Playing modern vs. “vintage”

August 11, 2016

Most of the time, an average car shopper should consider buying a recent model. Newer cars (ostensibly) have better safety features, better fuel efficiency, and the latest conveniences. Service and parts are likely available and inexpensive.

Someone in the market for a “classic” car should know what they are getting into. Some older models might be cheaper than newer ones, but a good appraisal requires expertise. Or, some might have prices inflated by cachet, rarity, or “cool” factor. (Those are better suited for collectors or hobbyists than everyday drivers.) Older cars often lack desirable modern features, or need expensive parts.

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photo, DonJinTX

Musicians face similar choices when buying instruments. For most players, there are significant advantages to modern instruments. They have (again: ostensibly) improved ergonomics, intonation, and evenness of tone.

There are “vintage” instruments with outstanding qualities. But often there are tradeoffs with features, condition, and “collector” pricing. That’s not to say that a vintage instrument is necessarily a bad choice, but (like a classic car buyer) you shouldn’t make that choice uninformed. “Cool factor” wears off quickly when you have to stop every few miles to add oil—or when you are wearing yourself out trying to match pitch in the saxophone section.

If you aren’t sure what you’re doing, a recent-model instrument is usually a smarter bet.

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