How important is originality in a vintage guitar to you?

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by Jayyj, Dec 1, 2017.


  1. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    I agree with @nmiller to a point. Needs to be disclosed, where I disagree is if say a 50’s Gibson was refretted with say 6150 wire that would be an issue for me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017
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  2. Sampler

    Sampler Silver Supporting Member

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    Like most here I am OK with a well executed refret and/or new nut....I want the guitar to play well.

    Changed tuners and electronics are a no-go for me because I know it will bug me down the road...even if the guitar was purchased at a fair price. My OCD will have me spending money to try to make it original again! If it was a parts guitar or beater I would not care as much but probably wouldn't even consider it to begin with unless it was an exceptional sounding guitar.

    These days, especially with Fenders I will not buy a refin....there are just too many fakes out there and it's not worth the effort.

    And the case? That's a must....I'll search high and low to find one if it didn't come with a period correct case. Yes, I'm nuts.
     
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  3. Laservampire

    Laservampire Member

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    Only two of my vintage guitars are completely original, my ‘56 ES-225 and my ‘59 Airline Town & Country.

    I’m okay with modifications when they are repairs to stuff that usually fails. My ‘59 ES-175 has a replaced tailpiece anchor and tuners (the originals would probably have disintegrated which is why mine has 60s Klusons)

    My ‘55 National solidbody has a replaced tailpiece which was put on sometime before 1969. All of the ones from the same batch of serial numbers have replacement tailpieces too, indicating a common fault.

    My ‘54 National is probably my most screwed with guitar, the unobtainium pickup selector was replaced with two mini toggles and the pots were replaced, but most amazingly at one point in its life someone had converted it to a bass!!!
     
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  4. FlyingVBlues

    FlyingVBlues Gold Supporting Member

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    For the most part having an unmolested guitar doesn’t matter to me. The only real exception would be something like a 1958 or 1959 Burst. The only reason is because of the high-dollar investment I would want a no issues guitar with a well-established provenance so my wife or two daughters could easily sell it when I eventually pass away. I just wouldn’t want them to have to deal with something that would be a hassle to sell.

    I recently bought a 1954 Les Paul Custom from a friend who owned it for a few years, and I refer to it as a mongrel. The tuners are Kluson waffle-backs but they aren’t the originals. The strap buttons, pickguard and bracket, switch tip, switch toggle plate and jack plate are all repros and the guitar has been refretted and at one time had a Bigsby, which has been removed. The important stuff (to me), the finish, pickups, wiring harness, bridge and stop bar are all original. The guitar is very comfortable to play, and sounds great. It doesn’t have any potentially significant issues such as a non-reversible mods, a repaired headstock break, a broken truss rod or a twist in the neck. I got a great vintage guitar for a bargain price ( about the same as one of the Gibson Collectors Choice LPs) because it has some non-original parts that have no impact on how the guitar plays or sounds. I think that if you want to get into the vintage guitar market without paying an exorbitant amount of money getting a players grade instrument with a few insignificant issues that would probably only matter to a collector is the way to go.
     
  5. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    That's my take on it: I accept that frets wear out and need replacing, so it wouldn't bother me if an otherwise unmodified instrument had a refret as long as the frets were in line with what the originals would have been and the board itself is tampered with as little as possible. Any perceived hit on resale is far outweighed by the fact the guitar is nice and playable. But there are certainly differing opinions on this, which is one of the reasons I started the thread.

    In terms of devaluing, it's really hard to quantify. I tend to believe the frets usually go hand in hand with wear and tear: if a guitar shows a lot of play wear that will have to be reflected in the price so if there's also a refret you'd just consider it part of the devaluation caused by the wear and tear rather than subtract more for the refret - conversely I'd the guitar is very clean cosmetically but has a refret, you probably would have to take an amount off for the refret.

    If we're talking an otherwise clean guitar it's also very much related to what guitar that has been refretted is worth. Suppose we agree it's a few percent for a refret: ok, on a '59 Burst that's enough to buy a car with - but on a $10k guitar it's only a few hundred dollars, far less than the variance you might find comparing the same guitar from dealer to dealer. It's such a small apamount as to be largely inconsequential.

    So really I suspect it comes down more to whether having a refret effects your chances of selling than any notional devaluation because some people aren't going to want it at all with the refret, some won't care and some will be pleased to not have to worry about it themselves. What I'm curious about is whether at the high end the majority are in the former camp - that hasn't been my experience in real life but the implication in the '58 Strat thread was that the market only wants all original so it's interesting to throw it out to a bunch of people and see what they think.

    Personally I wouldn't hesitate to buy a very high end vintage guitar with a refret if I was happy with the fests as they were at the point of sale.
     
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  6. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    I think now you’re crossing the fine line between a collector and a player.
     
  7. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    But isn't there a venn diagram with vintage guitars where the two camps intersect? To the lay person at least the fact I own nearly thirty guitars, most of them vintage/old, would make me a collector, but I'm definitely a player who wants all if those guitars to be usable.

    Maybe I'm just a hoarder rather than a collector!
     
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  8. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    You’re a hoarder :)
    Collectors don’t really care how well they play only that they are all straight, completely original pieces even down to the nibs on the fret ends. Shiny unplayed is better.
     
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  9. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    I would assume a burst in need of a fret job is as valuable as a properly refretted burst.
     
  10. davess23

    davess23 Member

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    Frets, neck resets, bridge saddles and nuts are like brakes, tires and batteries as far as I'm concerned. Other stuff may bother me, but if you've properly maintained your guitar over time you'll do what's necessary to keep it playing well, and I won't penalize you for it.
     
  11. Musicman100

    Musicman100 Member

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    I have a few, so heres my bit of imput to the thread, lol.
    A lot of old guitars benifit from work to make them play decent.
    So what would you rather have, an all original guitar that's not been touched but plays like a dog or one that's had any needed work done to make it playable.
    Eg neck reset, refret. So that wouldn't really bother me.
    My pet hate is no case n swapped machineheads that have been redrilled leaving the old holes showing.

    Regarding repairs, non original parts ect. That's got to be reflected in the price.
    But the problem over here in the uk is that prices are absolutely all over the place with guitars sitting unsold for ages/years with silly asking prices. So it's hard to say what the true value is on many guitars for the current market.
    I go to most of the uk guitar shows n its amazing how little some of these so called seller actually know about what their selling n what to ask regarding prices.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017
  12. Guitarworks

    Guitarworks Member

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    I'm not opposed to reversible upgrades. But if the make/model guitar was known for being indisputably well-equipped from the factory, I prefer originality. I don't like broken solder joints, missing original parts, or switched-out anything on those instruments. I don't feel I should be expected to pay an 'originality premium' for a guitar that was some previous owner's tinkering project because he "just had to immediately remove" the stock pickups because he "couldn't bear to play any guitar that doesn't have XXX brand aftermarket pickups", or what have you.

    If the make/model vintage guitar was known for having a great neck, great body, but not much else, I have no problem with upgrades in those areas of the guitar where the company clearly cheaped out. Because at the end of the day, I want a good quality vintage guitar that meets my satisfaction when I walk out the door with it, however much I need to put down on the counter.
     
  13. Mr Fingers

    Mr Fingers Member

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    There's market value and there personal preference. The market could not be simpler in valuation: original parts and untouched condition bring the highest prices -- by far -- and playwear, repairs, and even normal component replacement (a dead pot, frets) are detriments, most significantly (very!) from maybe $3K up. If you look at prices (I am continuously shopping for guitars) you will know that this holds true until we get into the bargain instruments many of us chase -- a headstock repair, swapped pickups, etc. My personal preference is for well-used, even worn guitars, because in that group you can find instruments that are in such well-used shape because they are great, great players! Like many, I could care less about a refret or other indicator of normal maintenance/repair, but that's because I don't collect. I take really good care of my instruments, and they get passed on in better shape than they were when I got them. I don't begrudge anyone whatever they may want to do, but personally I wish the whole collector's scene would go away as I hate the idea of musical instruments living in someone's guitar prison rather than fulfilling the purpose of creating sounds people love.
     
  14. Drew816

    Drew816 Supporting Member

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    Modified and molested are the only way I could/can afford vintage guitars. If the body, neck and pickups are original I can deal with any other potential “issues.” If the guitar is original and unplayable I don’t see the point, obviously I’m not a collector.

    Being me your down troded and refined vintage axes and I’ll happily save and enjoy the exact same tone for less. Heck often times the original color isn’t something I’d want anyway for example, save money and get a cooler color is a win/win in my eyes. I regretted my ‘59 Jazzmaster and left it the original radius and slightly taller vintage looking frets. I couldnt bring myself to re-radius that guitar. But it’s fugly green gold refin, I live with it as it sounds great and looks unusual and made the guitar significantly more affordable.

    But I understand if you are/we’re a collector looking for complete or near complete originality. That’s just not my thing.

    Enjoy!
     
  15. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    I'm not a collector. Guitars are to play. Everything is subordinate to the utility of the instrument, also to price. So guitars with issues are always worth taking a look at. I do have a couple vintage guitars, in two cases because I got them decades in advance of all the price craziness. And most recently, with a 50s Silvertone 1427 archtop, because I negotiated a great price on a very solid guitar that arrived with a separating fingerboard. It cost very little up front. A full restore later, completely worth the cost. Easily the best playing archtop I've tried yet. Would a collector do that? No idea. Who cares?
    MD
     
  16. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    It's one of those questions, like what constitutes "vintage", that can get a wide array of responses and opinions.
    The collector wants originality.
    The player wants performance.
    The player with money wants performance and originality, the collector who also plays wants originality and performance.
    There is a wide area where both originality (as much as possible) and performance meet.

    It's also a case of what's that guitar worth to you, and how much are you willing to spend in order to own it? It's the same mechanics as buying a new guitar, it can be random and can only be judged on a case per case basis (like celebrity owned instruments).

    Resale value is a big one for vintage guitars, inversely proportionate to modifications.

    For me a body refin is no big deal, as long as it was not hippie-sanded. I can always strip it and refinish and relic it properly.
    Pickups and electronics have to be original, as well as neck finish and plastic parts, non original guard is sometimes OK (I'd want the original tortoise guard on JM"s, Jags, XII's etc.).
    On a strat I don't care if the bridge pickup is not original as I swap it anyway, ditto for the 3-way switch (I install a 5-way).
    I don't really care for the case, if it's not an obscure model, an original case can be found fairly easily, and I use gig-bags for transport anyway. All my vintage cases are tucked in the back of the guitar closet…

    My pet-peeves are sealed tuners with enlarged holes and "raccoon eyes" on a Fender (I am more tolerant on a Gibson, but vastly prefer the original Klusons), a second string tree that leaves an unsightly hole on a Fender, bad refrets with over radiused fretboard and deepened fret slots in the maple (more common that you think), and blurred contours and thinned bodies because of gorilla sanding with 40 grit when the trend was natural bodies or when your ex-neighbour thought it would be a good idea to try to copy George Harrison's Strat, Jimi's V or Eric Claptons SG before spraying the guitar blue, then red and finally flat black with Krypton cans.
    Bad headstock repairs on Gibsons drive me crazy, but that's professional bias.

    Even if I was willing to sink the money into it, I'd be afraid to buy a mint specimen, as I play those guitars everyday and gig them, and one of the advantages of playing old guitars is that one more small ding is not going to break your heart…
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
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  17. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    This over and over.
     
  18. Ferret

    Ferret Supporting Member

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    I'm not a guitar or amp collector as such but I love vintage gear and getting vintage sounds from modern gear. My gear must be playable and if that means replacing a pickup, or tuners or even shaving a neck I'll do it if the deficiency is really standing in the way of it being a killer guitar. If you're going to play a vintage Harmony arch top or some of the cheaper 50s solidbodies, you might have to make significant changes if you want a playable guitar. And if you do, you just might get a killer guitar.

    I make a distinction between really valuable vintage gear which I like to keep intact and old guitars which just serve a purpose. Suppose I have some modern recreations of vintage pickups that are great but no obvious guitar to put them in. I'm not going to buy a 50s Gibson, Guild or Fender even if they would be a good match. They are too valuable unless they've been knocked about, modified and have lost all resale value, in which case they are fair game. But I might buy a 70s Guild arch top or a 70s Aria to do the job. Those old guitars are well made, good value and old enough to produce something of a distinctive vibe with the right pup. That said, if I sold the guitar later, I'd restore the original pups. I don't have a principle I could spell out except perhaps: do what you must to make a good guitar great for your needs but don't be a vandal.
     
  19. ripgtr

    ripgtr Member

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    Yea, you get to a certain point, if played enough, a lot of it is consumable. Mine - frets, tuners, nut, volume pot, wiring, cap, output jack. The finish is pretty beat.
    Stuff like bridges generally don't wear out, though I know a guy with a '60 strat that the bridge is so rusty, I don't know if you could even adjust it.
    If a guitar is played regularly, and over decades, stuff wears out.

    I wouldn't be interested in an old Fender or Gibson with replaced pickups, though. The wood and pickups are the heart of the sound, I think.
     
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  20. ldizzle

    ldizzle Supporting Member

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    Not at all. I'm not a collector... I'm a player. I have some what could be very VERY expensive guitars... however, when they got to me, they were mangled or already relegated to players-grade. AND SOUND AMAZING.
     
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