These days much has been said about purchasing NEW. It’s a no-brainer. Fresh, unused, unmolested. Warranty-laden and the guarantee that if you dont like it, you have the option to return it. There is no question about satisfaction – you WILL be satisfied. Sometimes there is simply no alternative BUT to buy new. That being said, we focus on why it makes sense to buy used, old, vintage, and/or second-hand.
First and foremost, price. In most cases older or second-hand items cost less than the same item in new condition. The fact that someone else had it at one time means its not new anymore, and therefore cant be sold at the same price as a new item. This is when the item is still in wide abundance. Most of the time, its cheaper, but there are times when it can command a higher price, as in the case of discontinued items that are now hard-to-find, or have become unavailable. It doesnt matter if the item is not “vintage”, it may just simply be a matter of a few years, but if demand is high for an item thats not readily available, cost goes up.
Second, its what people now call “green”. Though the concept isnt new and has been around for decades, recycling or reusing of older items always makes sense. Its one less item that goes in a landfill, it’s not taking up space and collecting dust anymore, and youre giving the item a sense of purpose – it still has its use. Its one less tree that’s cut down.
Third, durability. Think about it, that amplifier or guitar that sounds great is about 40 years old, and is STILL WORKING. We all know about today’s products, and how they break down easily. Disposable has become the norm. People often say “they dont make ’em like they used to”. And they dont. Regardless of where theyre made from, things arent durably made anymore. “Made in USA” doesnt mean much if the workmanship is shoddy, and means even less if priced out of reach. Most people do not have a lot of money, and the most logical thing to do is to stretch the dollar further by buying cheap, which usually means imports. “Made in china” doesnt always mean its bad quality – its just the stigma of the press generating the negative connotation attached to imports. Though it has to be said that some manufacturing processses overseas still leave a LOT to be desired. Cheap underpaid labor, poor working environment, copyright infringements still happens, though not as much or as blatant as before, thanks in part to the globalization and freedom of the press. This has brought about improvements the recent decade with not only the manufacturing process and the prducts that are turned out, but treatment of the workers in those far-flung factories.
Manufacturers have clued in to two things: less material brings manufacturing costs down, which in turn brings up profit. “How thin can we make this before it breaks?”. Also, if its made cheap enough, people wont mind buying a new one. This keeps the cycle of disposability full circle. This is indicative of pretty much ALL medium to large-scale manufacturers.
Lastly, there’s the “mystique” of owning an old piece of gear. Much like the quarter in the movie “No Country For Old Men”, that guitar and/or amp has traveled forty some odd years to get to where its at now. There is so much history tied to that old gear. Someone has owned it and played with it, wrote songs on it, saved someone’s rent by getting sold. It’s probably traveled across the world, and got stolen and pawned, and a kid bought it to start learning music, to write a song about a girl he loves, or broke his heart. That ding or scratch or rip is a testament that it’s been used well, and enjoyed well. There is a bit of good karma and spirit infused in it (as well as other intoxicants of legal and nefarious nature). Who knows what wild and crazy stories it can tell if it spoke. By owning one, you can add on to that. All those years and stories and songs add up to the soul of that instrument. It may be inanimate, but it comes alive when its played. With a new gear, you have to start fresh – theres no soul to it until youve crafted your own stories and songs with it.