Vintage Guitars

There’s a lot of disagreement about what constitutes a “vintage” guitar. Quite a few folks feel that it’s a guitar that’s at least 50 years old, which qualifies everything of that age as “vintage”. I think that the vintage label should vary by brand name and model to some degree. My Webster’s Dictionary defines vintage as exceptionally fine in one of the definitions, and I think that quality should be part of the formula. For instance, I see J-45 and J-50 Gibson acoustic guitars made before 1955 qualifying as vintage. There were changes made in 1955 that made the guitar a little less appealing to me, as of that date. For me, that makes them a step below the 1954. Obviously, they will still be considered vintage instruments by most collectors.  However, I also think of some  Gibson electric guitars made after that date, a number of them being well under 50 years of age, as vintage instruments, because of their desirable atributes.

This sets up dozens of counter arguments, obviously. Value, which I’d define as the price that at least two fairly sane collectors of guitars might pay to own a specific model guitar, also should be considered, in my definition. This is asking for trouble, but I don’t like blanket categories that are age based. Is a 50 year old Harmony guitar “vintage”, or just old?

One thing’s for certain: that 12 year old Strat ain’t “vintage”. It’s a nice, 12 year old guitar. I think about everyone would agree on that.

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