Do you prefer newer or older guitars?

27sauce

Member
Messages
35,852
So you guys are saying that "vintage" means something more than age -- that there's some quality threshold that has to be met, as well. What, pray tell, is that quality, and who decides which old guitars have enough of it to earn the adjective? Please post the objective "criteria."
For me, and many, it means that it was built in the timeframe of a “classic” or “golden” era for a manufacturer, and is not defined merely by age.

A ‘76 Martin will never be of the “classic” era, no matter how old it is.
 
M

Member 37136

I am reporting what is known about 70’s Martins.
Read what Reverb says, not me
1970’s guitar and their problems are what led to older guitars getting valued. Nothing new here.

For me, and many, it means that it was built in the timeframe of a “classic” or “golden” era for a manufacturer, and is not defined merely by age.
A ‘76 Martin will never be of the “classic” era, no matter how old it is.
So to be clear then, there's no actual consensus that 1970s guitars can't be vintage; it's just the subjective opinion that one specific brand from that decade isn't worthy of the "vintage" designation, but other brands are?

So a CBS Fender or a Norlin Gibson can't be vintage, because they weren't made in the "classic" or "golden" eras of those brands?

Just trying to understand what you guys think the word means.
 
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WordMan

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,765
So to be clear then, there's no actual consensus that 1970s guitars can't be vintage; it's just the subjective opinion that one specific brand from that decade isn't worthy of the "vintage" designation, but other brands are?

So a CBS Fender or a Norlin Gibson can't be vintage, because they weren't made in the "classic" or "golden" eras of those brands?

Just trying to understand what you guys think the word means.
Oy. Whatever.
 

27sauce

Member
Messages
35,852
So to be clear then, there's no actual consensus that 1970s guitars can't be vintage; it's just the subjective opinion that one specific brand from that decade isn't worthy of the "vintage" designation, but other brands are?

So a CBS Fender or a Norlin Gibson can't be vintage, because they weren't made in the "classic" or "golden" eras of those brands?

Just trying to understand what you guys think the word means.
The fact that you’re using nomenclature like CBS and Norlin, proves you know what’s going on.
 

27sauce

Member
Messages
35,852
As I suspected.




No "criteria" then? Thanks for confirming.
The market doesn’t lie. If there was no general consensus or criteria a ‘41 D28 and a ‘76 D28 would be worth the same amount of money and be equally collectible.

There’s an overwhelming consensus on these things. It’s not going to change.
 

WordMan

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,765
As I suspected. Thanks for confirming.
Why waste time when you’ve made up your mind?

I am sharing how folks who actually are vintage nerds - players, dealers, whatever - look at it. Of course you are welcome to completely disregard it as it appears you do. Be happy.
 
M

Member 37136

The market doesn’t lie. If there was no general consensus or criteria a ‘41 D28 and a ‘76 D28 would be worth the same amount of money and be equally collectible.
What is the criteria? If 70s Martin can't be "vintage," why doesn't that apply to 70s Fender and Gibson?

Why waste time when you’ve made up your mind?
Made up my mind about what? I'm just asking what you think the word "vintage" means, if it has to do with something other than age.
 

WordMan

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,765
Made up my mind about what? I'm just asking what you think the word "vintage" means, if it has to do with something other than age.
Per @27sauce, it is guitars that were built before acknowledged big changes - yes, there is much Nerd Debate about what specific timing - from the CBS acquisition of Fender, the Norlin Acquisition of Gibson, and the Martin 70’s, with loose jigs, battleship bridge plates, to the overbuilding they did to reduce warranty returns.

If someone decides to take interest in older guitars, this is stuff they have to figure out for themselves, but these are the rules of thumb. And yeah, the Vintage Forum was started because when folks post about Vintage in Guitars in General or places like this forum, you end up with folks who want to argue. I don’t want to argue, and I am not poking you back.

And yeah, in general, 70’s Martins are old, but not desirable at all, and take conversion work by the Kimseys of the world to approach the playability of earlier, and later Martins.

Here is Bryan Kimsey’s overview and cost list for what it takes to get a 70’s Martin decent - he replaces the bridge plate and scallops the braces. If you don’t think that he is completely changing the tone profile of this guitar - !!!

 
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TwoHandsTenThumbs

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,276
... or just make it up as they go.
This isn’t so much directed to you, as it is toward the sentiment you expressed that I see fairly often on TGP.

I’ve been buying, selling, trading, and coveting vintage guitars for over 35 years. The definition of “vintage”, as it applies to the usual suspects (as far as manufacturer), hasn’t really changed an iota among those seriously involved since I got started.

By that point, the terminology was already 25 years old.

It is based on the unique historical trajectory of the respective manufacturer. It isn’t tied to a hard date applicable across all builders. And it isn’t directly tied to shared qualitative shifts across all manufacturers. And because end dates are tied to specific, unique events, the terminology doesn’t lend itself well to arbitrary expansion.

The end date demarcates an actual event. It is the opposite of arbitrary. It can’t be a moving goalpost, or else those historic demarcations become meaningless.

Each arc is unique, with unique demarcations, some more meaningful than others.

The moving goal post has been treating “old” as synonymous with “vintage”. I suppose that was inevitable.

Take for example, Martin.

The end of the vintage era for Martin has always been tied to the move from the old North Street factory in 1964, and the subsequent manufacturing changes that accompanied the move. The “golden-era” is generally considered those instruments produced after the adoption of X bracing and steel strings, through the start of WWII (marked by material rationing and experienced skilled labor absent due to the draft and redirected war efforts).

This working definition, broadly accepted, is 50-ish years old. Hasn’t changed much at all since inception.

Similar widely-held, working definitions exist for all the big manufacturers, and have been static and consistent among the “vintage” crowd for the same half-century or more. All tied to the unique historical arc of the respective manufacturer.

That widely agreed upon understanding of the scope of the term-of-art “vintage” is incredibly useful, and cuts down dramatically on confusion or misunderstanding, and provides a framework to organize and understand changes over time.

The recent (by comparison) trend to call anything sufficiently old, “vintage”, reduces the usefulness of established terminology.

And the terminology isn’t about selling or marketing (unlike the recent co-opting of terminology, implying old = vintage = $$). It provides a lexical shorthand for historians, amateur and professional. The interest in and enthusiasm surrounding vintage guitars isn’t all about buying and selling. Sure, people own guitars. And people sell guitars. Just like people own and sell cars. But not everyone at a car show is a buyer or seller. The enthusiasm is much broader than simple commerce.

Of course, there are many excellent instruments that fall outside those parameters. That isn’t germane. The definition doesn’t speak to objective quality, but rather objective changes or differences. Whether those changes or differences are improvements, or simply different, is subjective. People are passionate about what they experience subjectively. That would make a poor tool to apply meaningfully.

It just gets tiresome, when some feel that vintage enthusiasts are some sort of snobby gatekeepers, redefining “vintage” to suit their goals.

Or that the differences or changes that serve as historic demarcations change to suit the whims of the vintage crowd.

In reality, those definitions have remained consistent for over half a century, as have the changes unique to each manufacturer that the various historic demarcations represent.

I love all sorts of guitars. My ‘90s Collings D1, an incredible instrument, is just as cool to me as my ‘61 Martin 0-15. Or ‘65 D28. Yet only one of those guitars is vintage. Who cares? Cool old guitars are fun. Does it matter that my ‘65 guitar falls outside of the accepted definition, as it applies to Martin? Heck no.

My 1981, first year reissue ES-335 is sublime. Right now, it is 40 years old. It is older today, than a first year (1958) ES-335 was in 1981. By 17 years. Yet in ‘81, that ‘58 was clearly considered vintage, as it is today. My 335, from ‘81 will never be. It’s just a cool, older guitar. As cool to me as my ‘58 ES-225. Which does fit the definition. Who cares?

My feelings aren’t hurt by definitions. And those definitions have been useful for guitar history buffs for over half a century.

I’m disinclined to want to shift to some arbitrary use of the word “vintage” to describe any sufficiently old guitar—to my mind, marketing hoo-ha—supplanting it’s established use, which carries unique and nuanced meaning specific to each manufacturer.
 

WordMan

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,765
This isn’t so much directed to you, as it is toward the sentiment you expressed that I see fairly often on TGP.

I’ve been buying, selling, trading, and coveting vintage guitars for over 35 years. The definition of “vintage”, as it applies to the usual suspects (as far as manufacturer), hasn’t really changed an iota among those seriously involved since I got started.

By that point, the terminology was already 25 years old.

It is based on the unique historical trajectory of the respective manufacturer. It isn’t tied to a hard date applicable across all builders. And it isn’t directly tied to shared qualitative shifts across all manufacturers. And because end dates are tied to specific, unique events, the terminology doesn’t lend itself well to arbitrary expansion.

The end date demarcates an actual event. It is the opposite of arbitrary. It can’t be a moving goalpost, or else those historic demarcations become meaningless.

Each arc is unique, with unique demarcations, some more meaningful than others.

The moving goal post has been treating “old” as synonymous with “vintage”. I suppose that was inevitable.

Take for example, Martin.

The end of the vintage era for Martin has always been tied to the move from the old North Street factory in 1964, and the subsequent manufacturing changes that accompanied the move. The “golden-era” is generally considered those instruments produced after the adoption of X bracing and steel strings, through the start of WWII (marked by material rationing and experienced skilled labor absent due to the draft and redirected war efforts).

This working definition, broadly accepted, is 50-ish years old. Hasn’t changed much at all since inception.

Similar widely-held, working definitions exist for all the big manufacturers, and have been static and consistent among the “vintage” crowd for the same half-century or more. All tied to the unique historical arc of the respective manufacturer.

That widely agreed upon understanding of the scope of the term-of-art “vintage” is incredibly useful, and cuts down dramatically on confusion or misunderstanding, and provides a framework to organize and understand changes over time.

The recent (by comparison) trend to call anything sufficiently old, “vintage”, reduces the usefulness of established terminology.

And the terminology isn’t about selling or marketing (unlike the recent co-opting of terminology, implying old = vintage = $$). It provides a lexical shorthand for historians, amateur and professional. The interest in and enthusiasm surrounding vintage guitars isn’t all about buying and selling. Sure, people own guitars. And people sell guitars. Just like people own and sell cars. But not everyone at a car show is a buyer or seller. The enthusiasm is much broader than simple commerce.

Of course, there are many excellent instruments that fall outside those parameters. That isn’t germane. The definition doesn’t speak to objective quality, but rather objective changes or differences. Whether those changes or differences are improvements, or simply different, is subjective. People are passionate about what they experience subjectively. That would make a poor tool to apply meaningfully.

It just gets tiresome, when some feel that vintage enthusiasts are some sort of snobby gatekeepers, redefining “vintage” to suit their goals.

Or that the differences or changes that serve as historic demarcations change to suit the whims of the vintage crowd.

In reality, those definitions have remained consistent for over half a century, as have the changes unique to each manufacturer that the various historic demarcations represent.

I love all sorts of guitars. My ‘90s Collings D1, an incredible instrument, is just as cool to me as my ‘61 Martin 0-15. Or ‘65 D28. Yet only one of those guitars is vintage. Who cares? Cool old guitars are fun. Does it matter that my ‘65 guitar falls outside of the accepted definition, as it applies to Martin? Heck no.

My 1981, first year reissue ES-335 is sublime. Right now, it is 40 years old. It is older today, than a first year (1958) ES-335 was in 1981. By 17 years. Yet in ‘81, that ‘58 was clearly considered vintage, as it is today. My 335, from ‘81 will never be. It’s just a cool, older guitar. As cool to me as my ‘58 ES-225. Which does fit the definition. Who cares?

My feelings aren’t hurt by definitions. And those definitions have been useful for guitar history buffs for over half a century.

I’m disinclined to want to shift to some arbitrary use of the word “vintage” to describe any sufficiently old guitar—to my mind, marketing hoo-ha—supplanting it’s established use, which carries unique and nuanced meaning specific to each manufacturer.
Bless you.
 

Route67

Member
Messages
838
This isn’t so much directed to you, as it is toward the sentiment you expressed that I see fairly often on TGP.

I’ve been buying, selling, trading, and coveting vintage guitars for over 35 years. The definition of “vintage”, as it applies to the usual suspects (as far as manufacturer), hasn’t really changed an iota among those seriously involved since I got started.

By that point, the terminology was already 25 years old.

It is based on the unique historical trajectory of the respective manufacturer. It isn’t tied to a hard date applicable across all builders. And it isn’t directly tied to shared qualitative shifts across all manufacturers. And because end dates are tied to specific, unique events, the terminology doesn’t lend itself well to arbitrary expansion.

The end date demarcates an actual event. It is the opposite of arbitrary. It can’t be a moving goalpost, or else those historic demarcations become meaningless.

Each arc is unique, with unique demarcations, some more meaningful than others.

The moving goal post has been treating “old” as synonymous with “vintage”. I suppose that was inevitable.

Take for example, Martin.

The end of the vintage era for Martin has always been tied to the move from the old North Street factory in 1964, and the subsequent manufacturing changes that accompanied the move. The “golden-era” is generally considered those instruments produced after the adoption of X bracing and steel strings, through the start of WWII (marked by material rationing and experienced skilled labor absent due to the draft and redirected war efforts).

This working definition, broadly accepted, is 50-ish years old. Hasn’t changed much at all since inception.

Similar widely-held, working definitions exist for all the big manufacturers, and have been static and consistent among the “vintage” crowd for the same half-century or more. All tied to the unique historical arc of the respective manufacturer.

That widely agreed upon understanding of the scope of the term-of-art “vintage” is incredibly useful, and cuts down dramatically on confusion or misunderstanding, and provides a framework to organize and understand changes over time.

The recent (by comparison) trend to call anything sufficiently old, “vintage”, reduces the usefulness of established terminology.

And the terminology isn’t about selling or marketing (unlike the recent co-opting of terminology, implying old = vintage = $$). It provides a lexical shorthand for historians, amateur and professional. The interest in and enthusiasm surrounding vintage guitars isn’t all about buying and selling. Sure, people own guitars. And people sell guitars. Just like people own and sell cars. But not everyone at a car show is a buyer or seller. The enthusiasm is much broader than simple commerce.

Of course, there are many excellent instruments that fall outside those parameters. That isn’t germane. The definition doesn’t speak to objective quality, but rather objective changes or differences. Whether those changes or differences are improvements, or simply different, is subjective. People are passionate about what they experience subjectively. That would make a poor tool to apply meaningfully.

It just gets tiresome, when some feel that vintage enthusiasts are some sort of snobby gatekeepers, redefining “vintage” to suit their goals.

Or that the differences or changes that serve as historic demarcations change to suit the whims of the vintage crowd.

In reality, those definitions have remained consistent for over half a century, as have the changes unique to each manufacturer that the various historic demarcations represent.

I love all sorts of guitars. My ‘90s Collings D1, an incredible instrument, is just as cool to me as my ‘61 Martin 0-15. Or ‘65 D28. Yet only one of those guitars is vintage. Who cares? Cool old guitars are fun. Does it matter that my ‘65 guitar falls outside of the accepted definition, as it applies to Martin? Heck no.

My 1981, first year reissue ES-335 is sublime. Right now, it is 40 years old. It is older today, than a first year (1958) ES-335 was in 1981. By 17 years. Yet in ‘81, that ‘58 was clearly considered vintage, as it is today. My 335, from ‘81 will never be. It’s just a cool, older guitar. As cool to me as my ‘58 ES-225. Which does fit the definition. Who cares?

My feelings aren’t hurt by definitions. And those definitions have been useful for guitar history buffs for over half a century.

I’m disinclined to want to shift to some arbitrary use of the word “vintage” to describe any sufficiently old guitar—to my mind, marketing hoo-ha—supplanting it’s established use, which carries unique and nuanced meaning specific to each manufacturer.
This has been my general understanding also. In addition there seems to be a wildcard aspect in the acoustic flat top guitar realm, as impressive as the results have been since the invention of the steel string, a general recognition of the existence of duds and sometimes highly variable nature of sound performance within the same model and year, probably due to the organic nature of wood and how each instrument may change or even degrade over time. I think it’s helpful to respect the parameters and definitions you have outlined on their own without equating them to specific dollar values.
 

zombywoof

Member
Messages
4,525
So you guys are saying that "vintage" means something more than age -- that there's some quality threshold that has to be met, as well. What, pray tell, is that quality, and who decides which old guitars have enough of it to earn the adjective? Please post the objective "criteria."
All know is when I started buying old guitars they were simply "used" instruments. I still think of them as such. I know there is a chronological justification for what constitutes vintage which lots of folks rely on when they want to market a guitar as such. But I would feel downright silly referring to something like my 1930s Sears Supertone parlor as a vintage guitar. It is like putting silk undies on a goat.
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,137
Is it? Sellers suggest it will open up and sound glorious in the future as a sales pitch? Or have people suggested older guitars have already “opened up”. I wouldn’t buy a guitar on the premise it may sound good in the future. And whether or not an older guitar has or has not already “opened up” is irrelevant as you can hear what it sounds like in the present. I’ve never heard someone use it to sell guitars.
It is.

You can Google blind sound tests with professional violinists and their impressions on Strads vs modern violins. The idea of age-related mojo is a powerful suggestion even for highbrow orchestral players.

I prefer modern as some of the innovations like different woods used, sound ports, forearm cuts, etc., have improved on some of the great designs. I'm of the opinion Manzer, Greenfield, Wingert, Lowden, et al., build a better instrument than Martin and Gibson, though I know not many here share that opinion.

Whichever way one goes, we can all agree it is great to have so many options at so many price points.
 

Tele-Vision

Member
Messages
752
It is.

You can Google blind sound tests with professional violinists and their impressions on Strads vs modern violins. The idea of age-related mojo is a powerful suggestion even for highbrow orchestral players.

I prefer modern as some of the innovations like different woods used, sound ports, forearm cuts, etc., have improved on some of the great designs. I'm of the opinion Manzer, Greenfield, Wingert, Lowden, et al., build a better instrument than Martin and Gibson, though I know not many here share that opinion.

Whichever way one goes, we can all agree it is great to have so many options at so many price points.
I get that it is used as a sell point for already vintage instruments. But they actually say something like, “This instrument WILL open up in the decades to come”? It seems like you’d be telling buyers, “well...it doesn’t sound as good as it could, but...give it time.”
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,137
I get that it is used as a sell point for already vintage instruments. But they actually say something like, “This instrument WILL open up in the decades to come”? It seems like you’d be telling buyers, “well...it doesn’t sound as good as it could, but...give it time.”
I'm sure all guitars will change incrementally over time as wood was a living thing unlike a guitar made from synthetic materials like carbon fiber.

Can you hear that change or just believe that you do? I would suggest the latter. As we gain familiarity with a guitar we've owned for years, our ears will grow accustomed to the sounds it produces, and we will likely get better at playing it.

If someone believes their guitar's tone has matured, then that's their reality. Ever wonder why guitars never open up in a less than pleasing way? It is always described in a favorable manner. This suggests cognitive bias.

Either way, it is fun to think about, experiment with, and discuss with other players.
 

Route67

Member
Messages
838
All know is when I started buying old guitars they were simply "used" instruments. I still think of them as such. I know there is a chronological justification for what constitutes vintage which lots of folks rely on when they want to market a guitar as such. But I would feel downright silly referring to something like my 1930s Sears Supertone parlor as a vintage guitar. It is like putting silk undies on a goat.
I dunno, vintage is vintage, like finding a forgotten x year-old bottle of wine in the cellar that once tasted, doesn’t please the taste buds. I guess I don’t have a problem with the term vintage referring to a time period rather than some kind of assumed quality, as the latter can be wildly subjective.

A 1930s Sears parlor is part of ‘Americana’ which is of general interest to some around the world considering the widespread cultural dissemination of American music. The thread on the Jim Dandy parlor taps into that inspiration.
 
M

Member 37136

It isn’t tied to a hard date applicable across all builders.
Which renders the term virtually meaningless to anyone who doesn't already know the secret handshake.

This working definition, broadly accepted, is 50-ish years old. Hasn’t changed much at all since inception.
Doesn't your statement above contradict this?

It just gets tiresome, when some feel that vintage enthusiasts are some sort of snobby gatekeepers, redefining “vintage” to suit their goals. Or that the differences or changes that serve as historic demarcations change to suit the whims of the vintage crowd.
Tiresome or not, it's difficult to blame their detractors when the enthusiasts' inconsistencies are so rampant: "There is no hard date," they say, and then turn around and say, "It's about 50 years old." And then they add the endless subclauses and exceptions: "Well, but only for some manufacturers, and only for some of those fifty years, and it really doesn't depend on age anyway, but on the manufacturer's address and who was in charge at the time, and even we enthusiasts disagree on it." Tiresome, indeed.

I’m disinclined to want to shift to some arbitrary use of the word “vintage” to describe any sufficiently old guitar—to my mind, marketing hoo-ha—supplanting it’s established use, which carries unique and nuanced meaning specific to each manufacturer.
Arbitrary use? Either the word has an objective meaning or it doesn't. As it stands, it's not about nuance, it's about subjectivity and a lack of consistent criteria, which allows the term be more easily manipulated into "marketing hoo-ha," because no one except the self-appointed guitar illuminati knows what it means. And even that's questionable.

Anyway, I realize I'm tilting at windmills here. Thank you for taking the time to write a thoughtful response.
 
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