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Thread: "Vintage" -- fancy name for old & low-tech?

  1. #1
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    Default "Vintage" -- fancy name for old & low-tech?

    I have bought a few "vintage" (sic) items from Ebay. None of them was the equal of modern, less expensive items. Ergo, I think that labelling something as "vintage" is often just a selling gimmick in order to over-price old junk.

    I have never bought a "vintage" uke. Is "vintage" a true descriptor when applied to ukes, or is it just puffery? Is a vintage uke better sounding than modern ukes, or is it simply something really old & over-priced for folks who enjoy old, over-priced stuff?

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    The answer to all of your questions is "yes." Yes, some people sell old, unexceptional, and useless old stuff and call it vintage. Yes, there is some vintage stuff that is truly special and worth a premium because they don't make 'em like that anymore. Yes, some vintage ukes are cheap junk that wasn't very good the day it was made. And, yes, some vintage ukes are remarkable instruments.



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    Very good "yes" answers, Rich -- I get your point.

    Quote Originally Posted by RichM View Post
    ... ...Yes, some vintage ukes are cheap junk that wasn't very good the day it was made. And, yes, some vintage ukes are remarkable instruments.
    Ahh so, but how can a neophyte discern (via online) which is which?

    Aloha from old Bell

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    Quote Originally Posted by bellgamin View Post

    Ahh so, but how can a neophyte discern (via online) which is which?
    Reading up on these instruments so you know a bit about what to look for and what to avoid can help. Lots of good advice is available on this forum. To some extent you may also have to end up buying and trying. Instruments, even if from the same era and maker can vary. It will depend on your desires and taste. Some of the vintage instruments can really be quite special, whether it be due to the old craftsmanship, quality of wood, or just years of aging and settling in. I used to wonder if it was a lot of hooey, but I have had the chance to play some older instruments that had a character and presence that is truly unique.

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    Cheap instruments of today are made much better than their older counterparts due to computerized manufacturing. But that can probably be tossed aside when comparing a well made high quality acoustic from years ago to one made today. A true craftsman knows woods and can probably coax more sound out of the same materials than a sterile machine. So a lot depends on the quality of the instrument.

    Vintage is a totally different subject. When I was a kid, buying an old used anything meant getting something a lot cheaper than a similar new item. Nothing was vintage. Vintage is a term invented to garner additional value on anything from cars to guitars. Classic is synonymous depending on the item.

    In 1965, my younger brother bought a used Hofner 500/1 bass with a case for $95. It was in excellent condition. Truth is, I thought it was a horrible sounding bass. But even though it is really just an old used bass it commands the status of a highly collectible vintage instrument and the price tag that goes with it.

    John
    Last edited by 70sSanO; 12-20-2017 at 06:05 PM.

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    I only take "vintage" to mean "not new". Like antique.

    A Harmony and a Martin can both be vintage. But they don't sound the same.

    "Ahh so, but how can a neophyte discern (via online) which is which?"

    It's easy! Inexpensive vintage instruments are the ones that people don't want.

    If you want a sweet old uke, ya gotta part with some $$$$$$$$
    If life seems jolly rotten,
    There's something you've forgotten,
    And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing! - Eric Idle

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    Quote Originally Posted by bellgamin View Post
    Very good "yes" answers, Rich -- I get your point.

    Ahh so, but how can a neophyte discern (via online) which is which?

    Aloha from old Bell
    The truth of the matter, probably even more so with musical instruments than many other things, is that you can't tell the difference without actually handling the item.

    I buy the occasional used musical and photographic item on eBay. Unless it's an item I "really must have", (very few and far between), I look for the poorly described items at a low price and put in a nominal bid. If others recognise it's true (potential) worth and the bids climb, I let it go, there'll be another.

    Every few weeks I get a "winner". Once or twice a year I have to invoke the "not as described" clause, return the item and get my money back (or at least an agreeable proportion and keep the item). Having to re-pack and re-post can be a nuisance, but that's part of the gamble ... I feel I win, overall, so I'm happy

    Go in with both eyes wide open, double-check all the photographs and ask for more pictures if you want/need more detail. Check the seller's feedback. Have they sold a lot of stuff successfully or have they racked up their figures by buying a lot of cheap items just to boost their ratings!

    I've not yet (in over a thousand transactions) met a seller who wasn't concerned about negative feedback. eBay can make it very "inconvenient" for traders with poor records, so it's not been necessary (for me) to involve eBay in any refund/replacement scenario. A simple message to the seller has all that's ever been necessary.

    Get lucky

    To quote Pete Seeger: "Take it easy, but take it!"
    Last edited by kypfer; 12-20-2017 at 09:53 PM. Reason: spelling
    There are those who will wax lyrical about the ability to play a double shuffle with a split fan and a tight G-string ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill1 View Post
    If you want to find out about them start buying and selling and playing them.
    Simple but good advice I reckon.

    I've bought a terrible terrible cheap one and learnt bit and now I'm about to hopefully buy a more expensive better quality one. It's an interesting question though.

    I was tossing up between a Anuenue Vision 1879 and a Kumalae in very good condition. I've got a feeling the newer 'remake' would sound better than the Kumalae.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xtradust View Post
    ... ...If you want a sweet old uke, ya gotta part with some $$$$$$$$
    So... price almost always denotes intrinsic worth when it comes to old ukes? Hmm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by raffrox View Post
    Simple but good advice I reckon.

    I've bought a terrible terrible cheap one and learnt bit and now I'm about to hopefully buy a more expensive better quality one. It's an interesting question though.

    I was tossing up between a Anuenue Vision 1879 and a Kumalae in very good condition. I've got a feeling the newer 'remake' would sound better than the Kumalae.
    The Anuenue is unlikely to sound anything like the Kumalae. No modern manufacturer would dare to build that light. My own Kumalae weighs 220 grams/7 ounces, and I'd guess the Anuenue weighs at least 50% more. That makes a big difference.

    But the Anuenue will have better intonation, a less "agricultural" neck carve and a lower action. It will feel familiar to play, at first the Kumalae will feel odd.

    No idea which will sound best to you, but they are radically different instruments. I wouldn't be without my Kumalae but it's (by modern standards) a quirky thing which many uke players don't much enjoy playing. But those who do like working with its quirks, love it.

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