Archive for May, 2012

Saddle Sores

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Those are some seriously heavily notched saddles. How you gonna vibrate freely if most of the string is being damped (not dampened) by the saddle?

I spent the weekend out riding the range and boy is my butt sore. OK, I’ve never ridden a horse in my life and we don’t have a lot of ranges to ride here in Connecticut unless you count the Wolfs and the Vikings (both gas and electric). We are going to take a look at the saddles on an ABR-1 to see if that’s what making you sore about your poor tone. I’ve played a lot of 335s (and 345s and 355s)- many more than the 200 or so that have passed through my hands. I keep a mental note of the great ones but I don’t really get down to hard analysis of what I’ve learned. Well, maybe it’s time I took a closer look. There are a bunch of assumptions that are made about 335s (and guitars in general) that aren’t always borne out by experience. There are more myths and assumptions with regard to tone than there are fingers on your hands. I believe that tone comes from a number of places; including from your amp and from inside your head. A really important factor is how freely the string vibrates and how those vibrations (and all the other vibrations that enter into the equation) are translated from mechanical energy into electrical. I’ve gotten a few early 335s that sound pretty dead when I get them but with a few tweaks and perhaps an upgrade or two, they turn into tone monsters. Let’s start with sustain. Everybody likes their guitar to sustain. The big problem I have with newer Gibsons is that they don’t seem to. I’m not sure why. They biggest improvement to sustain comes from making sure the saddles and nut aren’t restricting the free vibration of the string. Over 50 or so years, the saddle notches get worn and become too deep-or they were made too deep to begin with. I recently had a 61 that just sounded dull and lifeless. All I did was swap out the original bridge for a Tone Pros that I barely notched and it sang like a choir of angels. That’s it. The nut can do the same thing. If it pings when you tune the guitar or bend strings, then the slots are too tight. I don’t usually mess with nut files but I do lubricate the slots and that can help as well.  I always put on new strings before I start messing with the guitar. Old strings will sound dull and lifeless no matter great your guitar is. Make sure you keep the original bridge with the guitar or in a safe place because when it comes time to sell, you’re going to want to include it. If you are set on using the original bridge, make sure it isn’t sagging in the middle -just set it upside down on a flat surface and look at it. If the saddles are notched more than half the depth of the string, then you’re going to want to either replace the saddles or file down the tops so the notches are smaller. I use a flat file since the tops of vintage saddles are flat anyway. So, once we have the strings vibrating freely, what else is contributing to the tone? Pickup height is a big element. What about the resonance of the guitar itself? How does that play into the equation?  And what about neck size and tone? We’ll dig into that quagmire in the next post.


Sticker Blues

Friday, May 25th, 2012


No sign of a sticker here. But really, is it the sticker that tells you everything? Not by a longshot. Look at the feet-the "L" tooling marks have to be there.

I don’t know of another seemingly insignificant piece of plastic that carries more weight than a PAF sticker. Even if you can authenticate the pickup 5 different ways, to most, it’s still not truly a PAF without that little piece of plastic film. If the pickup is from, say, 1962 and it says “patent applied for” it’s worth $1500-$2000. If it says “patent # 2737842, then it’s worth $800-$1200 even though its the exact same pickup (well into 1964, anyway when they changed the windings). If the sticker is missing, then you have to convince everyone that you aren’t lying. It’s kind of exhausting, actually. It’s well documented that a lot of pickups-especially in 64-didn’t get stickers. A lot of stickers simply fall off over 50 or so years. And while I understand the collectors mindset, I don’t always understand the mindset of the player. The collector will pay a premium for everything to be exactly as it left the factory. In fact, I’ll go a step further and say the collector wants everything to be as it should have been when it left the factory. That means no anomalies. No one off weirdness like heel stingers or custom hardware (like nickel on a 345). There are many, many documented non-standard things that show up on these guitars and I don’t blame the collectors for shunning anything that will call the authenticity of their guitar into question. The collector is paying a premium for exactly that. Authenticity. But once a guitar leaves the collectors realm through changed parts, mods or missing stickers, ya gotta lighten up a bit and use your ears as well as your eyes. I recently purchased a 64 that had no stickers on the pickups.  The covers were gone and I had to decide whether the pickups were original, correct or something else. Truthfully, the stickers alone aren’t enough to authenticate a pickup anyway. There are some very good fakes (and some really crappy ones). So, we look at other indicators. The L shaped tooling marks, the double shiny black lead wires, the not too neat square in the circle, the slight warp to the bobbins, even the screws that hold the pickup together. Granted, if the covers are intact, you’re limited in what you can ascertain-so it’s actually a bit of an advantage if the covers have already been off. I still look at the solder joints on the harness but that can be inconclusive as well. If they look tampered with, then you go to the next step. Are the wires the right length? Do the pickups sound right? Are the covers worn in a similar pattern? There’s a lot of amateur sleuthing going on and pickups are the prime suspect more often than not being the most expensive component on a PAF equipped guitar. I like to ask the question-is a non stickered pickup in an early block neck an unstickered PAF or an unstickered patent number?  They are the same, of course. I believe a missing sticker affects the value of a guitar-no question about it. You should spend less if the stickers are missing. But you should never assume that a pickup isn’t a PAF or patent number only because a sticker is missing. Nor should you assume a pickup is a PAF just because it has a sticker.

If the cover is off, look at the windings. They should be brownish purple. Or perhaps purplish brown. The "square in the circle" hole should be a little ratty looking. And both lead wires-the ones at the end of the pickup under the paper tape-should be black. No exceptions.

Ask and You Shall…or This Guitar Doesn’t Exist, part II

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

The real deal. A gen-yoo-wine 59 ES-335 dot neck. Hot damn.

Last month I wrote a post called “Wish List” in which I talked about some guitars I really wanted to find that had eluded me over the years. Well, maybe I should have added a burst or two and maybe a million bucks (which doesn’t go as far as it used to) to that “wish list.” I mentioned a few rare and unusual guitars that I held out only slight hope of ever finding. The most notable is a guitar that Gibson says doesn’t exist. Gibson told me “no red ES-335s were shipped in 1959.” The said the same thing about red 59 ES-345s (I know of five now). I wrote the post hoping someone would read it and say “hey, I’ve got that old red guitar that belonged to Uncle Herb in the hall closet. Maybe it’s the one this guy is looking for..” OK, that didn’t happen but I got a text message from a gentleman in New Jersey who said he had a 335 to sell. It was, he said, a dot neck and it was red. He also said he thought it was a 59. Funny thing is that everybody thinks their dot neck is a 59. There’s something that makes folks believe that 59 is the pinnacle, the apex, the peak (did I miss any? The acme?) of the Golden Era at Gibson. That same phenomenon makes them assume their guitar is a 59. Fortunately for us, the serial numbers are pretty accurate during the period and we’ve got the factory order number (FON) in there as well, so we can accurately ascertain not only the year the guitar shipped (serial) but the year the guitar was constructed (FON). That doesn’t work so well once we get to 63 or so. Anyway, I was skeptical but I made arrangements to go see the alleged red 59 dot neck. I’ve chased this wild goose before, only to find a doctored 62 or 63 (dot fingerboard added and serial number missing), a refinished 59 and an early 60. I found another with what appeared to be a factory varitone. After a trip to the bank (hope springs eternal), I set off for the wilds of Jersey City. I was to meet the seller in a small coffee shop near his place of business. By the way, if you’re ever in Jersey City, be aware that they don’t put proper numbers or street names on their buildings. Everything seems to be One Earwax Plaza or One Millard Fillmore Circle. All ones. Anyway, after driving around in Millard Fillmore circles with my GPS saying “you have reached your final destination”, I asked a cop. I was late and wandering around and the owner called me on my cell phone from his cell phone from a building across the street with no name or number and I saw a guy on a cell phone who seemed to be saying exactly what I was hearing in my ear so I waved. So much for technology. He didn’t have a guitar with him but he didn’t look any more dangerous than I look. The guitar was in the nearby coffee shop with a friend (sellers always run in pairs). So, I got my coffee (no, it wasn’t a half skim/half decaf latte) and went to work. The case was a pretty beat up Stone-a good sign. At least the case was the right era. I opened it up. The first thing that struck me was the color. It had the “watermelon fade” which only occurs on 58 through early 60 guitars. A quick peek at the serial number A30906 and I knew the search was over. OK, it was a Bigsby/pearl dot version (all known red 58-59s are Bigsbys as far as I know) but it was the real thing and I bought it.  You know that thing about 59 being the top of the Golden Era? I think it might be true. This guitar is, hands down, the best sounding 335 I’ve owned (or even played) surpassing a spectacular 58 I played 3 or 4 years ago that I thought was going to be the best forever.  I was so happy to have finally found a red 59 dot (my identity on a lot of online forums is Red59Dot) that I left my flashlight/magnifier and my reversible screwdriver in the coffee shop. Now I just have to figure out how I can afford to keep it for myself.

Why can't Gibson duplicate this color?

A Very Cool One Off

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Rare as they come-a blonde block neck. Certainly a custom order. The fact that it has the "custom" truss rod cover actually helps authenticate it and the fact that its a lefty helps too. Who would fake a lefty? It's a stunning and important find. Too bad I'm not the one who found it.

I love the odd ones. The one of a kinds. The ones that make Gibson so unpredictable. Gibson will insist that they never made a red 345 in 1959 (they made at least 5) or a sunburst 355 (I know of at least 2) or a mono 345 (still haven’t seen one). But they made a fair number of custom guitars and one of them walked into my studio this week and dazzled. There are no blonde block necks made between 62 and 68, right?  There are 69 and later. Well, there’s one that I know of now. And it’s a lefty. It kind of makes sense in a slightly illogical way. Lefties were usually special orders and as long as you have to have your guitar made for you, why not ask for something beyond the available finishes? The guitar shown at the top has a 64 serial number, a very 64 like neck and a most un-64 like body. Those are full on Mickey Mouse ears and they aren’t generally seen past mid 63 or so. So, how did this very cool one of a kind come about? My guess is that it was special ordered by a shop for a customer in the first quarter of 64. The serial number indicates a delivery date of mid to late May. So, first off, they need a body that is either drilled as a lefty of isn’t drilled at all. It can’t be finished yet either since blonde was no longer offered as a standard finish. It’s no secret that lefties are pretty uncommon, so it isn’t out of the question that there might be a leftover 63 body that they drilled for lefty but never sold. That would explain the MM ears. The one element that struck me when I inspected the guitar was the relatively sloppy work around the neck join-it doesn’t look like a reneck but I’ve seen cleaner work. So, I figured maybe it was an employee project where perhaps a particular employee is making something “off the books” and doesn’t want too many people to know about it. So he does some work himself (perhaps off hours too) that he might not do on a regular basis-thus the slightly sloppy neck join. Again-all speculation. It could simply be somebody ordered a blonde lefty in 64 and the guy who was doing the neck glue ups that day was hungover. My first inclination was that it was reneck since the body wasn’t a 64. Renecks usually have the serial number restamped larger than normal when done at the Gibson factory. This one is deeper than usual but not larger. Again, I go back to my theory of it being an employee doing work that’s outside his usual sphere. I told the owner that I was 98% certain of its authenticity. That’s about all you’re allowed with Gibsons because you really can’t be too sure of anything they did during the era. Someone could bring me a 335 that was red on the back and sunburst on the front and I wouldn’t dismiss it. Anything is possible at Gibson in the 50s and 60s.

Singing the Blues

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Why is Muddy smiling? Read on.

Everybody gets stuff forwarded to them on email that someone else thinks is funny. Funny enough, it usually isn’t that funny. Last night, my friend Kent, in Nashville, sent me the following. It was funny. Real funny. I don’t like to simply post stuff without giving credit (much as I’d love to take  credit for this), so I asked him where he got it. He got it from his friend Spencer who thought he might have gotten it from his son David. As soon as someone tells me who wrote this full credit will be forthcoming. It’s too funny and clever not to post.

Do’s and don’ts of Blues Music:

If you’re new to Blues music, or you like it but never really understood the whys and wherefores, here are some very fundamental rules:

1. Most Blues begin with: “Woke up this morning…”

2. “I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, “I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town.”

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then, find something that rhymes — sort of:

Got a good woman with the meanest face in town.

Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town.

Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weigh 500 pound.”

4. The Blues is not about choice. “You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch…ain’t no way out.”

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs, and broken-down trucks.

Blues don’t travel in Volvos, BMWs, or Sport Utility Vehicles.

Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain’t even in the running. Walkin’ plays a major part in the Blues lifestyle. So does fixin’ to die.

6. Teenagers can’t sing the Blues. They ain’t fixin’ to die yet.
Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, “adulthood” means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City, but not in Hawaii or anywhere in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle are probably just clinical depression.     Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, and N’awlins are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the Blues in any place that don’t get rain.

8. A man with male pattern baldness ain’t the Blues. A woman with male pattern baldness is. Breaking your leg ’cause you were skiing is not the Blues. Breaking your leg ’cause a alligator be chomping on it is.

9. You can’t have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.

10. Good places for the Blues:
a. highway,
b. jailhouse,
c. empty bed,
d. bottom of a whiskey glass.

11. Bad places for the Blues:
a. Nordstrom’s,
b. gallery openings,
c. Ivy League institutions,
d. golf courses.

12. No one will believe it’s the Blues if you wear a suit, less you happen to be an old person, and you slept in it.

13. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if:
a. you’re older than dirt,
b. you’re blind,
c. you shot a man in Memphis,
d. you can’t be satisfied.

No, if:
a. you have all your teeth,
b. you were once blind but now can see,
c. the man in Memphis lived,
d. you have a 401 K or trust fund.

14. Blues is not a matter of color. It’s a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the Blues. Sonny Liston could have. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the Blues.

15. If you ask for water and your darlin’ gives you gasoline, it’s the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
a. cheap wine,
b. whiskey or bourbon,
c. muddy water,
d. black coffee.

The following are NOT Blues beverages:
a. Perrier,
b. Chardonnay,
c. Snapple,
d. Slim Fast.

16. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it’s a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse, and dying lonely on a broken-down cot.

You can’t have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.

17. Some Blues names for women:
a. Sadie,
b. Big Mama,
c. Bessie,
d. Jennie.

18. Some Blues names for men:
a. Joe,
b. Willie,
c. Little Willie,
d. Big Willie.

19. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can’t sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

20. Blues Name Starter Kit:
a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.),
b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Peach, etc.),
c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.).
For example: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Pegleg Lime Johnson, or Cripple Peach Fillmore, etc.

21. I don’t care how tragic your life is; if you own a computer, you cannot sing the blues, period. Sorry.



I know why Freddie is smiling. Look what he's playing.



The Ears Have it.

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

This photo was posted on the LPF and shows the difference between a real vintage 335 and the modern "reissue". Note the ears and the position of the f-holes and stoptail. There are some pretty big variations among vintage but not quite this big.

There is a bit of a debate raging on one of the many guitar forums. OK, it’s the Les Paul Forum and the issue is the Gibson Historic ES-335 59 and 63 reissue guitars. I’ve stayed out of it  mostly because I don’t have strong feelings about whether a reissue is accurate or not. It would be nice if they got them to look right but I don’t buy them or play them so I don’t really have a dog in this fight. I’ve taken a few in trade and they are very nice guitars. They look OK, they just don’t (among other things) look like a vintage 335. I’m a vintage guy and there is so much more to vintage than looks. But someone pointed out a little bit of Gibson PR that I found appalling. Gibson says, and I quote, “This limited production model from Gibson Custom captures this desirable classic in greater detail than any “reissue”-style guitar previously produced. It is truly an instrument born in the image of its inspiration.”  Or this, from the Guitar Center site: “Perfect to the last detail, this world-class semi-hollowbody is indistinguishable in every way from the 335s that rolled off the line in ’59. It’s even made on the exact same forms used then”.  The latter quote is an out and out lie. So, let me get this straight-Gibson says this is the best they or anyone else can do, right? I know of at least 2 luthiers out there who have gotten closer than Gibson has. As far as the Guitar Center quote goes, consider the source. Feel free to hand me a real ’63 and a ’63 reissue and I’ll tell one from the other with my eyes closed and never playing a note. Same goes for the 59. These reissues can sound very, very good-good but not the same as vintage. But they don’t feel the same-even the lacquer feels different. Perhaps age is a big factor in that. The shape of the ears is, of course,  wrong.  That makes it a reissue, I guess, and not a replica. It is Gibson’s cost effective (I’m sure) imitation of a Mickey Mouse ear body. Somehow, they got the non MM ears right on the Clapton reissue. Perhaps a sticker price of $12,000 compels the bean counters to allow the product be somewhat accurate and to perhaps use the computer technology that comes with the modern era. With CNC technology, it seems there would be no excuse for things being shaped wrong. I’ve never worked in a guitar factory, so I’m shooting from the hip here a bit but it seems that getting the shape to be the same as it was in the days of non computer aided design would be pretty simple. I believe that Gibson is making some really excellent guitars, especially the Historics but they are new guitars. The feel new, they smell new and the play new. One more time, with feeling–vintage isn’t so much about looks and wear but about the effects the actual passage of time and actual playing has on a guitar. You can make a relic look vintage all right but it won’t be the same in so many ways. I just sold a mint 60 ES-345 that couldn’t have had 100 hours of play on it. It was an absolutely stunning guitar and a wonderful player. Even with only minimal play in the past 50 years, it only looked new. It didn’t feel new or sound new. I don’t know what exact effect the passage of time has on the pickups and the wood but it makes a difference. I daresay these Historics will be wonderful vintage pieces in 30 years or so. Time won’t change the shape of the ears or the configuration of the components but really, is anyone going to care that much in 30 years? Here’s a good example–the 68 Les Paul goldtop is a pretty special guitar and its different in a hundred ways from a real 50’s goldtop. Nobody cares that much because, on its own, its a great guitar. They may have cared a lot more in 1968, however. There is no real equivalent in 335s.  Clearly, if you want to get close to a “Golden Era” 335 for a more reasonable price, there are options that aren’t new. The 335s from 66-early 69 can be quite wonderful if you can handle the small necks. These can be had for less than the sticker price of a Historic. The 81-85 “reissue” is even less accurate than the Historic in terms of shape but they usually play great, feel great and, yes, a 30 year old guitar counts as vintage. I’ve seen these for less than $2000. I’d take almost any 81-85 over a Memphis 335 and probably over a Historic as well. But then, I’m a vintage guy. Thanks to “Vintage 58″ (Chris) on the LPF for kicking this off. I love a good pissing match and I love the fact that people actually care that much about the accuracy of a “reissue”. And another thing…why does the 63 have an amber switchtip? That seems like a pretty easy detail to fix.

Pickguard 101

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Long, long, short. All wide bevel. Yes, the one on the right has a partial refinish.

Funny, I thought I had covered this but a reader says no. And I think he’s right-I did a kind of general “plastics” post but never really got down to the nitty and the gritty (If you’ve spent any time under a vintage pickguard, you are well aware of the gritty part).  You wouldn’t think it would be that big a deal but pickguards are another good example of just how nutty collectors are. I can go out and buy an original 68 guard for $75. But a 66 (which is the same as a 61) will cost me more like $450. And if that isn’t nutty enough, a 58-60 will cost me in excess of a grand. Want a long guard for a 355? Good luck. Every time Gibson changed a part, it seems the motivation was economics. From 58-60 the pickguard on all 335s, 345s and 355s extended below the bridge-hence the term “long guard”. I think they look great and they have always been my preference for no other reason than appearance. Gibson, with the idea of using less plastic and thus saving a few pennies per instrument, shortened the guard in late 60 so that it extended only to the bottom of the bridge pickup ring. The transition extended into 1961 and 61 long guards are not common but they aren’t rare either. It seems to me (from observation) that the 345s got the short guard first and then the 335s. The 355s follow their own schedule because the guard is totally different. It is tortoise shell instead of black and has a separate binding rather than a bevel edge. They also tend to disintegrate over time, often due to “gassing off”. Google it-it’s science (and science is fun and good for your head). The 355s followed approximately the same schedule. I’ve seen a few short guard 60’s but I don’t recall seeing any long guard 61’s. All the 3×5 guards were held to the guitar the same way-a small screw up by the neck pickup and a bracket that inserted into a plastic block glued to the back of the guard. The bracket is a four part thing consisting of a threaded rod, an open nut, a closed nut and the bracket that screws into the binding at the waist. If you aren’t sure if your guitar was an original long guard or short guard, the position of the bracket will give it away. It’ll be lower on a long guard. Look to see if there’s more than one screw hole in the binding. Look to see if the plastic block on the underside was moved, look to see if the threaded rod has been bent. Any of those things will reveal that a short guard was substituted for a long one or (less likely) vice versa). The ES-335/345 guard is five ply b-w-b-w-b. The bevel is wide and the bottom white layer is wider than the top white layer. By late 66/early 67, the guard changed again. the shape is more or less the same but the bevel is much narrower. Probably another money saving change-it probably was cheaper to source the guard with the narrow bevel or it took less time to make them. You have to look closely because it can be very hard to tell a wide bevel from a narrow bevel in a photo. The angle is critical. The wide bevel is really wide. One other thing to look at-Look at the space between the top of the guard and the cutaway. It’s totally inconsistent. I had a 345 that extended a good 1/4″ past the cutaway. I’ve had others that end at least a 1/4″ below it. That’s what handmade means.

Narrow bevel guard on a 68. Also, look at how much daylight there is above the guard compared to the 66 345 below it

Wide bevel on a rare Mickey Mouse ear 66. Look at how far into the cutaway the guard extends.

Vintage 1952

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

I found this 335 birthday cake on the internet. Feel free to send me one if you have the baking chops. I thought it was pretty cool being it was a stoptail dot neck and all. I wonder if the PAF stickers are under there?

Before you go all nuts, there are no vintage 52 ES-335s. Most of you know they were first marketed in 1958. The vintage 52 item is me. I don’t do a lot of personal posts because this is a blog about the guitars and not, generally, about me. But today, just this once, I’m going to take a moment to reflect on turning 60 an event which occurred this morning at 2 AM. My Mom never let me forget that I ruined a perfectly good night’s sleep. What shocks and amazes me is how fast time has started going. It seem like yesterday I was 30. The first 30 years took forever but the second thirty flashed by in little more than a heartbeat. I hope the next thirty have the decency to slow down a little. My Dad lived to be 95 and he didn’t get a lick of exercise after the age of 50. My Mom would have lived forever (or at least to 100) had she had not been a crime victim in 2009. Her siblings are into their 90’s now. So, I have a shot at another 30 years. Thirty more years to try to become a better guitar player. Thirty more years to be a good father to my grown son. Thirty more years to be a good husband to my first and only wife. Thirty years to find all the great 335s, 345s and 355s that are lurking under beds and in basements. I still run 10 or 15 miles a week depending on the weather (and my joints) and I still try to play guitar for at least 5 hours a week. Those two activities are what keep me young(ish). Perhaps if I still had my hair I could pull off looking younger but bald gray guys tend to look old even if  still wearing pants with a 32 waist (OK, sometimes 33). Tom Petty once said (in a lyric, of course) “you never slow down, you never grow old.” I kind of think that’s true. If I’m going to die, I’d rather do it while I’m out running (which is likely) or while I’m playing guitar. But people keep telling me 60 isn’t old any more. The problem is that everyone who is telling me that is over 60. Also, consider this…I get plenty of guitars that are in excess of 50 years old. Some are mint, some are beat to hell-looking like they’ve endured thousands of hours of use and abuse. There are a hundred “in betweens” as well. The point here is that how old the thing is has almost nothing to do with how well it works. And, while guitars don’t have a lifespan in the sense we do, they don’t last forever. The idea, I think, is to be as functional as possible for as long  as possible. So, damn the arthritis, I feel a song coming on (which I’ll play as soon as I get back from my run).