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Old Guitars for the
Young at Heart

Natalia J. Garland

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Would you pay $30,000 for a used guitar? Some people, with more disposable income than most of us will ever have, would pay that and more for a used, or, um, I mean vintage guitar. What makes these guitars so special? Are they really worth tens of thousands of dollars?

Acoustic guitars gained popularity especially in the 1950's and 1960's. Musicians played them for different kinds of music: jazz, folk, and rock 'n' roll. From the 1920's through the 1960's--the collectible era--many guitars were handmade in America, although some were constructed of exotic woods such as Brazilian rosewood which is now rare and extremely expensive. In addition, guitars were constructed with an internal bracing pattern that enhanced sound conduction.

Then, as more teenagers were learning how to play guitars, some companies began mass production of guitars which were of inferior construction and materials. Many of the older guitars, however, remained in circulation and acquired a status similar to vintage violins. A few small and privately owned workshops have responded to the interest in vintage guitars by modeling new guitars after the old styles. So, with the availability of quality new guitars, why would anyone pay tens of thousands of dollars for an old beat-up one?

Part of the reason is that the sound improves with the aging of the wood. Perhaps a greater reason is that these guitars stir memories of youthful aspirations among people now in the 45-to 60-years-old range. They grew up with guitars. Just like an original guitar, life has endured a few scratches and dings over the years. Vitality is crucial to middle-aged happiness, and this generation reaches back symbolically and practically to revive teenage energy.

Some are musicians who just want a good guitar. Others had to give up their guitar dreams in order to fulfill job and family responsibilities. Having completed that phase of life with house, car, and kids, they now have discretionary money to spend on vintage guitars that sound superb, bring back the promises of youth, provide an emotional connection to guitar players past and present, and grant entrance into a world of creativity and solace. This is priceless.

For those on tight budgets, or for those who prefer a shiny new product, there are fine guitars which will not bankrupt your savings. Both new and used guitars are available at affordable prices. Today's new guitar should season with use. And the middle-aged devotee's mood will uplift as chords disperse from an 'antique sunburst' of time and sound. (Written 10/16/06)

Until we meet again..............stay sane.

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Copyright 2006 Natalia J. Garland