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BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..

12 Oct 00 - 10:32 AM (#317194)
Subject: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: GospelPicker (inactive)

How many of you have ever gotten into a discussion with someone over whether folkies should play old or vintage or (as much as possible) era-appropriate instruments? I LOVE old guitars... the blues I play sometimes on old Harmony or Kay or Stella guitars just can't be beat for that old, boxy, junky tone... I just wonder if anyone has a preference... old or new? old beat-up guitbox or a new Larivee as soon as you can afford it? Vintage sound to go with the look and the material or shiny new guitar to go with the "upwardly mobile" look?

Let's get ready to rumble...



12 Oct 00 - 10:40 AM (#317200)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: Midchuck

Two points that I think are not subject to serious dispute:

1) The best (mechanically, and craftsmanship-wise) steel-string acoustic guitars ever built are being built right now, and in greater variety.

2) There is no way to build a new guitar and get the effect of "playing in" for 25+ years on the sound quality.

The ideal is to have an old Martin. But if you had one, you'd be scared to take it out of the house for fear of something happening to it.

The next best thing is to buy a new "vintage" line Martin, or a Collings or Santa Cruz, or a guitar from some private luthier, now, and wait 25 years.

Of course, I'm not talking about guitars for blues. Blues guitarists appear to prefer their guitars to sound as cheap as possible....


12 Oct 00 - 10:41 AM (#317204)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: Wesley S

I think they all need to be looked at individually just like their owners. My two favorite guitars are my 30 year old Martin D-18 and my almost brand new 99 Martin OM-28V. I've played some old pieces of junk in my time and some modern classics. It's the sound not the age thats important.

12 Oct 00 - 11:29 AM (#317254)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: Lady McMoo

I'm not sure this is a fair question. I'd far sooner have a great-sounding new luthier-made guitar (which I do) which will get better than a poor-sounding vintage one. On the other hand I'd love a good vintage Martin or Gibson for some types of music and for their aesthetic appeal. Also part of the mix is the sound you're really looking for. If I were a bluegrass player I'd undoubtedly prefer the sound of a good vintage Gibson F-5 for that music to the 18 year old Eccleshall A.5 I have which is absolutely perfect for the music I actually do play.

Horses for courses really IMHO.



12 Oct 00 - 11:45 AM (#317267)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: MK

I completely agree with Midchuck's two points. I own several guitars. I've decided though that I will never ever purchase a brand new instrument again although 2 of my guitars were bought new. I think a new guitar is a like a new house. It requires a "settling in" (and "playing in") process. My Collings OM which was bought new in '98, required a lot of playing before it began to open up around 10 months after I got it. I also have a custom Martin D-42, again ordered and received in '97. This particular instrument sounds so good (for a new instrument) that it never really required a playing in process. Out of the case, it was a cannon with deep rich tone, reminiscent of something 30 years old. The Engleman top might have had something to do with this. It's a shame I likely won't be around to hear this guitar when it actually hits its prime in about 30 years. The one vintage instrument I own is a 1950 Martin D-28, and is everything one would expect in a 50 year old D-28. Because it has many "prestige marks" (as Doc watson calls them) and has much playwear on it (but is structually sound and solid as a brick sh*t-house) I don't have any trepidations or worry about taking it out of the house to go and play with friends, nor passing it around to those who want to try it.

Bottom line though, is buy a guitar for the way it sounds and plays to you TODAY, not how it's going to sound 25 or 30 years from now. And, just because an instrument is older or vintage, does not necessarily mean its a good one or will have the sound you expect. I've heard pre-war D-28s that were dead tone wise, and brand new Martins (and other manufacturers) that were killer out of the case.

12 Oct 00 - 12:22 PM (#317312)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: GUEST,Russ

Me too.


There are three things to consider when purchasing an instrument: sound, sound, and sound. Next in order of importance are playability, appearance, and cachet/sexiness.

I have never bought into the old instrument mystique. Antiques of any sort do not excite me per se. Whether it is a dining table or a banjo, to me it is just somebody else's used stuff. I could get excited about playing my own grandfather's guitar (if he had played one) but I cannot get excited about playing somebody else's grandfather's guitar Because of the cachet of certain old instruments, IMHO they are not a good value speaking strictly in terms of sound. I've played too many modern instruments that sound as good as or better. I also don't buy the "They don't make 'em like they used to" line. If anything, they make 'em better.

13 Oct 00 - 03:09 AM (#317905)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..

I agree that with the craze for "vintage" instruments, they just are for the most part poor value for money. I also agree that the best guitars are being made nowadays and the ones I own are new. However, I would love to own a Gibson L-0 in good condition (which includes having good sound.) I don't think I ever will, because in Australia they are even rarer than in the US and the price is high. I just like the look and feel of it. I think my Maton sounds just as good if not better than the one I tried.

I don't like many models of Martins--old or new. Their fingerboard is too narrow at the nut.

I did purchace a battered old cheap guitar that had a big crack (hole is more like it) in the back in order to try to get the sound that you get on old records. It had the tinny sound alright; but I never figured out how to get the scratches.

BTW has anyone tried out the new Martin 000-15S. It is built like really old Martins with a slotted headstock and it joins at the 12th fret. It has a decently wide fingerboard too. Two were brought into Australia a few months ago and were sold as soon as they were off the boat. The next lot comes in December, so I haven't had a chance to try one out.



13 Oct 00 - 06:12 AM (#317943)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: catspaw49

I agree with both Midchuck, mcmoo, and Michael K., and also others as this is a "Golden Age" of Lutherie and many vintage instruments are overly priced in the market.

Also important is that most of the major manufacturers have now joined in a new "Guaranteed Happiness" program that assures you will get the best possible instrument. Martin, Larrivee, Taylor, Santa Cruz, Collings, Breedlove, Lakewood, Guild, and many others have joined in opening a central return center where new instruments that are in any way less than satisfactory can be sent and upon arrival will be checked and a new replacement instrument sent from whichever factory. You should have received this info in the warranty packet of any new instrument purchased within the past 19 months from any of the above manufacturers. If not, and you are dissatisfied with your new Martin, Larrivee, Taylor, etc., send the instrument to the:

General Defect Instrument Return Center
PO Box 411/Purvis
Bremen, Ohio 43107-0411

I guess you should include any notes which you feel relevant. You may send the instruments postage due. Deering and Wildwood banjos have recently become members also and they say that banjos shipped within the past 4 months have the additional warranty info included in the ownership package.


13 Oct 00 - 07:31 AM (#317956)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: Lady McMoo

Am I not correct in understanding that most popular makes of accordion, noseflute and kazoo can be sent there as well?


13 Oct 00 - 07:47 AM (#317963)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: catspaw49

Sorry mooman....I have no info on any other instruments.


13 Oct 00 - 10:45 AM (#318037)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: LR Mole

Been my experience that when the player is ready the box appears, and costs only a little bit too much, really. Of course, then the problem becomes what to play until The Real Thing Comes Along. Also, though I agree with Russ' point (antique doesn't automatically =better) , I do feel older instruments have something to teach me. Probably a measure of my ineptitude.

13 Oct 00 - 11:40 AM (#318076)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: M. Ted (inactive)

I think that this is an "interesting" question--we live in a society that is way too weird and materialistic about everything, and, unfortunately, this has permeated our particular area-- New or Vintage, good instruments cost way too much, and, are played way too little, they tend to be "collected" buy an aging population of players who have a lot of money to buy instruments, but little time(or inclination) to play them--

It is true that there are some amazing "luthiered" instruments out there(as well as many more "luthiered" instruments with amazing hype), but the fact is that the average young musician(the ones who eat sleep, and live to play) hasn't a hope of getting one--

These vintage instruments that some of you think don't hold a candle to the new stuff, sounded great, were well made, and could be still afforded by an aspiring musician--

I am rather fond of archtops, and the very few who make anything approaching any of the old Gibsons in either playability or sound are so expensive that, unless you are a concert player, you wouldn't dare take it out to play gigs--and there are no new archtops available for beginning or intermediate players--

13 Oct 00 - 10:16 PM (#318448)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: GUEST,Murray MacLeod

The other thing to remember about old guitsrs is that they all have way too mucj wood on the neck. Taylor have shown how it should be done. I have refined the necks of several old Martins (and attracted much derision from some vintage-worshippers because I ruined the resale values), but what the hell, the player ended up with a much more playable instrument.

Right now I have a '64 Gibson twelve-string that is going to receive the same treatment. Why did they make necks like that ?


13 Oct 00 - 11:35 PM (#318512)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: bseed(charleskratz)

I just purchased an instrument made in the late nineteenth century, an S. S. Stewart Universal Favorite #1 five-string banjo. I guess that qualifies as vintage. The German silver pot and the rest of the hardware was all crudded up and it had a twangy frosted head, the original friction pegs tend to slip a lot--the tension screws loosen up. Still, it sounded sweet and loud, unlike any other banjo I'd ever played, and after I disassembled it and cleaned it all up and replaced the frosted with a fiberskin pot, it mellowed out beautifully without losing a bit of its volume. I haven't yet replaced the tuners, but I have geared ones on order (thin stemmed ones that won't require enlarging the holes in the tuning head). I paid for it about half what I had paid for my Wildwood (new) five years ago (and about forty-five times what it had sold for new).

In my case, I'd have to say the oldy is the goody--and I love my Wildwood, and bought it after trying a large variety of other banjos, including Gibsons and Bart Reiters. The Wildwood has the better neck; the Stewart's is just slightly warped making the strings a bit high up around the octave fret, while the action on the Wildwood is near perfect. But the sound of the Stewart gets me grinning every time I play it, or even think about it.


13 Oct 00 - 11:37 PM (#318516)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: bseed(charleskratz)

Oops, that was 22.5 times as much, not 45.


13 Oct 00 - 11:39 PM (#318518)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: catspaw49

Seed, babies grin when they crap too. They say life is circular, so check your pants.


13 Oct 00 - 11:48 PM (#318532)
Subject: RE: BS: Old Instruments As Opposed To New Ones..
From: JamesJim

I have a good friend who collects old instruments and he has a bunch of them. I am simply facinated by them and love to play them. When I first started playing guitar over 20 years ago, I scoffed at people who said that good guitars get better with age. I shouldn't have. My Guild D46 is one fantastic guitar. It sounds better today than when I first bought it (new).

I certainly agree that the best guitars are being built today, but I do think you have to buy the top of the line to get quality (probably not so with some of the older guitars). About the only guitar for which that might be different is the Taylor. Of course, even there less expensive models requires a bank loan and payment plan. I may just stick with my old Guild. I love it.