Custom shop vs vintage

Wade Garrett

I am the projectionist.
#1
Given the chance would you buy vintage guitar or custom shop? I was thinking about this the other day and I'm torn, I was looking at some vintage Gibsons and it occurred to me that they were actually cheaper than custom shop models. Both are still a hell of a lot of money but I'd never really thought about it before.

As much as I'd like a custom shop I think I'm leaning towards vintage (today at least!) although owning older instruments does come with it's own challenges. Vintage would hold it's value a bit better as well. On the other hand....custom shop!

There are too many cool guitars in the word!
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#3
That's a hard one and I don't really have a good answer but let me explain why..

When my only guitar was a mexican strat I went to a store thinking to upgrade it to an american standard. While playing the store guy comes at me with a "vintage reissue strat". It was on a discount for 1500 instead of 1800.. And here I was sitting with a 1200 euro strat in my hands.. So more expensive then I would've liked. But I played it and fell in love right away. I bought it and haven't had second thought since I've owned it somewhere in 2012 or so.
Now quality wise, this is a point for custom shop. They're just better then the main range of fender. These reissues are pretty close to custom shop quality and it shows. I've recently played a standard again and it just doesn't play as nice as mine.

When I got my les paul something similar happened. 1000 euro budget, just wanted a second guitar. epiphone and gibson didn't feel great at that budget. PRS was actually pretty good. And I would've bought one if not for that les paul standard.. down from 2400 to 1600.. And a 1000 euro guitar just can't compete. I loved the gibson and bought it. It's a completely different guitar then my fender I never would've thought to select a wider neck for a custom guitar etc. But because it was there and I could exprience it I did like it and bought it.
Now honestly the love has cooled a bit over the years and I do tend to gravitate towards my fender again so I'm looking to flip the gibson.

So here comes the hard part...
That vintage guitar (or new in the quality range) hangs somewhere in a store ready to play. You can try it and decide if you like it.
That custom guitar doesn't exist. I don't know if I like another neck radius.. I've had two extremes and I've got no clue how I'd like a middle ground. I don't like the coil splits on the gibson. But there are so much pickups out there that I've got no clue what I should pick for a custom guitar. And I have no clue if I'd still like them after a couple of years like I do with the strat. I simply haven't tried enough different guitars to have a great opinion of what I like other then "that feels good".
So while "regular" guitars be it vintage or other production lines are recognizable and pretty easy to sell. Custom guitars may be harder. Because that other guy might not like combination X and Y.


TL:DR
- custom: Don't know what to choose and can't try it. Maybe specific and hard to sell if you want to flip it.
+custom: great quality, exactly what you want
- vintage: care and wear / maintenance. maybe pricey. Huge differences in quality between individual guitars
+ vintage: You can try it. People recognize it, easier to flip. sound exactly like "insert artist"
 

Wade Garrett

I am the projectionist.
#4
That's a hard one and I don't really have a good answer but let me explain why..

When my only guitar was a mexican strat I went to a store thinking to upgrade it to an american standard. While playing the store guy comes at me with a "vintage reissue strat". It was on a discount for 1500 instead of 1800.. And here I was sitting with a 1200 euro strat in my hands.. So more expensive then I would've liked. But I played it and fell in love right away. I bought it and haven't had second thought since I've owned it somewhere in 2012 or so.
Now quality wise, this is a point for custom shop. They're just better then the main range of fender. These reissues are pretty close to custom shop quality and it shows. I've recently played a standard again and it just doesn't play as nice as mine.

When I got my les paul something similar happened. 1000 euro budget, just wanted a second guitar. epiphone and gibson didn't feel great at that budget. PRS was actually pretty good. And I would've bought one if not for that les paul standard.. down from 2400 to 1600.. And a 1000 euro guitar just can't compete. I loved the gibson and bought it. It's a completely different guitar then my fender I never would've thought to select a wider neck for a custom guitar etc. But because it was there and I could exprience it I did like it and bought it.
Now honestly the love has cooled a bit over the years and I do tend to gravitate towards my fender again so I'm looking to flip the gibson.

So here comes the hard part...
That vintage guitar (or new in the quality range) hangs somewhere in a store ready to play. You can try it and decide if you like it.
That custom guitar doesn't exist. I don't know if I like another neck radius.. I've had two extremes and I've got no clue how I'd like a middle ground. I don't like the coil splits on the gibson. But there are so much pickups out there that I've got no clue what I should pick for a custom guitar. And I have no clue if I'd still like them after a couple of years like I do with the strat. I simply haven't tried enough different guitars to have a great opinion of what I like other then "that feels good".
So while "regular" guitars be it vintage or other production lines are recognizable and pretty easy to sell. Custom guitars may be harder. Because that other guy might not like combination X and Y.


TL:DR
- custom: Don't know what to choose and can't try it. Maybe specific and hard to sell if you want to flip it.
+custom: great quality, exactly what you want
- vintage: care and wear / maintenance. maybe pricey. Huge differences in quality between individual guitars
+ vintage: You can try it. People recognize it, easier to flip. sound exactly like "insert artist"
I hadn't really thought about the individuality aspect of a custom shop you want to sell, interesting point.
 

Lonestar

SC Relics Guitars
#5
Pros and cons for both. We all wax lyrical about vintage gear as if it’s the pinnacle of the guitar world. But, production standards have come a long way and you’re more likely to find a cack 60s strat than a cack CS strat from last year. However, find a good one and you’re a winner. That said, the good vintage guitars are priced accordingly. Custom shop guitars don’t always replicate the guitars of yesteryear either... most custom shops exist to give the freedom of choice and that is ultimately what you are paying for.
 

drittal

Nerd on the Prairie
#6
Vintage for me. But it’s hard to eat modern construction, you know almost every one will be great; where the old schools stuff could be hit or miss. What ever moves you dude.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Lonestar

SC Relics Guitars
#8
Interesting video for you guys to watch. Especially considering that they’ve got Neville’s strat for comparison.


It’s amazing that when you spend £4K for a 63 CS strat (for example) that some details can’t and won’t be replicated. The biggest one for me is the paint finishes. Modern fenders are no where near finished how they used to be. The new builds are also machined to be virtually identical... part of the vintage charm is how poorly (yet wonderfully) they were made “back in the day”.
 

doctorpaul

Negative, Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.
Staff member
#9
I’ve had a few vintage guitars. I’ve had (and have) lots of CS guitars.
For me, the choice is a very simple one; CS wins out every time.
To each their own, but my decision was very straightforward, and was based on perceived quality, ease of ownership and peace of mind.
I have no desire to ever buy a vintage guitar again.
Good thread.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Tankman

Well-Known Member
#10
I think it depends on WHY you buy it. If you want a top of the line guitar I don't think it matters. Just buy the one you think is best, be it custom shop or vintage. If resale value is important to you, buy vintage. They usually go up in value if you wait long enough.

Or you just buy whatever you like best.
 

Chu

Well-Known Member
#11
Some of us are talking Custom Shop as in Fender, Gibson and PRS Custom shop stuff which is available off the peg, others are referring to one off, made to order stuff. Which I don't consider the same at all.

For me, Fender/Gibson/PRS Custom Shop - yes I would. Built to order luthier/custom guitar - no I would not.
 

Sustainerplayer

On the edge of breakup
#13
Almost every time I thought of custom builds or other expensive guitars I have ended up putting a Warmoth build together. So I have had those thoughts around 10-11 times now. :D

I don't care for resell value - which is good cause a Warmoth build has none. :p

Like a custom build - or vintage - they don't always come out "OMG the best I ever had"-like. But I've managed to wrestle some of them into "keepers".

I know players who prefer either customs or vintage - but all of them have bought and sold several (and still do). So I guess there is no amount of customness* or vintageque* ... or just plain money spend - that will guarantee a guitar for life.

My advice? If you got the money to spend then follow your gut feeling ... cause you'll probably be wrong which ever you choose anyway. :D

Just enjoy the trip. :cloud9:


* = guitar new speak
 

metromusic

Negative, I am a meat popsicle
#14
"Custom shop" is a confusing one for me. For example, with Gibson you can buy a custom shop Les Paul built to your specs/finish/blahblahblah, but then they also have a range of Custom Shop Les Pauls that are mass produced. Surely it's one or the other?
 

mirage2101

Well-Known Member
#15
Interesting video for you guys to watch. Especially considering that they’ve got Neville’s strat for comparison.


It’s amazing that when you spend £4K for a 63 CS strat (for example) that some details can’t and won’t be replicated. The biggest one for me is the paint finishes. Modern fenders are no where near finished how they used to be. The new builds are also machined to be virtually identical... part of the vintage charm is how poorly (yet wonderfully) they were made “back in the day”.
God this killed all the fun for me. I really don't like reliced guitars. When they start talking about how the paint has worn and how detail X or Y is off I'm done.

In my previous post I tried to make an objective comparison between the two. But thinking about it for a while.
I'd never buy vintage. I think the prices are insance and I'm just not a traditionalist. The first thing I did with my 56 reissue was to lock down the bridge and put in locking tuners. I don't care about authenticity. I want it to sound great.
So custom shop "off the rack". I'd absolutely buy that. The whole fender / gibson / prs master build stuff looks absolutely lovely and if I'd spend that kind of money on a guitar and I'd pick one up that makes me spark I'd absolutely go for it.
Truly custom spec/luthier. That's harder. I think I'd like to have one. There's a luthier not too far from here who has some great designs. He also makes "example" guitars to show off what he can do. I'd like to have a chat with him and see what he thinks. Maybe try some stuff for a while. And really get something special.
On the other hand I'd probably be perfectly happy with some PRS workhorse too.
 
#16
I love the idea of vintage, because there's life buried inside of it. And I guess in some ways I'm a romantic and that would inspire me.
But if it's new and looks old but feels like butter, I'd be just as happy.
No concern for value.
 

SemiCullen

Still haven't got the hang of Thursdays
#17
I think it depends on what I was buying the guitar for and how. That is, if I were to assume that I'm going to be playing the guitar the same way I am now -- home use, no playing out -- and that I had *one* pricepoint for *one* guitar ... man, I don't know. I really like the idea of a vintage instrument, but I think you'd get more bang for your buck buying a new vintage-style or custom shop guitar.

So, if I were to somehow save the life of some rich dude and he told me he'd buy me any one guitar of my choosing, it would surely be a custom build from a boutique luthier I could never afford in my lifetime.
 

Lonestar

SC Relics Guitars
#18
The funny thing is @mirage2101 is that most of the custom shop off the rack guitars out there use nitro (okay, not proper nitro but close enough). This means in 40 years your new CS guitar could look just as worn. You’d be safe with PRS but not the others you mentioned. Lots of luthiers also use nitro to finish their guitars so hypothetically if you ever went down they route you’d have to specify a non nitro finish.

Again, the vintage charm is that they weren’t all perfect. Far from it. If I get a chance tomorrow I’ll pop a few pics up from the Blackguard book. You’ll see how those £50,000 broadcasters really look close up :D
 
#19
The funny thing is @mirage2101 is that most of the custom shop off the rack guitars out there use nitro (okay, not proper nitro but close enough).
I believe my fender also has that nitro like stuff. Now I'm just a bedroom player with a rare gig now and then so it still looks pretty shiny.
It's not even that I mind how it looks after being played for 50 years. Though I might get a paint job done if mine ever comes to that. I just think it's silly to relic a new guitar. It's not a look that I'm after.
But once they go on about how the neck pores filled up with finger goo and the custom shop doesn't have that.. come on....

For me the reason to go to a luthier would be to get a guitar that has a unique look. I think sound and playing wise I'd be perfectly fine with quality guitars that are just hanging in the store.
 
#20
But once they go on about how the neck pores filled up with finger goo and the custom shop doesn't have that.. come on....
All germophobes, take note... finger goo :eek:... that makes vintage a no-go for quite a few people I know :D.


Honestly, from where I sit, it comes down the battle between vintage charm and modern playability, because I've heard new guitars that have that great vintage sound, due to the amp and pickups used, so I know the sound can be had, with some effort.
If you're looking for charm, well, even the worst vintage guitars will have it (honestly, sometimes the worse they are, the more charm they have, heh).
If you're looking for a guitar that plays and feels great, that you will be loving and reaching for over the next decade or longer, custom shops (and Gibson/Fender CS limited vintage runs, etc) will be ideal.
Why? Well, you can find charm easily, with vintage stuff, but you won't always find one that plays as nicely as the custom shop ones. The charm is always there for vintage, but not the quality and playability, because, well, they've aged, and sometimes, aged very poorly. And as some have said, if you have a charm-packed, mojo-lathered vintage guitar that also plays amazingly and has the right sound... the dude selling it very likely knows this and has added all of that to the price.

If you want the look, custom shops and reissues can get you that.
If you want the feeling of a good, well-made, surviving vintage instrument... custom shops can also get you that.
If you want to know that you have a vintage instrument and brag to your friends, family, strangers on the street, that you have a 1950s Strat with all original parts, well... custom shops can't get you that.
If you want the idea of vintage, the "joining the club" feeling... Custom shops don't have it.
If you want the look, feel, sound, and don't care about "the club"... Custom shops have got that.
But a new instrument will never actually BE a vintage instrument, and if that bothers you... you may never be happy without vintage.
 
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