Other Guitars

Why the large variation in price between vintage hollow and solid b…

1

I've been noticing the big price difference in prices between 50's ES-175s ,295s etc compared to Les Pauls.

Is this to do with the perception that a vintage slab o wood is likely to age more gracefully and also be harder to source than a vintage veneer or is it solely based on LP players having a more prominent place in popular culture?

2

Vintage prices have little to do with logic and a lot to do with nostalgia. I have played a genuine '59 Les Paul (US$330 000!) and can tell you that I like most '59 CS Les Pauls better. If Eric Clapton had recorded the Bluesbreaker album with a '59 335 then maybe things would be different. If Jimmy Page had performed with a Rickenbacker...

I just like new guitars better. Now that Fender and Gibson are so good at making old-looking new guitars which feel and sound great I feel no need to pay crazy vintage prices for something which may be a heap of issues. Back when I did buy older guitars I would have to wrestle with "should I refret and possibly reduce the value" etc...

Currently my most played guitars are a Fender "Journeyman" CS Strat which has a beautiful crazed white lacquer finish and a wonderful feeling neck a flatter than vintage board and larger than vintage frets, and a VOS Gibson ES-225. Both look amazingly like old guitars, play perfectly, sound just as they should if not better - and cost a fraction of their vintage equivalents. No they weren't cheap, but I still think they were good value for the quality. And I can't see how they could be in any way inferior to a vintage piece.

I've played many old classic guitars. For me you are paying for mojo - ie that thing which means so much to some folks and little to me. It's that thing which doesn't exist in reality, it exists purely in the head.

3

Yep. The knew batch of gretsch guitars look to have reached a high. The vintage select editions...

The 225s are great looking guitars . Have you ever been tempted to try a B6 on the 225.

4

LP players having a more prominent place in popular culture. Nothing else to be said.

5

Thanks. I thought that may be the reason but was hoping to hear an alt theory..

6

Supply vs Demand. Period.

7

Approx. 1700 standards made in the most desirable period... rarity adds to price.

8

I believe there were fewer hollow bodies made in the first place, plus since they're more delicate, more have succumbed to the ravages of time and poor care, so the supply has diminished more on the hollow body side.

9

Rarity is part of the equation (not many Les Paul Standards were made in 1958, 59 & 60, and even moreso for 58 & 59 Flying Vs and Explorers), popularity is the other part of the equation. More electric guitar players prefer solidbody guitars over hollowbody (or even semi-hollow for that matter) guitars. Hence the demand for the 50s solid body Gibsons, has raised their price accordingly (helped along by the fact that many noteable guitar players play 50s solidbody Gibsons).

10

Vintage prices have little to do with logic and a lot to do with nostalgia. I have played a genuine '59 Les Paul (US$330 000!) and can tell you that I like most '59 CS Les Pauls better. If Eric Clapton had recorded the Bluesbreaker album with a '59 335 then maybe things would be different. If Jimmy Page had performed with a Rickenbacker...

I just like new guitars better. Now that Fender and Gibson are so good at making old-looking new guitars which feel and sound great I feel no need to pay crazy vintage prices for something which may be a heap of issues. Back when I did buy older guitars I would have to wrestle with "should I refret and possibly reduce the value" etc...

Currently my most played guitars are a Fender "Journeyman" CS Strat which has a beautiful crazed white lacquer finish and a wonderful feeling neck a flatter than vintage board and larger than vintage frets, and a VOS Gibson ES-225. Both look amazingly like old guitars, play perfectly, sound just as they should if not better - and cost a fraction of their vintage equivalents. No they weren't cheap, but I still think they were good value for the quality. And I can't see how they could be in any way inferior to a vintage piece.

I've played many old classic guitars. For me you are paying for mojo - ie that thing which means so much to some folks and little to me. It's that thing which doesn't exist in reality, it exists purely in the head.

– JimmyR

Excellent comments on every level.

Personally, I believe the only reason there is such a huge discrepancy between the solids (and we're talking Les Pauls here), is because the hype machine started by vintage "vendors" and "collector's" some years back, has been working overtime, trying (with outrageous success) to convince everyone of their incredibly over-exaggerated, over-inflated value. There isn't a guitar on earth worth that kind of money. If anything, their natural intrinsic value as players and works of art, fall far below most of the beautiful hollow and semis that Gibson produced during this same period. Show me an ES175 and a '59 Les Paul, both in equally good condition, both selling for the same price (which BTW, they should actually be), and I'd pick the ES175 every time. I actually find the current pricing policies of "vintage" LPs, both offensive and laughable. Human greed at it's most miserable, and human gullibility at its most pathetic...

11

Yep. I'd pick the es175 too, General.

I had always assumed nostalgia and association to be the key factors.

The reason I posted the question here was to see if there was any opposing views. None so far.

In contrast, violin players I talk to believe the yearly process of expansion and contraction of the wood changes the wood's characteristics slightly and so the more age on a violin, the more fatiguing cycles the better the tone. I know the violin is a very different instrument but thought there may be a nexus.

I don' t see it pathetic or miserable for these vintage instruments to demand premium $. Nostalgia has an intrinsic value. USA sure had it going on in the 50's... A 50 year old postage stamp may be no better than a new postage stamp, and cant be used for its intended purpose - but fetches a much higher price than its modern equivalent.

12

Eventually all this 1950s nostalgia has to fade, but for moving guitars and amps it still works. I became a full on vintage head by 1973, had lots of cool gear and lots of fun, but now don't have a single vintage guitar and find the newer ones above a certain price point )mostly) easy to play. But all the repros of 1950s gear sure indicates that it still has a grip on a certain segment of music and musicians.

13

If people like Peter Green and Mike Bloomfield hadn't played Les Pauls,they wouldn't have had near the resurgence they did,and would be a LOT closer to the semi-hollows now.Up until Green and Bloomfield, et al the most conspicuous rocker to sling an LP was Fran Beecher of Bill Haley's Comets.

14

With violins it is indeed not the age but the playing which makes the difference. And the instrument should ideally be played often, as it could "close up" if left unplayed for a while. But a violin is very much an acoustic thing - the amplifier is the wooden box. It's like old shoes - even well worn shoes get stiff and crusty if not worn.

But a Les Paul will not benefit sonically from being played. Such a big chunk of wood is not about to start adding to the acoustic sound by vibrating the air.

15

Thanks. So the opinion here so far re vintage electric guitars demanding higher value is 100% on side of the stamp collecting analogy...

JimmyR - Did you keep the trapeze on your 225 or fit a bigsby?

16

Hollow body guitars are more difficult to make than a Les Paul or Stratocaster, as they take more 'building.' The only Les I ever got on with was a 53 Gold Top that had been stripped down, it had a superb figured top and is a light honey colour. It is light and sounds great, has PAF HB's on.

As thinlines go, I choose 6120DC's over a 335, I do like the look of the 335 but I just can't get on with them, the 6120DC just works for me.

17

The 6120DC is a stunning guitar. First time i saw one was Hoodoo Gurus, they have a big presence on stage. As far as gibson thinlines i would be interested in trying an es225 or 125tdc

19

The original Les Paul was only made from 52-60. The last and "best" of the breed were 57-60. Gibson shut them down because they weren't particularly successful. When Clapton picked his up in a pawnshop, it was a fuddy-duddy guitar that nobody much wanted. I guess you could say they were ahead of their time because, in 1960, there were no Marshalls, and only the Blues guys were cranking their amps.

20

Have you priced a late 30's L5P lately?

– JazzBoxJunky

No. But that is a solid top. And my question was in relation to Gibson veneer archtops and the les paul. But it is interesting in context with what I was asking.

Mainly whether there was any consideration other than nostalgia and rock'n'roll mythology that created such a divide in $.

I thought there may be considered to be a value in the quality of the wood that was harvested in the 50s for guitar building or the aging process. I thought the quality of a veneer build would not be as influenced by the quality/age of wood factors...and wondered what the views of folk here would be. A carved to is more in line with the quality of timber perspective. However, all comments so far have been. Not wood - it's all to do with association to the famous ppl who played 'em

22

Not wood - it's all to do with association to the famous ppl who played 'em - eCastro<

Well that, the mythology associated with the era in which they were built, the relatively small numbers of these pieces still extant, and the seductive (to far too many by far too few) power of "collector" propaganda. It would be interesting to be able to see into the future and learn what the long term effect of all this nostalgia has on long term value. Will these instruments become ever more inflated in value, or will changing of musical tastes and the passing of the BBoomer generation of guitar fanatics with means, signal an end to their meteoric and highly speculative rise? We'll never know. Meanwhile, it's been an interesting exercise in pop culture "trend" thinking. Personally, I believe that trend will eventually peter out...

23

Thanks General! Yep. I think the baby boomers are a lucky generation. In my generation theres still some passion for rocknroll nostalgia but ...the with kids ... i don't know if it will sustain. though,,,, who knows what revivals are around the corner

24

Yeah, well, if you think about it, all those pointy guitars from the eighties are vintage now!

25

Ha! True SuperDave. An 87 BCRich pointy guitar today is the same age as a 57 6120/LP/Tele was in 87.


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