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Why do people consider old basses to be "beautiful"? when you can get same model

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Oreomeister365, Mar 2, 2008.

  1. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Also, tools and technology weren't crappy back then. Many boutique builders nowadays still use the same tools that they had in the 50's (and even some older ones, I've seen a repair shop with a band saw that was 80 years old!).

    The truss rods haven't changed much, passive pickups haven't changed much (and there's a market for pu with the exact same specs that they came with 40 years ago), frets are the same, woods, finish (nitro is the new rage), etc. Pretty much all was available in the 50's to produce the very same instruments that are put out by custom shops nowadays, barring carbon fiber innovations. BTW, only the very outmost mass produced instruments use newer technology (laser cutting for example).

    Yet, boutique instruments, built by hand with simple tools, still fetch more bucks than the robot designed/assembled/built instruments.
  2. ibanezcollector

    ibanezcollector Yoyo's Hurt When You Crank It Into Your Face

    Feb 18, 2007
    Cleveland Ohio
    to collectors they do.. :)
  3. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    Generally speaking yes. Certainly to collectors. Although a player may take a beat up winner from the 70's than a pristine dog (of which there were many).
  4. The people who look at instruments, which is the biggest contradiction in the world...

    I like to hear paintings myself...

    but lets not get into that...enough almost furious people for a day :ninja:
  5. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    A very ironic comment in a thread that is about the aesthetics of basses, don't you think? :meh:
  6. Muckaluck


    Oct 11, 2005
    Whitby, Ontario
    So I'm procrastinating from writing my essay and I thought I might jump in to add another worm to the can.

    In philosophy Plato asked the question, "What is beauty?" The question is posed to engage a critical analysis of many of our taken for granted assumptions of beauty. Often I think a group's concept of beauty at a particular point in time in a particular region has much to do with power dynamics. For example, it is suggested by feminists that women are constructed as beautiful by men so that women are easier to comodify and be understood as property.

    So lets apply this to the Fender issue here. It would appear that many people find old beat up Fender basses to be beautiful. If this construction of beauty is understood as a process of power then we must look at the current power dynamics in society. The primary power holders today are 40, 50 and 60 year old baby boomers. Money has followed this generation throughout recent history and I'm sure it will continue to follow them to the end of their days. As this population holds the power of defining beauty, it would appear that their construction of old Fender basses as beautiful has significance.

    I think that the baby boomer appreciation of youth and derrogation of old age is symbolized by the Fender basses. Old reliced Fenders represent a youth from 40 or 50 years ago and that youth from so long ago has survived, albeit tatterd, into the 21st century. Perhaps the beauty that the baby boomers have applied to old Fenders is really a deep desire to attach to an object that represents youth and the survival of youth that is difficult to destroy. This desire to be youthful as perpetuated in an appreciation of old guitars is blanketed over the rest of society with the defining and economic power that is held by the baby boomers. I think this is why you see many younger people adopting this perspective; becuase the power of the baby boomers beauty definition is so blanketing.

    I have to agree with you, it doesn't make sense that people would flock to old beat up basses. Why not buy a new bass for a fraction of the price that doesn't have 40 years of finger cheese imbedded in it? I think I have given one reason why this potentially happens and I'm sure there are many more.
  7. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    Yes. In a collectors market, the closer to pristine, the higher the price, unless it has some kind of link to a famous player.

    For me, cosmetics mean nothing, as I'm not a collector, even though I've owned quite a few vintage guitars and basses over the years.

    When I went shopping for a P bass, I played every single one I could get my hands on , both new and used, and it just so happens then one that "smoked" them all, had quite a bit of players wear on it. Yup, it's got a whole lot more players wear on it now than it did then, because I gigged that P bass for years myself too. It's still to this day the BEST P bass I've ever layed my hands on. When I see all the wear on it, I don't see "Ugly" I see "loyal frined, and longtime companion".

    Yeah, it's worth quite a few bucks these days, and it would be worth more if it had less wear on it, but that's not the point. I wouldn't trade that old P for 10,000 Ritters, Fodera's Sadawskys, Carl Thompsons etc.
  8. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    paraphrase : "why do folks not use the same subjective criteria that i do when deciding whether a bass is beautiful or not?"

  9. warwick.hoy


    Aug 20, 2006
    Spokane, WA.
    Beta Tester: Source Audio.
    I play a 10 year old modern instrument that I bought brand new. I'm financially stable enough to know that I'll be keeping it. It is far from being vintage, but I relish in the future when it is a vintage instrument. It may not be worth a whole lot down the road, but we will see. I think about it being passed down to the kids (don't have any) all the time. I also consider it a future family heirloom.

    It is developing character. It has wear marks where my thumb rests and where the tips of my fingers hitting the body when slapping aggressively. The patina is deepening and the neck gets more and more playable all the time.

    I think this part of the allure of any bass; vintage or new. For those that posses a vintage instrument that they themselves bought new. It's like a trip down memory lane when you look at this particular ding, and that certain scratch.
  10. superfunk47


    Sep 9, 2007
    this is how i look at it.

    back in the day (60's and 70's) there was a lot less to choose from, especially for a bassist. that was why you saw so many of your favorite rock players playing similar instruments -- they didnt have much else to choose from.

    today, people like the 'vintage' look because it reminds them of the instruments that their heroes from back then used, and thereby reminds them of that music and that era in music and culture.

    the concept of 'relic'd' basses is slightly more complicated. to me, a lot of wear equates an exceptionally good feeling or good sounding instrument, because the better it feels or sounds, the more youre going to use it. this ties back into the previous point, because back in the day, a gigging bassist generally used fewer instruments than bassists of today. they were more tied down to the 'one main bass' concept than bassists of today; partially because there were fewer basses then than now. import models werent as popular.

    so, to me, it really just comes down to a connection with an era which has since passed in music. it helps one to relive the earlier days of rock & roll.

    my .02 :)
  11. While I agree that "the good old days" may not be what everyone thinks they were- when it comes to instruments older is sometimes better.

    A 68 Fender Bass is not just beautiful to look at and fun to play, it is also an INVESTMENT. If you knew that, fifty years from now, that bass you just bought for $150 would be worth THOUSANDS of dollars you would hold on to it. Companies go out of business, tastes (and therefore the market) change over time. I bet Joe Schmedlap had no idea that the bass he was buying in 1968, after getting home from Vietnam, would be worth so much money. Hold on to your good instruments... you never know.

    Lastly, old instruments are fun to own. I have a neighbor here who has a player piano from the 1880's. It is a priceless, gorgeous work of art. Does it look "nice"... no. Plays even worse. My neighbor is in his late 70's. He put it in his will to have the piano go to museum. I think that it is a good idea... a museum will have the resources to restore the instrument to good order, and, hopefully, put it on display where everyone can enjoy.

    End of rant.:bassist:
  12. Even vintage basses can be innovative and groundbreaking in design. Take the Shergold Marathon :)D). The Shergold's headstock and body shape is one of the most recognisable of all the British designs.
  13. I appreciate everyones replies, but many of them have reasonings that have nothing to do with looks.

    The answers I've gained from this thread:
    - Collectors
    - Trip down memory lane, if is old but looks new, it would better bring back those memories (since it was new back in the day).

    I keep forgetting that most people here are just a little older than me ;)

  14. I'll have to agree as the proud owner of a Shergold Marathon.

    On the investment side my Shergold isn't the best bet, but the Shergold company is now defunct, and the desirability of these basses has gone up, especially with popular bassists like Mike Rutherford using Shergold. The unusual stereo circuitry and headstock also make the sound and shape of this bass highly popular.

    Also, I like the idea of doing a performance and not having the same Fender, Ibanez, Yamaha....etc (although I'm not bashing these basses!) and having a sound which you're not going to hear everywhere. I'm just praying that I can keep the electronics intact.

    So sometimes vintage is best.

    I also apologise if I seem to be pushing the point about Shergolds a lot. I just love my bass.
  15. FunkyFrosty


    May 28, 2006
    IMO the Shergold Marathon was one design that significantly inspired the aesthetics of the Wal Mach I, also a very cool bass.

  16. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    I think about vintage basses in two ways. If it is amazingly clean, I am impressed that it has been around for 30 - 40 years but still looks brand new. If it is hacked up then I am impressed with the worn look. I don't really think of any vintage bass as beautiful unless I really like the looks of it.
    It's pretty subjective, as you clearly illustrated in your original post.......
  17. But the electronics are different. Epiphone makes an EB-0 copy of the old Gibson EB-0. I would rather have the "old" one I have (1965) over the new one because I like the sound of it and its body sculpting is more refined than the Epiphone. Gibson Reissued an EB-3 (sort of) but I would prefer the original EB-3 because of the sounds you can get that the reissue can't do. I am willing to tolerate the chips and knocks for what I consider a better sound.
  18. bassblast


    Feb 25, 2008
    I have a 73 P-Bass and its worn. But theres somthing special about playing it. I have thought about selling it several times but i just can not due it.
  19. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    I started to post a long rant about the ultimate nature of beauty...

    ...and, luckily for everyone here, I thought the better of it.

    Leave it at this: I like worn jeans, I like women who don't look like teenagers, and I like basses that look as though they have earned their keep all their lives.
  20. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    A well worn, heavily played instrument simply FEELS better. And knowing that it feels better makes it more beautiful to me... Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it?

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