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zombywoof

Thinking of Closing the Door on "Vintage" Guitars

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No real point to this thread.  Just thinking out loud.  But I am definitely experiencing a weird scenes inside the goldmine moment.  It actually started when I snagged the L3.  Yes, it has a sound all its own and is drop dead gorgeous.  But what I have started to wonder is was this a guitar I really liked the "idea" of (if that makes any sense) more than anything else.    As a starting point, I ain't a collector.  I started buying what were then just "used" guitars  because they were cheaper than new ones.   And making it tougher is folks know me and it has actually become easier for me to acquire old guitars as I get a steady stream of them being offered.  Now this does not mean my '42 J50 is going anywhere.  In this case I have not played any J45/50  old or new in decades I liked the sound and feel of better.  Nor does it mean I am swearing off older guitars.  That door will always remain ajar.  Just starting to rethink things.  And what is driving me is I  cannot rationalize keeping as many guitars around as I do.  So if something new is to enter my life I really want something old to move over and make room.    Anyway, at the moment topping the list of newish  guitars I am seriously interested in are the Gibson Stage Deluxe and Collings CJ35 (particularly the opaque yellow version) which remans about as close as you are going to get to a later-1930s Gibson J35.  And there is still a certain Huss & Dalton I played a year or two back which continues to haunt me.   Hell, maybe this is all just me getting old.

 

Edited by zombywoof

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I think I can relate.  I got out of the vintage world for the most part when the prices started getting crazy and I realized I felt like all my old guitars owned me more than I owned them.  So I thinned the herd and settled on a shiny new Taylor 815C as my primary instrument.  It worked well enough, and life moved on, and when vintage guitars came my way I usually only bought them when I knew I could flip them.  That was a useful skill during the years when our children were young and we were living on a tight budget.

But right before the children, I encountered my current guitar, just a basic J-45 marketed as a Historic Collection model hanging on a Guitar Center wall.  And I know I've babbled before about it, but I will simply note that of the 200+ guitars I have owned in my life, and of the probably thousands I have handled and played, fewer than five clicked with me the moment I touched them.  There was just something special about those guitars, something that resonated with me.  

One of those was a '49 D'Angelico Excel, a one-owner instrument that was in for service at a friend's shop.  I was allowed to sit behind the counter and play it for a few minutes.  It had nothing to do with its value or collectibility or rarity - that guitar just sang, period.  The whole guitar vibrated when you played it, and it was absolutely bell-like.  And maybe that's more about how I related to that particular guitar that day, and it wouldn't have that effect on someone else.  

The guitar I have now is one that had that effect - and it was a brand new guitar, so go figure.  I still pause when I play it sometimes, because the whole guitar moves when I play it.  And I still smile whenever I play this particular J-45.  There are days I think, "I would really love an LG-2," but then I think to myself, "why?"  And truly, what I have now is probably all I will ever need from here on out.

That said, I DID have a lovely vintage guitar moment recently.  A local area player, super nice guy, talented cat, posted on FB about how he had just gotten his grandfather's guitar back from a luthier who had repaired some loose braces and maybe a crack or two.  Of course it sounded glorious, and I was able to identify it for him as a pre-'55 LG-2, and congratulate him on it.  So then he asked me to help him date it - curiosity, it was his grandfather's and will never be for sale - and when he sent me a pic of the headstock I was as excited for him as I think I would have been for myself.  It was nice to be able to tell him, "1946!  You got the magic year!"  And again - that guitar sounded glorious, and I am glad it is his and I am happy with what I have, and isn't that a hell of a state?

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ZW, I can relate to this. A few years ago I went shopping for a vintage L-OO or similar model. I spent the better part of a year looking and test-driving, but came away disappointed not in the tone I was finding, but in the amount of work required to turn most of them into reliable everyday players.

Then I found a modern L-OO Legend, which had most of the tone but none of the problems of its vintage cousins.

Likewise, I spent time looking for a vintage SJ, after missing one which was pretty good value about a decade ago. Once again, price and condition of the vintage ones was pretty disappointing.

I ended up buying a 10-year old 1943 SJ re-issue done for Fuller's in Houston, for about the price of a recent slightly used J-45. Once again, no problems, great tone.

Vintage still floats my boat, but that's now down to my two 1950 J-45s, both of which are keepers, even though one has been heavily modded over the 50+ years I've owned it. The other is completely original except for tuner buttons, bridge pins, and saddle, and has been my number one guitar almost since buying it last year.

So I will never give up vintage,  but really appreciate the tone and quality of my two modern Gibson acoustics.

Try it, you'll like it.

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14 minutes ago, rustystrings said:

 

 

 

That said, I DID have a lovely vintage guitar moment recently.  A local area player, super nice guy, talented cat, posted on FB about how he had just gotten his grandfather's guitar back from a luthier who had repaired some loose braces and maybe a crack or two.  Of course it sounded glorious, and I was able to identify it for him as a pre-'55 LG-2, and congratulate him on it.  So then he asked me to help him date it - curiosity, it was his grandfather's and will never be for sale - and when he sent me a pic of the headstock I was as excited for him as I think I would have been for myself.  It was nice to be able to tell him, "1946!  You got the magic year!"  And again - that guitar sounded glorious, and I am glad it is his and I am happy with what I have, and isn't that a hell of a state?

 

I owned a 1946 LG-2 for a lot of years.  I ended up trading it  on a CF-100 which I liked better.  The CF-100 then went toward a 1932 12 fret L1 which I liked a whole lot better.    And so it goes.  

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We must all be in similar age ranges. I'll never say bye to my '50 J50 and 30's L00, but I dumped my '62 000-18 and bought the similar '07 Martin OM21, which puts the '62 to shame, and two 12 fret Martins. One is a 25 yr old 00015SM, the other, a 5 yr old 00017SM. With the modern era guitars, first thing I notice is I get tons more playing time without hand fatigue. That will likely factor into what I keep as I limp into the final innings.

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For me, the tonal advantage of aging outweighs the maintenance, setup, and care issues for old guitars.  For probably 40 years, I searched for new guitars that don't play green -- I guess I sort of gave up looking maybe 15 years ago.  BTW, I had set out to prove that new guitars could be found that beat or matched their old sisters -- not the other way around.  I could find that on every dimension but clarity -- that effect seems to be universal.  That is very desirable to flatpickers in bluegrass bands (audibility in acoustic strings bands) but if you don't do that AFAIK it is just a beauty contest, and beauty is in the ear of the beholder.  If that is not important to you IMO you should pass on old.  I am not into cool. 

I do have new guitars too.  I have three Composite Acoustics Legends -- sometimes you need to plug in and carbon fiber really can follow you anywhere.  I also have custom acoustics from from Randy Wood and Russel Crosby -- this are both role players with pickups where -- in the case of the Randy Wood guitar --have tonal features not found IME in any old guitars.

Mostly I don't have new Gibsons -- I have lots and lots of Gibsons (50+) however.  The only new Gibson was for my late wife (the bass player) from (I think) 1992.  Certainly not matched by any old instrument!

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We bought old guitars before the market went crazy.  It is truly weird to me that so much innovation has been focused on copying old instruments.  Personally I would like to hear some new sounds.  That is how it always worked.  Baked tops IMO are a new and appealing sound -- but not really like the old.  And the choices for fine acoustic guitars -- even moderately priced -- is so much better today than when we started out (50s-60s).

Best,

-Tom

 

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Well if any of you kind folk have a vintage j45 j50 for sale .......1 and 11 16th`s nut ...let me know .

My son is a front line worker and i have been teasing the idea of a special gift .

Thanks 

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I’m the luddite here. I love vintage guitars as guitars, but also as investment possibilities. My play in the market has been modest, and very focused.

About two years ago, I sold about a dozen guitars, all vintage, mostly Gibsons. The sold guitars included the full L series: L-00, L-0, L-1, L-2, and L-C.

My collection had swelled to about 2 dozen guitars. My goal was always to acquire instruments that I would love to play, but which also would likely appreciate. My plan was to collect, play, and share guitars, until the point when I could sell a number of them, and from the profit (less capital gains taxes), cover the purchase price of whatever guitars remained.

It worked. I ended up with about a dozen free guitars. (OK, there were opportunity costs for which to account, but the opportunities were limited because at the time, vintage guitars were a good investment).

It was fun sending guitars on to their new caretakers.

So, again, I’ve got about a dozen guitars left. I have difficulty keeping count because I loan guitars for long periods to others. Since December, Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland) and Emily Saliers (Indigo Girls) have had a couple of my Banner flattops to use in a project on which we three are workings.

OK, to paraphrase Tom, off to do some picking.

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I am fortunate to have a houseful of acoustics of various type!

I rotate around them and really enjoy the differences, but one guitar I rotate to a lot is my custom made Cargill deep body 00 shape....

Why?

Well, mainly because it was made for me!  Not made for...them! While I ordered the neck specs and guitar shape etc I knew I liked most, the luthier has also done work for me for many years, has seen me play and knows what I am about. The guitar is now 4 or 5 years old and really hitting its straps!

Where am I heading with this? Some of you guys should order a full custom made guitar to your specs! If it has to be a Gibson, drive to Montana and get one made for you - for you! These days with torrefied tops etc, you may not have to wait 20 years for your new guitar to sound old. You can even get it bashed up to look old if that is your thing!

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

Edited by BluesKing777

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Thanks to enablers like Tom and John, I got the vintage fever. Went through a few until I got a '42 LG1 then I understood the magic and I'll be more selective in the future. That guitar caused an immediate exit of a few other vintage ones I had. I just don't get many opportunities to get hold of any except gambling on the internet. I try to make sure to get a good enough deal to allow for repairs and also a good enough deal to be able to move it on without taking a loss if I don't like it. My current project is a 1952 J-45 that's being repaired. 

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I'm not a good guitar player or musician, and I certainly don’t need the extras a vintage guitar has to offer from a tone perspective. A lot of that gets lost in my hands anyway. Still I have a 1942 J-45. The main reason for that is history and heritage. I love music and things associated with it and owning such an iconic instrument is special to me. For just making music, a brand new J-45 would be the wise choice, in all honesty.

Lars

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Dreaming, searching, finding, buying, trading, landing, , and dreaming guitars again is a sign of life.                                                                                  Especially if one gets tempted beyond rationale or specific needs.

As we know it's like the girls – once in a while you just can't get your eyes or mind off that chick though she obviously doesn't fit anywhere in your world.      A dilemma which must be handled, , , but perhaps only after the rush has somewhat faded.

The thing is that certain both vintage and new guitars look so good and call so strongly it gets impossible to hear straight. In those situations the break must be pulled – but only if the instrument is pricey. A cheap irresistible precious looker found on a market should be taken home – it's a good feeling and special connections can grow from such rescues.

Expensive guitars without a seducing voice is a mal-path – and it ends blind, , , or deaf.

My rule is : Keep the guitars that conjure the feeling that you are a lucky guy by having it. This may not happen every time it's played, but if the thought shows ever so often, don't pass the creature on. Simply because you will regret and never forget it – and write about the sad departure here for the next between 10 and 20 years, , , well, forever. .

The vintage dimension is something special – but you gotta be able to sense it, which can be a matter of playing styles. There is no doubt that the divine vintage sub-voice is real – and it's not the sound of torrefaction (but that's another thread waiting to be born).

Long novel short : Don't dismiss vintage, yet never let them trap you.

There are so many positive aspects about them – looks - history - sound - cash – that it would be a shame to count them out. Besides the basic act of goin' back'n'forth between old'n'new is inspiring in itself. Like switching between models, woods or brands, , , instruments.

So get the right oldies inside the herd and fix them if necessary. But never let them rule or fool you, , , though they drooled you from point 1.  

Why ? Because they have something only they have. And because we apparently fell for that in the first place.

 

My 5 Yen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I an bad for having a large collection.  At one point I was buying everything in sight. It has slowed down on the buying. Now its been weeding out what I dont like. 
 

we will see where that goes.   

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These are all very unique journeys.  At one point I had ten guitars in the ‘70s.  Then it went down to two while I pretty much stopped playing for about twelve years.

Now it’s up to thirty guitars & three mandolins - driven in part by a newfound interest in electrics, which was then coupled with a desire to revisit my acoustic favorites from ones I owned in the ‘70s.

So it has come down to a mix of both older & newer instruments.  I enjoy them all, and since retiring four years ago, a lot of relaxed time has been spent tinkering & personalizing various aspects of tone & playability.

Nowadays the bases are all well covered & not much is drawing my attention - but like a moth attracted to light, I still can’t keep from engaging in some harmless window shopping!

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6 hours ago, E-minor7 said:

Dreaming, searching, finding, buying, trading, landing, , and dreaming guitars again is a sign of life.                                                                                  Especially if one gets tempted beyond rationale or specific needs.

 

The vintage dimension is something special – but you gotta be able to sense it, which can be a matter of playing styles. There is no doubt that the divine vintage sub-voice is real – and it's not the sound of torrefaction (but that's another thread waiting to be born).

 

Long novel short : Don't dismiss vintage, yet never let them trap you.

 

There are so many positive aspects about them – looks - history - sound - cash – that it would be a shame to count them out. Besides the basic act of goin' back'n'forth between old'n'new is inspiring in itself. Like switching between models, woods or brands, , , instruments.

 

 

I think you have nailed what is  going on in my head Brother.  

 

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12 hours ago, E-minor7 said:

My rule is : Keep the guitars that conjure the feeling that you are a lucky guy by having it.

That thought has been hitting me quite a bit recently. I don't own anything vintage and cannot go into that level of investment and the overall collector's ideal. However, I'm developing a mindset that takes the perspective of how much time things that do not bring us joy take away from things that do bring us joy. My craigslist ad count of dusty gear is growing.

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20 hours ago, PatriotsBiker said:

That thought has been hitting me quite a bit recently. I don't own anything vintage and cannot go into that level of investment and the overall collector's ideal. However, I'm developing a mindset that takes the perspective of how much time things that do not bring us joy take away from things that do bring us joy. My craigslist ad count of dusty gear is growing.

I understand the lure of vintage guitars.  I just don't understand the price often asked for them.  For me, if I'm going to spend 4-grand or more on a guitar, I may as well by a new Bird, etc..  I'm much better off with guitars that I'll play and use at my gigs than an old (yet cool with tons of mojo) guitar that I paid too much for and for which "the thrill is gone.,"  Anyway, I'll buy used guitars, but not ones old enough to be vintage.  Just my view.  Doesn't make me right and someone else wrong.

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1 hour ago, MissouriPicker said:

Anyway, I'll buy used guitars, but not ones old enough to be vintage.  Just my view.  Doesn't make me right and someone else wrong.

I'm with you on that one, brother. I've only bought one new guitar in my life, and that was a little Martin travel guitar a number of years ago. The modern guitars I own were all purchased used, but in near-mint condition.

There's good value there, and I've saved a lot of money. It would take a very special guitar for me to buy brand-new. As yet, I haven't found that one.

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I'm in a morphing state, a bit. I think it's a decent time to take 'advantage' of people's trying economic times for booting up and/or rounding out a collection. I continue to hunt, often while in the middle of composing a treatise on finally having the guitars that satiate my curiosity.

I'll hang on to my precious old gits, while keeping my eye out for good deals, and opening up to search parameters.  My house has always been a place to buy & try from, and I'm surprising myself with a discovery here and there. Latest find...a rock bottom priced '70 Martin D28S slope 12 fretter, negotiated down to $2100, and a stellar '07 Martin OM21 snagged for under $1500.  What a great  freekin' addition to my madness these are!

Edited by jedzep

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The times haven't been trying for everyone, Jedzep - I keep track of a local acoustic guitar specialist shop...over the many years they have been going....

A strange thing is that when the virus lockdowns hit, they closed the walk-in shop immediately but went to online sales with lots of notifications on the social media.

That shop has been skun! Acoustic guitars new, old, good, bad - skun! And a lot of new guitar supplies have dried up with the factory closures. The musical chairs have stopped literally. And now all there is is ...junk - old junk, new junk - the rats have been through everything!  I can look through their listing and not see anything I want! Zip! The shop owners must have had a moment when they thought never to re-open the real shop!!!

And my brand of strings is empty in 2 shops near me! I may have to go the horrids....

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

 

Edited by BluesKing777

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I imagine that's true locally. The online game here in the US is a feast, and that's just Reverb and Ebay.

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The pawn shop where I got my 2002 J50 and 2005 Dove is skun as well!

They are still closed. Online the only Gibbie they are flogging is a 90s J45 with a broken neck!

After the mess on the J50 from customer grubby fingers BEFORE the virus, I cannot see getting anything there again!

On another slightly related track - all the hand-washing with cheapo soap and hand sanitizer getting your hands red raw?  A guitarist friend was complaining with red raw hands. Try some goat soap! Very, very good. My hands are like a baby's - goat related milk stuff is great for skin problems! I started using it when I was in Graphic Arts and had to clean hands all the time but made the mistake of using the work hand cleaner!

 

https://goatmilkstuff.com/

 

BluesKing777.

 

 

 

 

Edited by BluesKing777

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I've sort of gone the other way...not prewar vintage, but certainly instruments that aren't new. I use my '67 J45 and '95 Dove all the time for recording. The latter isn't exactly vintage, but it's a guitar that's lived a thousand lives and has the scars, lacquer checking, finish worn off the neck and replaced bridge to prove it. I LOVE that guitar.

For many years I stuck to new or nearly new instruments as I was wary of what Steve Earle dubbed "Silvertone syndrome" where touring musicians such as myself fall in love with old instruments which are constantly having to be fettled by techs. I'm currently involuntarily out of action touring wise due to Covid-19 of course, but my live guitars are my 2015 SJ200 Standard and my 2016 Maple AJ. I've recorded many times with both of those fine guitars, but old wood just sounds so good under a mic. 

Around a year ago I played a 1969 D35 which blew my mind...the back and sides are a mixture of Brazilian and EIR, and the depth and complexity of that guitar are breathtaking. I put a deposit on it, on the understanding that I would pay for it in instalments, but then of course Coronavirus took my entire year's touring and promo commitments for my new record away...it's still sitting there waiting patiently for me to pay it off and take it home. I can't wait...more old wood for the studio.

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On 6/23/2020 at 10:40 PM, Dave F said:

Thanks to enablers like Tom and John, I got the vintage fever. Went through a few until I got a '42 LG1 then I understood the magic and I'll be more selective in the future. ... My current project is a 1952 J-45 that's being repaired. 

You're welcome. 🙂

Those Banner LG-1s are gems, aren't they? One of the rarest Gibsons ever (only 139 ever shipped) and still affordable.

Please keep us posted on the 1952 J-45!

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2 hours ago, jt said:

You're welcome. 🙂

Those Banner LG-1s are gems, aren't they? One of the rarest Gibsons ever (only 139 ever shipped) and still affordable.

Please keep us posted on the 1952 J-45!

As a side note: I recently bought a Martin with the baked top and was impressed so I just ordered one of the new 1942 SJ to hear how the Gibson’s sound. 

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