A vintage guitar is an older instrument. By some accounts approximately 30 years or more in age. These guitars are bought up by collectors and players who believe they have more intrinsic value because of “wood tones”, “mojo” or by some other hidden secret they hold that can only be released when played. Collectors or musicians who persist with these ideas simply drive prices up. A Vintage guitar may indicate either that an instrument is merely old, or that is sought after for its tonal quality, cosmetic appearance, or historical significance. As far as tonal quality, all bets are off once the guitar is plugged in to an amp. Cosmetic appearance? Every vintage guitar makes its own story by the wear areas, scratches, grooves, player decorations and burn marks it has that make it look well played. Therefore, sometimes a player thinks he/she has more musical experience cred if they appear onstage playing an older instrument. Some players actually believe that because the instrument looks “aged” people will think they played it so much that it’s completely worn by their tremendous efforts and use. Experience doesn’t work that way. It’s someone else’s story written on the body and neck of the guitar-not yours.
Every vintage guitar makes its own story
Because of the perceived value of a “relic” or aged instrument naturally the cost goes up. Enter the “advantage takers”. To promote and gain a profit advantage over confused musicians, the “Road-Worn” series vintage guitars were born. So, now the idea is firmly planted in the heads of musicians that they will only seem credible or experienced if they have an older looking instrument. Do companies really believe that guitar players are that shallow? They say “yes” look at our profits. Players are buying these up faster than we can make them. Road worn guitars are now a cottage industry thanks to the aid of unsuspecting guitarists who subscribe to this idea.
What makes “vintage guitars” so special?
What makes “vintage guitars” so special? Nothing really. It’s the players who make the guitars special. Guitarists can take back their power from the guitar companies who want to see them merely as a sales prospect. Sure, I get that vintage gear, specifically guitars, are more expensive and sought-after. This is because the aged woods they are made from produce better musical tones. However this is an idea stolen (and mostly true) from the collectors of “acoustic” guitars. It does not apply to electric guitars. Companies have made money from musicians by confused and blurred lines between reasons for collecting acoustics vs. electrics.
Opportunistic vintage guitar sales companies treat guitar players like second class citizens who know nothing. Unfortunately the players are doing nothing to prove them wrong. Just look at the forums for guitar players and what they have to say. There is a Lemmings mentality and it’s hard to overcome the myths. More of our job in the Haywire Custom Shop involves “debunking” on a regular basis. We spend way too much time in the effort to expose claims, assertions and false sentiments as being pretentious, fake, or exaggerated. These are deliberately being propagated on guitar forums by misleading contributors possibly even working for the guitar companies.
Lemmings mentality: member of any large group following an unthinking course towards mass destruction
Players need to think for themselves and not be taken in by what they read on these forums. Players should also enthusiastically resist what the guitar companies try and foist upon them in misleading advertising data. As a guitar player you spend a lot of time rehearsing and learning music, well learn how to think as well. Don’t blindly accept what others say in forums or from guitar sales companies. Why let them tell you what you should think? Make your own discoveries. Be yourself and not what companies want you to be. Think before you buy your guitar. Spend your guitar and customization dollars where they’ll do the most good for YOUR playing and comfort. Every guitar has a story written on it. Write your own guitar history instead of trying to buy someone else’s story.