Vintage Gretsch Guitars

Is it only a baby boomers thing?

26

This conversation has been going on for a lot of years. When I can get that '55 6120 I've always wanted for under $5000, please wake me up.

27

It's not a Boomer thing or a "Millennial" thing.

It's a people with a large disposable income thing.

28

It's not a Boomer thing or a "Millennial" thing.

It's a people with a large disposable income thing.

– wabash slim

I gotta say,that rings true to me. Like alot of musicians, I've seen way to many guitars bought by fatcats who can't play sh&t. That's why all of my vintage gits are player guitars with little collectors interest. Instruments are made to be played,not hung on walls to impress your rich buddies.

29

It's not a Boomer thing or a "Millennial" thing.

It's a people with a large disposable income thing.

– wabash slim

True. They were far more affordable when they were merely "used" rather than "vintage".

Same guitar, very different price, and a chance for someone who plays the guitar for fun (or profit) to experience the unique vibe that some older instruments can have, as opposed to someone who buys the guitar as an investment and puts it in a glass case.

30

They'll always be folks who have disposable income. Nothing wrong with that.

They'll always be folks who appreciate old guitars, or new guitars, can afford them, and get satisfaction just having them. Nothing wrong with this either.

Age old hobby for humans, collect stuff.

31

Any vintage gear I had was just used gear when I bought it. Hold on to it long enough and it simply becomes vintage!

I remember way back in the 70’s/ 80s looking at used Gretsches. Oh lord there was a bunch of crap on the used market, but a good one would pop up now and then. And even then they were a little pricey! And even on my pre-cbs Fenders, they were just used guitars. But at the time, there were no new Gretsches, so if you wanted a Gretsch, you simply bought used.

When the whole “vintage” thing started, I kinda laughed to myself and figured it was just a trend that would blow over and people would wake up and realize they just bought an old guitar for WAY too much money. Nope.

32

My first good guitar was a very clean '65 County Gentleman bought for $1600 in 1990. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $3200. Things haven't really changed all that much in the last 30 years.

33

back in the 80s i was offered a 60s Telecaster for $200. i couldn't afford it. if i had it now i could flip it for 2 or 3 thousand. so it goes.

34

I don't know about you, but Viper's post kind of freaked me out.

K

35

Seems to me that less and less kids dig the vintage guitar thing. Is vintage going to die when the baby boomers generation passes away?

– gretschcrush

Youre asking the wrong questionYour Vintage is not the biggest work force in america's idea of "vintage". the 80s IS vintage to them. (the 60s is vintage to me) check out what many of my millennial guitar nerd pals love; headless, floydy guitars w points from the 80s.

The music industry is so inbred at this point that vintage looks like a sheep w a human head and one tit. Millennials ARE the largest work force in the world now, Gen X is 10yrs from retirement and Boomers are the grandparents. Gen Z are now finishing college this year and they dont give a flying F about anything Boomers like. They created the hashtag #okboomer because they are fed up with the shitdrivel propagated by the Me generation on facebook and they are taking the stuff Millennials are digging and effing it all up.:)

That said, many of us Gen X'rs have led by example with our passion for retro, so this will be imbued to the zoomers. My 16 loves classical piano and vintage jazz, plays chopin and vince gueraldi, and admires the Nat King Cole trio... but also loves mumble rap. He loves his vintage 60s rogers drum kit over modern ones but creates trance beats on garageband. He loves streaming vintage charlie chaplin movies, but spends considerable time watching tik tok and gaming online w friends.

Old is old, it dies.. My classmate just had a massive heart attack while driving home from the mall. He leaves behind a wife and two young kids. But he taught them to play the cello well. We'll see what those little zoomers turn it into. :)

36

There are a lot of cool underground bands out there that love 60's and 70's music and the instruments that made that racket. Any one of them that gets a little fame will be looking for a good vintage guitar. Rock is not the mainstream now so that probably accounts whjy you don't see alot of young people with vintage instrument, but they are out there. And the fact that vintage is so expensive now makes it harder for them to get those instruments.

Although I'm not a fan of this band, a perfect example would be the kid in Greta Van Fleet playing the early 60's SG (through cranked Marshalls), he's exposing that vintage tone to a whole new audience...

Or better yet, a band I do like, going old school is sure to inspire kids to get the vintage tones...

37

I gotta say,that rings true to me. Like alot of musicians, I've seen way to many guitars bought by fatcats who can't play sh&t. That's why all of my vintage gits are player guitars with little collectors interest. Instruments are made to be played,not hung on walls to impress your rich buddies.

– Opie

I couldn't agree more. Even if I HAD the money to afford a 10-20-whatever thousand dollars guitar, I couldn't bring myself to do it. Knowing how much I spent would move me to put it in a secure display case where it would stay, which makes no sense to me. As you point out, guitars are meant to be played.

38

The market is Global. The demand for iconic vintage will ebb and flow but I think doubtful to dive and or die.

Not the same market a cars and other things of the 50s and 60s.

The Global (in addition to the USA) market for fine classic American made instruments is still there. A war era Gibson Flat top, a 62 strat etc etc all have strong staying power.

I am confident that the old guitar market will be solid for a good long while.

39

Two points I would like to make. First, I started playing around 1957, so a lot of the stuff we now consider "vintage" were just used guitars when I got hold of them. Having said that, I honestly think that much of the new stuff is as good as the vintage models. And Second, as much as I hate to say it, most of the vintage gear is most likely as valuable as it's going to get, for reasons that some have already explaned. So, financially they are not going to be your best investment. I don't expect my thinking will stop anyone from getting the guitar of their dreams. I really hope not. But, buy the instrument because of it's value to you and not as something that might someday put your grandkids through college.

40

I don't know about you, but Viper's post kind of freaked me out.

K

– Konrad

It freaks me out, too. In the ‘70s it was easy to get gigs, and it was possible for a hillbilly guitar player or fiddler to make a living. Those days are gone. Players who once did well maintaining a circuit within 150 miles of town have moved to Nashville or New York, or have engaged in other work besides music.

A few hang on by touring extensively and almost never play locally. At one time the entire staff band of Prairie Home Companion was made up of my local pals. Only one of those guys still plays for a living—as a drummer for the University of Iowa dance department. Tough times for musicians.

41

Some Interesting replies. I've had this feeling that vintage is over for a while. The quality of the new Gretsch guitars is really great and that only adds to the decline but that works for me. If prices go down I can afford more because vintage is where my heart is. I'm currently looking for a flat to buy and im praying for a housing recession. More power to my pound!

42

I gotta say,that rings true to me. Like alot of musicians, I've seen way to many guitars bought by fatcats who can't play sh&t. That's why all of my vintage gits are player guitars with little collectors interest. Instruments are made to be played,not hung on walls to impress your rich buddies.

– Opie

That reminded me of back in the 80’s when rich Japanese industrialists were sending representatives over here to guitar shows and buying up prime vintage gear. I have a friend who had a pristine Sparkle Jet back around ‘89 for sale for $10,000. (Brian Setzer actually SAW it, shook his head, and said, “I need another Number 1.”)

My friend also had a mint blond ‘51 Switchmaster and a MINT Gene Krupa Super Radio King snare drum from about 1941. I was there when a Japanese fella came to his house with screwdrivers and a jeweler’s loupe. He examined every screw, took out a black light, etc., and when all was said and done, this Japanese fella peeled off $17,000 cash and left with all 3 instruments.

43

This conversation has been going on for a lot of years. When I can get that '55 6120 I've always wanted for under $5000, please wake me up.

– Afire

Fair enough, but try to sell a big vintage amp and you will definitely find some anecdotal evidence of a softening market.

44

And Second, as much as I hate to say it, most of the vintage gear is most likely as valuable as it's going to get, for reasons that some have already explaned. So, financially they are not going to be your best investment. - PlayerOne

I can agree with that, and don't think it's a bad thing. It seems to me that things have been relatively stable for 20 years now. So, I would agree, guitars have not been a great investment unless you're getting them at estate sales or bought them 30-40 years ago. And FWIW, we like to sneer at the notion of rich people buying guitars and keeping them in glass cases, but I have my doubts about how much of a factor that really is. I suspect most vintage guitars, even the expensive ones, are bought primarily by players with a passion for the instruments.

45

Well new guitars aren't exactly cheap these days either so you wont catch me doing the Pete Townshend dance on any of mine that will be vintage someday to somebody. New Gretsch guitars are very well made. I love them and that's why I'm here. Well, that and so many of my friends are here too.

I imagine the only real value to vintage guitars someday will be the ones that were actually owned by well known artists. It's kind of going that way already.

46

Those who advocate buying instruments, old or new, because they somehow move you are on the right track, I think. Predicting trends is durn-near impossible. Guitars may or may not be valuable in the future.

Consider the case of the Gibson F5 mandolin as conceived by Lloyd Loar in the early 1920s. The mandolin craze was nearly a thing of the past when Loar redesigned the mandolin and the guitar for Gibson. The top-of-the-line mandolins he singed were well regarded but not considered a revolution. Time went by and the mandolin became less important with each passing year. Lloyd Loar F5s were played by a few hillbillies in string bands that were barely noticed by the mainstream.

Who could have predicted the phenomenon of Bill Monroe becoming a cultural icon when the folk scare evolved into something more serious as the 1960s gave way to the ‘70s? Monroe is, of course, the progenitor of bluegrass music and a member of the Rock & Roll and Country Music Hall of Fame. As Monroe gained cult status, so did his Lloyd Loar Mandolin. Instruments that were once fairly cheap became sought after and much copied symbols of authenticity.

Lloyd Loar mandolins now sell for numbers approaching $250,000 for exceptional examples. One of my regular musical partners bought one some years ago for $20,000. He no longer plays it in public.

Bluegrass was not considered to be very consequential in the recent past. The notion that thousands of hippies would gather in Telluride, Colorado or Winfield, Kansas to listen to string band music seemed remote—yet here we are.

We all should have had the presence of mind to buy old mandolins in the 1960s for a couple of hundred bucks. It would have been a way better investment than a Gretsch. You don’t give a crap about mandolins? Buy a nice electric guitar, play it and be happy.

47

I've had concerns that the demand for truly vintage guitars is fading...but...I continue to see them pulling down high prices. When I was a kid, I couldn't afford one of the "holy grail" type vintage axes...so I did the best I could. I educated myself and kept an eye out for really good deals on true vintage classics, and managed to acquire a few. And there's part of the problem, mine won't go on the market until I'm incapable of playing them. Despite the fact that there are a lot more vintage classics out there than were ever made...(and you know what I mean)...most of them are stashed in some dude's collection.

Many of the young up and coming guitarists simply don't have the access or the finances to latch on to a vintage classic. As far as the value of these instruments, all I can say is don't knock the vintage thing until you've really played 'em. OMG! The vintage thing is not a myth. Whether it be a '59 6120 or one of the other USA brand '50's and 60's classics....man...what a rush. Same with the amps. And then there's the mojo of walking into the room and pulling out a jaw dropper... the only people who care are those who know guitars...and they're the only ones whose opinion matters....its the sound! Its all about the sound!

48

2 of my main guitars have vintage counterparts, a 2011 DSV Duo Jet which is based on a 1955 Duo Jet and a 2011 Epiphone Casino 50th Anniversary 1961 reissue. I have been fortunate to be able to compare them both to original versions and in both cases I prefer the new guitars. The vintage guitars both felt like they weren't as solidly built. The Duo Jet felt like it was going to fall apart eventually. It may need a neck reset. There were also dead spots up the neck. The sound coming from the vintage DeArmond Dynasonics sounded exactly like the Gretsch reissue Dynasonics after I added the 1 meg pots to the volume controls on the newer Duo Jet. For the Casino they felt very close except for the nitro finish on the original vs. the poly finish on the reissue. The nitro finish on the original had an old lacquer-y feel to it. The neck shape felt almost identical.

I only care about vintage if it really does sound better like on my early 1970s Ludwig drums. The way they constructed these isn't very common anymore. The shells are only 3 ply.

49

I have been fortunate to be able to compare them both to original versions and in both cases I prefer the new guitars. The vintage guitars both felt like they weren't as solidly built. The Duo Jet felt like it was going to fall apart eventually.

FYI, they don't actually fall apart, but I get what you're describing. I think it's a matter of both personal preference and what you're used to. I had been playing vintage Gretsches for probably 15 years before I even picked up a modern one. Once you're used to the lively and light build quality of the old pre-Booneville Gretsches, the modern ones can feel rather lifeless, though nothing if not sturdily built.

50

I have been fortunate to be able to compare them both to original versions and in both cases I prefer the new guitars. The vintage guitars both felt like they weren't as solidly built. The Duo Jet felt like it was going to fall apart eventually.

FYI, they don't actually fall apart, but I get what you're describing. I think it's a matter of both personal preference and what you're used to. I had been playing vintage Gretsches for probably 15 years before I even picked up a modern one. Once you're used to the lively and light build quality of the old pre-Booneville Gretsches, the modern ones can feel rather lifeless, though nothing if not sturdily built.

– Afire

That's it in a nutshell!


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