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Frank Blank

Vintage Instruments: Quality or Psychosomatics?

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1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

And why would you want to sell it? If you’ve made the right choice of instrument, then you won’t need to.

In my case (1953 Precision, 1966 slab Precision and 1966 dot Jazz), because I needed the money. There's a case for buying with an eye on what you might get if you need to part with it - however reluctantly. I have a mate who refers to his guitars as his pension.

I paid £950 in 1986 for the '53. How much would that be now? I didn't buy it as an investment but I was aware of its value if I ever did have to sell it. Similarly, I always tell people to buy their gear second-hand because you can always get your money back if you don't get on with it or you want to trade up.

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40 minutes ago, stingrayPete1977 said:

How can age improve two lumps of wood bolted together? A 1970s 15lb Fender Jazz with a terrible neck pocket will only improve if you take it to a good luthier to have the body chambered and the neck pocket redone. 

Although not a direct answer to the question, age does improve wood for two reasons:

- Age of growth

- Drying

The fabled Honduran mahogany used by Gibson et al in the 60s was old growth (different cell structure) and had been sitting in the stockpile for 50+ years drying out. 

That wood was highly regarded for resonance, but most importantly for light weight. Fender and Gibson ran out of these stocks in the 70s and had to use young growth wood not dried out as much which was much heavier.

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Is this something that just applies to Fender P and J basses? You rarely hear people talking about vintage V modern Rickenbackers - or Wals - most of my Musicman basses are less than 15 yrs old and to be honest, though I've played old ones (indeed bought one new in the 70s) there is little difference (certainly on the 2 band Stingray) - of course the modern ones are built to modern QC and manufacturing tolerances, which like with every other 'consumer durable' makes them infinitely better in that sense. I mean who would use a vintage Hoover or quill and ink, or even a 50 yr old car on a day to day basis. 

Vintage is partially a fashion and nostalgia thing - there are plenty of people around who hark back to the late 50s and early 60s and cherish instruments from that period - I tend to hark back to the early 70s when most people (there are exceptions like Willie Weeks) would have been considered way past it and uncool playing a pastel coloured guitar - even the Shadows stopped doing that until they performed as an out and out nostalgia tribute in the last couple of decades. 

I have yet to play a 'vintage' instrument which speaks to me that strongly sonically and playing wise that I would part with large sums of money for it - I have looked off and on for 20 yrs or so. 

Do they look nice and are they full of nostalgia? Well the answer is yes for me - but to use as a day to day instrument then no. Are they more desirable than say a new Fender CS, new Musicman, Wal, Rickenbacker or Gibson - no they're not for me indeed some modern ones really do have that classic feel and look and are equally impressive aesthetically as far as I can see.  

 

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19 hours ago, FinnDave said:

Yes, but I am saying fatter string, lower pitch, given some experience or advice, = same tension. BEAD simply means moving the EAD strings one position over, ditching the G string and adding a fat B string to fill the gap where the E used to be. I know it works, I've done it, and since that project ended have reverted to EADG tuning using 3 of the 4 strings, plus the G string, with no adjustments required.

I thought that that was what I was saying as well though, admittedly, in a round about way.

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8 hours ago, Bridgehouse said:

The fabled Honduran mahogany used by Gibson et al in the 60s was old growth (different cell structure) and had been sitting in the stockpile for 50+ years drying out. That wood was highly regarded for resonance, but most importantly for light weight. Fender and Gibson ran out of these stocks in the 70s and had to use young growth wood not dried out as much which was much heavier.

1965 - 50 = 1915

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2017 - 100 = 1917

xZbsjhc.jpg

 

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I have to agree when it comes to basses and guitars, however as a violinist and bassist myself i can say that you certainly do know the difference between a good violin and a bad violin if you are any sort of musician :biggrin:

ben

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I think a bad instrument remains bad, a good one 'might' become even better.

The junk that was junk when new remains junk, you can keep trying that Kay bass in the wardrobe every ten years but I'm confident it will still be junk every time.

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Ok heres a real curve ball. Slightly tongue in cheek, but it may have some mileage in it.... (may...). 

Along with my last comment about almost every industry improving since the 60s and 70s - cars, aeroplanes, computers, buildings, bikes, tools etc it occurred to me that a lot of these (tools in particular) have moves away from using wood to improve their product.

Maybe the instrument world just hasnt caught up yet? Or is the classic bass design never to be bettered?

The need for actual resonance on electric instruments isnt the same as on an acoustic instrument, so why is wood still so essential?

Weve moved away from acoustic reliance and introduced pick ups and tone control and all kinds of fx boxes and pedals, but still use the basic design in all new basses.

Current technology would allow rubber based fretboards with touch sensitive triggering for midi and pc use etc.

Edited by la bam

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5 minutes ago, stingrayPete1977 said:

I think a bad instrument remains bad, a good one 'might' become even better.

The junk that was junk when new remains junk, you can keep trying that Kay bass in the wardrobe every ten years but I'm confident it will still be junk every time.

Or even a good one may deteriorate with the years and the electrics fray and the neck warp. How many ads do you see saying 'not in bad condition given it's age'? Won't happen every time (you may be lucky) but certainly something to be on the look out for, right?

 

Edited by Al Krow

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It has to have something to do with aesthetics and feel, the world of MP3 is a great place, so why the vinyl revival......it’s tactile, you get an album sleeve, it turns it into a listening experience rather than 20 secs and skip this track. 

Why do people still have wooden furniture etc.

Happy to be called wrong but this tactile connection to something is important 

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6 minutes ago, la bam said:

Current technology would allow rubber based fretboards with touch sensitive triggering for midi and pc use etc.

Current technology would probably also allow you virtual band mates and a virtual audience. Big deal.

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11 minutes ago, la bam said:

The need for actual resonance on electric instruments isnt the same as on an acoustic instrument, so why is wood still so essential?

It isn't the same but it is still essential on some makes and a very "nice to have" on all the others, because, despite the "wood doesn't matter" argument, the wood actually does change the sound (for the better) of an instrument and therefore does matter.

Injection moulding plastic bodies and necks would be cheaper than bothering about transporting  inconsistent pieces of wood half way around the world and the messy production lines required so why don't anyone use that method? Because the resonance caused by a sound travelling through wood and back again to the pickups still makes a positive difference and so matters to the sound.

Over the years there have been plastic and metal instruments made but they have generally not been popular. Until they find something that sounds better than wood, wood will always be the preferred material.

 

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19 minutes ago, Cuzzie said:

They are already doing virtual audience

I did several Internet gigs at the start of the 2000's.

The Kashmir Club was a small venue in London and when they added an internet broadcast to the gigs we came in with our original songs. It was OK, a bit like playing to a few people in your front room, but not a patch on playing to a room full of real punters though.

There's nothing like reacting to an audience, from a sit down gig to the banter you get with a sweaty bunch of herberts, to get the performing juices flowing.

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The ones I have seen have had a massive audience AND like a 360 degree live experience.

for those big bands, stadiums etc that may not come to these shores, or only do 1 London date, it’s not a bad option

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2 hours ago, Cuzzie said:

It has to have something to do with aesthetics and feel, the world of MP3 is a great place, so why the vinyl revival......it’s tactile, you get an album sleeve, it turns it into a listening experience rather than 20 secs and skip this track. 

Why do people still have wooden furniture etc.

Happy to be called wrong but this tactile connection to something is important 

Through a good stereo, vinyl sounds a lot bigger and richer than mp3. I didn't believe this until I heard it on an acquaintance's (not overly expensive) system. 

Vinyl v FLAC, though, I could not say. 

Edited by JimBobTTD
Typo

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5 hours ago, la bam said:

 

The need for actual resonance on electric instruments isnt the same as on an acoustic instrument, so why is wood still so essential?

 

 

It isn't... :ph34r:

xD

 

I'm off to play a little with my beautiful sounding Squier Jazz... oh, what wood? It's some kind of plywood material for the body. It crumbles when you try to enlarge the pickup cavity... but it sounded and felt better than either of the three ash-bodied 75RI Fenders I used to own ;)

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4 hours ago, chris_b said:

It isn't the same but it is still essential on some makes and a very "nice to have" on all the others, because, despite the "wood doesn't matter" argument, the wood actually does change the sound (for the better) of an instrument and therefore does matter.

Injection moulding plastic bodies and necks would be cheaper than bothering about transporting  inconsistent pieces of wood half way around the world and the messy production lines required so why don't anyone use that method? Because the resonance caused by a sound travelling through wood and back again to the pickups still makes a positive difference and so matters to the sound.

Over the years there have been plastic and metal instruments made but they have generally not been popular. Until they find something that sounds better than wood, wood will always be the preferred material.

 

 

Isn't it largely because we're a conservative bunch?

Metal bodies (aluminium)... feel cold. Plastic bodies (perspex/acrylic) are heavy... and wood is still cheap, so not much of an incentive for companies to switch materials, I suppose.

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5 hours ago, Al Krow said:

Current technology would probably also allow you virtual band mates and a virtual audience. Big deal.

 

Virtual bandmates... uf, THAT sometimes sounds very very appealing! :D

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5 hours ago, Cuzzie said:

It has to have something to do with aesthetics and feel, the world of MP3 is a great place, so why the vinyl revival......it’s tactile, you get an album sleeve, it turns it into a listening experience rather than 20 secs and skip this track. 

Why do people still have wooden furniture etc.

Happy to be called wrong but this tactile connection to something is important 

Possibly, but vinyl just sounds better, to me anyway. We were sold the myth that CDs were a better sound, and in the beginning of the CD sales pitch they were even said to be scratch proof. I think that myth was soon proven wrong. CDs have a certain sheen to the sound but are lacking in depth and "Heft" to me. Apologies, had to say it. (Heft, ha ha) 

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I've never really purchased what would be classified as vintage.

However, many of my basses will become vintage soon. 

For example my 2000 MIJ Fender P reissues, my 1991 Gibson Thunderbird.

I guess as long as I can get a market value price if I ever sell, I'm good.

Blue

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