Your Thoughts On Why Old Teles Work So Well....

Discussion in 'Telecaster Discussion Forum' started by Strat God, Nov 29, 2009.

  1. Strat God

    Strat God Tele-Meister

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    I've been a Custom Shop guy for some years and only recently got into older teles. I had a '73 which was significantly 'better' than any of the newer ones I've owned and now I've had the '67 for 3 weeks and I am amazed at it's tone and feel.

    But I pose the question-WHY? Same design, same wood and (basically) same electronics as the new ones - so how can they be so different? Dryer wood? Oxidized electronics? I can't find any significant reason why their tone and playability can differ so much from the best Fender has to offer today.

    I have a degree in piano restoration and owned a piano store for years -I have rebuilt old Steinways, Mason & Hamlins, Baldwins, etc.- the new pianos are clearly superior to the old ones- better glues, woods and moving parts - so why doesn't that logic pertain to vintage guitars?

    Yes, I know it's an age-old question, but I would really like to hear thoughts from the experts here on TDPRI.
     
  2. Bill

    Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    There are exactly as many theories as there are players.

    I have compared a 52 and a 52 reissue as well as a 56 Strat against a 57 Strat reissue. I heard a lot more richness and complexity in the original.
     
  3. jjkrause84

    jjkrause84 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Might it be that by buying vintage you're (likely) buying the best of what was around then (the lesser pieces having ceased to exist) combiend with the fact that, perhaps, guitars "age well"?

    I have no idea, myself.
     
  4. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

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    A good guitar is a good guitar. The best sounding guitar I've ever played is my pine Tele. :D
     
  5. PJ55

    PJ55 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think the old guitars are better because they were hand-fitted, wired and assembled. They tweaked them as they went through the process. Nothing has really changed with the components in an electric guitar. Same magnets & magnet wire. Pots haven't changed, switches are the same. Wood, too. Today, the instruments are mass produced, which admittedly does make some improvements but the parts that require hand work are clearly not as good. Fret leveling and end-finishing, nut slotting, body & neck finishing. Hand labor was the norm in the old days. Today, it's something to avoid at all cost, to preserve margin. I think that's what's changed. It's like the difference between an old Martin and a new one. Or a Stradavarius
    and a Yamaha. Certainly, the old handmade instruments are just better. Probably why you like your Custom Shop instruments. They're made the old-fashioned way.
     
  6. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I think the old ones feel better for the same reason a pair of shoes you have worn for years feels better its broken in.

    As you play a guitar the saddles get used to the strings the nut frets and everything wear into a reaal comfortable guitar to play.

    I dont think guitars sound better as they get older just feel better.

    If it soujnds good today you can bet it sounded good 50 years ago too.
     
  7. Telemarkman

    Telemarkman Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Very true Mark!

    My two 1965 Teles, good as they may have been, were in no way better than my MIM 60's Classic - in fact I really couldn't tell the difference.

    And my 2004 AV '52 RI is the best Tele I've owned or played.

    I've no doubt the Fenders of today are of an averagely higher and more even quality than the vintage ones due to modern production methods.
     
  8. neocaster

    neocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    +1 You shake a tree hard enough, the rotten apples fall out and decay away. The ones we're still playing were never rotten.
     
  9. brokenjoe

    brokenjoe Friend of Leo's

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    Exactly. I've played some vintage guitars that managed to survive, and were just awful.

    Lesson #1: Just because it's old doesn't automatically make it great.
     
  10. tonewoods

    tonewoods Former Member

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    All that, plus--like old fiddles--they get a lot of tweaking over the years...
     
  11. AJ Love

    AJ Love Friend of Leo's

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    Newer ones sound and feel great too if they are built right

    the musicians from the 1950's sounded GREAT on their Fender Telecasters. You think they would've sounded better if their guitars were older?

    Its in the manufacturing process, and probably better quality wood, better quality magnets in the pickups, more attention to detail...

    To find that quality, nowadays, you've gotta go with a smaller builder like Kirn or Lentz or Stuart (in my opinion)
     
  12. Stuco

    Stuco Poster Extraordinaire

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    So vintage guitars that suck just disappear into thin air? I would say that the less than steller ones are more often the guitars you find up for sale.
     
  13. telideli

    telideli Banned

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    Surely, that's one significant reason. (most were probably rendered unusable or had their parts sold/replaced).

    Many have also been modified to 'non-vintage' status.

    And I'm sure there's more than a few experts who'll testify to the 'aged-wood' element.
     
  14. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I think the majority of the players in the 50's sounded good cause they were good. I dont think the instruments they were using were better than todays instruments in fact Id say they are worse and the players themselves were better.

    Think about it back in the 50's who cut the nuts right who leveled the frets when you got a guitar you were stuck with what you got where were the techs? I didnt even know about any Techs when I started playing in the mid 60's.
     
  15. AJ Love

    AJ Love Friend of Leo's

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    I don't get how the lesser ones "cease to exist". Explain that please... people just throw 'em out? Use 'em as firewood?

    I would think the lesser ones end up more frequently for sale. If I was wealthy enough or fortunate enough to own 5 Vintage guitars, and had to sell one, you can bet the worst playing worst sounding one would be sold first...

    As I have learned here and elsewhere over the years, it is very tough to find completely original Fender guitars from the 50's/60's anymore

    I think Mark Davis' take is probably accurate: they FEEL better because they are so well worn in...
     
  16. telideli

    telideli Banned

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    Which is why I don't fully take into consideration those who've claimed to have played enough 50's/60's 'vintage' guitars to feel they can make an accurate statement about them in general.
     
  17. brokenjoe

    brokenjoe Friend of Leo's

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    A lot of 'em were modded to ruin.

    And then, a lot of 'em ended up dieing a sudden death:

    [​IMG]
     
  18. sonserve

    sonserve Friend of Leo's

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    I don't get how the lesser ones "cease to exist". Explain that please... people just throw 'em out? Use 'em as firewood?

    Natural selection. The weakest of a breed simply die off. Duh!
     
  19. Mark Davis

    Mark Davis Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Here is my theory as why good ones sound good new or old.

    Lets use Roy Buchanan's Nancy as an example a 1953 stock Tele.

    We know for a fact Roy was using Nancy in 1972 cause we have recorded evidence.

    In sure he was using it before that too.

    So lets do the math.

    A 53 Tele in 1968 is only 15 years old I would think Roys Tele sounded just the same in 72 as it did in 68.

    So that wouldnt be any different than having a 1994 Tele and the way it sounded in 1994 as compared to 2009 15 years later.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2009
  20. Bswailes

    Bswailes Tele-Holic

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    +1
     
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