56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

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56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby steveokla on Mon Mar 10, 2014 6:23 pm

In a quandary. Good news is, my long (about a year-and-a half) mid-50's Strat search may be coming to close. Bad news is, I'm torn between two. One is a '57, a known quantity, that's dead stock (including frets) except that Eric Johnson had this guitar for a while and had the wiring rearranged so the Tone pot controlled the Bridge pup instead of the Middle pup. Otherwise, untouched. The guitar is a nice, light one and very clean with original case, though the case is rough.

The other is a late '56. It appears to be uncirculated (original owner to dealer)-- dead stock except that one tuner went bad and a period correct Kluson (also from a '56) substituted in its place. Comes with the original one that was replaced. Otherwise everything original including frets. At least as clean as the '57, but the case is in much, much better shape. Again, this is a late '56, so it's alder, not ash. Doesn't much matter to me, but i guess it means something to the pure collector. Parts, of course, Bakelite.

i don't buy anything i don't play, so that's always the primary concern. Lots of folks like it, but I'm troubled by the hard V on the 57 versus the soft V on the 56. I've only played one or two 57's with that hard V, and it would really take some gutting used to. Much less so the soft V, which is nice and chunky on the 56 and which I find quite pleasing. That's not to say I couldn't grow accustomed to the hard V, I suppose.

So, it really boils down to that, in terms of my likes and dislikes. If the prices were identical (or real, real close) I'd just choose the '56, but, in face,the '56 will cost me somewhere between $2500 and $3K more than the '57. Now, i assume that a '56 may be worth some more than a '57 anyway, just because it's a '56, Bakelite ale all that, but I don't know if a 56 is worth $2500--$3K more on that basis. For me, I'd essentially be paying that much more to get the soft V neck. Could really use a sanity check here and the always welcome input from you guys on the forum who've guided me through many, many purchases (or non-purchase) with unerring good sense.

Thanks much, Steveokla
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby cedarchoper58 on Sun Mar 23, 2014 3:28 am

Go for the one that feels best to you. It seems to me they should be valued about the same. I have a 57 that has bakelite knobs. If EJ owned it then that says something about the tone. The 56's tunner is changed with the same one how can you even tell? Were pre 57 guitars ash?
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby Ned B on Sun Mar 23, 2014 6:37 am

I wasn't aware that a '56 was catagorically worth more than a '57. For me neck shapes aren't the overriding determining factor for what makes one better than another. But in the final analysis you have to go with what sounds best and is the most comfortable to play.
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby steveokla on Sun Mar 23, 2014 5:34 pm

Thanks much, guys. I don't have a current bluebook, so I don't know whether the '56 is categorically more valuable or not. I would speculate that an early Ash model might command more money, but, again, that's just speculation. In response to Cedarchoper's question, I think Strats went from Ash to Alder somewhere in the middle of '56, except, I think, some of the custom colors like the blondes where Ash was still used. By the by, Cedarchop, does your '57 have a hard V or softer V? I think it varied some, with earlier '57's having a softer V, and later models a sharper V.

Ned B's right, of course: at the end of the day, it's about making a decision based on playing these things. I might get the chance to play the '57, but, as it's back East, I'm unlikely to have an opportunity to play the '56. Buying old Strats is tough--they're frequently elsewhere and your shooting in the dark.

I have decided the '56 is not worth three or four thousand more than the '57 in any event. Likely I'll procrastinate until the first week of May and attend the Dallas Show. I hope to find an example of each there to play and see if that helps.
Again, thanks so much for the input: it's genuinely appreciated.
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby cedarchoper58 on Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:26 pm

I think its a soft V. I have seen some that were almost sharp and mine is not like that. It has Bakelite knobs but regular plastic pickup covers, Here are some pics hope it helps

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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby cedarchoper58 on Sun Mar 23, 2014 8:30 pm

Image

Image

Image
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby steveokla on Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:05 pm

At thing of beauty, to be sure! Thanks so much for positing the pix.
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby cedarchoper58 on Mon Mar 24, 2014 7:04 pm

your welcome. Can you tell from the pics if it is considered a soft V or Hard. I have seen some that were almost sharp. It is way bigger than my 62
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby steveokla on Tue Mar 25, 2014 6:38 pm

cedarchoper58 wrote:your welcome. Can you tell from the pics if it is considered a soft V or Hard. I have seen some that were almost sharp. It is way bigger than my 62


I honestly can't tell. I've only played a couple '57's at guitar shores. Both were what are referred to as 'hard' V's, and, indeed, seemed to me like they were. I think along the lines of what you describe as a sharp V. Next show in in Dallas the first week of May. With any luck, I'll bet to compare some '56's (which, I'm given to understand, all have the soft V) and 57's (early ones are supposed to be generally softer, more like the '56, while those mid-to-late '57's the sharper V).
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby cedarchoper58 on Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:50 pm

cool mine has a neck date of June 57
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby steveokla on Tue Mar 25, 2014 11:59 pm

cedarchoper58 wrote:cool mine has a neck date of June 57


Hmmm. Guess it could theoretically be either. From what I can see from the photo, it doesn't look particularly sharp to me.

More to the point, how do you like the way it feels/plays? I'm a little antsy about V necks because they're unfamiliar to me. That said, I also know they're nice, chunky necks, and I loathe the skinny flat necks that came into vogue after around '58, I guess. The '59's and '60's I've played cramp my hand. If I thought I could get used to the V, even a hard V, I'd be inclined to jump on the '57 and pocket the difference. Have you had your '57 for a long while? Is it your go-to axe? Really would like to have your impressions.
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby cedarchoper58 on Wed Mar 26, 2014 7:20 pm

Its more chuncky than my 62 and not sharp. My 62 is small and my go to ax. Its the blue one in my avatar.. Personaly I think the 62 sounds better. I have had my 57 probably 15 years. I recently have had some problems with cramping at long gigs and wonder as I get older if that skinny neck on my 62 is doing it and thought about going to the 57 but its brighter and more twangy and my 62 is SRV tone and early Hendrix. I bought the 57 cause I wanted a birthday year strat and im a 58. I saw a mint 58 in a store many years ago for $7000 and did not buy it. I finnaly decided to go back and put it on a credit card and pay it off but it was gone. I made my mind up right then I would never let a 50's maple neck get away again till I got one. When I saw the 57 I played it thru my marshall and loved it and said im getting this and I did for $7,000. Its not my birthday year but its only one year off. I thought about some day selling it and getting a 58 but the ones I see are all over $20K and not very decent so Im gona stick with the 57. I love the Bakelite too that's a cool thing

Image

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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby steveokla on Fri Mar 28, 2014 3:45 pm

cedarchoper58 wrote:Its more chuncky than my 62 and not sharp. My 62 is small and my go to ax. Its the blue one in my avatar.. Personaly I think the 62 sounds better. I have had my 57 probably 15 years. I recently have had some problems with cramping at long gigs and wonder as I get older if that skinny neck on my 62 is doing it and thought about going to the 57 but its brighter and more twangy and my 62 is SRV tone and early Hendrix. I bought the 57 cause I wanted a birthday year strat and im a 58. I saw a mint 58 in a store many years ago for $7000 and did not buy it. I finnaly decided to go back and put it on a credit card and pay it off but it was gone. I made my mind up right then I would never let a 50's maple neck get away again till I got one. When I saw the 57 I played it thru my marshall and loved it and said im getting this and I did for $7,000. Its not my birthday year but its only one year off. I thought about some day selling it and getting a 58 but the ones I see are all over $20K and not very decent so Im gona stick with the 57. I love the Bakelite too that's a cool thing

Image

Image

You may be right about the cramping and the thinner, flatter profile. That's exactly what happened to me. I've owned a couple CS NOcasters and love that firehose neck. I never thought I would, but tried one at Guitar Center just for yucks one day and it really surprised me. I found it really comfortable.

I just got it in my head to try to own a 50's Strat before I keel over. Prices aren't cheap, but they're way lower than before and i"m hoping to stumble onto something within my reach. Truth is, I tend to favor a rosewood board. The '59's I've played are real thin and flat, but the '61's I've tried seem to be a lot meatier, as have been the couple '63's I've played. While I lust after a 56 or '57, but, truth is, I don't really know how I'll react to these guitars being brighter.

I've given a lot of thought to '58's though, as you say, they seem to be priced about the same as '57's and such. I think I may have played one or two at guitar shows, and my recollection is they're decently rounded and full, certainly much more so than, say, a '59 or '60, so a '58 might work as well for me as a '57.

Really appreciate you're sharing about your axes, impressions of them and the pix: definitely cool looking guitars! Best, Steve
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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby Unit_1 on Fri Mar 28, 2014 7:25 pm

i recently started doing these tendon stretching exercises before playing and it's really helped a lot

last jam we played for over four hours and while everyone else was rolling it up i just kept playing and said "where you guys going?"

everyone just looked at me and groaned, lol...

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Re: 56 v. 57, soft V v. hard V-worth an extra 2500? Help!

Postby steveokla on Sat Mar 29, 2014 1:30 am

Unit_1 wrote:i recently started doing these tendon stretching exercises before playing and it's really helped a lot

last jam we played for over four hours and while everyone else was rolling it up i just kept playing and said "where you guys going?"

everyone just looked at me and groaned, lol...



Intriguing-I'm gonna try it.

Anyone had experience with the 63? I played one once some years ago and my recollection is it had a rounded, chunky neck
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