Arlen Roth on the Allure of Vintage
There’s really nothing quite like a vintage Gibson guitar, and of course, all the other makes too, but there is no question that the new ones being made have in a lot of ways finally re-captured the sensibility that made the old ones so great. It’s true that there is a great deal of consistency in the guitars that have been perfected for today, but one thing that cannot be built in is the kind of vibe and patina that only an old vintage instrument can possess!
There definitely is something that happens after years of playing and “settling in” that the guitar goes through, and all of that plus the way in which guitars were built in those days, and the kinds of woods used, as well as the aging of them really helps put the fascination is perspective. There is really no feeling like playing a vintage guitar, especially the kinds that are simply not being made anymore. As far as the vintage solid-body guitars Gibson is famous for, I see the same if not better quality from their new instruments!
When I first started “collecting I got a 1952 Les Paul in 1967! Think of it…these coveted vintage guitars were already in demand and were seen as unique, and they were only 15 years old! For goodness sake, a 1959 sunburst was only 8 years old!! But even then, we were thinking of these guitars as something from a bygone era that was not coming back anytime soon! And it certainly did take a long time for any of the quality to return, and Gibson at least recognized in 1968-69 that the Les Paul was enjoying a never seen before kind of popularity, so they started to “reissue” them right away. Once Mike Bloomfield, Clapton, Page, Beck and other major guitar heroes were donning these guitars, everyone wanted them too! Certain other models like the SGs and the 335s for example, were still carrying on, but their quality and style was certainly changed from their original incarnations.
Regardless of how truly great the new guitars are, there is always a great allure to the vintage stuff, and I am certainly one who has always been a proponent of vintage guitar collecting. Fact is though, that I feel we are in a new “Golden Era” of guitar building, and you’d be just as justified in collecting what is being made these days and holding it for the future!! Happy collecting, and remember….there are lots of “new” guitars certainly worth collecting too!