State of the collectible/vintage market in 2013?

MissingSomethin

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What have you seen in the last few years? I am curious about the rise as well as the decline.

How has the vintage guitar market fared since the 2008 recession? Can anyone give an idea of the price action in vintage guitars over the last 20 years?
Like a 50's LP. What did they go for in 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, and today?

I have seen a few posts saying the market is soft. But how soft? Have certain models dropped in value more than others?

It's interesting to examine specific situations. I talked to a guy who paid $22k for a '53 Goldtop in 2008. He recently sold it for $18k.
I also heard of a a guy who paid $18k for a pre-CBS Strat and is now getting about $14k for it.
About a 20% loss isn't terrible in a big recession. Could have been much worse.

I have a feeling inflated 3rd tier stuff took a much bigger hit, closer to 40%-50%?
 

Jimmi

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NOw is a great time to buy IMHO...especially player grade second tier stuff. Many are affordable. The higher end stuff I still wonder about....i think those prices have not seen the true drop yet.
 

DADGAD

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I remember a video of a guitar show from the late 80's where a guy was selling bursts and saying they were going for 5k. Probably nuts at the time but hindsight is 20/20.
 

flameburst

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Very hard to explain. It's all down to the guitar in question. Is it a popular model like a McCarty-era Les Paul or ES-335 or pre-CBS Strat or Tele. Those have always been the 'big four' in the marketplace. Bought and sold regularly - the same instruments for more or less money, from one year to another. Then you have the genuinely rare, low production models. More of a niche market, but there are collectors and players after particular high-end Gibson models.

More and more since the mid 2000's, players and collectors have been getting all hot and bothered over guitars that didn't receive much attention before then, but since the 'big four' have become unobtainable in terms of 'financial value' to mere mortals, interest in the lesser models (the C's and D's as opposed to the A's and B's) seems to have increased vastly.

Think of how ES-330's have become super popular over recent years. Simple reason, great guitars - made by the same people at the same time as the revered ES-335 but more obtainable, and they have scope to increase in value respectively. Same with Les Paul Juniors. Time has been right to buy them. Great vintage guitars for the price of a run of the mill Historic.

Values for all vintage guitars have generally seen incremental value increase since the 1980's, some at greater rates than others. You're right though, at the moment everything seems to be priced to sell at between 50%-75% of what it might have sold for pre-2008. The last few years have really knocked a lot of people for six and skewed the perceived values of vintage guitars as well as many other 'investible' commodities.

Guitars are a luxury item in an age where it's more important to feed a family and keep a roof over their heads.

For the newer guitars, high-end limited-run Historics and signature Historics seem to be getting a lot of attention nowadays. Over all the commercial hype, I believe those who are buying them are buying them as a possible future investment, or at the very least these are guitars that should hold their value down the line. If they look and play great too then where's the harm in that!

The enjoyment of owning (or rather, being the custodian of) a good vintage guitar comes from getting the indescribable 'wow' factor. You somehow know when it's a special one. Some have it, some do not. I've played a few very special Les Paul's, but I've played more that left me feeling 'meh' (or whatever the current parlance is!). Any instrument that leaves you with that particular 'wow' feeling will usually command more value in the marketplace, whether it's an old Les Paul or a pre-war Archtop L5.

Above all, invest in a guitar because you enjoy having it and playing it - not because some people say 'it will be an investment.' As a player you will know when a certain guitar is right for you to keep or to move on, for whatever reason. That's the market place right there. It's whatever is available to buy, at whatever the price it sells for, to the person who has the money to spend at that particular point in time.

I'm sorry if I haven't particularly answered your question, but I lost faith in the vintage market a good few years ago. A good guitar is a good guitar. A great guitar is just that.
 

Liam

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Timely post Leon. I've just invested again - went to see the Black Crowes, and realised there are early 60s Gibsons that have God's own tone. Needs a bit of work doing, but I've been promised I'll not be disappointed with the sound.

You somehow know when it's a special one. Some have it, some do not. I've played a few very special Les Paul's, but I've played more that left me feeling 'meh' (or whatever the current parlance is!).
That one we played the last time we met was most definitely not meh in the slightest.

Above all, invest in a guitar because you enjoy having it and playing it - not because some people say 'it will be an investment.' As a player you will know when a certain guitar is right for you to keep or to move on, for whatever reason. That's the market place right there. It's whatever is available to buy, at whatever the price it sells for, to the person who has the money to spend at that particular point in time.
Really good advice. People say the same about the art world, and it's definitely the right way to look at it. Don't buy something that you don't totally fall in love with. If you get something because you really like it, want to play it, want to just look at it, love the smell and feel of it, then there is sure to be someone else that feels the same way if you have to be parted from it. I think all the guitars I have bought are probably still worth a bit more than I paid for them, even those that I bought at the top of the market. It's no coincidence that they are nearly all quite amazing sounding and playing guitars, and there's a list of people that have said "if you ever consider selling..." attached to pretty well all of them.

So how soft is the market? Depends if you can find someone that needs the money more than the guitar, but Fretted Americana, Rumbleseat, etc. aren't panic selling at low prices. I don't think they're going to need to.

Liam
 

flameburst

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Hi Liam,

Yeah - that one was in a league of its own! :naughty:

So, can you disclose what your new (old) one is?

If you're on email we can try to arrange a get together if you're down our way again. There may even be some clement weather by then!
 

Jimmi

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I will say that some of the traditional shops that used to be pretty hard to move on price have let suff go for cheaper even if the advertised price is the same.

Deals are everywhere right now. Reminds me of the mid to late 80s on les Pauls etc which is what I am more interested in personally. I have seen really good condition instruments sit for prices that would have led to a stampede a few years ago.
 

Liam

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Hi Liam,

Yeah - that one was in a league of its own! :naughty:
Definitely a complete flag day in every way. Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself to make sure you didn't dream it.

So, can you disclose what your new (old) one is?
The details are generally fuzzy around the edges, but a Southworth Guitars deal and it's still "where the cool man thrives" in my experience. '63ish SG/LP Std, huge neck, one PAF, one Pat. No.

If you're on email we can try to arrange a get together if you're down our way again. There may even be some clement weather by then!
Going to try to schedule something for July or August. With a bit of luck Tez might have space in the diary for a look at an SG by then!

Jimmi said:
I will say that some of the traditional shops that used to be pretty hard to move on price have let suff go for cheaper even if the advertised price is the same.
I think they possibly always did that for people that were really serious. It definitely has got easier to get a deal, but I'm never sure how much of that is recession, and how much of that is me getting older, more sure of myself, and more knowledgeable about what I'm buying. Once the older shops get to know you as not being someone that uses a lot of their time for really basic questions, and not using their time when you're not likely to spend anything, the deals become a lot easier to make.

Liam
 

Jimmi

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Definitely a complete flag day in every way. Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself to make sure you didn't dream it.



The details are generally fuzzy around the edges, but a Southworth Guitars deal and it's still "where the cool man thrives" in my experience. '63ish SG/LP Std, huge neck, one PAF, one Pat. No.



Going to try to schedule something for July or August. With a bit of luck Tez might have space in the diary for a look at an SG by then!



I think they possibly always did that for people that were really serious. It definitely has got easier to get a deal, but I'm never sure how much of that is recession, and how much of that is me getting older, more sure of myself, and more knowledgeable about what I'm buying. Once the older shops get to know you as not being someone that uses a lot of their time for really basic questions, and not using their time when you're not likely to spend anything, the deals become a lot easier to make.

Liam
A couple of the places I know pretty well. Market is soft. At least 50% in some cases. I don't think it will last forever. I am trying to put a few away.
 

flameburst

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Definitely a complete flag day in every way. Sometimes you just have to pinch yourself to make sure you didn't dream it.
Yep. Fortunately got a couple of POIDH!

The details are generally fuzzy around the edges, but a Southworth Guitars deal and it's still "where the cool man thrives" in my experience. '63ish SG/LP Std, huge neck, one PAF, one Pat. No.
Oh yeah! Sounds intriguing. Gil knows his stuff like no other and has a wicked sense of humour and zero tolerance for bullshit which I admire. Always been in awe of his stock since well before the pre-internet days. Many an evening perusing the usual books with 80% of the pictures credited to him! An SG in on my never ending bucket list. Can't wait to see it/play it next time round.

Going to try to schedule something for July or August. With a bit of luck Tez might have space in the diary for a look at an SG by then!
Brilliant!

Catch up soon then. :thumb:
 

sikoniko

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The details are generally fuzzy around the edges, but a Southworth Guitars deal and it's still "where the cool man thrives" in my experience. '63ish SG/LP Std, huge neck, one PAF, one Pat. No.

Liam
Very timely indeed. 'bursts are unobtainable... but early '60s SGs are not and some of them still have PAF's. What is the thought on these? I hate looking at a guitar like an investment, but the stakes are high on some of these, and I don't want to lose big if you know what I mean.

Is it worthwhile to get into an early SG (still labelled Les Paul) w/ PAFs at a great price, or should one hold out until the money is there for a goldtop? 53-55 wrap tails are available for under $20k though...

My problem is that I don't really have an opinion on either of these at the moment. I've briefly owned an SG and they were cool but I was constantly fighting the unbalanced weight of the neck, which would fall towards the floor if I did not hold it up. I love P90s but have not owned a historic GoldTop so I don't know if I would be better off buying into a historic to get a feel of whether I would use it much before going all in.

The only thing I am sure about is that I want a '55 strat. My thought was I could buy the SG and play around with it so I don't spend the money on something else. When I get more I could trade/sell it towards the purchase of the strat I want.

thoughts?
 

Jimmi

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Very timely indeed. 'bursts are unobtainable... but early '60s SGs are not and some of them still have PAF's. What is the thought on these? I hate looking at a guitar like an investment, but the stakes are high on some of these, and I don't want to lose big if you know what I mean.

Is it worthwhile to get into an early SG (still labelled Les Paul) w/ PAFs at a great price, or should one hold out until the money is there for a goldtop? 53-55 wrap tails are available for under $20k though...

My problem is that I don't really have an opinion on either of these at the moment. I've briefly owned an SG and they were cool but I was constantly fighting the unbalanced weight of the neck, which would fall towards the floor if I did not hold it up. I love P90s but have not owned a historic GoldTop so I don't know if I would be better off buying into a historic to get a feel of whether I would use it much before going all in.

The only thing I am sure about is that I want a '55 strat. My thought was I could buy the SG and play around with it so I don't spend the money on something else. When I get more I could trade/sell it towards the purchase of the strat I want.

thoughts?
I know someone selling a great 61 SGLP with great PAFs if you are interested you can PM me.


I have bought a couple of the p90GTs and love them. I actually think the high output long magnet PAFs and the higher output 50s P90s can sound similar in a lot of ways as far as sounding very dynamic. Ceritanly a lot different than the single coils in Strats etc. I have 2 54s right now, one with PAFs and one with original p90s. Great guitars with thier own personalities.

Not sure you would really get the empression you need with a ressiue. The newer p90s are a bit different to my ear. Not necessarily better or worse but different.
 

Ducati

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For $18 get this book:

[ame=http://www.amazon.com/Official-Vintage-Guitar-Price-Magazine/dp/1884883303]2013 Official Vintage Guitar Price Guide (Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide): Alan Greenwood, Gil Hembree: 9781884883309: Amazon.com: Books[/ame]

In the first chapter it answers all your questions with a graph showing value trends of various guitars over the years.

Prices are down from the peak but you still won't find a bargain on a great example of a marquee guitar. There's no el cheapo 1961 Tele Customs or 1937 Martin D-18's. I've been looking!

Perhaps the speculative buyers have left the market, the kind of people who bought with short/medium term resale in mind as the only reason for purchase. They had to keep raising the prices to sell it on to next speculator. Finally someone came to their senses and said $20,000 for a Les Paul Special was way out of line and they didn't want a Special in the first place!

So now we're down to a smaller pool of buyers, with a higher percentage of people who actually want to own and use these guitars.
 

Jimmi

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You may be correct about the upper end guitars but don't you think there has been a real devaluing of the market recently? For example, looking at the excellent condition p90 LP customs and pre 56 LPs. I have seen really really good ones listed for mid 20s and less..assume the sold for less than that.

For $18 get this book:

2013 Official Vintage Guitar Price Guide (Official Vintage Guitar Magazine Price Guide): Alan Greenwood, Gil Hembree: 9781884883309: Amazon.com: Books

In the first chapter it answers all your questions with a graph showing value trends of various guitars over the years.

Prices are down from the peak but you still won't find a bargain on a great example of a marquee guitar. There's no el cheapo 1961 Tele Customs or 1937 Martin D-18's. I've been looking!

Perhaps the speculative buyers have left the market, the kind of people who bought with short/medium term resale in mind as the only reason for purchase. They had to keep raising the prices to sell it on to next speculator. Finally someone came to their senses and said $20,000 for a Les Paul Special was way out of line and they didn't want a Special in the first place!

So now we're down to a smaller pool of buyers, with a higher percentage of people who actually want to own and use these guitars.
 

maverick08

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Some stats from the latest VG price guide:

Since 2008, their 42 guitar "index" has lost a cumulative 28% of its value

Solid bodies dropped on average 44.4%

Gibsons have dropped 40%

Acoustics have increased on average 5.5%!
 

Skipped

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If you forced me to predict a cast iron investment on a public forum (I would never do something that stupid!) then I think it would be 1952/3 GT.
I can't see any problem finding 10 clean ones to buy for $14k each. Maybe a bit less.

Why?
1.I think the Joe Glaser style stopbar mod will develop into an even better solution and more people will start playing these guitars.
2. I think more collectors will want to own a '52 because of it's significance.
3. At some point we will have a couple of Luthiers thinking: If only we could discover a small stash of left-over bodies, necks and fingerboards from the fifties......(sigh).
Well....actually......You can.
 

Jimmi

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You can get clean ones for less than 14k. I have seen them list for that and less. Probably can find them for 12k or so if you look.
 

eric ernest

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So how soft is the market? Depends if you can find someone that needs the money more than the guitar, but Fretted Americana, Rumbleseat, etc. aren't panic selling at low prices. I don't think they're going to need to.
However, you never know what is going on behind the scenes....Do some retailers have an investor? Do they have old family money? Do they have huge bank debts? Have they sold their house to keep their business solvent?

I would say the following is a better and more accurate indicator of the vintage/MI market...

Many vintage shops have closed their retail store or are now by appointment.
Gruhn fired Walter Carter and sold their iconic building.
Longtime stalwart Guitar Emporium closed.
JK Lutherie just quit the guitar show circuit.
Most Mom and Pop music stores have closed shop.
Guitar Center is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Best Buy is quitting the MI industry and is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
I personally know a many dealers who are seriously considering closing their shop.

...and yet somehow there are those who are "seeming" unaffected? :cool:
 

Skipped

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I am truly baffled by one dealer (who sometimes advertises on gbase, and even ebay).
He seems to have had the same stock, at the same prices, for maybe 5 years.
In fact it could be 10 years.
The prices seem to have been static throughout including a Conversion priced at $35k.
I am baffled because I don't understand the business model. Maybe he has a shop and sells a lot of strings.
 

eric ernest

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I should have added that many vintage dealers have a high percentage of consignments in their inventory...sometimes those pieces are owned by "local" collectors that do not care if the instruments sell quickly. They are actually using the vintage shop to "store" their collection, in part or in whole.

Those shops have less "wiggle room."
 


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