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Vintage gear: The real reason many of us own it

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by themacinator, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. themacinator

    themacinator Always looking for the perfect gig

    Oct 8, 2009
    8,600 feet in the Colorado Rockies
    Endorsing Artist: Babicz FCH Hardware
    I've been thinking about this for a while and finally it hit me. We buy, restore, rehab, and maintain vintage gear because we are preservationists. We understand and respect the history of our craft and in doing so we see the need and value of keeping the basses, amps, cabs, cases, etc. that founded our art alive.

    A friend of mine asked that question we have all been asked, "How many _________ do you need?". You can fill in the blank. Well for me any how it's not really a question of need, it's a question of want.

    Why do I want them? I want these vintage items because to me they represent the foundation of my passion. I can look at my 42 year old Blue Line SVT and just imagine the gig it's seen.

    I can do the same with my '75 V4B, or my two SVT Squarebacks, my 8M serial number Peavey T-40, etc. So then he said well they re-issued most of what you have right? Made it newer and better? I said yes they have been reissued but newer is not always better.

    I told him that they have reissued Camaro's, Mustang's, Charger's, etc. And I would take a '71 Charger over the new ones any day of the week.

    So vintage gear owners consider yourselves preservationists. When you acquire any piece of vintage gear and give it what it needs to bring it back to life or maintain it's current state you are keeping the foundation of our great art alive.

    Long live bassists and the gear that got us here.
  2. AngusHasMoxie

    AngusHasMoxie Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2013
    Easthampton, MA
    Formerly endorsed by Carvin, Basson and Dimarzio
    That's a very romantic way of looking at it. I agree that a lot of it is the historical aspect, but with that historical aspect it's what we grew up with, the first time we heard a bass, it was being played with amps that are now old-school. But when you hear them, they sound "right" because that's what you were taught bass sounded like.

    It is cool to think about. I once came across an ancient set of PH215s with all kinds of stenciling on them and I just thought about all the gigs these cabs must have been through together. I imagine it's a similar feeling a new recruit gets when meeting a decorated veteran.
  3. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    I like both.

    My favorite 2 amps are my new Monique/Crest setup and my 1936 Gibson EH-150. My 2 Favorite basses are my new Fodera and my 1974 Precision.

    I KNOW that my 1974 P has been played in front of millions of people over the 20+ years it was gigged by a B list Canadian band and I can only imagine the stories that my 77 year old Gibson "Charlie Christian" amp could tell.
  4. gerryjazzman


    Dec 31, 2006
    New Jersey
    I think this is not unlike why some folks like to restore antique radios. I've done a couple myself and I currently have a 1935 Philco chassis on the bench (slowly) undergoing restoration. Kind of cool realizing that people might have actually listened to the live broadcasts of the Hindenburg disaster, the War of the Worlds broadcast or the bombing of Pearl Harbor on this thing.

    Or like JimmyM's SVT that was once owned by Doug Ingle (wonder how many times that thing cranked out In A Gadda Da Vida?).
  5. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    Some vintage gear also sounds unique and no modern amp can come close to it. Case in point: Ampeg b15n, acoustic 360 and 370 (although they are doing a limited runs but at incerdible high prices which puts them out of league for all except a few priviled few). I've tried a lot of modern amps and heard the case for EQing or pedals. Nothing comes close enough or nails it like the real thing.
  6. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    When looking t instruments and electric basses in particular, I can think of two reasons;
    Nostalgia is one but the one that really comes to bear is the status symbol, which many seem to find in older instruments these days.

    Electric basses are not violins, cellos or double basses.
  7. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    True. My Gibson guitar amp sounds like nothing else made today. Completely unique in a good (or bad) way!

    Does the fact that it was owned by one of the stars of Hee Haw make it "the best amp for metal"?:D
  8. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I think what is said in the OP is true for some. I also believe that more people are into it because they believe it to be cool or hip. Especially the younger people.
  9. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    Good point.

    I played the big NXNE show last year and almost all of the new and upcoming younger bands used vintage gear.
  10. bray101


    Feb 26, 2012
    I'm 27 years young, but I like to gravitate more towards the OP's reasoning. When I first picked up a bass, it was after hearing a Zeppelin record at a friend's house and my dad's vinyl copies of "Rubber Soul" and "Who's Next." I wasn't picking up a bass to jam along with the Backstreet Boys on a Sony Xplod Stereo with a CD. Haha

    When I started taking lessons, I progressed rather quickly so my teacher decided to throw me to the wolves and start teaching me the ins and outs of the great "Weather Report." Within a week, we were jamming to Black Market, so it is only fitting that those Jaco lines, as well as John Ent and John Paul Jones, gave me such a love for the old Acoustic and Sunn gear. Would still love to get my hands on that 4x15 Acoustic cabinet.

    Forget these people just trying to find the most boutique off the wall amp they can find just because it's old. I'm all in beat up solid state Acoustics and folded horn Sunn cabs!
  11. I just like to carry heavy $hit.
  12. I like the stud because it's the only way to get that real old school tone. The gunk and wear on the amps give them character. Vintage gear isnt without it's faults though. I always keep my Gallien Kruger 700rbII handy as a back up.
  13. D.M.N.

    D.M.N. (O)))) Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I mean, I guess some young people could be into it just because it's the cool thing at the moment. However, I'm with Bray up above. I'm 20, and the reason I've gravitated towards vintage gear is mostly because I'm trying to emulate the bands that shaped my playing. I saw pictures of Noel Redding and John Entwistle and Felix Pappalardi standing in front of Sunns, and was sold. I wanted to be like that.

    The other thing is the appeal of picking up a lot of older gear fairly cheaply compared to new gear. One of the things I look at and took into account when choosing gear was how expensive is it vs. the quality of it. To get an amp today of the same build quality of my Sunn would cost a seriously pretty penny. The modern valve amps in the price range of the old Sunns (when I bought, about $800-1000) are not nearly up to the same standards. Other amps like Ampeg V4s can be picked up even cheaper.

    I'd had loved to pickup a Hiwatt or Marshall Superbass, but those are way out of my price range, and the Sunns were right in the right price bracket. So my love for vintage gear has multiple aspects. Quality, emulating my influences, and honestly, like the OP said, proud of owning a piece of music history.
  14. themacinator

    themacinator Always looking for the perfect gig

    Oct 8, 2009
    8,600 feet in the Colorado Rockies
    Endorsing Artist: Babicz FCH Hardware
    Glad to see many points of view but all seem to agree in one way or another with me. Preserving the origin of the sound. Preserving the gear that got it that way.
  15. I more kind of fell into vintage gear because back when I got into it, the stuff I lilke was just considered "old". Now 60's Traynors and 70's Ovation solidbodies are hip and vintage. (and priced accordingly).
    I wonder if old Peavey's will be the next vintage craze?
  16. theretheyare


    Sep 4, 2010
    Brooklyn, NY
    Endorsing: Arkham Vacuum Tube Amplification
    I do dream of owning a nice vintage car, or a great sounding tube amp with matching fridge, but all I can handle from my 4th floor walkup is my lil' busted up Honda and ClassD amp, which gets the job done. Now If I had a house out in the country or suburbs with a big basement ....
  17. Corey Y

    Corey Y Guest

    Jun 3, 2010
    I'm sure that's true of some people, I just own vintage gear because I like the sound of it. I have pretty broad mix of new and old gear. It's all about "the right tool for the right job". I'm not much into swiss army knife style gear, probably because I was raised by a wood worker and have been in skilled labor jobs through most of my life. Now that I have the funds and freedom to buy what I want (mostly, with saving and discipline, I'm not rich), I get the piece of gear I like the best for a certain task. So I have a Class D micro amp and power amp, some preamps and a couple neo cabs. I also have vintage tube and lead sled style amps, a big heavy 810 and 410, boutique and cheap production line pedals, a couple custom bases, a couple budget basses. Sometimes I want "new, sleek and efficient", but sometimes obsolete sounds better for what I want/need. Sometimes my priorities for gear are totally different. For one use it might be low cost and easy to replace in a pinch, for another it might be a very specific tone or highly specialized feature at the expense of everything else.

    I do recognize some people want certain gear just for the looks or for nostalgia (looks or tone wise) and I think that's great too. I'm not much into the visuals of gear or fitting in to what's expected for a genre, but I respect that it's a priority for other people.
  18. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    I like my bass gear new, but my motorcycles old.

    well actually......
    For playing around on, tinkering with, in state rides, etc. I like my old bikes.
    But when I am going across the country or have to be at work at 3 A.M.,
    I take the new bike.
  19. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    Only as artwork and not due to function; I've driven both and the new ones are much faster and handle much better. Yes I've driven a 70's Hemi and 440; slugs compared to the new stuff. The old stuff looks way better though IMO.

    I had a mail order antique car parts business years ago that had a huge catalog of parts for 1949 - 1972 big body Fords; I don't particularly love these cars but there are a huge number of them on the road, and, little competiton as most parts guys go after the high performance end.

    We data based everything and the one constant was that people owned and restored cars that they either owned in high school or wished they owned in high school. Somehting about reliving ones' past.
    Me, I play a real 60's P bass as well as 70's Fenders and 80's MIJ basses. My first new bass was a 1973 Pbass. My favorite head is an SVT but am still buying (and selling) micro's until I can get close enough to that tone with a featherweight. I dislike old stock cabinets and think the new ones are much better.

    It's all about the balance between form and function IMO.
  20. Blueinred


    Mar 12, 2009
    Greater Cincy
    GOD bless you, our son. I still have my meager Acoustic 220 that I bought in 1978 after the first time I heard Jaco. But steer clear of those old Acoustic 18" folded horn cabs. Unless you're playing stadiums through a wireless and are standing waaaayyyy out in the audience. Those suckers were louder 100 ft. in the back of the room than 3 feet in front of it. And if they hadn't put two big wheels on em', built in, no weekend warrior would have bought them.

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