I am convinced that in all years there were some outstanding examples made.
Your job is to find the one that is IT FOR YOU.
Most of them are "OK " some will be "dogs" . Good luck with the quest for the right one.
Another thing is the pricing... prices gone rediculous high in last years.
I love my 18 Traditional too it looks the same as yours. It rings unplugged and has sustain - btw. not weight reliefed about 4.1 kg - Very nice top flames. I swapped the BB for a set of vintage SD59N/B.
This sounds and plays awesome.
my secret wappon :
Marshall 1974x 18watt
+ a overdrive (xotic SL drive ,& treble booster, optionally a reverb ).
I am thrilled anytime I switch the amp on - it is a so damn good sounding dynamic amp.
my Friedman Runt 20 is also good for live gigs , but real inspiration flows in my room with the...
I wd rather choose 2nd hand "brands". cheap pickups which are decent - are really rare.
but you can have fun to find out - spend a lot time and money, what you cd have used for any brand.
for the long term the brand-pu wd pay back and keep their value more or less.
just my thoughts.
It 's the market what drive prices, but the concept difference as I know is:
the 57 is full mahagony body tends to be darker
the 68 has a maple cap under the black finish tends to be brighter , maybe more weight.
maple cap= extra cost but less in price?
I had a Xotic EP1 sold it as I had
in my main pedal board in that sequence.
for my home setup I was missing a treble boost in front of my Marshall 1974x
so I ordered a TC spark - so running
Neunaber Imerse Reverb
all is subjective with sounds - but it felt / sounded - simply a bit "coming home"
although I am sure if I spend 200 euros more - I cd have another set which I like (more?).
I head f.e. OX4 hot duanes in the guitar, but sold them as a planned to sell the traditional,too.
Those hot duanes...
let me tell you: yesterday rehearsals with my Trad2018 + 80ties SD59N + 59BL just a bugdet gear (joyo jackman and 1x12 v30 box) -
beside my old xotic bb.
I was total surprised how good it sounded! I had this kerrang and honk from the bridge pickup. I used the clean channel on the jackman.