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Thread: The cost of gear, some interesting data

  1. #36
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Well, if I were going to give you a guitar, and I had all of them, would you rather have a strat that Jimi played at Woodstock, or an identical one from a warehouse unused? Or the Jimi guitar versus a newer "better" one?

    Symphony musicians are also formal. They will wear a tuxedo even if it can be shown they play better in sweats and a tee. it means something to them to have the opportunity and the wherewithal to own/play that old strad.
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  2. #37
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    If you were going to give me one, I'd take the Jimi guitar.
    If I had to buy one, I'd take the one I could afford.
    The point being cost vs performance.
    But, I do take your point.
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  3. #38
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    OK, I'll juice it up a bit. You are the guitarist in a Jimi Hendrix tribute band.

    I am pretty sure there will be no Mighty Enzo tribute bands.
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  4. #39
    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    Well, if I were going to give you a guitar, and I had all of them, would you rather have a strat that Jimi played at Woodstock, or an identical one from a warehouse unused? Or the Jimi guitar versus a newer "better" one?

    Symphony musicians are also formal. They will wear a tuxedo even if it can be shown they play better in sweats and a tee. it means something to them to have the opportunity and the wherewithal to own/play that old strad.
    I gave like because I wouldn't be immune to a guitar with some Jimi on it But...

    My wife loves the cello so she decided to learn to play. Unfortunately about a year in she had to admit that bowing exacerbated a worn rotator cuff condition and had to give it up It broker her heart really. But I digress. Her cello was a rented instrument. We selected the best sounding of the available instruments and I set it up. Some weeks later we went to an event at a local college featuring the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. The cellist was using a fine old instrument made in Italy. It sounded like crap. Whenever the cellist had a featured moment and was especially audible Pia and I just looked at each other in confusion. I think a plywood box with a 2x4 screwed on for a neck would have sounded about the same. Maybe I have a tin ear for the finer things. But maybe that cello just sounded like crap too.
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  5. #40
    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    OK, I'll juice it up a bit. You are the guitarist in a Jimi Hendrix tribute band.

    I am pretty sure there will be no Mighty Enzo tribute bands.
    Oh that's easy. I happen to be in a tribute band, so I have first hand knowledge of this. If you were giving away the Hendrix guitar, I'd take it. However, it wouldn't be because it played or sounded better. It would be purely for the collector value. Even if I had it, I wouldn't take it out on the road for fear it would get stolen or trashed. I would instead buy a cheap guitar that looked like his and replica it to look more authentic. I have, in fact, done this with the guitars I use for my own tribute band. They look, play, and sound as good as "the real thing" at a fraction of the price.
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    I'm fairly convinced that I would not like the sound of a real 1950 Broadcaster. That doesn't mean I won't play it if I get the chance. Or that old gut-string Martin. But there's just some things I'll do just to enjoy the experience. And <MAYBE> if I like one enough, I'll sell some stuff to get it...

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post

    It must be hard to admit that you spent millions on an instrument that can be outdone by a cheaper current model.
    As far as I understand very few musicians own the really rare instruments. They are usually on loan from foundations or private collections.
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  8. #43
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glebert View Post
    As far as I understand very few musicians own the really rare instruments. They are usually on loan from foundations or private collections.
    There's rare, and there's rare and costly. You're correct I'm sure as far as Stradavarius, Amati, Guarneri and more, rare and costly instruments owned by foundations & well-heeled collectors, played by top musicians in concerts. In 2003 a violinist acquaintance of mine mortgaged a terrific violin by one of the great builders' contemporaries, $100,000 for an excellent sweet sounding instrument made by "one of the other guys in town," that town being Cremona in the early/mid 1700's. Doubtless it has acquired more cash value over the years but no matter, she's going to play it the rest of her life, under appropriate conditions. Regular gig is playing in Broadway pit orchestras. The collector-item violin would be lost in the sauce there so she normally plays one of her second-line instruments. And the prize violin is what she plays on those occasions where she can make it shine, in small-ensemble concerts and sometimes for recordings.
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  9. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    I gave like because I wouldn't be immune to a guitar with some Jimi on it But...

    My wife loves the cello so she decided to learn to play. Unfortunately about a year in she had to admit that bowing exacerbated a worn rotator cuff condition and had to give it up It broker her heart really. But I digress. Her cello was a rented instrument. We selected the best sounding of the available instruments and I set it up. Some weeks later we went to an event at a local college featuring the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. The cellist was using a fine old instrument made in Italy. It sounded like crap. Whenever the cellist had a featured moment and was especially audible Pia and I just looked at each other in confusion. I think a plywood box with a 2x4 screwed on for a neck would have sounded about the same. Maybe I have a tin ear for the finer things. But maybe that cello just sounded like crap too.
    For the old acoustic instruments much of it also has to do with who has rebuilt it over the years, because they have all been rebuilt. Knew a guy who commissioned a reproduction of a famous Strad cello, and the luthier asked him what phase of its life did he want it built to, because it changed so much.
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  10. #45
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    It must be hard to admit that you spent millions on an instrument that can be outdone by a cheaper current model.
    Those classical musicians that own a Strad are the rock-star types in classical music. The reason that they own a Strad is more mojo/prestige related than tone related, IMO.

    The pop/rock analogy for those people is the rock star who buys a 1959 LP Standard "burst" because of it's mojo factor, not because it can't be outdone by a cheaper instrument. If you compare the LP that come out of the Gibson custom shop today, they're every bit as good as the vintage instruments. There are a lot of rock gods out there who don't really care that their 59 'burst can be outdone by a cheaper current production model, because they're willing to pay for that mojo, and they get to write-off the instrument as a equipment expense against their income during their high-pay years. (In many cases they buy the 59 'burst as an investment, or as an expense "for recording and studio work" and then take a brand new R9 out on the road.)

    Some of that vintage gear hoarding among the top level pros could be due to tax planning. When a performer is making millions and he's in the top tax bracket, it's not uncommon for them to buy $500,000 instruments so that they don't have to pay tax on that income. Instead of splitting their income with the IRS they'll put it into an instrument because they like to think that they have a valuable asset that works as a store of wealth for them. When they get older and their royalty streams get cut off, they end up selling out of those expensive investments at a time when their income stream is lower and their tax bills are lower.

    In the big scheme of things, high-value vintage instruments end up being used as tax shelters/tax-deferrment for high-income performers. In that respect, they're leveraging the fact that the expensive vintage instrument can be equaled by something that's current-production and cheap.
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  11. #46
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    Some of that vintage gear hoarding among the top level pros could be due to tax planning. When a performer is making millions and he's in the top tax bracket, it's not uncommon for them to buy $500,000 instruments so that they don't have to pay tax on that income. Instead of splitting their income with the IRS they'll put it into an instrument because they like to think that they have a valuable asset that works as a store of wealth for them. When they get older and their royalty streams get cut off, they end up selling out of those expensive investments at a time when their income stream is lower and their tax bills are lower.
    I'm not so sure it was a tax dodge, consider the case of J. Geils a couple years ago. He sold off his '59 LP for about $300,000, a little discount because the neck had been broken & repaired. I'm sure he got it early days when they were much more affordable, and the 300G was quite a lot of help seeing him thru his last couple of years.

    What's annoying is Gibson trying to market their guitars for the last few decades as if they will achieve a similar value in time. AS. IF. Not likely... Same baloney from Fender.
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  12. #47
    rjb
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    Speaking of possible tax dodges, what ever became of the promised Keith Richards' guitar museum?
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  13. #48
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    My friends over at Elderly Instruments occasionally get in a nice 59LP, and they are selling for over a quarter million bucks. What amazes me is they have a waiting list for them. Every one they get is already sold, it never hits the sales "floor". At least they put them up on the web site as "on hold".
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  14. #49
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    My friends over at Elderly Instruments occasionally get in a nice 59LP, and they are selling for over a quarter million bucks. What amazes me is they have a waiting list for them. Every one they get is already sold, it never hits the sales "floor". At least they put them up on the web site as "on hold".
    The scuttlebutt I heard, there were fewer than 1000 '59 LP's made, but over 3000 in circulation. Hmm.... not an item I'd be attracted to spending a quarter mil or more for.
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    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    I was enamored with the idea of owning a 50's or 60's burst when I was a kid. At that time they could be had for a thousand bucks. Way more than I had Who knew? Destined to be collectible,sure. But a quarter mil!?!

    I had a buddy in high school that had a 60's gold top in nice condition. He played the crap out of it! It was just a nice guitar to him. Got it from his older brother. Maybe 8K now if it hasn't been trashed. A mentor of mine had a 59 burst. Also used as a player, not a collectible. He bought it used some time in the early 70's for probably a couple of hundred bucks. I played it on many occasions. Super nice guitar. If others are like THAT one then the "mojo" isn't BS.
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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    I'm still waiting for the free Jimi Hendrix Strat Enzo promised me!

    BTW, I went reading about 59LP's after reading this. Apparently, a quarter mil is a cheap one these days.
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  17. #52
    Supporting Member loudthud's Avatar
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    I sold some stocks the last couple of years and had to fill out form 1040 Schedule D. In the instructions they make it seem like you are supposed to declare income from the sale of "collectables". I ask a part time dealer (who is an attorney) I know about this and he didn't seem to know anything about it. WTF?

    Back in the late 60's I was looking for better and better guitars. The new cheap imports weren't very playable because they had never been setup properly. Strings were too high at the nut and intonation was a mile off. Any Gibson you could find at a pawn shop was way better but a new Gibson was beyond my budget. I finally found a store that actually setup the cheap imports before sale.
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  18. #53
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loudthud View Post
    I sold some stocks the last couple of years and had to fill out form 1040 Schedule D. In the instructions they make it seem like you are supposed to declare income from the sale of "collectables". I ask a part time dealer (who is an attorney) I know about this and he didn't seem to know anything about it. WTF?
    Yes, guitars are taxed as collectibles, which get taxed at a higher rate than stocks.

    all of the exotic guitar dealers that I've dealt with know about it, and they are smart enough to keep receipts and file a 1099 on their purchases. They just like to claim that they don't know because they're trying to get away with not declaring the income... especially in cash transactions that get kept off of the books. That gets hard to do though, when huge sums of money are involved.

    I was watching a Gilmour video a few weeks ago and I noticed that every guitar he owned was in a case that had a big label, with the guitar's brand, model, color and serial number written on it. His entire collection is itemized.
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  19. #54
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck H View Post
    I was enamored with the idea of owning a 50's or 60's burst when I was a kid. At that time they could be had for a thousand bucks. Way more than I had Who knew? Destined to be collectible,sure. But a quarter mil!?!
    Those prices are not sane and they will not last. Somebody is going to be left without a chair when the music stops, but that's another story. To put it into perspective, boomers were willing to pay $500,000 for a '68 GTO in the 90s, but those days are GONE and prices have fallen to more reasonable levels. It's inevitable that the same will happen with vintage guitars as the buyers get old and die off.


    I think there was a time when we all had a jones for a 'burst. I remember in the 70s everyone thought that the new LP Customs were the cat's ass, they seemed to be what everyone wanted. But I still wanted the sunburst Standard even though it had chrome instead of gold, rosewood instead of ebony, and less fancy inlays.

    What's funny is that $1000 wasn't that much money if you were shopping for a new Gibson back in the 70s. Back then my new P-Bass cost $500 at retail and that's what I bought because a Jazz and a Rick cost more. I think the Ric was $750 or so. (Instead of paying extra for the Ric I found an interesting 4-line classified ad in the back Guitar Player by a guy in California who was rewinding in his garage. I called him on the phone (long distance was expensive back then) and I had him rewind my P-bass pickups for $35 to give me a Ric-type sound. That guy was named Seymour Duncan and I was one of his early customers when custom pickup rewinding was still a cottage industry. I ended up getting lots of compliments about my tone back then.)

    Back in the late 70s a new LPC was probably around $900 or so. Maybe somebody else remembers the numbers better than I do, but what I remember being significant was that a used 'burst wasn't considered anything 'special' by the market back then. Back then nobody knew the word 'vintage', and 50s LP were just old guitars that could be had rather cheap -- I mean like $500 and up. The stores always wanted to steer you into a new Norlin Gibson instead of that 50s 'burst because they had a better margin on the new gear than a used 50s LP, and everyone hated those fat 50s necks. Everyone wanted the new slim profile Gibson necks, and if you wanted something really 'special' the dealers might have pointed you toward an LP Artisan.

    Back then there were a small number of cognoscenti who didn't like the volutes on the Norlin Gibsons and they tended to go after the 60s LP with the skinny necks. Nobody really cared about the 50s guitars back then. They were cheap. I bought a 55 LPC just because it was a great player with a big fat neck. Being a bass player, used to big fat vintage Precisions, I liked fat necks. That LPC was cheap because most guitarists hated their baseball bat necks. Good for me!
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  20. #55
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I had a buddy in high school that had a 60's gold top in nice condition. He played the crap out of it! It was just a nice guitar to him. Got it from his older brother. Maybe 8K now if it hasn't been trashed. A mentor of mine had a 59 burst. Also used as a player, not a collectible. He bought it used some time in the early 70's for probably a couple of hundred bucks. I played it on many occasions. Super nice guitar. If others are like THAT one then the "mojo" isn't BS.
    Authentic gold tops and customs have been way over 8 for a long time. Things went sort of ape shit in the USA, driven by the economic boom of the 90s, when the boomers became fat middle aged men with big wallets who had to buy all of the toys they always wanted in their youth... everything from Hot Wheels sets to classic cars and guitars. They overdrove the prices of everything like they were driving a tube screamer into a Fender amp. Things got worse again between 2000-2007 when a lot of those prices on the second tier instruments quadrupled during the vintage craze. Ouch. It seems like the Greater Fool Theory is clearly in play.

    I already had that 55 Custom that I bought for peanuts back in the day. The 55 were the ones with the "staple" type neck pickup and a P-90 bridge. I liked P-90 more than the PAF, and IMO that "staple" single coil was something special --it had a tone all it's own. That 55 was in great shape, totally original finish and it looked, played and sounded absolutely killer. Frets still had the original binding but the finish on the back of the neck was worn down to bare wood. It was definitely a player, but it still appraised for 10, and that was back in the 90s, nearly 30 years ago. I thought that was pretty high, and the price was an artifact of the boomers driving up the price of everything from their youth, from muscle cars to guitars. It's only gotten worse since then. 10 years ago I saw nice looking 55 Customs with original finishes priced at $40 to $60. I haven't had the neck refinished because that drops their value.

    Today the price of goldies and customs are silly-high, they quadrupled between 2000-2010, but the price of 'bursts is just stupid -- as in astronomically high relative to the goldtops and customs, which is just insane. The 'bursts with PAF don't sound any different than the goldies with PAF and they sure don't play any different. People who are willing to pay $500,000 for the 'bursts aren't paying that much because the guitars play like monsters -- the goldies and the customs play like monsters too, and they're a lot cheaper than a 'burst; The people who pay such huge sums for the 'bursts are just paying a premium for the insanely cool, faded sunburst flame tops. There's no mistake about it, people aren't paying for the quality of the guitar when they pay 10x more for a 'burst over a goldtop or a custom. They're paying for the rarity and exclusivity and for the mojo that goes with the finish. That, and how it makes them feel better when they pose in front of the mirror in their music room. Don't laugh -- one of the lawyers with the best LP collections in the USA has a mirrored wall in his music room.


    Would I but a 'burst today? Even with cash in hand? There's no friggin' way. I'm a seller in this market. The prices are just astronomical, and they're unsustainable. The 'burst market is pumped up to an irrational level, just like the Stock Market in 1929 or the Tulip Market in Holland in the 1600s. Boomers have already seen the top in their muscle car prices, so what's to keep us thinking that the guitars will fare any better, when everyone knows that the guitar market is shrinking? If millennials don't care about collectibles, who are we supposed to sell them to?!?

    IME if you really want a monster playing guitar like that 60s goldtop, then look at the current production Custom Shop Gibsons. When I bought mine I arranged a site visit with another buyer at the USA's largest Gibson dealer on the day that they received their year's allocation of instruments. We played every guitar they received, and after I played dozens of them I took home what I thought were the best two, an R6 and an R8. The other guy bought several R9. My reissues are every bit as magical as my 55, at only about 5% of the price. I know, there are some builders here who will poo-poo anything made by Gibson, but I don't agree with them. There are truly magical guitars being made today, you just have to hunt them down.
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  21. #56
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    If you were going to give me one, I'd take the Jimi guitar.
    If I had to buy one, I'd take the one I could afford.
    The point being cost vs performance.
    But, I do take your point.
    Funny thing is, by own acknowledgement, Jimi´s guitar was as plain vanilla as can be, nothing out of the common.
    In an interview (was it Guitar Player?) he said he walked inside Sam Ash (or was it Manny´s?), tried what was on display and picked one, just like that.

    Nothing crafted by Nordic Virgin Goddesses or Tibetan Monks but standard (excellent quality in any case) Fender production line.
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  22. #57
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    I'm still waiting for the free Jimi Hendrix Strat Enzo promised me!
    I call dibbs on the Hello Kitty if he has one.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails kitty.jpg  
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    Better play nice with Enzo if you want that Hello Kitty Strat. He seems to post a lot of pictures of it.

    Justin
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  24. #59
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I have been waiting for a Hello Kitty axe to fall into my grasp for a long time.
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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    OK, I'll juice it up a bit. You are the guitarist in a Jimi Hendrix tribute band.

    I am pretty sure there will be no Mighty Enzo tribute bands.
    You might be surprised !!!!!

    Not playing your original songs or whatever but what a better excuse to get together around a table holding pots full of rabid hot Enzo Chili , downed with crates of "25 cent beer cans" ??????
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    Apparently they went to the moon in a bean can back then and managed to get back too?? but despite all the advancements in technology they havnt been back there yet!!!! It's amazing how we all believe what we are told even though it's all utter rubbish an amp is an amp and a guitar is a guitar I've met many a musician with all the gear that sounded dreadful and I've met many a musician on the breadline with cheap equipment that sounded fantastic talent beats money everytime in my opinion
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  27. #62
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    I am pretty sure there will be no Mighty Enzo tribute bands.
    Didn't you say that you wrote country tunes that included subjects like your dog and your pickup truck? If that's the case, then every country band is a Mighty Enzo tribute band.
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  28. #63
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    I have been waiting for a Hello Kitty axe to fall into my grasp for a long time.
    Good luck with the wait. They were available for $99 as a MF Stupid Deal of the Day when nobody wanted them. Then a few metal guys started playing them as a lark and now the prices are ridiculous. $250 to $300 for a used one, $500 for a new one.

    they're one of Fender's weirdest "collectibles."

    I think they need to do a reissue!
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    Same as David Gilmour. What makes The Black Strat special is a decades-long association with a single man, with scores of incremental changes, experiments, and improvements as needed at the time to suit the needs of That Player at That Time. But it started as just another ordinary Strat @ Manny's...

    Oh, the hands help, too... I guess Jimi didn't have long enough to change any of his guitars, though... the point is, it's the player who makes the instrument special. To them, they're just tools... if they take the time to know that plain old guitar, something more might come out of it. Maybe if Jimi hadn't sacrificed all of his...

    Justin

    Justin
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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    I guess Jimi didn't have long enough to change any of his guitars, though...
    Not for lack of trying. Legend has it Jimi would fire up a soldering iron and try to "improve" his guitars days off on tour. And his crew had to set 'em back to working right. Don't burn those fingers Jimi, you're gonna need 'em all for the show!

    Another legend, there are four Gilmour "blackies." At least one of them had its bridge changed to Floyd Rose then back again to stock. You can see where the hole was bondoed and repainted, a sunken rectangle apparent in photos where the light hits it just right. To get the straight story, you'd have to query Phil Taylor.

  31. #66
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    Well, actually...

    I own both hardcover and paperback of Phil Taylor's book on the subject. There's only been one The Black Strat since the first black Strat was stolen way back in 68 or 69. Now, "The" Black Strat has gone through many (MANY!) modifications, but no matter the particular iteration, it's the same guitar.

    The Fender Custom Shop <DID> make several prototypes of the Original, but I don't count those.
    And it was a Kahler, not a Floyd.

    Justin

    Edit: sadly, I am suffering a sense of glee in being able to be an "authority" on some topic on this board... I think I need to go hang it up now, as I've become a pompous arrogant elitist! :P
    Leo_Gnardo likes this.
    "Are you practicing in the lobby of the municipal library? It's still a guitar amp and it SHOULD make some noise (!!!)" - Chuck H. -
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    "All I ever managed to do with that amp was... kill small rodents within a 50 yard radius of my practice building." - Tone Meister -

  32. #67
    Supporting Member Chuck H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    Edit: sadly, I am suffering a sense of glee in being able to be an "authority" on some topic on this board... I think I need to go hang it up now, as I've become a pompous arrogant elitist! :P
    Oh, you shine here. Pompous becomes a non issue once you've shined

    To be clear on that... Trusted is part of "shining" here. If you're S@M or booreamps () then pompous stops working in short order. There are guys that go through life (and even GET through life) by "expertizing". Acting like an expert though they're not and then exploiting the suckers that buy in. YOU AREN'T THAT!

    So get out your pom poms and pompous away my friend. It's an earned credit that comes with seniority and exceptional character.
    Dave H and Justin Thomas like this.
    "The man is an incompetent waste of human flesh. He should donate his organs now to someone who might actually make good use of them." The Dude re: maybe I shouldn't say, but his name rhymes with Trump

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  33. #68
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    Thought you guys were talking about this Phil Taylor.

    2015philtaylor_gettyimages-110055784121115-1.jpg

    I was like "when did MOTORHEAD tour with Pink Floyd, and why would Philthy care about the guitars?"
    Justin Thomas and g1 like this.

  34. #69
    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    The scuttlebutt I heard, there were fewer than 1000 '59 LP's made, but over 3000 in circulation. Hmm....
    Not to mention that in the '70s, the pickups in 627 of the originals were replaced with DiMarzio SDs.....
    g1 likes this.
    In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is deemed mad.

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