WHAT is a Vintage GUITAR?
"Vintage" is a term that has acquired a new meaning apart from
its original usage. The term is a combination of
Vint (of the vine) and Age (time of creation).
This term is used in the wine industry to indicate a wine's harvest date.
The use of "vintage" has been modified by collectors to mean old, such as
a Vintage Car, or Vintage Clothing. This extension of the meaning is used
in guitar terminolgy to mean "an original, older guitar."
Most collectors value guitars from the mid 1920s to 1970. Guitars prior
to the mid 1920s are too primitive in design for most collectors.
Guitars after 1970, even though they are over 30 years old, have little collectible
appeal. All the U.S. guitar manufacturers were in dire straits during
the 1970s. They were either bought out by larger conglomerates looking to
make guitars as quickly as possible, and/or their quality and choice of
materials had become sub-standard.
Many people ask me if I think their new guitar will be valuable in the
future. Frankly, I just don't know. But my off-the-cuff response would be,
"no". The materials, environment and society of pre-1970 was
much different, thus producing different instruments which I feel
can not be duplicated today. For Example, Brazilian Rosewood
(used on even cheap department store guitars till the late 1960's)
can not be legally imported into the U.S. Also today most guitars are
made with CNC (computer controlled) routers and cutters. Thirty years
ago guitars were much more of a hand-made item then they are today.
Yes a CNC-made instrument can be more consistent and excellent quality.
But it just doesn't have the same "personality" of a "old school" made
But many people make statements like,
"Gibson stopped making my L-6S in the 1970s after xx units, and therefore
it's rare and valuable". The low-production numbers may make it rare,
but it does not necessarily make it valuable or desirable. Frankly anything
guitar made since 1970 can be easily replicated today with currently available
materials. 99.99% of the time the reason it's not currently being made
is because there was no demand for it then or now (low production numbers
30 years ago often means the model was not popular then, and perhaps it's still
not popular today).