How do you justify buying a vintage nowdays in this market?

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by bibir, Dec 5, 2017.


  1. Jazzmaster60

    Jazzmaster60 Member

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    Thanks for your response ,are you saying the Gibson tenon doesn’t make any difference in sound ?.Gibson’s replacing the stop tail piece with a trapeze might not have been cost cutting but it certainly speed up manufacturer time . I’m not arguing I’m just interested in learning and others opinions do count
    Thank you
     
  2. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Supporting Member

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    Let's look at it like this, there are vintage books out there which say a lot stuff about which changes were "cost cutting." Very few, to none, actually back that up with employee interviews from the folks behind the changes. The one that does, which I know of, the employees often set the record straight. Jim Duerloo did this multiple times to Gil Hembree, as he was in charge of a few of the re-designs Gil claimed were "cost cutting." Gil was wrong. Jim, to this day, can't stand most of the conventional thinking about anything post '64, which is mostly vintage dealer hogwash, and he's set the record straight about many issues.

    Every year guitar designs were changing for the first few decades of solid body guitar manufacturing because...that's just what you did back then. Just take your tailpiece example, the story that it was a "time saver" never came from a Gibson factory engineer I'm betting. Drilling for a stop tail in Kalamazoo involved a metal template that you sit in the pickup cavity, press flush to the neck heel/base, then drill the two holes. I've seen it, it must have been a couple second job back in the day. How is that time saving? The inserts slide right in with a little tool. Here's my theory....many ES buyers were finger pickers and jazzers, it's the 60's after all, who thought the trapeze gave the guitar a better acoustic tone then that feedback was passed to Gibson.


    There are so many examples of transition era to Norlin guitars build specs that would've technically taken longer for Gibson to perform in terms of production time. Not to mention all the huge cash dumped into R&D, training, and toolings for all the radical new models. That stuff isn't cheap, yet for every single thing they did I can almost bet I've seen someone claim it was "to cut costs" from the mini humbucker to the crossbanded bodies.
     
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  3. bibir

    bibir Supporting Member

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    This is my answer. Finally I had an answer. Thanks sir. Music isn't a heritage in my family. I'm the first generation who play guitar. But if my son (3yo) is continuing the passion for guitar in the future, that is enough reason to pull the plug.. best advise..
     
  4. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    Respectfully, I think you have it in reverse: it's the people who paid inflated prices in the early 00's who got burnt.

    Except for the exceedingly rare items, prices have come down substantially, especially for vintage electric guitars and amps.
    Prices now are reasonable IMHO, they will undoubtedly fluctuate, but I do not think they will come down substantially.

    It's always good to think about resale value when buying a vintage item, of course, but investment would be foolish, unless you decide to buy a really rare piece, like a pre-WWII Martin OM-45 or an original V etc.

    As others have noted, buy because you want and you can…
     
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  5. musekatcher

    musekatcher Member

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    High dollar collectable guitars as investments? - don't do it. The truth is, value swells for sentimental collectables as that generation increases income. But then, that generation dies out, and nobody wants dad's clothes so to speak. If I had highly collectable solid bodies, I'd get out now or soon. And I'm worried about the acoustic market too. Having owned and played the best Martins and Gibsons from the 30's, there's not much interest from the newer generations. I wouldn't be surprised to see herringbones, flatheads and Loars drop 50% in the next 10 years - not adjusted for inflation!
     
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  6. kimock

    kimock Member

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    I don’t know if I’d go as high as 15K for a Fender, but if it was the right guitar I might.
    Justification is I’m a guitarist, so I don’t “make money” just use it as it flows thru with the intention of zeroing out every year.

    I’ve been at it long enough my 1960 Strat was a 70’s trade for a Sho-Bud steel somebody gave me, got most of my old stuff between a few hundred dollars and free a long time ago so I don’t mind dropping occasional real money if something special shows up. It very rarely does.

    It doesn’t make any sense to spend vintage collectible money for a guitar “just because” if you don’t have skin in the game already.
    Get a horse or something else cool instead, leave what’s left of the guitars for the folks who don’t have to wonder about justification.
    If it hasn’t been your thing all along, don’t try to hop on now, it’s over.
     
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  7. bibir

    bibir Supporting Member

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    I hope I can be as loud as you are when I'm in my 60s sir. I can, if I pull the plug on a vintage that bonds with me in the next 5 years.
     
  8. kimock

    kimock Member

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    As long as it’s not the Jazzmaster I’m praying for, go for it!!
     
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  9. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    I believe this is true for the majority of folks with vintage stuff.
    I bought my brown Deluxe for 300.00 and 90% of all my vintage was under 1200. My brothers 1956 L5 was 500 bucks. Those days are gone.
     
  10. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Yeah, the whole thing made sense whether you were playing, trading, collecting, dealing, if you got in early (pre internet at least) established a network, found people to work with, had some ability to travel etc.

    I’ve been on the road most of my life, that helped, but at this point I know enough people and enough people know what I like and what I can afford that don’t have to hunt, I just have to wait and the stuff I’m interested in comes to me.

    So yeah, cheap, plentiful, and lots of help has devolved into “at least I’m not alone” : (
    The deal these days, everything picked thru, stupid money for everything, dealing with strangers over the internet for guitars you can’t even hold in your hands, you’d have to be insane and/or very wealthy to even try.

    Or maybe just lucky, but I generally steer people away from getting involved solo in the late-stage, internet rules vintage game.
    The guys that did well were connected, had support, weren’t going for “one special thing”.
    It was a different trip.
     
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  11. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    Not to argue a fine point, but some instruments are so rare that they will not only retain their value, I believe that value will probably rise comparatively with inflation.

    As for pre-war Martins, especially pre-'34, so few were made, comparatively to later years, that they will also retain their value. I have little doubt about that, this is big $$$ game here. Same for the original V's, Explorers and even LP's.

    I would also argue with the idea that younger generations are less into music than the older ones.
    That may be true comparatively and perhaps geographically, but in terms of sheer numbers, many more instruments are being manufactured and sold today than in the '60, '70s or even '80s. That is due to population growth, interest having spread globally and rising middle classes in countries like China. Collectors are no longer only US, Japan and western EU residents.
     
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  12. Crowder

    Crowder Dang Twangler Silver Supporting Member

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    I want to agree with you, but it seems like Lloyd Loar-signed instruments might fit into the same category and they seem to have come down rather precipitously of late.
     
  13. rockabilly69

    rockabilly69 Supporting Member

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    I never really wanted to buy any expensive vintage instruments, but for years I lusted after an excellent to mint condition Gibson L5s. I played one as a teenager and the memory of that stuck with me. What struck me most was the playability of the neck, and the clear tone of the pickups compared to what I heard in Les Pauls at the time (1977). By the time I was able to afford one, finding one that wasn't butchered up, and had the weight I was looking for (under ten pounds), took years. Then out of the clear blue, I found a mint one with the L5s tailpiece, and then days later a mint one with the TP-6 fine tune tailpiece. I bought both because they were both priced under what I saw them typically going for. I figured I would keep the better of the two, and sell the other. Unfortunately for me they both turned out to be GREAT examples with different tones, so I kept them both. Although they were way more than I typically spend on a guitar I just budgeted for them, and now I have close to $10,000 invested in vintage guitars, if you call late mid to late 70's guitars vintage. I would have never dreamed of spending that much money but somehow it happened. But I don't think these guitars are tied to typical vintage guitar pricing, as they are valued more by their scarcity, than they are by their association with guitar heroes like a LP, SG, etc.

    [​IMG]
    L5 Tailpiece Version

    [​IMG]
    TP-6 Tailpiece Version
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  14. sidekick

    sidekick Supporting Member

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    I don't think I'd readily buy a vintage guitar again unless something in the very narrow aspect of guitars that I wanted when I was a teenager, (but then could not afford) came my way which had both provenance and was 'right'.

    Was late onto the vintage market pre-mid-2000's buying a '54 Les Paul Goldtop when prices were rising ... Could have tripled my 'investment' a couple of years later but didn't want to sell because a classic vintage guitar has it's own thing going on. ... When I did sell, (well after the market 'fell back' some) that it still fell into the category of being desirable to LP enthusiasts, there was a 5k profit for me. ... I didn't though buy it to make money, just to experience one for a while which was for me a bit of 'classic guitar history' ... That it made some profit at the time of sale was just a perk and it was great to have experienced it.

    Although playing from the mid-60's, since becoming a serious guitar enthusiast in the 90's and not having a lot of disposable income back then, in order to own nice guitars I denied myself things like newer model cars, (given the poor resale residual value) and ran decent low mileage older cars, etc., instead, ... As some say, "where there is a will - there is a way" and my experience has been that guitars, (so long as you buy the right models) are better at holding value than most cars ...

    Now, I'd rather have a JG, D'Pergo, Lentz, (name your fav) as I feel these guitars capture the essence of the classic vintage guitars without the 'uncertainty' of the sometimes dubious vintage 'originality' ... unless you are 'really in the know'.
     
  15. relix63

    relix63 Supporting Member

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    I have vintage Fenders so no one calls me a poser for playing a relic.


    The truth is I lusted after old Strats & Teles since about 1984 when I started high school and I've never lost the desire to own them. The justification for me is simple. If I find a must buy guitar and I can afford it, I buy it. No thought of investment but I really only look for player guitars. My 61 Strat only cost me $1250 which at the time was still cheap. The 56 Strat I was playing before work today was a but more.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  16. Musicman100

    Musicman100 Member

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    If you have to make excuses up then obviously ur not ready or in a position to buy.
     
  17. aiq

    aiq Supporting Member

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    I have never understood collecting. The first time I saw pictures of a huge room filled with LPs, another of Teles, another of Strats, I just had a wtf moment. I have softened on those folks, live and let live, etc.

    Dealing is another thing but the guitar store model makes more sense to me than the collect while hedging against future value model. Seems that reticence is becoming justified with the current/coming glut.

    I have one guitar I have about $3200 in, over half the mod costs. Specific to purpose, I doubt I would be able to sell it for half that.

    Everything else is $1300 down to $500, about ten in all ncluding a couple basses.

    Every piece intended for playing.

    Never even consider buying anything in the OP price range and I could do it with a bit of debt load.

    Now if that Powerball came in...L5 baby!

    "dreams I'll never see..."
     
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  18. Dirtystranger

    Dirtystranger Supporting Member

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    MODERN BOUTIQUE GUITARS TEND TO BE BETTER THAN VINTAGE GUITARS IN TERMS OF PLAYABILITY, TONE AND COMFORT!!!
     
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  19. SgMaster

    SgMaster Supporting Member

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    Sorry for the long post. Lots of angles of this conversation it seems. For a slightly different perspective, I'm 28. I've been playing since 14 and have forever and always lusted after vintage Gibsons. I learned on an 82 3-bolt Strat with a Kahler that was underwhelming. It was a loaner from a family friend who was 30 years my senior and had been buying and playing guitars since middle school. He had about 25 acoustics and 25 electrics so the Strat was just a clunker he got in a trade or picked up for next to nothing in the 90s to mess around on and never cared to get it back after I upgraded to a 2004 Gibson SG Standard which I bought new from Guitar Center not knowing anything about how to buy a used, let alone vintage guitar.

    Fast forward to 2 years ago. I finally work and make decent money and desired nothing more than dropping $2500-$3500 on a vintage Gibson. My definition of vintage is anything 79 and earlier, given that's still 10 years older than I am and already 30 years old once I started looking at buying. I know many feel otherwise.

    Not having been old enough to grow up buying guitars pre-internet or horse-trade vintage players considered used guitars, I landed on a 1984 ES-335 Dot for the lower end of my budget, a 68 Princeton Reverb Drip Edge and only kept going from there. I refuse, more or less, to buy a new production instrument. I also really prefer anything mid-80s and older. My 76 LP Deluxe is a player but vibe/mojo/"natural relic" are all things that are super appealing to me and many players my age-range that I know.

    Does anyone need to buy a vintage guitar to feel complete. I certainly hope not but I have just as much GAS as the next TGP member looking at 50s Goldtops. Some of these instruments are entirely unattainable to me at this stage in my life. So much speculation about what will happen when more boomers start to sell off gear and also unfortunately pass away. That did happen to my family friend his family is going to start selling off his collection, potentially with my help, but he never bought a vintage guitar just to have one and he rarely bought them in the last 10 years because of the mindset of used guitars in the 70s, 80s, and earlier 90s not commanding ridiculous prices for guys just wanting to play them.

    I'll continue lusting and finding my financial threshold limiting my options, but I'm very happy with what I have and will likely buy some more players grade vintage gear later in life as a reward for career success since playing is a hobby. I play in a band and we gig only a few times a year so I do consider all my guitars tools for the trade, but do feel the voodoo of an older instrument that's been loved and had songs written on it and been on many stages over 30-40 years of it's life before I even owned it. To me, that's as alluring as the feel of a worn in neck, finish checking, and finish wear sweated on for decades.
     
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  20. musekatcher

    musekatcher Member

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    And so have Herringbones, and others. The crowd and music that made herringbones and Loars and flatheads famous, weren't known to have lots of money then, and now - country music was [and is] blue collar music, like blues music. The crowd with 250k to spend on a Loar or 100k on a Herringbone that are into that music is diminishing very quickly as they age out. In contrast, the classical world made their music on Strads and Guans, 200+ years ago, still making the exact (down to the printed precise instructions in sheet music) same music, same gilded $$$ crowd that pays millions for art, etc. And the affinity for those famous violinists and those instruments is storied, intertwined, and now part of the structure of classical music identity that has always been propelled by extreme wealth, unlike the identity associated with flattops, mandolins and banjos, lol.

    And another point, is that vintage instrument value is sometimes credited to mystic qualities that can't be replicated, like "those craftsmen knew secrets that are lost", or "that wood was first cut, there will never be wood with those sonic qualities again", or "old instruments improve with age because some alchemy changes the materials", or "all those notes performed by the masters on an instrument changes its response over time, like the shape of a persons shoe wears to fit their feet". The mystique is fading a bit, with new makers duplicating the sound of early instruments, and side x side comparisons favoring or at least equaling new builds.

    In the end, its very cool to have early instruments. My favorite possessions are early instruments, its almost a passion. But I've come to grips with the limitations of instruments as investments. I'll just say that breaking even is a good deal, if you get to strum it, pound it (Hammonds and Leslies), or blow it (woodwinds) a few years before handing it off to the next prideful owner.
     
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