I’ve been scared off from buying a vintage guitar but would love to own one

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by VJF, Dec 2, 2017.


  1. VJF

    VJF Member

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    My dream is to own a birth year 1962 all original Fender Stratocaster iwith a rosewood neck on nicely done 3TSB or Olympic White body with a beautifully aged mint colored pickguard. Has to be a player though as I plan to use it. I want this for nostalgia/romance reasons as I already own a few great playing modern guitars.

    Now with that said, based on what I’ve learned here and on other sites about vintage guitars, I’ve been scared off from paying the current market price for my dream guitar (not just because of the crazy prices) but because of what any of these things would do to my investment:
    1. Lack of rock solid provenance
    2. Overlooking or later discovery of an unoriginal component
    3. A pickup stops working from play and age (now a key original component that impacts value is no longer working)
    4. Fakes in the marketplace
    I wish that I had bought a vintage guitar when they were just consider used guitars then none of the above would matter to me...but oh well :cry:
     
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  2. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    Anybody serious about vintage stuff has to do her or his homework, it takes years and quite a bit of passion. Read and study the serious books out there, look at a million pics, and nothing beats being familiar with the real thing so go to vintage dealers and play and scrutinise as many guitars as you can.

    I've never been scared by fakes, if you know your stuff, you'll spot one miles away.
    IMHO it's mostly a meme, blown out of proportion by the Internet and fora.
    I've never seen a credible one in over 30 years I've been into the stuff.

    Relicing can be a form or artistry on refins and new guitars, but credibly faking stamps, signatures and all the tiny details is on another level of craftsmanship and investment, so much so that it's not worth it IMO, except for the really high value stuff like original Explorer and V's, but then you have to deal with collectors and dealers who have such a level of scrutiny and already know the few guitars in existence…

    Fenders can be taken apart and re-assembled with disparate parts, but if everything on your Strat checks out as being made in the factory in '62, who's to say or know?

    Prices now are not crazy at all, they're actually where they ought to be IMHO, prices were much crazier quite a few years ago. That's especially true for players guitars with refins, refrets, changed parts and the like.
    Always check out how much guitars actually sell for, not the crazy prices some delusional sellers are asking.

    Pickups dying is unfortunately a fairly common occurence on Fenders, with the rust on the magnets being in direct contact with the coils inside the pickup and eventually eating the wire insulation. A rewound original pickup is still worth more than a repro though…
     
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  3. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

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    At least, as far as you know... :)

    Sorry, just joking. I agree, do some research and it's hard to get fooled. Dealing with reputable sellers reduces risk too.

    /rick
     
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  4. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    @Laurent Brondel if you never seen a fake you’ve either been extremely lucky or just couldn’t tell. I’ve personally seen a few that were amazing but fake nonetheless.

    Reputable dealers are what I would suggest as well unless you’re very skilled. I have a 65 335 that has been the source of some debate as to if its a refin or not. Blacklight inconclusive.
     
  5. Jayyj

    Jayyj Member

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    One of the problems with fakes is that they are often not out and out fakes - a popular trick in the UK was to buy a nice example of a vintage Fender, split it up into two piles of parts and then use fake components to make up two guitars. Often when I'm looking at a dubious guitar, if everything looks odd then it's easy to call fake - it's when you can see loads of stuff that looks right on it that your brain starts to think, well, maybe it's ok, particularly if it's a really great guitar that your heart's already beginning to go soft at.

    Learning everything you can about the type of guitar your interested in is an important part of the process, but I think if you're new to vintage the best best is to buy from a well known dealer and make sure you have paperwork saying what's original and what isn't. You'll pay more for the guitar but you're paying for the dealer's experience and also reputation, because if something does turn out to be dodgy that dealer isn't going to want to risk a good reputation over a guitar they made a mistake on.
     
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  6. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    A refin and a fake are 2 distinct things, a refin is still real, but refinished. In doubt, consider it a refin and bid or pay accordingly.

    I'll reiterate, I've never seen a credible fake, period.

    Neck and body stamps are almost impossible to duplicate credibly, a million other details like tool marks, curves etc. are on the same level of difficulty. They may fool a neophyte, but not somebody who's been around vintage guitars for decades.

    I am sure there are people with deeper knowledge of vintage Fender than me, but I've been at it for a long time…

    To be clear, I am not suggesting credible fakes do not exist, I am merely stating that I've never seen one and that they would be very hard to make and not profitable for the maker and seller.

    I am reacting to the belief stated by some here and elsewhere that the vintage market is saturated by fakes at best, and at worse that real vintage guitars are now impossible to find because everything is made up and everybody lies.

    This is quite simply a paranoid worldview that sadly reflects our times perfectly well.

    I've seen some of those "made up" Frankenstein guitars, and I've always passed. However, if some of the parts are real, the guitar may be worth the sum of those should you need them for a restoration, for example.
     
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  7. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    But you must admit.. for the majority of people looking to “jump in with both feet” those details will blow right past them 90% of the time.

    Edit.. saturated with fakes.. no. But they are out there. Too much money floating around now and someone will always try to scam some.
     
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  8. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    Maybe and I don't mean to be terse, but then they shouldn't invest what amounts to a serious amount of money and investment into something they know nothing about. It is akeen to gambling without even knowing the odds.
    There are plenty of guitars being made in 2017 that will exceed their expectations as outstanding musical instruments.
     
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  9. VJF

    VJF Member

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    Exactly...hence the reason for my thread.

    The key part of your statement is the "serious amount of money" part. I do know something about vintage guitars and where to go to learn more, but not enough to risk a serious investment in one.
     
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  10. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    There is a lot of good info here:
    http://guitarhq.com

    The Duchaussoir books, although old, are good as reference points.

    "The Stratocaster Chronicles" by Wheeler and "Fender: the golden age" by Kelly, Foster & Kelly are more recent and have excellent photography, if lacking in technical details.

    "The Blackguard" by Nacho Banos is a must have for Tele lovers, I wish there was something similar for the Strat. In any case it will give you a feel for Fender idiosyncrasies that lasted beyond the early Tellies.

    Finally there is always Google, if you search for 1962 Stratocaster you see endless pics for listings, sales, threads etc. It's good to have a peek at the nooks and crannies and see what's real, and what's not…

    I don't know what vintage shops are in Philly.
    But I used to seek vintage shops & pawn shops (when they randomly still had good stuff) everywhere I travelled in the '80s, '90s and '00s, even if I didn't buy anything besides the odd string set, picks etc. in order to be polite, I did get my hands and eyes on 1000's of guitars, and nothing beats that to get a feel for the thing, and owning, trading etc. old guitars.

    I am also lucky in that I regularly get vintage guitars to work on and sometimes restore in the shop, and I try to photograph and document everything in detail as reference points.
     
  11. H. Mac

    H. Mac Member

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    Good ideas here ^ for sure. As far as doing the necessary homework, there is also the option of hiring someone with experience and expertise to inspect photos and espevially the specific guitars you actually consider. A written report from the expert is also a good idea.

    The immediate goal is to be certain that the guitar you buy is authentic, and the secondary goal is to preserve the proof of its authenticity to convince a subsequent buyer.
     
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  12. slimdave

    slimdave Supporting Member

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    Just buy from a reputable dealer. You will pay more, but you’ll avoid risks.
     
  13. Drew816

    Drew816 Member

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    Exactly what I was going to suggest. You pay more but you know your getting the real deal if buying from Gruhn’s for example. Too much money in this game to take the risk otherwise.

    Even then you might end up with a 62 that doesn’t sound that great, played out, etc. I rebuilt a 68 Tele years ago and when it was done sold it immediately for a loss as it sounded so bad (dead tone, no sustain, etc).

    Good luck!
     
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  14. VJF

    VJF Member

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    A lot of the comments have been focused on the ability to verify the level of originality and rightly so but risk #3 on my list is uncontrollable and would be a real bummer if I just paid current market price.

    If I lost a pickup on a vintage guitar that I inherited or bought cheap (when they were considered used), I would take the loss of the pickup as part of what goes with the decision to enjoy and play a vintage guitar. It would suck for anyone who was due to inherit but too bad ;)

    I would gladly accept all of the risks listed above to own my dream guitar just not at current market prices...no way!
     
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  15. stratamania

    stratamania Member

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    As an alternative to the risk and provenance etc. at a particular price point that genuine or phony vintage goes for, how about a Custom Shop version of a 62. I know its a reissue as it were but at least you would know what you are getting.
     
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  16. sws1

    sws1 Member

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    Problem number 2:

    Some of the so-called reputable dealers are not to be trusted at all. Snakes...some of them.

    One also needs to be aware of dealers who buy guitars with issues, make the issues go away, then sell it without disclosing. This includes a lot of finish / re-finish work. E.g., A “reputable” dealer was showing a blackguard tele at one of the big shows last year. “Original finish”. Upon very close examination, you could see the steel wool-type aging all over the finish. Fake pick guard aging. Very faint but it was there. This is the business model for some.
     
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  17. VJF

    VJF Member

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    I already own several modern guitars I’m very happy with including a 2012 Fender ‘62 Hot Rod Strat.

    Not looking for a solution or alternative just posting my current position on buying vintage...specifically my “dream” vintage guitar.
     
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  18. stratamania

    stratamania Member

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    OK, just a suggestion.
    Certainly can understand the concern about buying vintage.
     
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  19. Laurent Brondel

    Laurent Brondel Supporting Member

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    I totally agree with this, however honest most dealers are, they are not above making mistakes, as we all do from time to time. The second caveat would be to put all your trust in one person, I think it's always better to have a clue, and preferably extended knowledge, about what you're sinking money in.
    Besides, it's fun to learn stuff.

    Like buying a house (and some of those guitars are as expensive as a house…) and knowing a little bit beyond basic carpentry, plumbing and electricity to see right away what is either not disclosed or simply not known.
     
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  20. NewLeaf09

    NewLeaf09 Supporting Member

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    There are all kinds of articles on fake vintage pieces on-line. The higher the dollar amount, the more incentive there is to cheat. Yes, the heyday of vintage instruments appears to be behind us but there's still a nice margin for the unscrupulous. Look at "1959 PAFs" going for over $10k. That's still plenty of incentive to fake a handful of plastic, metal, and wire, and there have been known fakes in circulation. Any Fender type body - how can you possibly verify the age - by barely legible pencil marks or spray patterns, tooling marks in wood? You can say it has the appearance of one which was made in the '50s but that's it as far as I know.

    As for appearances, I've run into appraisals by one big name expert and they were full of qualifications and negative assurances (nothing came to my attention that . . .). Even experts have been fooled and when that happens, what's more likely - they stand up and tell the world and eat the loss like a gentleman or they foist it off on the next person as genuine.

    I would think unless someone was really flush and looking for somewhere to park some money where they would get some enjoyment from having a playable asset with no real expectation of appreciation, that a great player or a conversion, or a grey market reproduction would be just as satisfying.
     
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