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  • Are We Killing the Possibility for "Vintage" Gear?

    This is something I wrote for the Line 6 Firehawk 1500 Pro Review, but I'm interested in a wider range of responses than just users of that amp.

    Of course, something like a guitar or trumpet made today has the potential to be vintage gear someday. But a lot of today's gear has associated apps where some parameters and functions can be accessed only with an app. The convenience and flexibility is off the hook, especially when an app is available for all kinds of tablets and smart phones—odds are you’ll have something where you can load the app and do your editing. But what happens when the technology changes? If you have an ancient Marshall, not only does it still work, you can still pretty much find the parts needed to repair it in case there are problems. But if a piece of gear is dependent on apps, does that mean that it can never be a piece of “vintage gear” in the future unless you have a “vintage” smart phone to run it? And what about the ever-evolving Bluetooth spec? The Firehawk 1500 supports Bluetooth 2.1 and the SBC codec. Presumably future Bluetooth gear will be backward compatible, but you never know.

    However, it’s important to consider another perspective. Older vintage amps had one or two “presets” (i.e., channels) and several controls—that was it. In that context, even without the app, the Firehawk 1500 works just fine as a guitar, bass, or keyboard amp. So on that level, it’s more future-proof than devices that have no significant physical interface, but are solely dependent on an app. Also, with Line 6 being owned by Yamaha, I think we’re pretty safe in assuming Yamaha’s not going to disappear any time soon; they also have a good reputation for support.

    Still, the subject of what we’re going to do when today’s bleeding-edge tech is superseded by something else is worth considering as we march along the path of high-technology. Think if a 1963 Fender Twin could be adjusted only by rotary, pulse-based dialing telephone…they’re still around, but not very easy to find.
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  • #2
    We have "emulators" for the old video game "cartridges" that run under Windows and MacOS - I suspect we'll have emulators for Android and iOS in the future. There are already ones for Android. Big issue will be the electronics in them not being available anymore. I already have a couple "Tube Works" amps where the output MOSFET's are no longer available - and that's pretty old tech, no digital...

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    • #3
      As an aside, gotta bitch about "collectors" hoarding stuff that could otherwise be gigged. Been looking for an Ampeg B25B head to gig with for a while but they get snapped up (and priced up) by the guys that have four V4B's but only three B25B's in their hoard and have to even it out. Oy Vey !

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      • #4
        We already have Android emulators for PC and Mac. Some are even used by app developers to test their software. You can't always depend on a given Android device to have all the bells, whistles, and, most important, hooks to run your software but you can usually use an emulator to test the user interface.

        I don't know that there's much interest in actually using obsolete computers. I have a Commodore VIC-20 I'll be happy to let go for a mere $500 as soon as they become vintage.

        The thing I worry about with the kind of gear you're concerned about is that there are so many specialized parts that become unavailable all too quickly. Manufacturers that were building gear in the 80s that used EEPROMs no longer have the code even if you could find a chip to program.

        Yamaha flat top guitars from the 1970s are considered "vintage" now, and of course so are genuine analog synthesizers, but most of the gear with presets has already been sampled, so there's not much need for the real thing.

        --
        "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
        Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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        • #5
          Case in point I guess...Several years ago a catastrophic series of injuries and illnesses that hit my wife in a wave had me scrambling for cash and I started selling off first guitars, then a couple of amps, then several, no ALL of the pedals I'd been collecting from the 60's till recently. All brought tidy sums and the cash helped, but I needed more. So I started selling off rack units....To my surprise, the only ones that were sought after were analog ones. The digital stuff was worth squat. Nothing with Alesis on it was worth hardly anything. The Furman compressor units and Furman Reverbs(All springs} were worth at least $100.00 more than I paid for them. So I guess digital stuff does not age well in that it improves more each year, making the older models undesirable.
          Probably so with the exact things Craig speaks about. Software based stuff just won't be treasured like a real amp or guitar.

          But if anybody is interested in some old Alesis gear or a Aphex Aural Exciter or a BBE Sonic Maximizer I'm your guy.
          Last edited by AlamoJoe; 09-11-2016, 07:32 PM.
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          • #6
            I'm fitfully sentimental about gear. There is better and worse, and there is older and newer, so you've got four scenarios. Eventually almost everything gets replaced by a newer/better item. Eventually, often after lots of failed attempts, misfires, miscues, and the following of fairy lights in the fog, sure.

            Lots of older gear is unquestionably fantastic. But I'm not sure any of it is irreplaceable. Not even Stradivarius violins or Steinway pianos. There's a lot of trafficking in relics, mythic auras surrounding old gear, a lot of things dubbed better because excess reverence hinders objectivity.

            That great old gear we love so replaced something yet older that people thought was great. The king is dead, etc.

            So I guess I'm saying, yes, the vintage gear phenomenon is doomed in the long run for just about anything and everything manmade. The digital era is accelerating the pace and still claiming territory, wresting functionality from the analog world and rebirthing it in the digital world. We're not done with that process by a long, long yard. Software has barely begun it's revolution.

            nat whilk ii




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            • #7
              If I could sell the channel strips from my Soundcraft 600 console for $300 each, I could afford a really nice new console, which I really want. But other than that they're modular, it would be like trying to sell Mackie CR-1604 channel strips. If it's not Neve or API, nobody's interested in an alternate "vintage."

              And, no, you can't buy just one.
              --
              "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
              Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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              • #8
                All gear will become vintage.

                The question is, will it be worthy or not to be anything but a collector. At least this applies to hardware.

                I had an old Conn sax, that was past Conn's prime. Still a good horn, I got it at a good price, but it depreciated. If you have a good Chu Berry or Naked Lady it goes for a fortune.

                I had a Selmer Mark VI sax. Paid $600 for it new. They are now worth $5000 or so. I sold it for a Mark VII which is probably only worth $1500 or so. But I sold it for a Couf, then a Grassi and now a MacSax - which was custom fit for me and will never be a collector unless I get very, very famous.

                I wear out saxes. One-nighters are hard on gear.

                I have a 1970 Gibson ES-330 that I paid $300 for. It's worth at least a couple of thou now I would guess.

                Software seems to have a much shorter life span. Computer OS changes render a lot of old software obsolete.

                But then there are some software file data standards that stand the test of time. Standard MIDI files are a great example. I write my own backing tracks for my duo, and I save them all twice. Once in the proprietary file format of the app I make them on, and again in standard MIDI file type 1. It's my safety net.

                I have hardware synth modules from the 1980s that still work and still have some very usable sounds in them (although others are dated by now). I don't think there are any soft-synths from the 1990s that still work.

                I tend to stay away from software synths for reasons of latency and the ability to run a dozen or so synths at the same time, picking the most appropriate sounds from each, with no timing issues.

                They are all just tools for me to make music with. I don't get too attached to them (or else I'd still have my Mark VI), but use them, keep what I think is worth keeping (I don't always have 100% accuracy in that) and trade or leave behind what I don't think is worth keeping.

                So I think there is a difference between just vintage and classic. That early Danelectro became a classic (who would have thought) along with the first LPs, SGs, Teles, and Strats. The Kay from the same era is just vintage.

                Well, I'm sorry, I didn't answer the original question, but perhaps just made the water a little more muddy.

                Notes
                Bob "Notes" Norton
                Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
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                • AlamoJoe
                  AlamoJoe commented
                  Editing a comment
                  No, you didn't exactly answer the question, but then you kind of did. I know that you make your living making music, and your post shows a really experienced journeyman musicians approach to the subject. I'm just a hobbyist with music, having never really had the talent to go pro with it. You talk about your instruments the same way I talk about Gauge manifolds and VOM's. Tools. Great post!

                • Notes_Norton
                  Notes_Norton commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Good point. We get attached to our hobby gear, but our tools are usually just that. We may love them for what they are, but their true value is in what they do for us.

                  Even though my old Mark VI would be worth >$5K now, I made a lot more than that each and every year I gigged with it. Plus when I traded it in, there was a lot of wear and tear happily applied to it.

              • #9

                I'll answer the original question.

                I think there's a good point with this. Although I'm sure there will be really sought after gear that is being made now, I suspect it will be noticeably than before. Much of it will still be analog and hardware, of course, but if there's a really cool digital hardware device, that could be classic too some day, I think.
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                • #10
                  Originally posted by UstadKhanAli View Post
                  Although I'm sure there will be really sought after gear that is being made now, I suspect it will be noticeably [more? less?] than before. Much of it will still be analog and hardware, of course, but if there's a really cool digital hardware device, that could be classic too some day, I think.
                  Of what value is an old and formerly treasured device that doesn't work and can no longer be repaired? It might be classified as "vintage" as long as it's still useful, but when it becomes a doorstop, there are only so many museums that will be interested in it. I'll allow that there are a few sources of obsolete semiconductors, but what's a PROM without code? And are they starting to build up a stock of parts that today have a production lifespan of just a few years? I don't know.

                  They don't make manuals like Ampex or Studer, or even Hewlett-Packard (test equipment, not computers) any more. Quite often when looking at a circuit board filled with surface mount components, you can't tell resistors from capacitors, and you can't tell the value without written documentation. Sometimes you can find a schematic for a device that's been long out of production, but so much of a product's technical documentation is locked up as "proprietary" or "we don't want users to mess with it and break it even further" and disappears when the manufacturer goes out of business.

                  --
                  "Today's production equipment is IT-based and cannot be operated without a passing knowledge of computing, although it seems that it can be operated without a passing knowledge of audio." - John Watkinson, Resolution Magazine, October 2006
                  Drop by http://mikeriversaudio.wordpress.com now and then

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                  • #11
                    Anderton -

                    I think you're missing the real issue. When people buy new merchandise, we're much less likely to think of collectiblity than resale value.

                    I've never met anyone who bought a guitar, car, chair, watch, boat, or house based on its potential future as an antique. But in deciding whether to buy, people often consider how much they'll be able to sell things for later. Not groceries or clothes, of course, but for non-consumable goods.

                    If I were going to buy something that needs an app (I'm not), I'd think about how long it would last and how much I could sell it for before its useless.

                    Concerning presets: None of my electric guitars, amps, and pedals have ANY presets. They do, however, have infinite possible settings. That's one analog advantage.
                    Last edited by Delmont; 09-13-2016, 06:03 AM.
                    Del
                    www.thefullertons.net
                    ( •)—:::
                    Sent on my six-string jumbo ukelele

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                    • #12
                      I don't think we'll ever see a lot of app-based products (software alone, or software-reliant hardware products) that become vintage collectables. Twenty or thirty years from now, I suspect the computational power and software capabilities will have become so advanced that people really won't see any advantage to using the old products. They'll be able to do much better with the new stuff that is available, and if they want to replicate the quirks of the old stuff, the new software tools will allow them to do that too.

                      Has anyone priced copies of Dr T's KCS sequencer and old Atari 1040ST's lately? I'm not seeing a ton of demand for early computers and software.

                      Having said that, I think there will still be vintage gear available that was developed and released during this era... it's just not going to be computer or software based. There are still future vintage classics being made. As I said in my review, I could see the 2014 Les Paul becoming a vintage classic, and I wasn't joking about that. I could say the same for the PRS CE 24 I recently reviewed too.
                      **********

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                      • #13
                        Originally posted by Phil O'Keefe View Post
                        Has anyone priced copies of Dr T's KCS sequencer and old Atari 1040ST's lately? I'm not seeing a ton of demand for early computers and software.
                        I have read that there are electronic music producers who even today seek out Atari STe systems because of the belief that the MIDI timing is tighter than modern DAWs. I couldn't find any actual sales prices to demonstrate that there is a premium for these, though.

                        And then there's this application that just baffles me: http://www.renoise.com/products/renoise


                        Last edited by Zooey; 09-13-2016, 01:35 PM.

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                        • #14
                          I couldn't sell my old Atari ST a year ago, so I donated it to someone.

                          And reading the guitar forums, there are people who buy guitars for their collectable value.

                          But it's definitely a gamble.

                          A have an old Akai S-900 sampler. Any takers?

                          Notes
                          Bob "Notes" Norton
                          Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com
                          Style and Fake disks for Band-in-a-Box
                          The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<

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                          • #15
                            Originally posted by Notes_Norton View Post
                            . . .there are people who buy guitars for their collectable value . . . .

                            have an old Akai S-900 sampler. Any takers? . . .

                            Notes
                            =O]

                            Just to be clear, I didn't mean that there aren't any - just that I don't know any. A rare breed, indeed.

                            Re your Atari - want to swap it for my four-track cassette Portastudio? (Only jiving - I wouldn't do that to anyone!)

                            Del
                            www.thefullertons.net
                            ( •)—:::
                            Del
                            www.thefullertons.net
                            ( •)—:::
                            Sent on my six-string jumbo ukelele

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