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Vintage Guitar and Bass

vintage guitars

Why vintage guitars?

There is something special about musical instruments of a certain age. Guitars built from the mid 1950s until the late 1970s are generally held in high esteem; techniques and materials, particularly pre-1970 were vastly superior to today's 'mass-produced' standards. But is a vintage guitar really much different to a modern day equivalent? People often say wood is wood, but this is simply not the case. Centuries old trees that were regularly harvested for guitar manufacture in the 1950s are now protected, and it is these old trees with close grains and unbeatable tonal qualities that make the very best guitars. With rainforests rapidly diminishing their protection can only be a good thing. But it does mean that good quality older guitars, perhaps with a few modern upgrades can make some of the very best instruments available. What's more, much of the painstaking attention to detail lavished upon fine old jazz guitars by special order/custom departments and aimed at serious guitarists has been replaced by the continual churning out of 'limited editions', aimed at serious collectors. Whether these rare, but ultimately not-so-special guitars will be quite so desirable in 30 years time remains to be seen.

What is a vintage guitar?

Different people have different opinions on what makes a vintage guitar. For the purposes of this site, a vintage electric guitar or vintage bass is one that was produced in the golden age of rock and roll. From the very early 1950s when Fender first produced the Esquire and Broadcaster, and Gibson the Les Paul; to the early 1980s, when both of these companies sold to their current owners.

Why play an old guitar?

The musical revolutions occurring during the period in question created the first well-known guitar heroes, and gave their guitars iconic status. It is no surprise that the right guitar can immediately conjure a specific period in time, both with looks and sound. And modern day guitarists who want to capture an essence of that period will naturally tend towards these guitars. Nothing says 1950s quite like a Gretsch. Nothing says 1960s quite like a Vox teardrop or Phantom.

vintage guitars

Numerous classic guitars made by the likes of Gibson, Epiphone, Fender, and Guild are worth thousands, sometimes tens of thousands; a little expensive for the average player, and often these are the preserve of investors and collectors. Early versions of the Gibson Les Paul, SG and Flying V guitars, or the Fender Stratocaster or Telecaster. But there are still very many affordable, great sounding, and exciting to play vintage guitars that offer something simply not available in a new guitar. A well-built vintage instrument, although expensive can actually be superb value for money in comparison to some of the new guitars available at that price.

Vintage guitars for sale

This site is for information only - we don't sell vintage guitars - but do check out our Vintage guitar collectors pick list: a regularly updated selection of rare guitars, vintage catalogs, or unusual items currently that we've found for sale on the web. We especially like to feature Vintage guitars with a story! If you're selling something interesting yourself, get in contact and we can help promote your item.

Latest Site Updates

1965 Gretsch catalogThe 1965 Gretsch catalog, or catalog #32, featured 10 hollow body electric guitars, including the newly launched Gretsch Viking; four solid body electrics, including the Astro Jet - making it's only catalog appearance; just one bass, the single pickup PX6070; nine acoustics and 12 tube amplifiers. Pride of place went to the Chet Atkins Country Gentleman that adorned both the front and back covers. 24 pages, six of which are in full color.
Guitar Repair: fixing fret buzz and sharp fret endsLoose frets are especially problematic in certain old guitars, but are generally very easy to fix. You'll be amazed at the difference you can make with just a few tools, a bit of knowledge, and a little time. Fixing loose frets can eliminate fret buzz, remove sharp fret ends, and greatly improve the tone of any guitar. If your luthier bill will be greater than the value of your guitar, definitely time to have a go yourself!
1966 Hagstrom guitar catalog Hagstrom guitars were distributed in the mid-1960s United States by Merson of USA. This eight page 'worlds fastest playing neck' catalog, printed in two-colors contained six solid body electrics, three solid body basses, two electric acoustic guitars, two electric acoustic basses and five acoustics.
1965 Hofner President The President was produced by Hofner in Bubenreuth, Germany, specifically for Selmer, who distributed the brand in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other commonwealth nations. The President was a hollow body electric acoustic, available as a full body or thinline, and with blonde or brunette finish. It was a great playing guitar that sold fairly well in the second half of the 1950s, throughout the 1960s, and into the very early 1970s. The example shown here is a full-body depth guitar in blonde - and as a 1965 guitar, one of the last to feature the rounded Venetian cutaway. From late 1965 until 1972, the President sported a sharp Florentine cut. Naturally, such an electric acoustic suggests jazz and blues, but many of the original British Hofner President players were part of the rock 'n roll, skiffle and beat scenes of the late 50s and early 60s.
Fender 1963 catalogue"The Choice of Professional and Student Musicians Everywhere" This eight page catalogue was included as an insert in the 1963 annual "school music" issue of Downbeat magazine (September 1963). As well as keyboards and pedal steels, this catalog contains seven guitars, three basses and ten amplifiers - from student guitars such as the Musicmaster and Duotone to professional models like the new Jaguar.
1971 Gibson Les Paul Recording guitar owners manual; border= The newly designed Les Paul Recording guitar was released in 1971, in many ways as an updated version of the Les Paul Professional that had debuted two years earlier in 1969. The new guitar came with a new owners manual explaining the (somewhat complicated) controls, their operation, and giving other specifications, including recommended strings, action and control settings. Compare with the broadly similar owners manual for the Les Paul Personal / Professional
1971 Gibson Triumph bass owners manual; border= The Les Paul Triumph bass, like the Les Paul Recording guitar was first shipped in 1971, but was based on a slightly older model, the 1969 Les Paul Bass. Functionally, these basses were very similar, although the Triumph did offer low and high impedance operation, without the need for a transformer cable. This owners manual details the basses specifications, suggests a string set, recommended action, and suggests a series of tonal settings for rock, country and solo bass playing.
1981 Gibson Gibson Rosetti catalogue (UK) 20 pages, black and white with color front cover. In the middle of 1981, Rosetti took over distribution of the Gibson line in the UK. Rosetti were a very big name in Britain, having distributed Epiphone since at least 1963, as well as Hagstrom and others. This catalogue was produced at the tail end of 1981, and introduces a number of models to the UK, such as the MV-II, MV-X guitars and the Victory basses, the GGC-700 and the Flying V bass. Some of these models were so short-lived that they were actually never included in US brochures. The cover image (reproduced in part here) showed some of the earliest demonstration models, including a Victory with a highly unusual white scratchplate.
1981 Gibson Victory MV-II electric guitar A closer look at a 1981 Gibson Victory MV-II electric guitar. The Gibson Victory MV, or 'Multi-Voice' guitars had very wide tonal palettes; with coil-tapped humbuckers they could produce typical Gibson tones, but were also designed to 'out-Fender' Fender. Two models were launched in the summer of 1981. Whilst the MVX, was designed to do everything a Stratocaster could do, the MVII was 'primarily for the discerning country player' - placing it squarely against the Telecaster.
1982 Gibson loose-leaf publicity sheets Gibson produced a series of single sheet flyers in 1982, promoting some of their newer models (Victory bass and Multi-Voice guitars, Chet Atkins Classic Electric and the already best-selling Sonex-180 Deluxe), and a few classic reissues (30th anniversary Les Paul Standard and Heritage Flying V) - all of which were received with some applause at the 1982 Atlanta NAMM show. These flyers all contained one or more side-panel, that folded out with model specifications, but were also designed to be reproduced in guitar magazines of the time without the extra fold out.
1963 Vox Clubman II The Clubman was one of the earliest UK-built guitars produced by Vox at it's Dartford plant. As an entry level model it was very light, fitted with the most basic components, and not made of the most select woods, but it's unique styling, low price and easy playability made for a relatively popular guitar. Initially there were two guitar models, the single pickup Clubman I and dual pickup Clubman II, and a companion Clubman bass - check them out in the 1962 Vox catalogue. The guitar was redesigned in the middle of 1963, getting a new Strat-style body, but examples with the older body style were still being shipped perhaps as early as the start of 1964.
1963 Vox Consort The Vox Consort was produced in the UK throughout the mid 1960s; originally modelled on the Fender Jaguar, it was one of JMI's better quality instruments, with many features not seen on lower-priced guitars. This early example mixed innovative tone circuitry with Vox's original chrome-covered V1 pickups, for "every possible variation of tone from bass to sharp brilliance". By the middle of 1963, the model had been redesigned, becoming less Fender-esque and more Vox - have a look at the redesigned Consort in the 1963 Vox catalogue

Older updates here

vintage guitars

Is older always better?

But older guitars are not always better than new guitars; they can have unreliable parts, or be difficult to maintain. A lot of these are upgraded to make great players grade instruments. Keeping the essence of the original vintage guitar, but adding a little of today's reliability. A great example is the 1960s Gibson Melody Maker; an all-mahogany set neck guitar with Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and beautiful nitrocellulose finish. Well-built by Gibson, in their Kalamazoo factory, but with very basic pickups, tuning keys and electronics. Upgraded examples are everywhere, and are exceptional value as players grade instruments. Then again some guitars, especially early Japanese and European models aimed at the student guitarists of the early 1960s are completely unplayable. Even the cheapest modern day guitars put these to shame. Before buying any vintage guitar it is a good idea to know exactly what you are buying!

This site aims to be a reference point for guitar players and guitar collectors. There's information, history, photographs and sound clips of many famous, and not so famous guitars and basses by makes such as Danelectro, Epiphone, Fender, Gibson, Guild, Gretsch, Hagstrom, Harmony, Hofner, Rickenbacker and Vox. There is a section on effects pedals too!

Check out the classic guitar advertisements, guitar catalogs, or listen to vintage guitars being played. If you get stuck, try the sitemap or post a message in the forum

Guitars bought! Do you have a vintage instrument for sale. I am looking for good condition guitars and basses circa 1950-1980 by Gibson, Guild, Hagstrom, Hofner, Vox and others. Let me know what you have available

Levys luxury soft case

Levys luxury soft case

"Best bag money can buy, period" - available in five colors: for guitar or bass. Expensive, but exceptional quality.

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Vintage guitars for sale

60s 70's USA Fender Pink Paisley Telecaster Pickguard 5 hole Tele All Parts

GLENEDEN BEACH, OREGON, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

£53

When ordering from the US, parcels may be subject to import tax and duty charges, which the buyer is responsible to pay. USA Fender 60's 70' Pink Paisley Telecaster Pickguard This cool reissue is the perfect look for your pink paisley teleAll Parts paisley Telecaster body and hardware for show onlyBeveled edgeWill fot all USA Fender 5 hole telecaster guitars $3 00 shipping and insurance to the USA $13 00 shipping and insurance to the rest of the world Country of Manufacture United States Brand ... more

Kluson 3+3 nickel tuners fits 11 / 32nds Gibson & Martin Guitars SD9005MN

CAPE CORAL, FLORIDA, 33909, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$42

KLUSON® TRADITIONAL - 3 3 - OVAL METAL BTN - SINGLE LINE - NICKELItem #: SD9005MNKluson® complete set of 3 per side tuning machines with metal butterbean (oval) buttons in nickel just like the originals but with the improved 15:1 ratio. This set comes complete with both bass and treble side tuners, 8 8mm O D. vintage bushings with 1 / 4 inch I D. (part#MB65N US) and mounting screws (TMSC)needed. Please note: If you are retro-fitting a vintage instrument that has been modified or putting this ... more

1966 Vox Shadow Sunburst Made in England with case

MANHEIM, PENNSYLVANIA, 17545, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$699

1966 Vox Shadow guitar with case. Made in England. New strings and fully shop adjusted and tested. UK made Vox guitars are not common in the USA and this model in sunburst (most were red) is also uncommon Some finish checking as shown One fret was replaced Neck is straight Very light fret wear The pickup selector knob with the arm is a new reproduction The green Vox logo decal on the headstock is not fully intact. Please see the photos Please look at the photos and contact me with questions or ... more

1959 Fender Stratocaster 100% Original, Slab Board, Green Guard, Excellent

SADDLE BROOK, NEW JERSEY, 07663, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$25850

Vintage 1959 Fender Stratocaster Up for sale is my 1959 Fender Green Guard, Slab Board Stratocaster. The body is dated 12 / 59 and the serial number is 45436. The pot codes are 304-5946 indicated the manufacture date 46th week of 1959. The guitar is in excellent condition for being 59 years old with a just few scratches on the front and some minor nicks and dings on the edges. The back of the body has no belt buckle rash and is in excellent condition. Please look at the photographs and decide ... more

Vintage 1952 Gibson IRC Tone Pot 250k Les Paul Standard Goldtop ES-125 ES-150 53

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, 60618, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$95

Vintage Correct Parts is proud to offer, for your consideration, A completely original and fantastic 1952 Gibson / IRC 250k Tone pot Excellent condition and vintage tone! 250k pots were generally used by Gibson as the TONE pot in a p-90 equipped guitar. The lower resistance helped to temper the potentially wild sounding p-90 pickups of the day. This is correct for the restoration of many 1952 or 1953 Gibson guitars These vintage pots sound amazing and are getting harder and harder to find in ... more

1975 fender stratocaster

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA, 33308, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$3250

1975 AMERICAN FENDER VINTAGE STRATOCASTER IN EXCELLENT CONDITION. A FEW SMALL MARKS, BUT NOTHING NOT TO GIVE THIS GUITAR ANYTHING LESS THAN 9 5 OUT OF 10. I USED THIS FOR A FEW STUDIO RECORDINGS AFTER I PURCHASED THE AXE FROM A GUITAR CUSTOM SHOP IN 1988 . IT HAS BEEN IN MY CONDITIONED LOCK UP. IN THE CASE, OCCASIONALLY TAKING IT OUT TO CHECK ON IT. ITS SWEET AND SOUNDS AND PLAYS GREAT LIKE IT SHOULD. IT HAS A 5 POSITION SWITCH INSTALLED, HOWEVER THE ORIGINAL 3 POSITION AND ORIGINAL POT AND ... more

Vintage 1960 Gibson Centralab Tone Pot 250k Les Paul Standard Junior Jr LP 1961

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, 60618, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$95

Vintage Correct Parts is proud to offer, for your consideration, A completely original and fantastic 1960 Gibson / Centralab 250k Tone pot Excellent condition and vintage tone! Date code of 1346041 (41st week of 1960) 250k pots were generally used by Gibson as the TONE pot in a p-90 equipped guitar. The lower resistance helped to temper the potentially wild sounding p-90 pickups of the day. This is correct for the restoration of many 1959 or 1960 Gibson guitars 1950's and 60's Centralab pots ... more

Vintage 1965 Gibson CTS Tone Pot 500k SG Standard ES-335 ES345 1964 1966 Clapton

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, 60618, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$75

Vintage Correct Parts is proud to offer, for your consideration, A completely original and fantastic 1965 Gibson / CTS 500k Tone pot Excellent condition and vintage tone! Date code of 1376526 (26th week of 1965) This is correct for the restoration of many 1965 or 1966 Gibson guitars 1960's CTS pots sound amazing and are getting harder and harder to find in good working order. We have them, so get them while you can! Correct for your SG Les Paul, SG Junior, ES-125, ES-335, ES-345 and others! ... more

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