Buying and selling of vintage guitar gear is a micro-industry in and of itself. Guitar and amp shows around the world are full of hungry investors looking to spend lots and lots of money for that elusive piece of gear that they just have to own. Beat up, road worn equipment is coveted and practically worshiped on a fanatical level.
With all of the technological advances made in electronics and manufacturing over the past 50 years, however, it would appear on the surface that guitars and amps should be so much better now than they have been in the past. So much so that I would have thought the vintage market to be almost non-existent today.
Au contraire! The vintage market is alive and well and, dare I say, thriving! But I have to ask: why?
Is it nostalgia? Could it be bragging rights? (“I have a ’65 Fender Bassman and you don’t” kind of thing.) Whatever it is, I’m not so sure I understand it, but I would like to.
In some cases I think I understand; hand-wired amps certainly have the blood, sweat, and tears of the maker poured into them. (One only has to listen to a Sommatone Roaring 40 to understand that.) But 40 years ago the materials could not possibly be as good as they are today, could they? Electronics are certainly better and more reliable now. I also kind of understand – to a point – how some old guitars would be valuable, as they have been broken in and they now play well. But $10,000 for a guitar? $40,000 for a guitar? Really? What’s the point? Or better yet, what’s the point of having a 30-year old amp that is one sneeze away from falling apart? Are they truly that much better-sounding than the amps of today?
I need help with this, folks. I’m completely open to the idea of vintage gear, but I’m having a real hard time understanding the need for these oldies-but-goodies. Someone much more attuned to the situation needs to come and enlighten me. Any takers?