Thinking about the good old days...

I'm definitely  an old geezer, and have a lot of experiences and memories to reflect on.  Lately, I've been remembering the enjoyment of "audio" back when I was just starting down this path: the music was just so amazingly enjoyable and fun.  I think my greatest satisfaction with my own audio stuff was when what-passed-for-my-system was a Fisher 90T tuner/preamp, Fisher 80AZ amp, a University speaker enclosure that I built ftom a lot fitted with 12" University woofer and some University tweeter (I forget what).  The only source was a Lenco turntable with a GE VR2 cartridge.  Dang, that stuff was just so wonderful to my young self!
I got a paper route for TheWashington Post, bought my first system
Lafayette 30w amp, Garrard turntable, Criterion 25 speakers. I was in heaven.
Sold the 25’s after a few years, bought Criterion 100B’s ,big mistake. Got rid of those, then Dynaco A25’s and a larger Lafayette amp.
Back in heaven. Wish I still had the Dynaco’s.
Moved up to a AR system ,turntable amp, AR3a’s. Wow this was the bomb.
The AR’s were amazing, I still have the amp, but back then I got a Phase linear 400 and a HK citation preamp, only problem was the AR’s tweeters could not handle the power. Moved on to Klipsch LaScala and Macintosh. That  system rocked but the bass was nothing compared to the original AR’s.
However the LaScala’s  were always a party time favorite!

@bdp24 Very little was better? How about 1950’s Fender, Gibson, and Martin Guitars. Gretsch and Radio King drumsets, K. Zildjian cymbals made in Turkey. Big ol’ Cadillac El Dorados and Lincoln Continentals (just yesterday I saw one with a black paint job and white leather interior, dropped a few inches. Wicked cool!

Like I said ...
I’ve played guitar since 1985. Vintage guitars are only sought after because of nostalgia. They are inferior to today’s guitars in almost every way. Those old baseball bat necks were awful. And the lacquer finishes broke down. CNC’d guitars are way more accurately made than old hand-made ones. Today, the choice of guitars is infinitely better. The choice of pickups is infinitely better. The choice of finishes is better. Tremolos are way better. And the overall playability is better. And today’s guitar’s are cheaper and the cost point of diminishing returns is way lower than the old days.

I’m about to sell a Marshall head I bought over 30 years ago. Some sucker’s going to give me almost $3,000 for this one-trick pony. Why? Nostalgia. Meanwhile my software amp simulator sounds better, cost 1/20th the price and has thousands of times more versatility. Or going analog, I can use my $100 power amp and my $250 Amptweaker distortion pedal to blow it away in sound quality.

Old cars were lucky to reach 100,000 miles. Today that’s a baseline. Old cars were rust buckets, had finnicky carburetors, weak brakes, crappy bias-ply tires that lasted, at best, 25,000 miles, spark plugs that lasted 20,000 miles, finnicky distributors, rotors and points, exhausts that rusted away (remember when Midas used to be a muffler shop?) and if you got in an accident above 40 MPH you were pretty much dead. Heck, a new Corolla puts out more horsepower than that Cadillac. The only thing inferior about today’s cars are all the plastic parts.

When I saw Ry Cooder live, he was playing his (old) guitars through a jumble of old (1940’s/50’s/60’s) combo amps. My old bandmate Todd Phillips plays his 18th Century German upright bass when he gigs with David Grisman and Joan Baez. Steve Earle owns Hank William’s 1940’s Martin acoustic. Yeah, a real piece o’ junk ;-) . Modern violin players are still trying to recreate instruments that sound like the Stradivari and Guarneri’s, and rich players are willing to pay millions for them. Out of nostalgia, prestige, or bragging rights? No.

The comparison of old cars to new ones sounds like the argument for CD’s over LP’s. A Toyota Prius is a very efficient automobile. Does that alone make it "good"? I wouldn’t be caught dead in one (it’s hideously ugly). To each his own! Frozen food is easier to make edible than is a gourmet meal. Which would you rather eat?

I wouldn’t trade my 1950’s Radio King or 1960’s Gretsch drumsets for ANY modern kits, regardless of price. The K.Zildjians made in Turkey in the 1940’s and 50’s, and heard on a lot of the old Jazz records (and some new ones. Jazz cats still revere them), though quite variable sample-to-sample, fetch a small fortune amongst the players who value their unique sound (they produce a very percussive "click" when played with the tip of a drumstick, a great "splash" when struck with it's shank, and have a very "musical" spread of overtones). It has NOTHING to do with nostalgia.

Oops, It's Neil Young who own Hank's Martin. Martin's are well known to sound better as they age. As for old pickups, guitarists are willing to pay big money for pickups taken out of old guitars (ask Ry Cooder ;-) . Seymour Duncan does a great job of replicating old Fender pickups.

Fender switched from lacquer to polyurethane as the finish on their guitars and basses in '66 and the lacquer-finished '66 and earlier examples are worth considerable more than the poly-finished ones. Why? They sound better. Bassist Leland Sklar (James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Carole King, Phil Collins, Toto) bought the P-bass body of his "Frankenstein" with no finish at all---unfinished wood is more resonant.

@bdp24  Modern violin players are still trying to recreate instruments that sound like the Stradivari

A blind test already debunked the Stradivarius myth. People, including elite violinists, actually preferred the sound of the modern violin*. Again, it's all about nostalgia and status.

There's an actual term for this longing for the past called Rosy retrospection. Even pro musicians are not immune to it.

The most technically-proficient guitar players (Vai, Govan, Malmsteen, Batio, Buckethead, etc.) all play guitars of their own design, not vintage ones.

Your Prius analogy is flawed. In keeping with your original cars, I'd take a new Lincoln Continental over a (new) old one. The new model will ride better, handle better, stop quicker, last far longer, be safer, have a better sound system, have more comfortable heated seats, have tires that last at least twice as long, an exhaust that will never rust, a body that will take far longer to rust, and be quieter.

As far as CDs, almost all mine have been sold. Why waste the space and suffer the inconvenience when I can stream and play almost any album in existence, by voice-control no less, for $150/yr? As for LPs, I gave those away in 1990. 

Time marches on.