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Why are 50's Martins less expensive than 50's Fenders?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Soundboard' started by mikej89, Sep 21, 2020.

  1. mikej89

    mikej89 Senior Stratmaster

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    Wow, what a wonderful heirloom. Keep it in the family!
     
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  2. mikej89

    mikej89 Senior Stratmaster

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    I wonder where that guitar is now. A D-28 owned by Elvis must be one of the most valuable guitars out there.
     
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  3. mikej89

    mikej89 Senior Stratmaster

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    Wow, you know a lot about Martins! Thanks for the interesting history.
     
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  4. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Fender made less numbers in the 50’s than Martin. intrinsic value vs vintage value. Supply vs demand, hype vs reality are all factors but it what someone will pay.

    Why is a 54’ Strat worth more than a 54’ Ford Thunderbird? It cost a whole, lot more to make that car than the guitar. More parts, more cost up front, more design tech, more materials, more spent on advertising, etc. but you can buy a thunderbird for less than the Strat.

    When vintage electric guitars first started getting expensive we couldn’t believe some would pay $4000 for a 58’ sunburst! My first 59’ Strat cost $325.
     
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  5. Robins

    Robins Dr. von Loudster

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    Because vintage Fender guitars are way too expensive.
    Vintage is just old.

    All the best,
    Robin
     
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  6. mikej89

    mikej89 Senior Stratmaster

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    That's something I think a lot about too in terms of how things are valued. I bought a 1995 Acura Legend with only 125,000 miles for 2 grand which was probably over 30k new. It just seems weird you can buy a luxury car with power everything and leather seats for less than a new Custom Shop Strat. But obviously cost of ownership factors in too.
     
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  7. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    I think, 50’s Martins are still a bit under valued compared to a Tele from the same year. It cost a lot less to produce that Tele in 1956, than that D-28 and today it’s worth considerably less.
     
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  8. Chilidawg

    Chilidawg Strat-Talk Member

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    Having spent a considerable amount of time on the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum, I'm not certain that's true. Think "toasted wheat underpinnings."
     
  9. sadmoodyfrazier

    sadmoodyfrazier Senior Stratmaster

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    Everything has fanboys but think about many people standing the terrible quality of the actual Fender production. They just digest because "it's a Fender".
     
  10. StratoMutt

    StratoMutt Senior Stratmaster

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    Glad you liked. Think I got all of the key points correct. Typing it out helps keep my facts straight. I have concentrated on the history of the Dreadnought mostly.

    There are very few makers of things in the US with history that goes back that far.

    The electric guitar just has more broad appeal in the older age group I think.

    Yep. I have been active there. Some are a serious bunch. Just as dedicated as fanbois. Really nice people overall.
     
  11. guitarface

    guitarface Most Honored Senior Member

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    My family had a small Martin “tenor” guitar from the 1930’s. A small four string guitar. I forget the exact model number. We sold it on consignment through a good dealer recently. When I first brought it in he said well, this isn’t the most sought after model, but it is a Martin from 1933 and they ain’t making any more of those.
     
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  12. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    It’s still a very desirable and valuable vintage guitar.
     
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  13. clydethecat

    clydethecat Strat-O-Master

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    If someone has a '54 Thunderbird it would be worth more than any Strat.

    Thunderbird production began with the 1955 model year...
     
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  14. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Good one! OK,.... A 57’ strat vs 57 T-bird, I think the Strat is still worth more. I was offered a Clean 57’ T-bird in exchange for one of my custom Brazilian rosewood acoustics a few years ago. I turned it down.....lol.
     
  15. Thumbshifter

    Thumbshifter Strat-Talk Member

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    I was lucky enough to play a '50s Martin in a shop. I thought 'Oh yeah, let's see what all the fuss is about, eh?'
    Two strums in and I was hooked! Loud and crisp and clear and beautiful sounding. If I could afford any older Martin, I'd get one!
     
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  16. Samm57

    Samm57 Strat-Talk Member

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    George Gruhn talks about "the golden era" for a particular type of guitar, or, a manufacturer. For Martin the golden era is 1930's through around 1944. For Fender, the golden era is the 1950's through the CBS buyout--thus the pricing difference between the 50's Martin and 50's Fender. But in the end, IMO, the music and the songs are more important. Hendrix played Woodstock on a non-golden era Fender with a poly finish. Plenty of amazing music is made on non-golden era Martins.
     
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  17. Scott Baxendale

    Scott Baxendale Strat-O-Master Gold Supporting Member

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    Actually the real Golden Era Gruhn talks about is from 1934-1938. When I worked there (78-82) we were challenged to figure out why a 1938 Martin sounded better than a 1939 Martin. At the time we had more prewar Martin’s in the shop at any given time than most people see in their lifetime. We took guitars in to pitch black rooms and put bright lights in them so you can see through the tops and we took guitars apart. What we discovered is that Martin changed their design in 1939 and kept changing it until 1944. This was because they were using much heavier strings in the 1930’s to get more volume out of the guitar and started having warranty neck and top problems due to to the heavier strings, and by 1944 had eliminated the scallops in the bracing. What I discovered is that it is as much about the peaks and their relation to the bridge as it is the scallops and once I figured that out I began to see how the bracing works in a much different light. In fact the peaks act as inertia capacitors and hold the vibration in the top longer. 1938 Martin’s sound better than 1939 Martin’s. And the reason is they moved the position of these peaks and eventually eliminated them. Since I discovered this secret to the Golden Age sound I’ve been putting this bracing in and gradually refining it to what I am using today. I’ve built close to 1000 custom guitars with this bracing and nearly 2000 remanufactured guitars which we are currently building. You can see and hear these guitars at baxendaleconversions on Instagram.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2020
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  18. Wonderdeacon

    Wonderdeacon New Member!

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    I was at a dinner hosted by Chris Martin IV. He said his dad gave him his first electric guitar. It was a Martin solidbody electric as they were making those at the time. He said what he really wanted was that Late 50s strat. After all these years he said... I still have the Martin. But man I wish I would have gotten a Strat instead
     
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  19. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Dr. Stratster

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    i think a lot of it, is having some of the earliest examples of the product.

    in the 50s, Fender was just beginning, getting a 50s fender, you're getting one of the first ever of that model. By the 50s, Martin had been going for awhile.

    Everybody wants "the real thing"
     
  20. clydethecat

    clydethecat Strat-O-Master

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    One of these things?

    [​IMG]
     
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