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

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

  1. Mr Fingers

    Mr Fingers Member

    May 14, 2017
    The Norlin questions always come up in discussion of vintage guitars because what were, at the time, mainstream production instruments are now old, and in unmodified condition, even rare. If you want to know what features were made as improvements, what ones were just different alternatives, and what ones were cost-cutting, do your homework. The shorter-tenon stuff is absolutely a production shortcut. You can decide for yourself how you feel about the claims of tonal significance, but it is simply true that the shorter tenon is easier to assemble to spec (neck angle.) The rocker tenon is the joke/debasement of this design. The pancake body does not save production cost, because it's an extra step; it was intended to save possible warranty replacement costs for cracking, which Gibson feared but which proved never to be a problem, so the pancake went away. The multi-piece tops and backs were mostly a supply issue, as Gibson modified their production method to utilize the board size most consistently available. That's sort of a money issue, but it was really more a matter of working with what their suppliers had. The mini-hums were indeed a matter of cheaping-out by using old Epi parts, and some of the installations are awful, but some of us like those PUs. Red Robb Lawrence's book if you are interested in simple facts rather than insults or mythology. Norlin owners are a defensive lot because people slag on their guitars, but to be honest, these were really popular in their day, and when you see some of the abominations Fender was committing -- "thick-skin" finishes, anyone? Big headstocks? -- Gibson looks pretty good. Lots of the guitars are terrific; every company does some things to speed production, cut costs, etc. And some -- like that freaking L5S shown above, which, if you've seen, touched, or played one, is one heck of a gorgeous, wonderful guitar by any standard -- and a Norlin! The one shown here is the best I've ever seen.
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  2. sws1

    sws1 Member

    Aug 19, 2002
    East of the west
    The number of people making alot of money goes up every year. When I graduated from college, starting salarys from top schools were in the low 30k range. Now they regularly exceed $100k. What is considered expensive is constantly changing. What is NOT changing is the number of historically important instruments from the 50s, etc. I think they will always hold their value. The pool stays the same.

    Guitars that are just old? Not so much. Particularly because that pool keeps getting larger.
  3. bibir

    bibir Member

    Oct 10, 2008
    Holy ****. I made 7k a year when I started working 13 years ago
  4. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2015

    The folks at Heritage guitars who were there for every production change since 1957 felt the "short tenon" was a superb joint in their Les Paul style guitars.

    So much so they used it for about 30 years until, in the words of one of one master builder "The Market kept demanding the other design..."

    According to them, they always chiseled for fitment and never intentionally pitched the neck angle after the joint/heel was cut, that goes for the 70's too!

    You ever see how fast they built a guitar? Production shortcut, lol. The only time saved is how the joint is worked during application, that's it, period and 90% of the neck pitch is dictated in the rough cut regardless of design.

    I remember reading a Tony Bacon book which had an interview with Tim Shaw about the Heritage series which were the first real 'burst reissue attempts. He didn't mention any "bean counting" and argued to sell the guitars at a high cost, but he stated that he had a hard to impossible time convincing the Engineers at R&D to use a 1 piece neck on a Les Paul. They thought it was a bad idea, that's it! So much so, that I think many of those "reissues" had 3 piece necks to begin with.

    Remember, Gibson made $3,000 Les Pauls in the late 70's, equivalent to $13,000 today, that STILL didn't spec a "long tenon!" Again, I don't think that was to save a couple bucks and I've never seen interviews with Stan Rendell, Jim Deurloo, and others from the inside which pointed towards cost cutting in this regard. Those are the sources, IMO, not vintage aficionados or guitar nerds/techs/etc who use the term "bean counter's" any time the "Norlin" word is brought up.

    Now, your take on the mini-hums is a total farce. The Mini-Hums were NEVER an Epiphone design. The Epi pickups that looked like Mini-Hums were single coils which were fitted in the highest end Epiphone guitars that listed for more $$ than their respective Gibson counterparts. When Gibson ran out of those, they had SETH LOVER and co re-design a humbucker that would look like the old Epi's but canceled hum. Those were then added to the most expensive Epi models case you didn't know, sold like crazy with production increasing by almost 2-3 times in the mid 60's until the recession!! Obviously, they were incredibly popular pickups. So much so that when Gibson wound Epiphone down they continued to use and wind the Mini-Hums.





    Gibson continued to produce the Mini Hums making similar design changes than they did to their standard humbuckers:


    Now, if you want to go to Kalamazoo and ask one of the fellas what the daily quota was for a new hire in 1959, then 1979 you're welcome to do so yourself. All this "speed up production" nonsense is just that. Gibson's highest production years for fretted instruments were '63-'68 and by '79 they were building less guitars than they did in 1959 with roughly the same amount of tenured factory employees WITH an additional factory in Nashville.

    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
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  5. foxyguitars

    foxyguitars Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    there's some great guitars in vintage
    there's some great guitars in modern,
    it's not because a guitar is either/or, that it's forcibly good or bad:
    you can't dismiss them, just try them.

    think of it as Eastern Egg hunting.

    the price factor is a side discussion: there's cheap AND expensive ones in vintage and modern alike...
  6. PRSAtomic

    PRSAtomic Member

    Sep 21, 2016
    The swamp
    15K buys a lot of amps and pedals. Save your money for the gear that matters.
  7. rockabilly69

    rockabilly69 Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2008
    Ogden, Utah
    Ha, this thread just made me pull this guitar out of the case, and, I've never played a boutique guitar that played better than this EVER, you could literally set the strings just above the frets, and no buzz, just silky goodness. It was like Gibson was trying to show how luxurious they could make a fretboard feel when they were building this guitar. Look at how many so called "bad" attributes this guitar has, low wide frets, TP-6 tailpiece, harmonica bridge, but damn I LOVE it, and this thing straight into a vintage amp that's at working volume has a killer tone...

    slowerhand and Jayyj like this.
  8. Kurzman

    Kurzman Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2007
    Mid - Va.
    No man with a good guitar needs to be justified.
    Deanriffs and DeSolo like this.
  9. rockabilly69

    rockabilly69 Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2008
    Ogden, Utah
    that's right, spend your money on what makes you happy!
    Thedude99 likes this.
  10. davess23

    davess23 Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    Swampscott, MA
    Almost all my guitars are at least 20 years old, but I only own one guitar I'd call vintage. It's a 1968 player grade 335. I paid no more for it than I would have for a reissue. Nope, the narrow nut doesn't bother me. Not a bit. I know the internet says it should, but the internet also says I should put crystals under my pillow every night so I'll have wonderful dreams.

    I guess if you need to justify spending money on vintage guitars, which is a ridiculous notion, then my justification would be that I can't find a better one new. And I didn't have to pay a penny extra for the truly convincing relic job by Father Time.
  11. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

    Dec 9, 2011
    West Paris, ME
    I didn't mention Loar signed instruments, but only pre-WII Martins, and those have not come down, not one bit…

    Any vintage guitar can be made to play as well as any modern guitar, and vice-versa. It's only a matter of fretwork and set-up and excellence of craftsmanship for the luthier involved, no mystery here.

    Actually baroque music, and later classical and romantic music have changed quite a lot in the way musicians and directors interpret those.
    Strads, Guarneri's, Amati's and Steiner's that retain their original Baroque set-ups are quite rare. They all got longer necks (and scales), steeper neck angles, stouter bass bars in the 19th century. Everything evolves and changes.
    Ironically there are more Strads in existence than pre-WII 45 style Martins, to make a silly (and perhaps not so silly) comparison.
    Those instruments will keep their value, and gain some IMHO, their numbers are not increasing…
    There is a younger crowd playing bluegrass and traditional music, so the pool is not decreasing, really. Just my impression from here…
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2017
  12. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Exit row seat
    Larry Carlton plays a '68 335 (albeit modified to a stop tailpiece) and nobody ever complained about the tracks he laid with that guitar.

    So... ...yeah.
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  13. zekmoe

    zekmoe Member

    Jan 27, 2004
    Troy NY
    There are something like 5 million millionaires in the US alone. 75k a year is less than some spend on their watch winding cabinets, so they can buy $20,000 guitars without a second thought.
    Lots a rich folk out there
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  14. Thedude99

    Thedude99 Member

    Feb 3, 2015
    Buying those guitars is far more achievable than a lot of people may think with a bit of patience and saving.

    People blow tons on leasing expensive cars, latte habits, eating out, etc.

    With a comfortable (but not extravagant) income and decent money management you can save for such things - if you want.

    I know a couple people that saved up for high value vintage guitars (Strat and Tele level - not Burst level) on modest incomes over three or four years.
    Timmo, kbgear and treeofpain like this.
  15. Davetrb

    Davetrb Member

    Nov 18, 2017
    I started collecting vintage guitars in 1982. Started selling some my collection off in 2002 when my wife a I built our dream house. I did well on the guitars, but in hindsight.......I sure in hell wish I bought Apple stock in stead! I would also like to add that not one of my vintage guitars make me a better player.
    Bluzeboy and Thedude99 like this.
  16. Dirtystranger

    Dirtystranger Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2012
    Just kidding....Hee Hee.
    My 1960 LP jr and 69 Tele are sweethearts!! I love 'em all!!
  17. Ferret

    Ferret Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2014
    Who do you have to justify it to?

    With different answers to this question you get different answers to the question in the OP.
  18. BlackbirdVintageMusic

    BlackbirdVintageMusic Member

    Sep 23, 2017
    I've never found anything that yields better returns than vintage guitars.

    OP, no matter how much money one has, keeping vintage guitar purchases under $5k is always a smart move. The few people I know who have lost big did so by gambling with $15k-$75k guitars.

    Interestly enough though, those who spent $100k and up on Bursts are all sitting pretty right now. Big profits there but even bigger risks.
  19. Jazzmaster60

    Jazzmaster60 Member

    Jan 25, 2013
    1. Hello, could I please trouble you to put a higher definition copy of this Gibson production numbers up . I think it’s very vinteresting and maybe even valid for quality . If you have a skilled workforce making less guitars the quality could be better .
  20. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2015
    Manchester, UK
    You know, people keep talking about making or losing on vintage guitars as if it's their stock portfolio, but surely if you buy something you love and play it regularly and eventually you have a reason to sell and you don't get back the money you spent on it because the market's changed or you overpaid a bit when you got it, that's not a loss, is it? You bought something, you got a ton of use out of it, you got some money back when you moved on - that's a win in my book.

    Guitars aren't shares. Guitars are beautiful things you can make music on. Your piece of paper you bought 20 years ago that's now worth more than if you spent the same money on a vintage guitar, how much fun did you have with that piece of paper over the years? Just enjoy the damn things!
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