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The nostalgia effect


Xplorer

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quote:Originally posted by Griffinator:

Originally posted by Xplorer:

I dunno. Even my g/f, who was an avid Jackson player back in the day (late 80's, when she was with Northwinds) says that the newer stuff just doesn't have the same feel or tone they used to...

I would say this is worthy of a thread!

 

I've heard the same about Gibson. Is there a nostalgia effect, or are manufactures geting sloppy (greedy)?

Will your 6th US Strat when you are 50 sound as good as your 1st US Strat when you were 18?

Personlly I'm bitter and a stickler for detail and quality. But I've only owned 1 quality guitar in my limited years.

 

Have some of you mega collectors noticed a certain companies dipping in quality?

What a horrible night to have a curse.
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sadly, the guitar manufacturing trade has indeed suffered the same fate as the american automobile trade. they simple don't build them like they used to.

 

my father, a luthier, once explained to me - trying to remember exactly - how fender, gibson, etc. all started producing guitars with foreign slave labor and cheaper parts. some of the woods used in vintage guitars is either too expensive nowadays to be economical or cannot be found.... they are not as concerned with quality as i believe they used to be, and ought to be. they have, however, left us wiggle room.

 

the trick is to look at a guitar the same way chicks look at boyfriends. appealing and in good shape - with room for improvement. you can to a lot of things to upgrade many aspects of your guitar and enrichen the flavor a little.

 

for instance. my first guitar - a gibson explorer wannabe (which i still love and play often) - was revitalized with not one, but dual humbuckaneers ripped off of junkers. sounds rad as can be expected of the old abused guitar i have shared so many precious memmories with... .. you can also redo fretboards, bridges, nuts, and damn near anything using the chronic parts and materials shunned by our corporate giant office-nerd nazy business friends.. hope that helped.... and lee, think twice before you insult me again. you can't set me to ignore in this domain....

zao made me do it.
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Well, my personal views on the auto industry are the opposite. They are built way better than they used to be. Technology has done wonders for autos and their performance and safety. I appreciate the nostalgia of the old heavy clunkers we all like to grok at during car shows, but I'll take the plastic tech cars any day for ride, handling, control, air bags, compfort, etc.

As for guitars, I think you simply get what you pay for. I think quality hand made guitars are available in abundance. It just cost a lot of money now days. I don't feel that you get it from a bulk manufacturer and that includes Fender and Gibson, unless you get their custom shop jobs. There are a lot of luthiers in this country that could build you a guitar to be proud of. All you need is three to seven thousand dollars and up.

I'm in the process of putting together a deal on a Nik Huber. I realize it's from a German maker, not U.S., but the quality and tones are to die for.

In other words, I don't think quality is in the tank, I just think it costs a lot more.

bbach

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

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I think that the quality-to-price ratio has improved dramatically over the last 20 years. :thu:

 

I've got a whole bunch of "cheap" guitars...and there is nothing cheap about their sound or their build quality.

 

These days there is an absolute obsession with buying any shit made during the 50s/60s....since those were the prime "Rock & Roll" years...

...so a lot of people believe that buying gear that was made during that period will somehow bring them that "50s/60s vibe".

And they are willing to pay MANY times the price of similar gear made today.

 

Theres nothing wrong with buying vibe...

but that doesn't prove that today's products are shit.

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

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I've got a new Gibson 355 and the quality is just as good as my very old 335, I've played all kinds of LesPauls and the quality is just as good as my old LesPauls. The comment on Gibson using foreign labor is not true. They where all made in Kalamazoo Michigan, most of the builders there where local American tradesmen born and raised in Michigan. The machinery was designed and built by local skilled tradesmen from Kalamazoo, Detroit and Lancing Michigan. I can't comment on Fender, in California God only knows what went down out there? I have lots of vintage instuments here and have played many newer quality name brand instruments and I think the manufactures are doing a great job. All my PRS's are as good as any instuments on the planet. Anybody that thinks vehicles where better in the past does not know anything about cars or trucks! As for you Cool..I'll pretty much do what I want to do, you insult me, I will do the same to you, forever, count on it.
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Originally posted by ellwood:

Guitar builders cannot find the wood?.. Spruce, ash,mahogany,rosewood,straight grain or curley maple? it's all over the place and it's certainly NOT difficult to find! where are you getting this info from?

Some woods are getting scarce. Brazillion Rosewood and mahagony in particular are becoming pricier due to the scarcity. That's one of the reasons you see builders moving away from some of the traditional tonewoods.

 

These days sapelle is being used in place of mahagony by a lot of builders. It's of the same family and has similar characteristics but is more plentiful and therefore cheaper.

 

To get back to the original point though, with CNC machinery we're in a golden age of guitar building today. It costs less to put together a quality guitar because the skilled labor costs are lower and the grunt work is done more quickly and efficiently and to closer tolerances by robots than it is by humans.

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Well that seems strange to me? I know we (Chrysler) buy these woods in huge quantities for our wood model shops and historic restoration and Design office needs. Mahogany is one wood we use especially for models along with cherry and the supervisors tell me they can get all we would ever want, and at good deal prices too and it's not sapelle or nativa either. We go through hundreds of metric tons every year and so do all our supplier shops all over Detroit. None of it is scarce if you are a quantity buyer.
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You're looking for different qualities in the wood than a luthier would. They want trees of specific ages, hardness and density. The clear cutting of rain forests wiped out a lot of the brazillion rosewood, at least the stuff that was desirable for guitars. Now days there are treaties surround the import of various tropical woods. I'll look into it a bit more and see what I can dig up. I'm trying to remember what I've read or been told by various luthiers and don't want to misquote anyone.

 

Don't you remember Gibson starting the "smartwoods" deal? Those guitars use renewable sources of wood.

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Originally posted by ellwood:

I've got a new Gibson 355 and the quality is just as good as my very old 335, I've played all kinds of LesPauls and the quality is just as good as my old LesPauls. The comment on Gibson using foreign labor is not true. They where all made in Kalamazoo Michigan, most of the builders there where local American tradesmen born and raised in Michigan. The machinery was designed and built by local skilled tradesmen from Kalamazoo, Detroit and Lancing Michigan. I can't comment on Fender, in California God only knows what went down out there? I have lots of vintage instuments here and have played many newer quality name brand instruments and I think the manufactures are doing a great job. All my PRS's are as good as any instuments on the planet. Anybody that thinks vehicles where better in the past does not know anything about cars or trucks! As for you Cool..I'll pretty much do what I want to do, you insult me, I will do the same to you, forever, count on it.

Unless I missed something, there was no "insult" directed by anyone at anyone else in this thread. :rolleyes: This seems to spilling in from other threads.
Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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"Unless I missed something, there was no "insult" directed by anyone at anyone else in this thread. This seems to spilling in from other threads."

 

No Reif it was the result of a PM, he made reference to it bec because I blocked his PM's to me, that's all, so he felt the need to try to intimidate me on this thread..silly boy that he is LOL!! :eek::D

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I think I have always seen it like Miro is saying.

 

Would I rather have a hand carved or CNC cut guitar? Well... I'll take the CNC because I'm in engineering and have an in depth knowledge. I probubly don't know the guy would is going to carve my guitar. (Unless it was Joe Lado).

 

I'll take the repeadability, accuracy, and price that comes with machined parts.

 

Maybe this introduces a stale flavor, or maybe no flavor at all? I don't know... but I'm still hearing all the time,

"They don't make 'em like they used to!".

 

What am I missing here? Ellwood has a stupid amount of gear in his avatar, he seems to think the newer ones are as good as the old ones. Is the difference in new guitars vs. old guitars in the eye of the beholder? I think maybe it has to do with your perception, or ability to percieve quality, tone, and playability when you first experience a high end guitar. Nothing will ever compare to that FIRST taste of real guitar.

What a horrible night to have a curse.
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I'm not sure I follow you Xp. What exactly is wrong with having all the gear Lee has and what does that have to do with the topic at hand? Frankly, I'm quite jealous of his collection and don't think it's stupid at all.

 

So, you feel that the modern machined parts are supperior to hand made, because of reliability and repeatability. I think those are two reasons why modern technology works.

However, you also feel that there is nothing like your first taste in a nice guitar. Basically, if I understand you, you are speaking of an emotional feeling not the actual physical quality of older guitars vs newer?

If that's true, then I agree with you. Emotional feelings about old things are what keeps them dear to us. That goes for cars, guitars, and even old girlfriends. :freak:

bbach

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

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Some of us have amassed sizeable collections for the sheer joy of having these instruments. There is no practical justification for every piece I own - many of them never get used on gigs anymore. I've got amps I haven't lugged to a gig in over a decade, and guitars that I don't wanna worry about in questionable rooms. Has the quality suffered from the 60's to today? CBS bean counters seemed to slash costs everywhere on Fenders for a time, even using cheaper wiring for electronics. Some of the same kinda streamlining crap happened to Gibsons under Norlin's rule.

 

I don't think the models we adore have gotten seriously worse, but that the competitive models we used to sneer at have gotten so much better that they are now viable alternatives to the old benchmarks. I thought I was the last person alive who would consider an Asian built guitar, but they now have my attention. I don't "need" any more gear that I can think of, but I still WANT lotsa stuff out there.

Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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Originally posted by Bbach1:

I'm not sure I follow you Xp. What exactly is wrong with having all the gear Lee has and what does that have to do with the topic at hand? Frankly, I'm quite jealous of his collection and don't think it's stupid at all.

 

So, you feel that the modern machined parts are supperior to hand made, because of reliability and repeatability. I think those are two reasons why modern technology works.

However, you also feel that there is nothing like your first taste in a nice guitar. Basically, if I understand you, you are speaking of an emotional feeling not the actual physical quality of older guitars vs newer?

If that's true, then I agree with you. Emotional feelings about old things are what keeps them dear to us. That goes for cars, guitars, and even old girlfriends. :freak:

Some of this misunderstanding is local dialectic verbage. I spent most of my life within 80 miles of Belleville, Ontario, and I know that the term "stupid" in this context may refer to quantity, and not in a bad way. I've heard people refer to their income as "stupid", meaning the money is great. I don't think anyone here begrudges anyone else's collections, nor do I perceive that XP meant any harm with that particular comment.
Never a DUH! moment! Well, almost never. OK, OK! Sometimes never!
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LOL, sorry Bbach, by a stupid amount I am kinda using slang. It's not stupid to have Ellwoods gear, no more than sounding good is bad! What I mean to say is Ellwood obviously has enough high end equipment to be an ideal judge of the topic at hand, and "he seems to think the newer ones are as good as the old ones".

 

My statements in this thread are, for the most part, just asking questions to stir the topic.

 

My original question is more or less, "Are guitars not as good as they were 25 years ago, or is our own nostalgia clouding our judgement of new equipment?"

 

Maybe we become more critical of equipment as the years pass, so our perception is that the gear is getting lower in quility. In reality maybe only our standards are changing.

 

"So, you feel that the modern machined parts are supperior to hand made, because of reliability and repeatability" -well yes, but that is not just a statement, it's also a question I am posing.

 

"you are speaking of an emotional feeling not the actual physical quality of older guitars vs newer?" -that's the counter point. Does that emotional feeling cloud our judgement?

 

For example, that first Gibson (or Fender) probubly was the sweetest sounding axe you've ever played 25 years ago. But, 25 years later, if you went back in time to play that guitar once more, would it be as sweet? I'm just wondering if this phenomenon is directly related to our perception that the quality of guitars is taking a dive.

What a horrible night to have a curse.
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Originally posted by Bluesape:

... CBS bean counters seemed to slash costs everywhere on Fenders for a time, even using cheaper wiring for electronics. Some of the same kinda streamlining crap happened to Gibsons under Norlin's rule...

My thoughts exactly. While there has been some variabilty in quality from Gibson & Fender in the last 15-20 years, both companies are much more consistent in putting out a quality product than they were in the 70s.

Mudcat's music on Soundclick

 

"Work hard. Rock hard. Eat hard. Sleep hard. Grow big. Wear glasses if you need 'em."-The Webb Wilder Credo-

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I actually did get the stupid statement because I live so clost to Canada and play there all the time, I have heard it used many times before! I've been asked before If I use all those guitars (that's only about 1/3 of them in the Avatar) and the answer is YES! They are in rotation all the time, including the ones not pictured there. They are all maintained on a yearly basis too, my guitar tech sees them all within a year span. On the old verses new quality and play abilty question, new quality guitars are as good as my old quality guitars, If I want to buy a new quality guitar from name brand builders, I can always fine them.
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...and that's exactly the input I was looking for!

 

I'd hate to think that I missed the good guitar boat. I like to think that my Gibson is everything that my grandfathers Gibson was.

What a horrible night to have a curse.
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Gibson moved out of Kazoo back in the 90's. As a result, you can now go there (or to Elderly Music in Lansing) and get a guitar every bit as good as many Gibsons -- and better, due to more "ego involvement" from the luthiers -- at a fraction of the cost, eg Heritage and Unity guitars. I'm talking hand-made guitars, not factory jobs.

 

Not to run down factory jobs. China companies are knocking out really very good strat and tele imitations, not to mention upright basses and cellos far better than student models of 20 years ago and considerably higher price. Not comparable to a high quality instrument, but still very playable and usable. On the electrics, especially if you replace the pickups with carefully chosen ones.

 

For folks in the Detroit area, there's a guitar tech in Ann Arbor -- his name will come back to me I'm sure -- who can set you up with a Telecaster as good as any that Fender ever made, using a Chinese knockoff and then replacing select parts (with choices depending on just what you want in a Telecaster). Dang, what's his name? Ah yes, Brian Delany. This man understands the Telecaster through and through. Plays 'em well, too.

 

I have a Martin HD-28 since I got it new in 1982, one of the best sounding acoustic guitars IMHO (though I haven't played the coveted vintage guitars it's supposed to be a copy of). The ones they're building today are actually constructed better, with some design improvements such as a thicker bridge saddle allowing intonation adjustment, without sacrificing tone (and HOW did they do THAT!) But yes, the materials are harder to find and more expensive. (Admittedly, the 80's were not the high point for Martin -- probably the opposite.)

 

Tonewoods come from really big trees, and ones that were surrounded throughout their lives by other trees of similar height, causing close and even grain. (Trees that aren't sheltered are stronger, but tend to have less smooth and even grain.)

 

I believe that Brazilian rosewood is actually illegal to import except in special circumstances. (I'm not sure whether it's illegal based on US laws or Brazilian.) That's why almost all rosewood is Indian these days. You can buy an instrument made in Brazil using their rosewood, and I suspect there are instruments made that serve no purpose other than to transport the wood around the laws. The difference between the two is obvious from appearance. I don't have enough experience to talk about the tonal differences, though.

 

There are some great new and sustainable woods, though, and I'm all in favor of experimentation in that regard. A guitar on my wish list is the Gibson "Smartwood" series Les Paul. LP fans tend to not like these guitars, because they're much lighter than the classic LP and as a result don't have the meaty sound, but I prefer them -- especially the one with the same wood for fingerboard and body -- Cuperyba or something like that. My point is just that traditional tonewoods were very carefully chosen among the woods known and available at the time, but that just didn't include a lot of kinds of exotic woods. For example, Koa isn't traditional, but it sure sounds great. (Not that it's sustainable, quite the opposite.) I covet a Taylor I once played, very similar to my HD-28, but with Koa sides and back. I'd want it in Grand Auditorium style, though.

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there is so much voodoo around old guitars being better.

i would say it has alot to do with the wood being played for all those years.

if you went back in time with a new guitar and compared it i doulbt there would be a big difference.

i also doulbt makers were getting much better woods, they used what they allready had for construction of these new fangled electric guitars. it was a new thing, they learned as they went.

and pickups were not consistant.

we tend to judge all the old guitars based on a few prime examples.

new = very consistant

i can complain about prices but i haven't seen a real dogs in the big brand names.

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Originally posted by Mudcat:

Originally posted by Bluesape:

... CBS bean counters seemed to slash costs everywhere on Fenders for a time, even using cheaper wiring for electronics. Some of the same kinda streamlining crap happened to Gibsons under Norlin's rule...

My thoughts exactly. While there has been some variabilty in quality from Gibson & Fender in the last 15-20 years, both companies are much more consistent in putting out a quality product than they were in the 70s.
I don't have years of experience with Strats but my new one is very nice. Anyone here who likes Strats would like mine; I'm almost sure of it. I guess the important thing is that I like it.

 

The new Gibsons I've managed to play in the music stores seem fine to me as well.

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Originally posted by learjeff:

Gibson moved out of Kazoo back in the 90's. As a result, you can now go there (or to Elderly Music in Lansing) and get a guitar every bit as good as many Gibsons -- and better, due to more "ego involvement" from the luthiers -- at a fraction of the cost, eg Heritage and Unity guitars. I'm talking hand-made guitars, not factory jobs...

For the record, Gibson completed its' move from Kalamazoo in 1984, with the opening of the Nashville world headquarters. But they were building LP's here since 1971.

 

Also, the CNC/handcarved debate is moot at Gibson. Body blanks are CNC cut for speed and consistancy, but are hand carved to their final shape for specific tonal qualities.

 

Heritage makes wonderful instruments, but they are far from hand carved, too. Even before CNC machines were (and are) used for rough cutting and shaping.

 

I saw a truly hand carved LP at the Gibson Custom Shop in 1996. They built an alligator LP for Kix Brooks of the country duo, Brooks & Dunn. A friend let me tag along and tour the old custom shop while he spoke to some of the OAI guys about his banjo. At the time, the alligator guitar was fully carved and the luthier had just finished the teak, frog-shaped knobs and covers for the switch and pot back covers. It was completely unfinished. The carved pieces of alligator are an additional 3/4" to and inch thick! ;)

 

Here's the resulting guitar:

 

http://www.gibson.com/whatsnew/pressrelease/1996/images/kixbrooks-kixhed.jpg

 

http://www.gibson.com/whatsnew/pressrelease/1996/images/kixbrooks-front.jpghttp://www.gibson.com/whatsnew/pressrelease/1996/images/kixbrooks-aliback.jpg

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

Soundclick

fntstcsnd

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Thanks for the correction. I did say "hand made" not "hand carved". CNC is one of the things that has made so many great electrics far more affordable. But it's only one aspect. (Admittedly, for an archtop, it's a pretty significant one.)

 

I think my spruce & cedar laminate (pictured in my avatar, a Jubal by Aaron Cowles) sounds better than the affordable carved ones. Of course, it's because the face and back were made back in the 60's, and anything built then just sounds better, as we all know!

 

That's quite a gator, too. :)

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Originally posted by guitarzan:

there is so much voodoo around old guitars being better.

There's always some voodoo associated with old things.

 

And that's OK.

 

Heck...picking up a real old guitar that's been through a few hands and that's been played a lot...especially if it has some "fame" attached to it...

...is VERY cool. :cool:

 

But of course, that doesnt prove that old guitars are always better than new guitars.

 

I have an original Hagstrom Swede that I bought new back in '75.

That guitar was my only axe for many years...and it served me well through many bands and gigs. To me...it has a certain vibe...it has history...

...and that makes it special.

But some of my new, inexpensive Agiles play and sound just as nice...though I have yet to find a guitar with a fast neck like the Hagstrom Swede.

I hardly ever play the Swede anymoreexcept on special occasionssince I feel its done its time, and I dont want to put anymore wear-n-tear on it.

miroslav - miroslavmusic.com

 

"Just because it happened to you, it doesn't mean it's important."

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About the vibe thing... my shitty old Rave2 BC Rich Warlock has some serious vibe. It was a guitar I lusted over in the hands of it's former owner, a rythm/singer front man for a local metal band Subliminal Chaos. I really really wanted that guitar. It's a serious POS, always was and always will be. Thing is, it sounds sweet and plays awesome!

 

How can that be? Vibe dude, vibe.

What a horrible night to have a curse.
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