Vintage Strat Opinions?

jiml

Supporting Member
Messages
10,477
My .02

I owned a sweet '64 Strat. Finish was stripped off back in the 70's, looked like Bonnie Raitts old brown strat. It was light and rang like a bell. Neck was broken in perfectly, slighlty deeper carve, but felt skinny width wise.
Pickups sounded great, especailly through the '66 Super Reverb I also had at the time. It had that aged mojo everyone yearns for.

But it was a very tempermental guitar. Had many issues with intonation and setups were always a challenge, vintage parts were just not reliable. I like a little higher action, but most of the bridge saddle adjustment screws were rusted into place, making it tough to set heights. The pickups, while great sounding were noisy, pots were noisier. The rosewood board had been refretted a few too many times and not much material was there, so leveling or replacing the frets may have destroyed the neck.

I ended up selling it. I could have replaced the parts, but then I wouldn't be playing a vintage strat anymore.

I'm not saying it wasn't cool, or even typical of vintage guitars, it was my experiment and I'm not sure I would get another.
 

sampleinajar

Member
Messages
1,248
Thanks for sharing your experiences jiml. Sounded like a nice guitar, it's a shame that it had issues.

Perhaps I should clarify a bit - I actually am looking for someone knowledgeable with vintage strats to comment on the authenticity of this particular instrument, at least to the extent that it can be determined from the photos and description.

I have weighed all of the pros and cons of owning a vintage guitar, and am still interested.

Steve
 

gerryguitar

Member
Messages
831
I have seen and played a lot of vintage strats... and more often than not they were not great.... but only in terms of playability... they usually sounded very good, It's very difficult to find one that has great playability and great tone.... I knew someone with the greatest sounding strat when I lived in London, he was a studio player.... but it was an absolute dog to play, the truss rod didn't work and it was difficult to keep in tune... but boy did it sound good... he didn't want to get it fixed as he was scared the sound would change...
 
Messages
3,766
I always tell people they MUST play the guitar before buying. Especially when you are paying the price of vintage.

I've played a bunch of vintage strats at stores. Guitars selling for $20,000 + and MOST really got me bummed out. So much so that I stopped caring about vintage strats. The ones selling were the ones that no one wanted because they played so poorly.

One day I walked into a store and saw a pretty looking '72 strat and pulled it off the wall. 2 licks IMMEDIATELY told me a I had to buy it. The neck felt good, the tone was supurb..etc. etc. I didn't care about the price. I went home and sold 2 full vintage amp stacks to get the cash and ran back to buy it. This guitar made me realize what the craze was really about.

The point of my story is vintage has the ABILITY to be the best guitar you've ever played, but its not GUARANTEED.

Play the guitar. If it sounds and feels good, then and only then should you buy it. NJ and Conn. are not too far away. I think you owe it to yourself to take the drive.

Ebay guitars are funny to me. Its like buying cloths over the internet. HOW do you know it will fit?
 

sampleinajar

Member
Messages
1,248
Thanks for the info everyone. The seller is less than 2hrs from me, and so a trip to play the guitar this weekend is in the works. I agree wholeheartedly about playing first, and this is an instrument I intend to play. I am far from a collector.

Steve
 

Troubleman

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,370
Vintage Strats are all over the place in terms of build and quality control. You MUST (or damn well should) play the guitar before purchase. I got lucky with my 1961. It is EVERYTHING that a vintage Strat is rumored to be, and more. That said, I've played a lot that were not.

jb
 

clothwiring

Member
Messages
6,807
I own a 1966 which plays and sounds great. No issues. Had to get it refretted and a new nut put in because they had worn out.
 

frank4001

Member
Messages
1,091
I always tell people they MUST play the guitar before buying. Especially when you are paying the price of vintage.

I've played a bunch of vintage strats at stores. Guitars selling for $20,000 + and MOST really got me bummed out. So much so that I stopped caring about vintage strats. The ones selling were the ones that no one wanted because they played so poorly.

One day I walked into a store and saw a pretty looking '72 strat and pulled it off the wall. 2 licks IMMEDIATELY told me a I had to buy it. The neck felt good, the tone was supurb..etc. etc. I didn't care about the price. I went home and sold 2 full vintage amp stacks to get the cash and ran back to buy it. This guitar made me realize what the craze was really about.

The point of my story is vintage has the ABILITY to be the best guitar you've ever played, but its not GUARANTEED.

Play the guitar. If it sounds and feels good, then and only then should you buy it. NJ and Conn. are not too far away. I think you owe it to yourself to take the drive.

Ebay guitars are funny to me. Its like buying cloths over the internet. HOW do you know it will fit?

Same experience witha '62 re-fin I still have....Stummed a D-chord..Done. The frets were worn down to the board in some places...
 

SW33THAND5

Member
Messages
5,082
interesting story guys, i THINK that he is trying to see if everything is original though. if anything (as far as you can tell) is "out of the ordinary"
 

frank4001

Member
Messages
1,091
It looks legit...Except the pickguard doesn't have the standard shrinkage around the the screws....Means nothing though...Fakes are so good these days...If you really don't know the guitar all you can do is play it and pay what you might to a custom builder or what a relic may cost...that way at least you're getting what you pay for.(if relics are your thing).
 

sampleinajar

Member
Messages
1,248
It looks legit...Except the pickguard doesn't have the standard shrinkage around the the screws....Means nothing though...Fakes are so good these days...If you really don't know the guitar all you can do is play it and pay what you might to a custom builder or what a relic may cost...that way at least you're getting what you pay for.(if relics are your thing).

Interesting. It will definitely go for more than a relic will if it is a real, refin '64. The prospect of it being a fake is a bit scary though, hence my question. There are so many knowledgeable people here, I figured that if there was something apparent (that I missed) indicating a fake, or reassembly of parts, etc, then someone here would pick it out.

Serial number comes back as a '65; however, the neck date of Dec64 and the transition logo all point to it being made in late '64, I think.

Big step for me - I want to be careful.

Steve
 

Bill

Member
Messages
310
Steve, It is hard to tell from the pics that everything is as it should be but it looks good to me from what I can see. The close up of the pickguard with the front pickup was good enough to tell that it all looks right. Once you get the guitar it should be easy to authenticate the parts. Those old guitars don't look like relics upon a close inspection. The petina of the wear on that old rosewood fretboard will be unmistakeable. The neck will be a breeze to authenticate since it has its original finish and that old fretboard.

The body might be a little more difficult but if all of the hardware is right then the body is probably right also. One thing to watch for is how heavily was it sanded so it could be refinished? Many time the edges get rounded since a lot of refinished guitars have been treated pretty roughly.

If you can get his guitar up against another real one you will easily be able to see the similarities. I don't know if you are familiar with old guitars but they really have a different feel and sound than any relics or boutique guitars I have encountered. There is a Strat book that goes into great detail about the parts, etc. You can get it at JKLutherie.com That book might be very valuable to you.

I have several old Strats and nothing sounds or feels like an old Strat but an old Strat. I have never seen a copy that I thought was in the ball park. After owning one you can pick up a copy and before you rest it on your knee you will know if it is right or not. You might look for someone in your area that knows old guitars and have them look at it for you.

There ain't nothing like the real thing. I hope you get it and enjoy it as much as I enjoy my old guitars. Good Luck. :dude
 

scottlr

Member
Messages
23,671
Keep in mind that there has been more than one seller on ebay that buys up vintage parts, then makes a period correct vintage partsocaster. As long as the price is correct for one of these, I have no real problem. It's the guys that try to push it off as an all original and want the top dollar. IMHO, a Strat is a parts guitar from the factory. I'd prefer to have a player made of good vintage parts than to have a 100% original that is less than a good player. But I'd expect to pay a lot less for such a player. In the end, you have to decide what it's worth to you, I guess.
 

avincent52`

Member
Messages
223
Steve
FWIW, I think the seller is a TGPer. Assuming it's the same guy, I bought a vintage tele neck and pickup from him. Nice guy, parts as advertised, and a smooth transaction.
FWIW, e-bay auctions often go crazy in the last hour--and even in the last few seconds. This seems like a nice guitar that will bring very decent money.
best
Allen
 

VaughnC

Supporting Member
Messages
17,610
The scary part of buying a vintage Strat these days is that the fakes are getting so good that even "experts" like George Gruhn have admittedly been fooled. IMO, the ONLY way to be 100% sure if it's original is if you could trace the guitar back to its original owner or purchase it from the original owner.

As much as I loved my old '64 Strat (its tone was magic), at todays prices I don't think I'd risk getting a fake unless $10K+ was just pocket change to me.
 

sampleinajar

Member
Messages
1,248
Thanks so much to all of you for your advice and comments. Greatly appreciated. The seller is a TGP member and is a stand-up guy. I was inquiring not so much that I didn't trust him, as the possibility that even he had been fooled - like Mr. Gruhn apparently has been. Dottin' the i's and crossin' the t's if you know what I mean. The purchasing department (a.k.a. wife) has to be involved on this one.

Thanks again-

Steve
 

Relicula

Supporting Member
Messages
1,808
I thought I saw that guitar here posted for 16k, which is way too much IMO for a refin.

I have chased my tail for vintage strats since forever, and even though there are some sprinkled with the magic fairy dust, most if not all, were just not worth the dough.

I am not saying that about this guitar, the owner is a very accomplished player, and I feel the guitar is represented properly. But, I would hook up with him and play it for that kind of money.
 

Bill

Member
Messages
310
Steve,

My experience seems to be very different from some of the above posters. I have owned vintage guitars since 1970 and have only dabbled a bit with some of the newer guitars and that in the last two years. I have tried to build/acquire some guitars to play live so that I can leave the expensive stuff at home. One thing that really strikes me is how much better my vintage stuff sounds than the newer guitars I have acquired or have had access to. I have A/Bed these guitars over and over and the vintage stuff is just much better sounding than anything newer that I have compared them to. I have built several guitars (strats/teles) for live use and while they are good guitars they simply don't sound as good as the originals and they miss it by a significant margin.

In building these guitars I have used the best components that are available and used a nitro finish to get as close to the originals as I can but they simply all fall short in the tone department compared to my original guitars. There is magic in those old guitars and not just in a few. I have yet to encounter an original Strat/Tele from the Fender golden years that I didn't think was a magical instrument. Another thing, this belief that the build quality was "all over the place" with those 50s/60s guitars is another myth. They are quite consistent. They did evolve and there were some gradual changes over time but those old guitars are consistently of the same quality.

As a guy who has played these old guitars almost exclusively for several decades let me encourage you to acquire a vintage guitar. Notwithstanding, that they will almost certainly be a good investment but I would be willing to bet that they will become favorites among your instrument collection.

Make the deal on the Strat if it is a reasonable one. You won't regret it...
 


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