What’s with vintage guitars?


Vintage guitars.

So what’s with vintage guitars?

What seems to be the driving force behind the vintage guitar market?  If you know the answer, drop me a line because it has always been confusing to me. If there was ever an overused, abused, and deceptive adjective when it comes to guitars, it’s the word vintage.  Why?

Being old enough to see this phenomena develop over many years, it strikes me as more than just a niche market.  The biggest problem seems to be that there are no tried and true parameters placed on its use as a guitar descriptive.  Guitars as young as 10 years and as old as 100  seem to fall in the same category.  The word itself, when applied to guitars, is always meant to imply a lofty worthiness.


Vintage Les Paul

There is no argument that there have been many great guitars produced in years past. The same can be said of many produced today.  So is the desire to own a guitar that you may have used as a youngster the reason for added value?  Maybe it is to own one today that you could not afford years ago?  Were they manufactured better?


Vintage Stratocaster

I guess the same questions could  be asked in many fields of collecting, but it seems musical instruments have taken it to a very high level.  At age 14, I had in my possession a 1956 Les Paul junior lent to me by my uncle.  I guess I consider myself fortunate for not feeling the need to have an original today, because I would have to sell my late model car to purchase it.  However, I could purchase a very well made version (maybe better made) of this guitar today for a fraction of the original.   Alas, it would not be vintage.


1956 Les Paul Junior

Are they a good investment?  Maybe.  Although, lately I have noticed prices starting to drop, as most collectables have.  I think the vintage guitar craze has been fueled by, well……in large part,  my generation.  Baby boomers are aging and subsequent generations are not so interested in the things we grew up with. I have played some great older, so called, vintage guitars. I have also seen and played some that are lousy now, as they were when first produced.

The ironic part of the rise of vintage guitars in my lifetime is the parallel rise of  wonderful, finely-crafted, handmade guitars.   There are more talented luthiers building guitars now than ever before.  For the price of a collectable, vintage guitar one can now purchase a new, well made, handcrafted guitar.  Hard decision ….for me? Not so much.  Your thoughts?




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