Just how old to be officially 'vintage' ?

Discussion in '"Vintage" Instruments' started by Vibrolucky, Mar 11, 2018.


  1. Vibrolucky

    Vibrolucky Supporting Member

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    I know this comes up from time to time...I'm 47 (which makes me 'vintage' I suppose) so my perspective is that anything older than 30 years old guitar wise is considered vintage. Some say 25 years...

    I have a couple of guitars made in the 1980's, but its hard for me to label them as 'vintage'. The guitar I've had the longest, a 1992 Japanese Fender Stratocaster (1954 RI) is considered 'vintage' in some circles.

    I say 30 years is cutoff - what say you?
     
  2. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    If you must call anything “vintage”,
    I think it’s relative to the model, trends for the model for the time it was made, and most importantly the audience.

    A ‘74 Strat might be vintage to some, but not to others. Depends on your relationship to the term and to the model.
     
  3. Rob Taft

    Rob Taft Supporting Member

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    I agree. As far as my thinking goes it is pretty much a number of guitars that I couldn't buy new as an adult i.e. 18 years old. So in my view, 1969 is the cutoff. I don't own any pre-1969 guitars now. I sold the last of those around 2000 and when I bought them they were not vintage instruments, they were just old used guitars and I couldn't afford a new Gibson or Fender. But I hung on to those long enough for them to appreciate in value.
     
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  4. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Member

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    The term was originally applied to pre war Martins.
    Expand to include the “golden age” of electrics ( i.e. 50’s to late 60’s).
    Now it’s used to pry the most amount of money possible from folks.
     
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  5. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    I've heard people suggest 25 or 30 years as a reasonable cutoff. But it is hard to put a '93 Les Paul in the same category as a '53 Les Paul!
     
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  6. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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    It’s all relative. Would a ‘53 trap tail Les Paul be in the same category as a pre war D45, or a ‘59 Burst?
    For a long time many people would say not a chance. Not the “classic” example of the era, ie Stop tail, paf...

    I remember when a trap tail ‘53 wasn’t much more expensive than a ‘93(‘94) Historic Les Paul.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
  7. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    You can call things "vintage" after they reach a certain age. But if the term is simply age-based, it's not all that useful, IMO. People often attach the "vintage" label with the intention of connoting something of value, of "higher quality" or "rarity." And age alone is no guarantee of value, quality or rarity--ask the 10s of thousands of owners of 3-bolt, boat-anchor Strats from the 70s.

    I like thinking of "vintage" guitars or amps (and probably other instruments as well, to some extent) as coming from an era in which they were either made better--with designs or manufacturing techniques or parts/components--than equivalent instruments have been made subsequently and therefore can render sounds or other performance characteristics that are not really attainable from newer (equivalent)gear. There is *sometimes* a scarcity/rarity element involved as well. Now...this still leaves a GREAT DEAL of room for debate, but I think many experts would agree that the period in which Gibson (for example) built its best guitars (and amps) was over a long time ago. The dates/ranges vary by model, but I don't think you're likely to see Les Pauls from the 70s (for example) selling for 250K+ in the next 50 years (if ever). The Gibson amps made after '63 or so...yuuch...they'll never be valued the way certain earlier models are valued.

    So...you can call 75 Gibson Les Pauls vintage if you want to...but that just doesn't mean the same thing as vintage Les Pauls from pre-70 or pre-61. For the most part...the market place recognizes this (though many sellers don't seem to).
     
  8. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

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    It's a word that had s simple, easily defined meaning 30 years ago but has since been used by so many people to mean so many different things that the only real benefit to the term is where it's actually useful to have a phrase that's open to interpretation, such as vintage forum or vintage guitar shop.

    For me, the lines in the sand that people inevitably start to draw whenever this conversation comes round always seem way too simplistic. Gibson didn't cease to make great guitars in 1962, or 1965, or even 1970: rather there were a serie of incremental changes that moved the designs gradually further away from the original blueprint. You might have a personal line in the sand that you wouldn't want to own a Gibson with T Tops or a volute or whatever and I completely understand that, but still, it's a tough sell to have a single universal cutoff that means the same thing to everybody.

    However, we already have a useful vocabulary for staking out periods in guitar history - McCarthy era, Norlin, Pre-CBS, CBS etc - that we can use when we want to stake out our specific interests. Far better to use those terms where needed and not get tied up in knots about what we want vintage to mean.
     
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  9. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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  10. Guitarworks

    Guitarworks Member

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    20 years. If it's good enough for cars, it's good enough for guitars. 90s guitars are being sold as "vintage" by a number of shops.
     
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  11. jwguitar

    jwguitar Member

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    I would say 30 years. In 1988 they were making some very different guitars than they are now. However, I think it depends on what brand. A 1993 Made in Japan Ibanez could possibly be considered vintage at this point. Or any Korean guitar from that period would definitely be considered "Vintage" (notice I didn't say better!). I would say 30 years goes for the USA stuff as well. Fender even had a "Heavy Metal Series" and their own Floyd system in the late 80s. By the early 1990s things kind of went back to where they are now in many ways.
     
  12. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    It is fun to think of the Parker Fly as vintage.
     
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  13. gnappi

    gnappi Member

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    Yeah, I think I'm in agreement at 20 years.

    Remember that lots of players never saw a new 1990's model because they were too young and the model of many of those 20+/- year old guitars have not been made in a long time.
     
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  14. Rumble

    Rumble Instrumental Rocker Silver Supporting Member

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    For me, 50s 60s 70s is vintage, with 80s on the way to being vintage, although none of that is carved in stone. I don't care for music websites dictating what is vintage, as I see it as a personal thing open to interpretation. At some point, I'm just gonna lump everything from the 1900s/20th Century as vintage.
     
  15. lamenlovinit

    lamenlovinit Member

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    Depends on when you were born :D

    Not kidding. Vintage generally carries with it some sense of history and nostalgia. That's a moving target for all of us. Or rather the target stands still and we keep moving away from it :eek:
     
  16. RJLII

    RJLII Member

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    I think it depends on if you're buying or selling.
     
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  17. TheBuffalo

    TheBuffalo Supporting Member

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    For me anyway, vintage is not an age range. Its not, this guitar is a certain age, its vintage. No fender guitar from the 80s-today is vintage for example.

    Vintage to me means a golden age. Pre war martins are vintage. Pre cbs fenders, pre norlin gibsons. The early PRS guitars are vintage
    Vintage doesnt just mean "old".
     
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  18. sahhas

    sahhas Member

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    Reminds me of the article I saw years ago that talked about “antiques” and what was “antique”. Article said that up to the 70s antique was 100 years old, but then sometime in the 90s antique meant 25 years and older
     
  19. dcbc

    dcbc Member

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    The word "vintage," in this context literally means "period of manufacture." In a practical sense, it is a way to distinguish, for example, a Silverface Fender Amp from the late 60s, from the nearly identical looking 68 Custom series of amps Fender currently produces. Sometimes, it can be hard to tell from a picture at first glance.

    So the word "vintage" is of no meaning unless you also denote the period of vintage, i.e., 1960s or 1980s. The important question then becomes whether the piece of gear from that vintage was any good.
     
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  20. Sweetfinger

    Sweetfinger Supporting Member

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    Yes!!!
    It's a term lifted from winemaking. Same thing with the term, "mint". That term from stamp, print material, and record collecting cannot be properly applied to guitars, any more than you could apply other terms like "canceled", "foxing", "uncut sheet", or "w.o.c.".

    That said, sure, I use the term, as do most of us, colloquially. It was never "defined", and won't be but if you're going to use it to describe a guitar or gear, the most correct way to do so is to follow it with a specific year, or period.
    I love it when people get their panties in a bunch when they see something like, "vintage 90s Jackson". Hey, pal, we're gettin' old. Just like the boomers who remember seeing brand new '62 Strats in the store, that awesome day-glo green B.C. Rich Platinum Warlock you pined for in 1987 is now older than the '62 Strat was in '87.
    There are twenty-somethings out there with a couple kids, who refer to "really old TV shows, like from the 90s". Every thirty year old has never known a life without new episodes of The Simpsons every year.
     

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