Guitar Buying - The Pros and Cons of Vintage vs Reissue
To begin with, there is the price of entry. The strong demand for classic instruments has driven their costs through the roof and out of reach for many of us. Best quality, well cared for original tools from the 50's and 60's can approach the cost of a new car, or even sometimes a small house!
Another issue facing classic tools is their questionable reliability. Though they were built to endure the test of time, a classic instrument will almost always end up being more fragile and delicate than a later, more modern version. This might not be of great value to a guitar collector, but if you are planning to gig with a 50 year old, highly appreciated piece of guitar history, you might want to believe again.
Fortunately there is an option for those people who love classic instruments, but find them too expensive or too impractical for our purposes. I am referring to the latest crop of classic guitar figurines, or as they're better known,"reissues".
Both Gibson and Fender maintain separate production facilities called"Custom Shops", were they create replicas of our favorite oldies with fantastic skill and care. These guitars are produced from the best woods, and are almost entirely built by hand using time honored techniques. The electronics are custom made to be as accurate and loyal to the original instrument as is humanly possible.
The expense of these Custom Shop guitars are high when compared to their production line versions, but they're still far below the expense of the real thing. They come complete with a complete guarantee, the durability of a new tool, and sparkling clean looks. I have several reissue guitars from both Gibson and Fender, and can honestly state that I am quite impressed with the quality and painstaking amount of detail that these guitars have. The use of top quality forests give them a tone that is a cut above the standard, and understanding that parts are readily available helps add some peace of mind.
When all things are considered, purchasing a reissue guitar is in most cases the next best thing to owning the original. Though nothing will ever replace the"vibe" and nostalgia associated with the real deal, the high cost and impracticality of a classic instrument for everyday use, makes owning a reissue an extremely attractive alternative. Will a reissue ever seem like its nicely aged 50 year old counterpart? Probably not, but for us players with an appreciation for antique devices, a Custom Shop reissue from the original producer is quite tough to beat.