I asked the same question on Manoucheries, and I got some pretty interesting answers. I am curious to see what you guys think.
It's obvious that for several years now, the market of gypsy guitars has completely exploded for the traditional hand-made guitars and also for the later generations of more industrial / chinese ones.
It has been said so many times that any given guitar needs a couple of years to mature or "open", and that old woods / vintage guitars have wonderful qualities.
So what about the Gitanes or Gitane-inspired ones ?
You bought one 3~5 years ago, and have played enough to know what's a good guitar and a bad one... So what's up ? The sound / the tone has changed ? The guitar has open ? How does this kind of guitar do with time ?
Are we going to see them on gypsyguitars.com in 50 years sold for 20,000 USD ?
There are a few guitars that get a special sound with age, but not all of them do. I think it takes a special set of circumstances for a guitar to sound better with age, and it does happen. I wouldn't expect it in general though and most of these gypsy guitars will probably just depreciate over time.
A good comparison would be a mature modele, such as a DuPont MD-50. You could compare one of them from 10 years ago to one today. My guess is that the new one is going to sound and play way better.
A nine year old Gitane? Damn it seems like yesterday I read the first ad...
As for the Duponts, I'm afraid the new ones don't play as good as the one made in the "golden era"... and that has nothing to do with aging.
I found the opposite to be true...the newer ones play like butter. The older ones usually need a lot more setup work to get the buttery feel of a new Dupont. I think Maurice has really dialed in the design over the years...he's really giving more bang for the buck then ever before.
The Dupont I bought is as good a guitar as I can imagine, and better for me than any other acoustic guitar I've played.
I don't think its relevant how a guitar is produced nor should it matter who plays what guitar. The tones you get on the VR and volume are exceptional.
Like any good guitar, it makes you stretch to use the potential sound that it has. If the old Duponts are better than the new, I simply don't know how much that could be true. The old Busatos are louder but lack the tone density in my opinion. I play solo and I find the VR gets a richness and a variety of sounds unmatched by anything else I've played to date.
I like my 500, and my old Harmony too. It's not snobbery. I gig with any one of them just for the differences. It's great to have something that sounds like the different styles and eras and then mix things up. but the sound of Django is closer to the VR than any other I've played, yet carries off other styles (minus the electric stuff) very well.
I can't say the new ones are as good as the old ones cause I have no evidence, but I'm dubious simply because the new ones are very good indeed.
As to top woods improving with age: I'm a carpenter and have dealt with a lot of old soft woods (2x4's). The old ones are harder than the new ones! I've also had batchs of wood (hard and softwoods) that got considerably harder after 10-15 years. On the other hand, having played guitar for 40 years, I've tried to hear the difference between old and new guitars, but always remain agnostic about which variables make them sound different.