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. woof*

    woof* Member

    Dec 4, 2004
    Los Angeles
    They haven’t been “investments” since the 80’s.
    Buy a guitar that you love the way it plays, sounds, and looks...regardless of price.
    It’s doubtful you’ll get your money and time back anyway.
    If your are looking at it from a financial standpoint, do your research, buy from a trusted source and buy a guitar that is mostly original.
    Bluzeboy likes this.
  2. Jazzmaster60

    Jazzmaster60 Member

    Jan 25, 2013
    This is a good post

    OP ,
    I agree , the 80’s were the time to buy . I’ve sold all my vintage guitars except my custom colour mid 60’s Stratocaster. Since then I’ve bought 5 different G&L’s from Leo’s early days . These guitars are 35 years old now and play better than almost any vintage Fender . I don’t care if they lose money because I bought mint ,original and cheap from a G&L collector.Ive also bought an 83Gibson Dot Blonde reissue ,I’ve already made my money on that one .Its appreciated quite a bit since I bought it .
    Old guitars are fun but remember the musicians of the early 70’s started buying 50’s and 60’s instruments because the guitars of the time were not built as well as the old ones . Buy 50’s and pre 65 Gibson and Fender until the late 60’s . We can thank Jimi for continued acceptance of CBS 60’s models.
    If you need to worry about the value of vintage just go and buy and early 80’s vintage guitar.
    VJF and woof* like this.
  3. bandmaster

    bandmaster Member

    Oct 23, 2006
    I love my CS Strat's and Tele's and they are great instruments, but none of them will get you that vintage vibe/ sound and feel. I always wanted an original 50's Strat, my dream was (late 80's early '90s) a '57 Stratocaster. I had the same fear to get a Strat that is fake or not original. So I started to get "educated", went to vintage shows, vintage stores, bought books and spoke to as many people some knowledgeable some not so knowledgeable to learn as much as I could. I met some very helpful collectors at the vintage shows which steered me in the right direction. The Japanese books/ magazines are a big help, their pictures are very detailed and you can learn a lot from them. Similar to the great Blackguard Book from Nacho Banos.
    In the mid 90's I bought my first vintage Strat from a vintage dealer which was highly recommended from several vintage collectors. The dealer got it from the original owner and he even gave me his phone number to talk to him. It was an old gentlemen who played in a country band for a few years in the mid 50's. He bought that Strat in mid '56 and he only changed the strings he said. When I bought it I had to change the rubber tubes on the PU screws they just crumbled and couldn't adjust the PU's.

    Just never think of it as an investment, you need to enjoy it and play it. Of course the prices got so high that I feared to harm it or it will get stolen. Loved when the Relics came out, the feeling is close and no fear. But I take my '56 out from time to time. When guitar player come up and ask "is this a real one", I usually answer "no it's a Relic" and the interest goes pretty much away.

    So don't fear buying a real '62 Stratocaster, get as much educated as possible and speak to vintage collectors and dealers. Look at as many vintage Strats as you can you will get a good feel for it what's right and what looks fishy. If you in doubt if it's real or not, move on right away. I tell you the hunt is half the fun.
    Sampler, VJF and lousyatit like this.
  4. DrJamie

    DrJamie Silver Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    Huntington Woods, MI.
    Funny, I bought my '57 Strat from Scott at a guitar show in Chicago, in the mid 90's. I had called many dealers who were planning on attending that particular show. I asked them to bring any 50's strats they had, to the show, as I was looking to buy. I called Scott as well. He said he had NOTHING in stock to bring to the show. I introduced myself to him (not knowing anything about him). He showed me a 57 he had just purchased. It was a featherweight beauty. He let me take the guitar all over the show, getting appraisals, verification, etc. And, of course I played it the whole day. He asked for no deposit. I met many people, including some guy that was relicing Gibsons, Tom Murphy. All were happy to help sort out the guitar. I bought the guitar, and was stopped in the parking lot by some young guys that watched me the whole day. They sold the guitar to Scott. They had purchased it from a polka player from a small town, and were interested in what I paid for it. Suffice it to say, all parties were satisfied with their deals. (I can't speak for the polka player). I played a 50's strat at a store, and heard something special, that started me on my quest that lasted a year. I gigged with it, sold it for a nice profit, and it tripled in value the next year! Oh well! If you buy for love, but do your homework, you can be happy, as long as you don't put your life savings into one guitar, one stock, one anything. Scott did right by me. Trust but verify. Shows are still a good place to get many opinions, and a smart way to buy.
  5. stevieboy

    stevieboy Clouds yell at me Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2006
    Under the whang whang guitar star
    Interesting thread, I’m in particular enjoying the concept presented earlier of a credible fake!
  6. Scott McFarland

    Scott McFarland Member

    Sep 23, 2016
    I would feel comfortable buying from Norm, Dave's Guitars, Gruhn or Chicago Music Exchange. I bought a 1960 Refin Strat from CME a few years ago and it's worth every penny.
  7. Morgenholz

    Morgenholz Member

    Jan 5, 2018
    Wow, this one hits so close to home that I am compelled to respond. I was also born in 1962 and wished to own a stock '62 strat or jazzy in sunburst. I did a few years of studying and searching, with your same caveats and concerns in mind, and just could not strike a balance between value and daily playability-- The ones I considered worth paying for were sufficiently "investment grade" that I would hide them under the bed and hesitate to play them regularly, and the player-grade instruments all had various issues that had been mitigated in some way. I settled on a vintage-spec relic-- It has perfect frets, sets up to factory-spec without shims, looks, feels, and sounds enough like a used one I could not afford in the seventies to fool me, and I leave it laying around the house to pick up and play at any time. I'd still love to have an original, but I could not possibly love owning it this much.
  8. misterturtlehead

    misterturtlehead Member

    Jun 23, 2013
    Like others have typed in this thread, I highly recommend reading everything you can find about old guitars before and during the time you are actually looking for, examining, trying out, and buying old guitars. I call them "old guitars" rather than "vintage guitars" because I like a lot of old guitars, mostly from the early 1980s and before, that a lot of staunch "vintage guys" would not call "vintage". But I also have some 1950s Gibson hollowbodies and a 1957 Les Paul TV Junior that "vintage guys" would call "vintage". For me, looking for old guitars is just an advanced version of looking for used guitars. And no matter how little money I spend, all of the guitars that I actually buy and that I want to be my guitar have to at the very least be playable musical instruments. Like a lot of folks who like old and/or "vintage" guitars I prefer when they are completely original. But when they are all original I prefer that the guitar is in good working order and I can pick it up, plug it in, and can actually play it. Even if the guitar is only $50 it has to play well enough, sound good to me, be structurally sound, have a straight neck, have good frets, if electric have functioning electronics that work like they are supposed to, and stay in tune. Otherwise there are other guitars to look at.

    The $50 guitar I typed of in the above paragraph is a 1960s Chiyoda classical guitar that my wife bought me at an estate sale. All it needed to be in good playable condition was a new set of strings. I have played that guitar every day as my regular practice guitar since my wife gave it to me this past August. VJF, like you I am a 1962 model. My birth year guitar is a 1962 Goya G-10 classical guitar that I bought for $60 at an estate sale. On the other hand, I own the most awesome electric guitar I have ever played- a 1957 Gibson Les Paul TV Junior. I could not afford to buy it. However, I could afford to buy the five guitars that somebody else liked well enough to trade me the TV Junior and a 1999 Gibson Les Paul R6 for. I actually paid about $2000 less for the five guitars I traded than the combined dollar amounts on the price tags on the TV Junior and R6. The person who I did the trading with has a guitar store that has "vintage" and "boutique" guitars.

    I recommend that you don't enter the "vintage" game by buying a high dollar guitar from the very beginning. In 2017 I bought three very playable and good sounding late 1970s Japanese and Korean bolt neck Les Paul copies for well under $200 each. And in the same store where I found and bought two of them I also bought a mid 1970s Aria ES-335 copy for around $350. My late 1970s Ibanez CN100 and early 1980s Yamaha SHB400 were bought from the same store for less than $350 each. Under $500 you might find early 1980s Gibson guitars such as the Challenger and Sonex. But, all things considered, if I am going to spend less than $500 on a guitar I would rather spend that on a Japanese guitar than either one of those Gibsons.

    You have a lot more options once you are willing to spend up to $1000. Sometimes you can find a 1970s Gibson guitar under $1000 such as an SG-1, Marauder, or maybe an L-6S or L-6 Deluxe. And 1970s Fender Broncos and Musicmasters are usually under $1000 and occasionally under 750. I recommend only buying old guitars that you can try out before you buy so you can determine if the guitar is in good enough shape and that you like the guitar enough to pay the money for it. There are also a few old Guild, Danelectro, Harmony, Kay, Supro, and Airline American-made guitars that are usually less than $1000.

    For me, it is the $2000-3000 range where I start to see more really good guitars that I might call "fine musical instruments". That is the same range that a lot of brand new American-made guitars are in, though some are less and some are more. Just as you can sometimes find a used Custom Shop Les Paul for a little less than $3000 you can sometimes find a good 1970s Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, Standard, or Custom under 3000. Though you may find more Deluxes than Customs under $3000. To me, one of the best buys on a sub-$3000 1950s Gibson is an early 1950s ES-150. The early 1950s ES-150 is a 17" wide full depth hollowbody with a bound neck, Les Paul-style inlays, and one real 1950s Gibson P-90 pickup. Not only are they good sounding archtop hollowbody electric guitars but they sound pretty good acoustically as well. And they are just as "nice" as a 1950s ES-175 which is almost always more expensive. I know because I have a 1952 ES-150 and a 1956 ES-175D. The ES-150s I have seen for sale recently have been around $2300 or so. You can also find completely original 1970s Stratocasters in good playable condition in the $2000-3000 range as well as some Telecasters, Telecaster Deluxes, and Telecaster Customs. You might be able to find a 1970s or early CBS 1960s Fender Mustang for under $2000 as well as Fender Duo Sonic IIs. In the $2000-3000 you could find a pre-CBS Mustang, Duo Sonic, or Musicmaster. It might be difficult to find a pre-CBS maple neck/fingerboard 1950s Musicmaster under $2000. But you could most likely find a completely original pre-CBS Musicmaster, maybe even a 1962, under $2000. But between $2000 and 3000 you most likely could find a completely original 1962 Duo Sonic.

    Though its that $3000-5000 range where you could find a 1962 Jaguar or possibly a Jazzmaster. Though good clean Jazzmasters can be a little bit more than that. I have seen a few 1950s single cutaway Les Paul Juniors toward the upper end of the $3000-5000 range. Though the really clean all original examples tend to be a little bit more. And 1950s Gibson ES-175s and ES-175Ds can sometimes be found toward the top of that range. ES-125TDCs are often less than $3000 or right around 3000. But lots of single pickup cutaway ES-125s are less than $3000 and occasionally less than 2000. One thing about old guitars, especially those that could be called "vintage", is that you might see the same model for $2500 in one store and 3500 in another. And not always is the $3500 a better guitar than the one that is 2500. That is one reason to try them out before buying. It's up to you to decide which one(s) you actually want and are willing to spend that money on.

    I don't know if I could spend much more than $5000 on one guitar because I have never had much more than that at one time to spend on one guitar. Though, hypothetically, if I did I probably would. Right now I think I have enough knowledge and experience to choose wisely if I actually could spend well over $5000 or even five figures on a guitar. It would have to be something that I felt was "worth" that much monetarily because that is a lot of money. But it would also have to be something I actually liked enough that I wouldn't feel funny about giving somebody else that money for one guitar. If you find a 1962 Stratocaster, can afford it, and like it a lot you might as well just buy it. You will know once you plug it in.
    Jayyj likes this.

    AXEnGEAR4J Supporting Member

    Feb 22, 2009
    Things to think about?
    Like anything vintage...we on here are specifically musical, guitars/amps...
    Who knows what style music will be popular within the next decade and which gear that influence it...
    Look at the appreciation in general of "antiques", "collectable" or "vintage" at this point in time...
    "Popularity" comes in circles over time ...
    Boutique is becoming very saturated ...
    The "not so popular" vintage will tend to be forgotten will become diminished with exception to brand captured market...
    Future appreciation of the popular limited availability of vintage is what?
  10. knavel

    knavel Member

    Feb 15, 2011
    London, United Kingdom
    There is another thread here on 1953 Telecasters. As I discuss there, I would never buy anything today from any dealer, ebay, etc.

    I don't know how fixed you are on 1962 but I have a 1959 sunburst hardtail Stratocaster that I bought from the original owner in the mid 1980s. I have a photo of him playing it in his band in Detroit in 1961 and also acquired and still have his original 1961 blonde Bandmaster, which is an incredible amplifier.

    I tried but was unsucessful in posting a picture of the Telecaster and I expect I'd have the some misfortune with the Stratocaster. So the offer is out there for anyone interested, I would do whatever I can to get the appropriate information across.

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