12 fake 'vintage' guitars
Gretsch G6136CST White Falcon
The only guitar in Gretsch’s USA Collection.
This - as Grestch states - is “based on the earliest White Falcon guitars of the mid-50s... as close as you can get, short of having a time machine. The Dynasonic pickups are recreated faithfully by Seymour Duncan.”
A fine repro. Don’t even ask how much the original would be.
Guild Starfire V with Bigsby
Guild electrics returned in 2013: some of the best vintage-accurate reissues we’ve seen in ages.
Guild was owned until the middle of this year by Fender, but the brand now has new owners and, at the time of writing, we don’t know if we’ll see these guitars again. There are some excellent deals in-store for those that remain.
Guild Starfire V with Bigsby review
Fender Road Worn '50s Telecaster
The Mexican-made Road Worn range features a ’50s and ’60s Strat, ’50s P and ’60s J Bass, plus this Telecaster.
These might lack the anorak-like detail of the American Vintage or the Custom Shop’s more convincing ageing, but they are relatively affordable versions that are ideal for some extra DIY ageing and hot-rodding.
Fender Road Worn ’50s Telecaster review
The 330 has barely changed since it was introduced in 1958. This standard, more modern version has 24 frets, a feature from ’69, and the white two-tier scratchplate from ’63.
In reality, it’s very much a new ‘old’ guitar from a company that refuses to modernise or expand. If it ain’t broke...
Unlike brands that copy the classics with the wrong name on the headstock, Fano re-imagines the vintage guitar, mixing styles and features to create something original.
The SP6 takes a slab-bodied single-cut Les Paul Special and adds TV Jones or Telecaster-style pickups and controls. The guitars are nicely aged, too.
PRS McCarty Singlecut
For those who hear with their eyes, this is plain wrong. But sonically it’s one of the most ’Burst-like modern guitars.
Classic mahogany maple construction with the latest tweaked 57/08 PAF-alike pickups, this ‘unofficial’ production Private Stock guitar is one for the tone connoisseur.
Fender Custom 60th Anniversary 1954 Heavy Relic Stratocaster
Fender’s Time Machine guitars are easily the closest to the real vintage deal that money can buy.
This special model was released to celebrate this year’s 60th Anniversary, along with non-Custom Shop American Vintage, American Standard and Classic Player celebrations.
The heavy relic’ing looks as if it has been on the road for decades - you can almost smell the toil, sweat and beer.
Fender American Vintage '65 Jazzmaster
Slavish repros from Fender’s non-Custom Shop production range, American Vintage covers all the classics - Strat, Tele, Jazzmaster, Jaguar, and P and J Basses - in year-correct detail, but they are unaged.
Thin nitro finishes, old-style fingerboard radius and frets, original circuits and period-correct pickups and hardware. If you want an unplayed ‘vintage’ classic, this is as close as you’ll get.
Fender American Vintage ’65 Jazzmaster review
Gibson Historic Collection 'R9' 1959 Les Paul
Gibson admits that replicating its classics is an ongoing task, and each time it releases new models they’re better than the ones before.
The latest crop appeared in 2013: ’56, ’57, ’58, ’59 and ’60 Les Pauls, an SG Standard and ’59 and ’63 ES-335s. We called this R9 “the most historically accurate Gibson Les Paul ’59 Reissue to date.” Nuff said.
Gibson Historic Collection ‘R9’ 1959 Les Paul review
Fender Classic Series '72 Telecaster Custom
These are the Mexican versions, if you like, of Fender’s American Vintage.
The long-running range includes the classic Strat and Tele models (including ‘Lacquer’ nitrocellulose models), plus more contemporary models such as the ’69 Tele Thinline, ’72 Tele Deluxe and ’72 Tele Thinline, not to mention the ’65 Mustang - one of the more affordable pre-CBS vintage guitars you can buy.
Gibson Custom The Collector's Choice
An ongoing series of replicas of famous vintage Les Pauls owned by collectors.
It began with a repro of the Pete Green/Gary Moore guitar owned by Melvyn Franks. Collector Vic DaPra’s ’Burst is replicated as the Collector’s Choice #9 1959 Les Paul ‘Believer Burst’.
There are plenty more, including the #8 Bernie Marsden 1959 Les Paul ‘The Beast’. Each is aged to replicate the original.
Gibson Memphis 50th Anniversary 1963 ES-335
One of the absolute best new ES-335s we’ve encountered - play it at your peril.
Gibson’s Memphis division also produces the equally jaw-dropping Rusty Anderson, Rich Robinson and Luther Dickinson ES-335, a 1959 dot-inlaid version... we could go on.
How about the ultimate jazz box: a 1959 ES-175? Most feature Gibson’s highly evocative, lightly aged VOS finish. Stop!