I have long been a purveyor of the “old is better than new” adage for a long time for sure, and this love for vintage guitars goes back to the mid-sixties for me! But when you really think about it, at the time, when I got my 1952 Les Paul gold top, that guitar was a mere 15 years old! What was special about it was that there had been no Les Pauls made since 1960, (imagine, a ’60 burst was only 7 years old!) and the new guitars that were being made at that time during the “Beatles boom” were just not being made up to the quality of the previous years. Hence, we had the beginning of a vintage “craze” that has lasted ever since, and of course, seen vintage prices soar, and the years of vintage “quality” keep expanding! For example, there are over polyurethane guitars from 1974 that people consider true “vintage” that I just think of as poorly made, barely playable instruments!
The truth of the matter is that players today have a better and bigger choice of finely-built instruments than ever before, and it’s staggering just how many great guitars there are to choose from! Of course, ever since the late-Sixties, there has been a growing movement of independent luthiers who really brought some fresh new ideas to the fore, and who brought back a lot of the hand-built quality.
Also, the Japanese makers in the early ‘80s were also very good at filling a void in the quality of the American guitar makers at the time, by essentially showing us what we had been missing. Many of these brands were simply “knock-offs” of vintage Gibson and Fender-type guitars, and it wasn’t very long before the American makers got “the message”, and started bringing up the quality of their own instruments, and winning back their proper share of the market.
Today, there is such a wealth of fine guitars with good quality control that it literally boggles the mind! I am totally in love with the new Gibsons, for example, and would not have a problem with any one of them. In fact, I firmly believe that this is a “renaissance” of guitar making these days, and that many of the instruments we see as new now, will be future collectibles for sure! I also believe they will always hold their value, and in fact, will continue to rise in value as the years go on!
So, be sure to take a good, hard look at the wonderful guitars available to you today, and you’ll certainly see that so much of the “vintage” touch and aesthetic is truly alive and well with today’s new instruments! Happy guitar hunting!