Unpopular opinion: I'll take a modern reissue over an original vintage

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Family Man, May 22, 2019.

  1. Family Man

    Family Man Supporting Member

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    Granted, this is partially because I don't have a budget that allows multiple immaculate vintage instruments. With that in mind, I'll take a modern reissue guitar over a vintage guitar of the same model.

    I used to lust after vintage 335s, Les Pauls, Strats, Teles, and SGs because my favorite artists play(ed) them and I bought into the idea that there's intangible "mojo" with vintage instruments. I'm guessing I'm not the only TGP member who had this notion before playing vintage guitars.

    I never thought I'd have the chance to play, let alone own, any vintage guitars; however, over the past few years I've been able to play some very nice and highly desirable gear from vintage dealers, and I've even owned a few vintage "player grade" guitars. After having the opportunity to play and own said guitars, I've come to the conclusion that I'll take a modern-built guitar based on a vintage model over an actual vintage guitar.

    I don't buy into the notion that "they just don't make 'em like they used to". I've owned many modern reissues that haven't been trumped by actual vintage guitars. I love having modern reliability and vintage appearance.

    For those of you who've had the fortune to own both modern and vintage, what's your take?

    And just for fun, I'll put in a plug that the 2013-2018 Gibson ES VOS line from Memphis is my favorite line of guitars ever made. I've owned 10-12 guitars from this line I've yet to find a more consistent line from Gibson. Each one has been absolutely stellar, so I highly recommend them if you're into ES guitars.
     
  2. Drew816

    Drew816 Supporting Member

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    Depends on the guitar... The other element is the vintage guitars that you run across may just be played out, they may not be great examples. Or they're models/years/styles or whatever that don't fit you.

    But if I were out gigging, I would surely take a reissue over vintage for safeties sake. And there's no concern about mod'ing, pickup swaps, whatever. A $2500 reissue getting dinged is a lot easier to take than a $15-25k guitar, let alone more!

    All that said, I have yet to find a reissue that can match the tone of my '55 Round-Up or '62 Duo-Jet; just saying. ;)
     
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  3. Astronaut FX

    Astronaut FX Member

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    I feel like with vintage guitars, there’s a sense of responsibility as a custodian of a historic item. I know not everyone feels that way, but I do.

    So yeah, I wouldn’t want the responsibility of a super valuable vintage guitar, and would rather have a modern guitar that works just as well.

    That said, I do have a couple that have reached pseudo vintage status during the time I’ve owned them. One has sentimental value and I’ll never part with it. The other is still in damned near unplayed condition, so I sit on it while it grow in value.
     
  4. macmax77

    macmax77 Supporting Member

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    I think guitars and gear are made better today, just that most people buy with the wallet.

    There are many here that can tell you which amp is better by looking at the amp's price. So go figure.
     
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  5. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Gold Supporting Member

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    That's not unpopular in the slightest. There are a huge amount of people who see vintage instruments as a waste of time, especially when you can get near-perfect reissues for a fraction of the cost.
     
  6. TCMx3

    TCMx3 Supporting Member

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    Im not into the ephemera of vintage, so I too will stick with modern.

    I personally feel like there are two takes to liking vintage, as well. There's the "well, I like this one" school of thought and I'm cool with that. Then there's the magic faerie pixie dust school of thought that suggests some factory made guitar from the 50s has a literal, 100%, existential lock on being a better guitar than something made today by an incredibly skilled individual who spares no expense or time to make absolutely the finest instrument money can buy. And I think those people probably also have a lot of other "this is the way it is, so it must be this way" takes that are equally as wrong.

    I still feel like guitars are individual creations and there are some stunningly good vintage guitars out there that were they available to me, I would probably go ahead and purchase. But for me, the value above replacement for your typical vintage guitar irrespective of price just isn't there, so once you add in cost it's just not for me.
     
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  7. wmachine

    wmachine Member

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    FM, I completely understand your position and not only agree, I've gone that route myself. Like you, I took advantage of the CME blowout and have stocked up on a number of reissues. Before I did that, I did exactly what you are doing now, I sought out advice from those that had both feeling that was the only way to get an objective opinion. IOW, are reissues really that good, or just imposters. The answers I got at the time led me to believe that yes, the RIs really are that good. I had one in particular that said he would never give up his vintage ones for the RIs, but on the other hand, it was not because they were not good.
    That was all good enough for me to feel confident enough to jump in, and take advantage of the prices and get some great Memphis Gibsons. Not only did it "cost less" and give me a start with new everything, and everything working, maybe most importantly I didn't have to though the learning curve and the trials and tribulations of buying vintage. I do understand those that enjoy that journey. But I just don't want to take the time to go through that myself. So the CME Blowout was a perfect storm for me.

    I also would like to hear more from those that have both.
     
  8. rawkguitarist

    rawkguitarist Member

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    Yeah - this isn't an unpopular opinion. Most people can't afford vintage instruments or don't value them enough to part with that much cash. If money was unlimited for me, I still wouldn't buy probably anything vintage. I said it in another thread - only gear I'd buy if I had unlimited funds would be a real Klon (just for fun) and a Ken Parker archtop. I already have the exact gear I want.
     
  9. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus Member

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    Never owned any vintage guits, and even if my funds were limitless I can think of only three vintage guitars I'd want to buy.
     
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  10. JeffK

    JeffK Member

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    I would agree that it does not seem like an unpopular position.

    If I was gifted one, great, I would appreciate and care for it.

    But there are so many great guitars available from recent years.
     
  11. Family Man

    Family Man Supporting Member

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    Interesting to see a few people chime in stating they don't believe this is an unpopular opinion. My take on the TGP community based on participation here over the past few years is that vintage guitars are the holy grail and can't be touched by modern guitars. Maybe that was selective viewing on my part.

    I still think a pretty good majority of the population here believes that vintage guitars have some sort of "mojo" that adds to the experience and makes the guitars better. I don't anymore after personal experience playing and owning vintage guitars.
     
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  12. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    Depends.

    If we are talking hollowbodies, I'll take the vintage. I have not been impressed with Gibson's offerings the past 15 years.

    If we are talking solidbody, yeah, I think today's models are superior. I chuckle at the prices I see for 70s era Fenders. I'm sure there were some fine guitars built by Fender back then but I've never run across one.
     
  13. Jabby92

    Jabby92 Member

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    For me it depends on the guitar. I'll take any modern Les Paul over a Norlin era dog.. thats for sure.
     
  14. Magnets And Melodies

    Magnets And Melodies Member

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    100% agreed.

    If I ever was able to buy a vintage 50s LP, it would almost solely be for bragging rights + geekdom + collector reasons VS playing. I'll take a modern reissue for playing any day of the week.
     
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  15. Salfordlad

    Salfordlad Member

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    I have the capacity to buy vintage if the wife would let me. That being the case I don't feel any urge whatsoever. I have way better gear than I have the right to own. My level of playing which at times isn't the best doesn't warrant me owning museum pieces. If a Fender Nocaster is good enough for David Hidalgo or a Les Paul Reissue is good enough for Robben Ford they are way more than good enough for me.
     
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  16. C-4

    C-4 Member

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    I started playing in 1957. I've owned what are now considered golden era Gibsons. I've played over 100 bursts, GT's and black '50's custom LP's, Teles, Strats, 3X5's, Super 400's, Martin's, both pearled and non-pearled, etc.

    I now prefer the modern guitars I own. Sure, owning a burst would be a total happening thing, but having gone through all the era's of guitars in their evolution to what is now available, I'm content to let the originals be in the hands of collectors where they won't get played in the type of bars I would play them in. And if I owned a vintage burst, I sure would play it out, just as I do any of my other higher end guitars. It's all good.
     
  17. wetordry

    wetordry Member

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    I dont really even care if its a reissue, so im a half step removed again.
    I actually like my 3 year old Les Pauls and however old Standard Strats, but aside from a generic style they aren't attempting to be vintage or a reissue.
     
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  18. itchyfingers

    itchyfingers Supporting Member

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    I don't think your opinion is that unpopular man.

    In fact, I'd go so far as to say your opinion is the reason Fender Custom Shop started making relics. People wanted that vintage look and feel, but also want an instrument that performs like it's brand new, is reliable, can handle a ding or dent, and doesn't cost as much as a new car or even a house in some cases...
     
  19. BrokenRomeo

    BrokenRomeo Supporting Member

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    I agree, although I still dream of owning a real 59 burst!!
     
  20. MKB

    MKB Silver Supporting Member

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    I've played several vintage pieces (a number of early 60s Fenders), have owned a non-SG type 1960 Les Paul Special, and currently own a mid sixties J-45. IMHO the vintage guitars have great similarities (light resonant high quality wood, fantastic pickups) and bad similarities (most of the Fenders were pigs to play, the LP needed a lot of work). You can get new guitars that have most of the tone and feel, and have the playability issues ironed out, and aren't worn out and have better hardware to boot. So I'm in the category of preferring new guitars to older ones as well.

    IMHO, if you have to really dig into the single magic unreproducible component in a vintage guitar, it would have to be the pickups. Vintage pickups have clarity and warmth I have not heard in any new reproductions. It's perplexing, I don't understand it, but have heard it time and time again.
     
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