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What Makes a Guitar Vintage?

MemphisCR

Member
Messages
157
I'm sure this question has been asked numerous times but what is the magic quality? Is it just age? If so, how many years, 30, 40, etc? Is it a mixture of age and perceived build reputation, i.e. Gibson, Fender, Vox, Marshall vs. Sears, Kay, or any number of of older low cost brands? When does my '78 Les Paul graduate from just being old to vintage?
 

Tuco

Member
Messages
454
MemphisCR, I think you nailed it with your comment about "perceived build reputation". It corresponsds with these comments by George Gruhn:

"The actual year of a guitar is not as important as the period during which it was made. There are vintage periods for certain models of guitars just as there are for wines."

And from another article:

"Age alone is not the determining factor in what makes an investment grade instrument. Guitars, mandolins and banjos are judged by maker, model, age, degree of originality, structural and cosmetic condition, historical importance, rarity, and sound and playability. Instruments by the finest makers exhibit design, structural and cosmetic workmanship, materials, and sound and playability which set them apart from their competitors."

I think the word "collectible" might be a better term for us to be using, rather than "vintage". If there is enough demand someday by collectors for Les Pauls from the late '70s, then yours will be "collectible". But by the above Gruhn comments, I don't think the era of '70s Gibsons will ever be deemed historically significant and therefore "vintage".

References:

http://www.gruhn.com/articles/collect1.html

http://www.gruhn.com/articles/collect.html

Just my humble opinion and something to consider.
 

hackenfort

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,688
My old strat was just an old ugly guitar to most. But the minute I said vintage, it increased in value! I kept it for years, never wanting to admit that most of the new strats play and sound better. It had a feel and comfort that new didn't offer - until the relic's came around. It's now gone and I don't miss it at all. It was made in March 56 and while the prices have skyrocked today I was happy to have sold it for a nice profit.
 

buchla300

Member
Messages
1,428
If you selling 25 years, if your buying, anything that you can't afford... :rotflmao :crazy
Seriously, I think Vintage can't be so clearly defined.
I can't call a 1975 Gibson "vintage", despite owning one.
Great guitar, but mass produced by then and ultimately, not classy enough perhaps...
PRS from 1986? I'd call it vintage for a PRS and very collectible.
I see Fenders from 1977 going for $2k. Crazy. Vintage? Hardly...
In short, to me at least, the word "Vintage" requires a certain quality to the instrument or it has to belong to an era where that maker was building superb stuff and not mass producing them.

Then again, this is just my take on it.
 

Dana Olsen

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,939
MemphisCR, I think you nailed it with your comment about "perceived build reputation". It corresponsds with these comments by George Gruhn:

"The actual year of a guitar is not as important as the period during which it was made. There are vintage periods for certain models of guitars just as there are for wines."

And from another article:

"Age alone is not the determining factor in what makes an investment grade instrument. Guitars, mandolins and banjos are judged by maker, model, age, degree of originality, structural and cosmetic condition, historical importance, rarity, and sound and playability. Instruments by the finest makers exhibit design, structural and cosmetic workmanship, materials, and sound and playability which set them apart from their competitors."

I think the word "collectible" might be a better term for us to be using, rather than "vintage". If there is enough demand someday by collectors for Les Pauls from the late '70s, then yours will be "collectible". But by the above Gruhn comments, I don't think the era of '70s Gibsons will ever be deemed historically significant and therefore "vintage".

References:

http://www.gruhn.com/articles/collect1.html

http://www.gruhn.com/articles/collect.html

Just my humble opinion and something to consider.
Elegantly stated, and I agree. The "25 year rule" is dramatically overstated. In my mind, a '79 Les Paul will never be 'vintage' or historically significant, just old.

Thanks, Dana O.
 

Pietro

2-Voice Guitar Junkie and All-Around Awesome Guy
Messages
16,448
If an instrument is really old and beat up and expensive and over-rated...

...it's vintage.

;)
 

stevieboy

Clouds yell at me
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
38,383
Well it's just a word, and it means different things to different people. It's one of those words that has been overused to the point that it really doesn't have much of a clear meaning, especially since when it comes to guitars it never had a distinct definition anyway. The originally meaning, still valid, of the word was to describe the year a wine was made. Even if it's this year. It has since taken on the meaning of old and desireable, but is used within that context in a lot of different ways.


You can use it to describe your guitar if you want to, certainly on ebay and elsewhere, the word has been used to describe newer, and lower quality, guitars than yours. There is no official body to sanction the use of the word. The important thing of course is to get the rest of the description (ie '78 Les Paul or whatever) and decide for yourself the value of the guitar, tacking on the word "vintage" isn't going to change that much, though it might help get some people's attention in a sales context.
 

rich2k4

Senior Member
Messages
2,251
would my 1988 fender american strat be considered vintage?

it's the year when CBS sold fender i think, and the year that fender started to produce american guitars that were of much greater quality then the 70's and early 80's era.
 

bluesjuke

Disrespected Elder
Messages
24,150
would my 1988 fender american strat be considered vintage?

it's the year when CBS sold fender i think, and the year that fender started to produce american guitars that were of much greater quality then the 70's and early 80's era.

I believe that actually was '85.
 

rosewoodsteel

Member
Messages
33
This is an easy question to answer.

If you are selling the guitar, the guitar is vintage.
If you are buying the guitar, the guitar is old and beat up. :)
 

jeffwith1f

Member
Messages
3,824
doesn'rt vintage really refer to "year"
so...a vintage guitar is any guitar that was made during any year.
 

johnzias

Member
Messages
862
Pre-1967 IMO, with 67-73 getting honorable mention. Then the Walmart-izing of the industry began.
 




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