, which I gutted all the electronics (except the pickups) and replaced with all US parts, then drywalled the 3 pickup cavities and the control area, as well as the back of the pickguard. Its a workhorse I don't mind leaving on the band stand with drunk bikers or coked out wall street people stumbling around. Plus I have 2 x G&L George Fullerton sigs (basically just a Legacy with George's name on the horn... Dale Hyatt's marketing idea... weee). One is clear natural, one is electric blue (sort of metallic blue). Both have the G&L soft-vee before they changed the Fullerton to no-soft-vee... That's all the 3 x SC guitars I need (5 is enough for me)... haha

    Howbeit there are several G&L S-bodies I'd love to have... and a whole tribe of G&L T-bodies I drool and pine over

    As far as the OP's questions:

    1) If Jimi Hendrix had just turned 26 TODAY (when he started using a Strat), would he use a 1968 one, or a newer one?
    I think he'd walk into Manny's Music and get whatever was new and cool and the latest thing. Maybe something with an oddball finish. If he was not yet famous (I don't know Hendrix history), then he would not have the cash to buy a $50,000+ (or something) guitar like many 26 year olds do not have for disposable income for, so it might be a used something that might have caught his eye. Depends on how much heroin and LSD he did before stumbling in to the store. You said he turned 26 TODAY, so its his birthday and he's sure to be partying hard.

    2) Will whatever current model guitar/gear that the current youths favorite band are using today be considered vintage in 50 years as well?
    If it is a relic, no way in hell. Worst investment you can make. No way to prove it is mint or not mint, which is partly what makes vintage so pricey, condition. Relics are a fad that will die soon, or will be perpetuated by the myth that tone is in the guitar not in the hands. It would better financial decision wise to pay for some good lessons and woodshed a whole bunch than to expect your "sound" to come out of an inanimate object. Your tone comes from your hands and your heart, not your gear. Hand SRV a $129 Squire and he'll still sound like SRV.

    A lot of the market blitz we have today ("limited edition" guitars... yikes - trying to force "collectibles" in the modern day... NOT) is an attempt to sell a guitar TODAY. All these "signature" and "artist" guitars will be firewood when in 50 years the one hit wonders are no more. Example... Gibson giving a no-name nobody Lee Malia THREE signature guitars under the Epiphone brand (a Les Paul, an Explorer and an RD) with the LP Artisan hearts and flowers inlay. Something about that just makes me sick. Good that its only an $800 guitar each choice, but still makes me sick.

    People are fickle and easy to sway into buying stuff when the marketing is powerful enough. Like spending $3,000+ on a Paul Reed Smith anything, because "the forums say" a ten top is cool. What happens when technology moves on and there are no more brag forums to post pictures of your over-priced guitars? For the same $3,000, I could find 6 guitars for $500, have way more tonal options and be a helluva lot happier. PRS got all the big (over-priced) bucks at the start, and that high dollar axe isn't going to be worth the same $3,000 down the road. And if it lasts 50 years, I'll be dead and somebody else will need to buy it.

    And considering the lack of true guitar talent these days in whatever they call that crap they play on the radio... chances are a beat box will be more of a "vintage" instrument if they are going to freeze-frame this generation's music aptitude. Or the background music used in an X-Box game, whatever generates that gunk. Maybe a 15-inch car stereo speaker will be the vintage instrument of the future, the thing they put in the back compartment of an under-sized Honda, complete with screws, nuts and bolts in the back window that makes that gawd-awful rumbly rattely sound when they play rap music through it.

    And the "vinage clothes" of the future will be a totally flat brimmed baseball cap, worn sideways, and a pair of jeans complete with multi-colored boxer underwear hanging down to their knees showing their butt crack. I can imagine that bit of clothing will be in a museum on a wax figure talking about the history of this generation.

    3) If vintage guitars are "better" than new guitars, how can Fender/Gibson/etc. stay in business selling "inferior" new guitars?
    "If" is just a matter of opinion. I for one will never be able to afford anything marked "vintage" and as age old writings state "the poor will always be with us." So, even 1,000 years from now you're gonna have poor people. And if they still buy electric guitars and not beat boxes in 1,000 years, there will be a need to have guitars of every price. I doubt seriously Fender or Gibson will be in business in another 50 years. They both seem to have the short term fast profit in mind, and I don't think they have a long-term game plan. Just make as much money now on ridiculously priced stuff ($4,000+ for a Gibson Les Paul Custom with a richlite composite glue and paper fingerboard (couple years ago)... come on...)(thank God Henry J is gone from Gibson, that alone might help them endure a few more years).

    I think what you haven't mentioned is Asian made anything. Right now, the big wigs at the top floor management offices at these American shops can tell the Asian folks not to use the same wood, not to use the same electronics, not to use the same hardware. But equalize that, let them use the same woods, same electronics, same hardware as stuff made in the USA. For example, the folks in Indonesia have been doing fine quality wood working for centuries, long before there was a Leo Fender, Orville Gibson or Paul Reed Smith.

    What happens when these folks in (say) Indonesia leave the sweat shops they are working in for the American companies, start their own business and use better woods, electronics, and hardware, and really give the American made companies a run for their money. For a whole lot of dollars less, for probably better quality...

    There is some humor and truth to this comparison:

    Typical American worker >> comes in late, leaves early, makes excuses for not coming to work, hates his job, is over-paid with more benefits than any other worker on the planet, doesn't give a flying fudd if he/she makes a good quality piece or not, if it just barely passes quality control, it goes out the door... if it doesn't pass quality control, gets sent back to his/her work bench, he/she gets pissed off, fudds it together and then it gets sent out with all that hate hanging over it. Calls in "sick" every third Monday.
    - Guitars cost $5,000

    Typical Japanese/Asian worker >> lives at the factory, honors his family by having this job, makes 1/3 (or less) than the American worker does, has no benefits, would rather commit hari kari (ritual suicide by self-disembowelment on a sword) if quality isn't absolutely perfect. Works 7 days a week, and 14 hours a day without complaint.
    - Guitars cost $500

    When Conan the Barbarian finally learned his true worth he was a venerable opponent. One day the Asian guitar builder may learn his or her true worth, and if so, having a better work ethic, etc... may rule the seas of guitardom one day. There are a lot more places to sell guitars than in America. Europe is crazy thirsty for guitars of good quality that don't cost you an arm or a leg to buy. Australia, too...

    I think in the next 50 years we'll see the American guitar companies go by the way side and it is very possible another country's workers, if allowed to even the playing field with the same woods, electronics and hardware, may become very competitive in the guitar building world.

    Now we laugh at Indonesian made guitars because we know the upper management determines what wood, electronics and hardware is used to make sure the quality is less than what we see in an American-made guitar. Stop hindering these luthiers (on purpose) and let's see what happens when the playing field is really equal. The color of your skin and the location you live on the planet does not determine the end quality of your craftsmanship. Big wigs in big management chairs determine to cripple the quality of anything made outside of the US, on purpose. Take that crippling effect away and let's see what happens.

    No more bad neck pockets, funky weird finish blurbs on $4,000 USA-made guitars, for one... not if you can get better quality with the same wood, electronics and hardware for 1/4 of the price...
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
    yojimbo likes this.
  11. stratoman1

    stratoman1 Friend of Leo's

    Nov 12, 2016
    Virginia Beach, Va
    I had a 68 Strat. It wasnt a very good example of what a Strat could be . Pretty awful actually. I wouldnt wa t another one like it
  12. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 25, 2003
    Santa Barbara, California
    Geargeek that was a truly epic rant. Just needed a “now get off my lawn” at the end.

    There actually are many great young guitarists out there. Watch Cory Wong’s live in Minneapolis show on YouTube as an example of a talented musician who has figured out how to make it in this new music era.
  13. Hammerdog

    Hammerdog Tele-Meister

    Mar 26, 2016
  14. schnadz

    schnadz Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Apr 3, 2020
    Mandan, ND
  15. Stanford Guitar

    Stanford Guitar Tele-Holic

    Feb 11, 2020
    I have some fancy guitars. My buddy has some fancy guitars. I love my guitars, my buddy thinks my guitars are all POS. My buddy loves his guitars, but I think they are all POS.
  16. dickey

    dickey Friend of Leo's

    Jan 2, 2010
    1) I am 66
    2) I can afford almost any guitar I want, but I bought all my vintage stuff many years ago before the ridiculous increase in prices. I have tried new guitars & amps, even bought a few reissues, and I sold them just as fast. Custom Shop gets closer, but New production guitars are just lacking in feel & touch sensitivity & dynamics; they don't give me what I want in a guitar. Moreso with Gibsons. I have had about 50 SGs, and the only ones that had the tone, sustain & feel I want have been from the 60s. The reissues are just duds. Great fit & finish, but sonically they are dogs. Same with PCB amps VS. hand wired. '65 Twin I had was a big,boring POS. Kinda like comparing a '69 Chevelle with a new Camry. What would you enjoy driving more?

    Funny thing; with pedal steel guitars, the opposite is true. With the exception of Emmons push-pull steels, vintage pedal steels are basically junk & there is little collector value; the more modern one have much better tone, touch sensitivity, & mechanics. You can't beat a modern all-pull guitar. They are what all the pros play.
    Last edited: May 28, 2020
    SheldonP likes this.
  17. SheldonP

    SheldonP Tele-Meister

    Oct 12, 2013
    North Idaho
    You're gonna like what you like. This is one of the most personally subjective topics that comes up on music forums.

    The cheap, used, decent quality gear of my formative years is currently the vintage stuff of dreams. Do I like vintage stuff? Absolutely. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's most likely because it's the gear I cut my teeth on professionally.

    Vintage gear is not unaffordable. I've purchased 2 "vintage" instruments in the last few years and haven't paid even close to nosebleed prices for either of them. My 1965 P bass needed work when I got it, but after a complete overhaul I have less than $1300 into it. My 1964 Tele is a well maintained player grade instrument that is original to the screws other than a scratched up 30 year old refinish. It cost $1250 3 years ago. Neither are museum pieces, but they're both great player grade instruments, they have the feel I'm used to and they cost less than a new AM Original.

    I've had spotty luck on finding that vintage feel and balance in modern instruments. I do own a couple of AVRI guitars, a V series bass, and love them. They're damned close.That said, I don't dislike the modern stuff either and own a couple post 2017 models.

    Bottom line, they're different animals. My old guitars are not better than my new guitars. I'm just more comfortable playing them.
  18. Shovelhandle

    Shovelhandle TDPRI Member

    Jun 29, 2010
    New England
    I started guitar in the early 60s, I was partial to telecaster, though I owned an SG, a jazzmaster, a les paul TV, Guild 12 string and some other decent guitars and fender blackface then a silverface TR amps. I got away from it all, work, family and other interests prevailed. I did keep a 70s yamaha acoustic under the bed. About 20 years ago I bought a few new import fenders to get back into playing. Also picked up a new USA built Taylor acoustic and a fender USA P/J bass. It was all pretty good, did some fret edge work on some, new electronic components on others. It was all up to me to make them sound good. Well, house fire in December, lost everything. First replacement guitar was gifted to me, a beat up, rusty string 1963 Goya student model dreadnought. I adjusted the truss rod, strung it with Super Slinky strings and I believe my playing sounds better on it than the Taylor. I love it. Then I borrowed an early Squire tele (Mex). It was great. So when I saw a first year china Squire CV tele I was not afraid to check it out. It was a fine guitar, the owner had changed the classic bridge, electronics and switchplate for fender USA parts. How well any of these sound depends mostly on the player. Basically, the music doesn't sound any better when I play a modern USA or vintage guitar. So that is what works for me.

    ps, My hearing is not the best, I have serious tinnitus most of the time.
    FuZZBoY likes this.
  19. 2HBStrat

    2HBStrat Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 21, 2019
    Four Rivers Area of Middle America
    Vintage guitars are cool, but current guitar making techniques results in a more consistent product imo...
  20. blackbear

    blackbear NEW MEMBER!

    Jul 29, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA

    I owned Telecaster serial #3862, built in May, 1954, and now have a MIM Telecaster, vintage unknown, but probably around 2010. There is no difference in the tone or playability.
    aging_rocker, FuZZBoY and chris m. like this.
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