"A thing of beauty is a joy forever." (Keats)
With today's exponential increase in understanding of fundamental design principles, it's largely agreed that the acoustic steel string flattop guitar enjoyed a golden convergence of knowledge, skill, and materials in the 1930s, whilst the electric guitar's glory days span the 1950s and early 1960s.
This is borne out by the fact that most of the boutique or custom shop instruments so popular today are either Fender, Martin, or Gibson master built vintage reproductions, often aged — or artisan luthiers producing their 'take' on a vintage blueprint. The past is the future. These new guitars are excellent, and can initially seem more comfortable to play due to modern tweaks (such as flatter fingerboard radii) but the essence, charisma, and mystique of the originals simply cannot be contrived or fabricated.
Once you've been where only a great vintage guitar can take you, there's no turning back. The understanding and the passion gained from this experience will have you continually looking for ways to revisit that place. Because its superior response to every situation will vary, according to your approach, a great vintage instrument is dangerously addictive in the best possible way. It will keep your ear developing, you breath short, and your heart pounding, for as long as you continue to pursue the muse. But a vintage guitar can also bring a profound relaxation, if that's where you feel like going.
We all hear about mojo, patina and story, but today everyone knows the superior investment power of the right vintage guitar. Sorry, but you can't play a digital portfolio. Vintage guitars just look beautiful, even if, or because, they carry the evidence of a life well played. There are vivid and faded custom colours, rare specs due to temporary supply shortage or transition, prototypes and one-offs, and of course instruments associated with famous artists — but there's a transcendental musical zone that only an authentic vintage guitar or amplifier has access to, and when the stars line up, you'll see your name on that door.
Q: Why should I spend crazy money on an old guitar with outdated technology when I can get the new version, which is just as good, for a fraction of the price?
A: Discerning art lovers appreciate the brush strokes, hues, and ambience of an original canvas. They too may have been satisfied initially by a new print, until, attending an exhibition, they fell in love with a painting, and took it home. It's the same with guitars, except they become lighter and more expressive, developing a sophistication and nuance of tone as the timbers release moisture.