Does the guitar industry think I have no long term memory?

I’m sure anyone living in the UK with a passing interest in the vintage guitar market will have at least perused their excellent website or visited their shops in Denmark Street and Bath. Theres a venerable treasure trove of Classic Guitars. Strats, Tele’s, Les Pauls, SG’s, Firebirds,Ricky’s, J200′s etc etc. I just nipped on their site today to see if theres anything I fancy, just in case I have a sudden windfall of course;)

Anyway this Les Paul caught my eye a splendid R9 in Darkburst

Gibson R9 in Darkburst

at £3.650 its a serious investment for some and a decent player for others. However I almost spat my Becks out over the laptop when I saw this…..

A 79′ Antiqua Strat. Last time I saw one of these on a guitar shop wall. I was 17 and it was £250. Now……? Its £1395.00

Lets put this into some perspective…

I’m 37 years of age. The school of thought I grew up with was that the greatest Electric guitars were made in the Classic era of the 50′s – late 60′s. But much of that was trial and error. The Les Paul as we know it wasn’t fully formed til 1958 and even then they could not sell them.

Then after about 1966 the big corporations got involved & quality nosedived, cheap parts, 3 bolt necks instead of 4, monkey metal bridges. Sandwich construction and nasty thick finishes etc etc.

This dire state of affairs continued until the big two started to pull their socks up in the 80′s. This was caused by a number of factors. Fender recruiting Dan Smith from Yamaha and the subsequent management buyout in 1985. The arrival of high end Japanese guitars, the rise of luthiers such as Hamer the change of hands and subsequent rejuvination of Fender/Gibson & of course the arrival of a certain Paul Reed Smith.

Now I don’t believe everything I read and I’ve tried a few of these guitars back in the days when I had more hair, more horn and they were merely “secondhand”.

When I was 17 I went round a mates house for dinner & his uncle lived with them who had a guitar collection. He was generous enough to let me try a few & my favourite was his early 80′s 62 Strat reissue & my least favourite was his original 1976 Strat, which appeared to weigh a ton & sounded awful & seemed to have a really badly finished sticky neck and the roughest pickups since an episode of Clubreps! YEUCK.

I suppose this confirmed my beliefs about construction standards of the 70′s.

Then slightly later on I tried an Antigua strat, it was Ok. But at the time it was £300 and it was an unremarkable guitar at an Ok price.

But now with original 60′s stocks vastly depleted, vintage dealers are full of 1970′s instruments. All of a sudden the darkest period for quality control in the electric guitars history has now become the good old days.

But my generation has been brought up with the idea of a 70′s instrument being substandard. Are we supposed to have a dose of collective amnesia?

Fair enough if your called Tarquin Rhodes-Deprice and play in one of those indie bands who went to Brighton Institute of Modern music share a flat with your cousin Toby who edits the Observer Music Monthly and need that old cred guitar to wear as some sort of badge of authenticity….. to distract from the fact daddy is on the board at Warners, but why not buy one of these…

Peter Cooks have one in Stock for a measily £399.00 !!

That’ll give you £1000 to spend on some retro designer jeans and a Toni & Guy haircut. If you want the Strat version then Ishibashi will probably be able to sort you out for around £500 ish depending on VAT & Import duties. There not on the Fender Japan section of the website, but if you email they usually have some in stock.

You see how I like to help the struggling young musician;)


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