Vintage Guitar... Just the Wood

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by angusmcintosh, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. angusmcintosh

    angusmcintosh Member

    Nov 7, 2015
    I've been meaning to throw this question to TGP for a while now. First, a backstory.

    There's this vintage shop not far from where I live that has had a 1961 Les Paul Standard (SG body) hanging on the wall for years. I've lusted after it ever since I set my eyes on it, which has to have been at least three years ago now.

    Here's the thing. aside from the old wood, the finish, and the truss rod cover, nothing on the guitar is original. Replaced pups, bridge, tailpiece, tuners, wiring.

    The shop has FINALLY lowered the price to something I'm prepared to pay. I'm planning getting to the shop this weekend.. it might be coming home with me this time.

    Looking for your opinion; where do YOU draw the line between a "Vintage" instrument, and just a guitar with a story? How important is originality to you? Does old wood really matter?

  2. yeatzee

    yeatzee Member

    Sep 4, 2016
    Temecula, CA
    Pickups are important imo, everything else less so.
  3. kimock

    kimock Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    Where the Palm Tree meets the Pine
    If you have to ask, pass, and tell me where that store is.
    gigs likes this.
  4. Coldacre

    Coldacre Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    if the price is right, take the guitar.

    with a lot of those old guitars they need a re-fret, new pots, a new nut etc. a lot of the time the hardware like the bridge needs replacing.

    treat it as a players guitar, put some nice PAF clones in there, a re-fret if needed and rock that baby.
  5. Rod

    Rod Tone is Paramount Silver Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2004
    Area 51 & Seacoast ME
    If you're essentially buying an old vintage carcass , the old wood does matter, but I wouldn't pay that much more than a used 61 reissue. It still may need work. Frets, Coldacre said.. it's a player's guitar now
    guitarnut_1 and muzishun like this.
  6. bluesoul

    bluesoul Silver Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    I would agree...players guitar but....does it feel good, play good? Do you need to spend cash on a fret job or is it good there? Pickups...nice to have originals but there are some really good winders out there doing great work. I guess if it calls your name...answer!
  7. bdm

    bdm Supporting Member

    Jan 12, 2010
    Houston TX
    Almost all of my guitars have been refretted. Most of them have had pots, caps, pickups and/or hardware changed. If the instrument speaks to you and the price is worth it to you who gives a flying flip how original it is?
  8. ELmiguel

    ELmiguel Member

    Dec 8, 2013
    East Coast of USA
    You're asking the wrong forum.
    This is:
    TGP, where wood doesn't matter.

    If you like it and it speaks to you and you can afford it, buy it.
  9. dazco

    dazco Member

    Jul 25, 2003
    Does old wood matter? IMO thats almost the only way to get past a certain point as far as great tone goes. Even with newer guitars i find that if i buy one just 7 or 8, maybe 10 years old rather then buying the exact same guitar new, almost without exception they sound notably better. I've also experienced several instances of mediocre sounding new guitar that took a big turn for the better after as little as 7 years. Been buying guitars now near 1/2 a century so after a while things become very apparent, and to me old wood or even oldER than new wood can and usually does make a difference. I'm a firm believer in this, in fact to me there is no question. The only thing you have to realize is this isn't a hard fast rule. There are guitars that are duds because the wood just happens to be a bad piece tonally and it's quite possible it may never sound even decent. For whatever reason i find a lot, probably most old gibson acoustics are from lousy to average at best. When you find a good one they will blow away most anything new including boutique, but there are lots of duds. Not sure why, but only found that with gibson acoustics.

    Anyways, i wouldn't care about parts being non original as long as the thing sounds great and either plays great or can be made to, which most can. But if i were you i would ask to get the seller to agree to allowing you a day to try it. Pay for it then play it for a day to be sure it's worthy of the price. If it;s been there that long i think he's likely willing to do what it takes to get rid of it so he may well agree.
    Yamariv and zztomato like this.
  10. datguytim

    datguytim Member

    Feb 3, 2006
    Santa Monica, CA
    Yes, wood matters. Old mahogany is generally denser and definitely dryer than what is made today. Also, better quality wood was generally used (less knots & crap) .

    Some will disagree, but my vintage guitars get a richer, sweeter tone than my non vintage ones.
  11. slider

    slider Member

    Sep 21, 2005
    You may have heard this before:
    Old wood is good wood.
    JCM 800, bluesoul and Mpcoluv like this.
  12. muzishun

    muzishun Member

    Dec 9, 2014
    Old wood is good but don't pay too much!
  13. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2015
    Manchester, UK
    Sadly due to the craze for Les Paul conversions and replicas with authentic parts there are a lot of early SGs and Humbucker ES175s that were harvested for their parts.

    When I look at guitars like this I start with a price list of what the parts are going to add up to to make it original. The overall cost of the husk and parts should still be significantly less than the value of an original example as even if you buy all the original parts it's not worth as much as one that retained its own original pickups and hardware.

    All that said though, there's a lot of relic hardware out there that looks really good and it's hard to believe there isn't a boutique PAF somewhere out there that won't give you the sound you're looking for. I don't know if old wood makes the difference many say it does but I love the feel of old guitars and there's definitely something to be said for old instruments with a history, even if they're player grade. I'd go with it if the price is right and you like how it feels
  14. guitarnut_1

    guitarnut_1 Member

    Feb 18, 2011
    don't pay more than a well used reissue, otherwise pass on it!
    shane8 likes this.
  15. telecrazy

    telecrazy Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2013
    Old wood is good, but all vintage guitars aren`t necessarily tone heaven. I love old players, and I`ve had quite a few of them through the years, but not all of them were special. Some of them were actually quite bad.
    So, you`ve wanted at it for 3 years, I reckon it plays like a dream?
  16. cutaway

    cutaway Supporting Member

    Jul 24, 2009
    North Carolina
    If you've played it quite a bit and like it, buy it. But old guitars aren't necessarily good guitars. Don't buy it for anything other than a guitar to play. If it's gone unsold for years, then there must be a reason. Good guitars don't sit on a wall for years--unless they're insanely overpriced. Even then, a really good guitar it seems would have been negotiated and scooped up.
  17. Pedal Dan

    Pedal Dan The Island of Misfit Pedals Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2010
    I'd bet 99% of people couldn't hear a difference between old wood and new.
    shane8, PedalFreak, HTSMetal and 2 others like this.
  18. zztomato

    zztomato Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2008
    Ottawa, Canada
    Main question; how much $?
    If it is a solid body and neck, with a good neck angle and fully operational truss rod, it's worth it. Pickups are important but not as important as the husk. You can always get period correct pickups at some point if you really think you need it. That quality of mahogany just can't be bought anywhere but on a 50+ year old guitar. In fact, if you are interested in it primarily as a player, the new hardware options available through some of the high end part makers are exceptional quality and MUCH better than original parts -even pickups. I have an 68 335 that has a Callaham bridge and a Throbak ER custom bridge pickup and that guitar could not be better. Just those two added parts put the guitar over the top. It rocks my world.
    Make sure it sounds good and plays well though.
  19. Tim Plains

    Tim Plains Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2009
    Vintage guitar. It's called maintenance, and just like vintage cars, some parts get replaced for whatever reason. It's still a vintage car. Depending on how much in total money you want to commit to this one guitar, you could make it a long term project and buy original parts as you find them. Personally, I would do it if I really liked the guitar and the price was right. You only live once.
  20. Otter359

    Otter359 Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2015
    Central IL
    I, too, am interested in what the asking price (or what you pay) for the guitar is

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