The double-edged sword of vintage values

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by soldano16, Jan 18, 2008.

  1. soldano16

    soldano16 Member

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    A buddy of mine owns four humbucker vintage LP's. I finally got around to thinking of asking the question as to which of the four sounds the best. He picked his MINT MINT MINT 59 plaintop, which I have played.

    But then he groaned and mentioned the problem he has with the tuners. To put this into perspective, the guitar is so mint that he has not even taken out the pickups for a peek. He'd rather leave the guitar untouched that way.

    So here he is stuck with tuners that are crumbling and he's afraid to really tune properly for fear of breaking a tuner.

    And the guitar is SO mint, that even taking off the original tuners and putting replacements on, even if they match perfectly and even if he puts back the originals when it's time to sell, could cost him thousands and thousands of dollars.

    So he owns one of the finest guitars on the planet and can't tune it properly.:crazy


    The guitar is so perfect, it's almost scarey.
     
  2. clothwiring

    clothwiring Supporting Member

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    I'd take the loss and make it something I can play. I did it with my 1966 Stratocaster. Needed a new nut and a fret job. I had it done. There's a certain line that when it's unplayable to me it's undesireable.
     
  3. Heinz W

    Heinz W Genuine '66 Relic Gold Supporting Member

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    So how old were the STRINGS on that mint '59? ;)

    It's seems like real shame to have something that great and not be able to play it properly. That would be unbearable torture to me! I'd have to either change the tuners or sell it.
     
  4. Alter Ego

    Alter Ego Member

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    First of all I am not near wealthy enough to own a 59 LP and I'm not lucky enough to have inherited one or stole one from a garage sale. So for me guitars are owned for playing and not collecting or showing. If you can afford to collect the most prized pieces then I think you need to group your guitars into a play or show category. If play then play it and keep it playable. If show then keep it original at all cost (even at the expense of playability). Personally if I did have a mint 59 Paul I doubt I would be playing it much, instead I would be playing my 78 or 92 Paul and leaving that sucker in a vault somewhere.
     
  5. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    If he has 3 playable ones, he might as well sit on it as an investment.

    Its value as a musical instrument has, unfortunately been reduced to zero, but as long as it is a value-increasing commodity it is worth more than a lot of investments. However, how long will that continue?
     
  6. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    I believe at that point I would have to just cash it in, buy a home, and let someone else worry about it.
     
  7. soldano16

    soldano16 Member

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    The thing is that he got into these guitars because he loves them. Yes the money part is huge but primary is the love of Les Pauls. If it wasn't the best sounding one, then I'm sure he wouldn't care nearly as much.

    But it's the best sounding one.
     
  8. JohnCovach

    JohnCovach Supporting Member

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    Owning a vintage instrument is like having a home in the historic district--you can't change anything without a lot of fuss. Neither has much appeal to me.
     
  9. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    With respect, that's nonsense.

    If you get the correct replacement tuners, they will fit perfectly and you can put back the originals with no evidence that they've ever been changed if you come to sell it.

    Maybe by that time (assuming it's not going to be soon), most or all of the originals will have crumbled due to sheer age anyway and the market won't be so in thrall to this BS and it won't matter if it has a set of good tuners on the guitar with the originals safely in the case.

    Either that, or change the keys and leave the tuners. The original plastic will crumble eventually.

    It's a musical instrument. If it needs repair work in order to make it playable, do it. Obviously do it to the best possible standard and in the least invasive possible way, but there is absolutely no sense in having these great instruments and not being able to play them. If you're going to do that you might as well sell them now and save yourself the frustration.

    Personally I would replace the tuners without a second thought.


    He is wise not to take the pickups out if there's nothing wrong with them though. If he's unlucky he could chew up or snap one of the mounting screws... so if there is no need to take them out, don't.
     
  10. rastus

    rastus Member

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    John P is absolutely right. Get exact fit replacements and throw the originals in that case pocket. This will have absolutely ZERO effect on resale. I know I have dealt with this issue dozens of times, no big deal at all. As long as there are no new hoiles or enlargements, no problem. Slap a set of Grovers on and your buddy will take a hit, but direct fit replacements will have no effect at all on value, as long as they are carefully installed. In fact, I have replaced crumbling buttons with Uncle Lou's replacement ones on a 50's goldtop. I put the crumbs in a baggie. The guitar was much easier to sell because the original mechanisms were still there and worked fine. Anybody that buys and sells these things knows that the buttons crumble to dust in many cases, and must be replaced.
     
  11. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Member

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    +1 on that. There is no risk in replacing the tuners. It's more a matter of the "mint" condition problem. I much prefer guitars that are original but in relic condition. You can play them without worrying.

    I had an '85 PRS that was vintage yellow, birds, beautiful top. It was like new mint other than a tiny dimple/ding near one of the knobs. It literally was not fun to play for fear of messing it up given what the typical high-end PRS buyer is like. I sold it a year ago and had more questions from prospective buyers about the one ding than I did about how it played.
     
  12. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    All of my "vintage" guitars have been "players," save one.

    It's one thing when you're scoring beat up or refinned Jrs for $2-300- but once it got to the point where a Special with wear was going for $5K- after that I was out. There has to be some sort of decision of "am I going to play the 59 or the RI tonite?" And your decision making process gets based on the value of the guitar.

    I still regularly play my "vintage" guitars out- not nearly as much as I used to. They're all biffed and scratched, replaced tuners, refinned or repaired. But they do what they do well, and I love them for it.
     
  13. Pete Galati

    Pete Galati Member

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    It doesn't really sound the best if he's not playing it.

    I would call this a normal maintenance issue. Crumbling tuner buttons need to be replaced.

    I just want guitars that sound good and play well. Not museum pieces.
     
  14. therhodeo

    therhodeo Member

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    Sell it. If its not playable its worthless to me. I could have 10 really nice players and tons of other crap plus money left over.
     
  15. soldano16

    soldano16 Member

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    Life's not that easy. He has a beater 57 GT that he bought in the 90's as his take out guitar. Guess what that puppy is worth today? Not something you take just anywhere.

    Like I said, vintage values work both ways.
     
  16. JackButler

    JackButler Supporting Member

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    I know this is the consensus, but simply not true IMHO. The pros can tell any tiny thing. Simple screw movements, etc. One most, things like this doesn't matter, but there is a HUGE difference bewteen an old Strat worth $10-$30k compared to a '59 worth up to half a million!
    I got to play a real deal '59 flamer this past summer, one of my old pals and dear friend scored, whom I used to do vintage shows with when I was a dealer. I was so scraed to play it, but he insisted. Yep, the tuners appeared as if they were ready to fall aprt and it was out of tune, I didn't even think about touching a tuner!
    Per the player aspect, felt great and had the sweetest midrange type compression I have ever heard in a LP. Truly amazing. I imagine that will be the last 100% '59 I'll ever get to play in my life.
    If I were rich (face it, idf you aren;t how could you afford $500k?) and owned one, I imagine I would do the replacement tuners so I could play it.
     
  17. Pete Galati

    Pete Galati Member

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    I suppose everything has to depend on what he's using his guitars for. If he has them to be in his collection of vintage guitars, good for him! And none of us should complain about it either.

    I'd want something made more recently than the mid '80s for a player guitar. A '57 Goldtop would get played, but it'd have to stay at home.
     
  18. PFCG

    PFCG Member

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    im all for the sell it if you have 3 others. It seems to me like its a complete waste just sitting around. Id get new tuners that are exact fits so you can play it and then keep the originals in a stow away for when you sell the thing. If the guitar is in otherwise pristine condition and the frets, nut etc are all in check and in playable condition, id put new tuners on it.

    But here is the catch.

    If the thing is so damn pristine, is this guy ever gunna play it outside of the 5 minutes when he whips it out of a glass case to show his pals? Probably not gunna go gigging with it, nor bring it on a world tour all over the place making a pristine guitar look like some of those relics. It wouldent be worth it to me, id sell the damn thing and sit on that bank! **** for that money you could buy a ton of VOS Les Pauls that have the hens tooth inlays and the snake oil rubbed on the fingerboard. i have no interest in collections, i play guitars, not stare at them all day.
     
  19. Buckshot

    Buckshot Member

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    I went through this dilemma with my '62 LPB Strat about 8 years ago. It sounded great but the frets were kaput, the switch was dodgy & a couple pots were scratchy & wouldn't clean up. I decided that it's value to me as a MUSICAL INSTRUMENT was more important than it's value as an INVE$TMENT INSTRUMENT - I put it into primo playing condition & I don't regret it. That decision was a toughie - I'm not wealthy & the Strat is the most valuable object I own w/o a mortgage on it. For me, it all came down to an artistic decision - what did that guitar say to me & thru me as an artist. If I hadn't really connected w/ that guitar's tone & vibe, I think I would have left it alone & treated it as an investment.
    In the case of your buddie's 59 burst, I'm not judging his choice & I'm kinda glad I don't have to make that one for myself because there's a value factor of 20X involved in the decision. I am sad for him that the "unplayable" one is his favorite.
     
  20. Number8

    Number8 Member

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    Excellent Post!
     

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