A Guide for Buying Vintage Guitars

If you love your music and you’re interested in starting to collect vintage guitars, there’s a lot to think about before you sink your hard earned money into your first investment. Most vintage guitars were crafted between the 1930's and the 1970's. The guitar's manufacturer plays a significant role in its value. Some of the most popular brands include Fender, Gibson, Martin, Epiphone, Rickenbacker, and National. When you are buying any of these guitars, learn the basics of how to evaluate them and do some research on the best places to find them. It will make the whole process more enjoyable.

 

Evaluating a Vintage Guitar

When you are buying any vintage collectible, condition is the most important factor to consider. You need to ask the seller the right questions about condition. Does it have any damage? Are there any replacement parts? Are there any parts missing? A little wear and tear on the pickups, tuning pegs, and bridges is to be expected, and probably doesn’t affect the value. If however, they’ve all been replaced and look too new, you may want to you may want to do a little more checking to make sure that the guitar is as old as they say. Be sure you get to see good clear pictures. Of course if you can hold the instrument in your hands, even better. Look for serial numbers or model numbers. Then go on the internet and find out what these numbers mean for each brand of guitar. Finally ask if the guitar works. That’s a no brainer. If it doesn’t work you might not want it.
Another factor to consider is what the guitar is made of. You should look for guitars made of mahogany for warm tones and maple for brighter tones. Those made of solid maple are less expensive and less desired for collectors. The rarest guitars are made of Brazilian rosewood. If you stumble across one of these guitars from the 1960's, scoop it up while you can.

What is the guitar’s provenance? That’s just a fancy word for history. Does the guitar have a cool story behind it? Did it once belong to Chet Adkins or Jimi Hendrix? Was it played on stage by some famous musician or was in a movie? Anything like that will add big time to the value.
After you’ve done all homework that goes with determining how good the quality is and any other special information it’s time to try and figure out how much to pay. The best way is to go online to see what others have paid recently. Don’t just go to some music store and pay retail. You want to find out what the fair market value of the exact type of guitar you are looking at is. Here are some sites to look at:

Live Auctioneers - You may have to sign up but it won’t cost anything. Once you are in, search the auctions and look for sold items. Then type in the key words guitar or vintage guitar. If any of the auctions they cover have sold a guitar, it will be there.

eBay – By far the best place to look. You can use the advanced search function and choose to look at only the completed auctions that have sold and you’ll get the best idea what the guitar should be worth.

The bottom line is that when you find a guitar you’re interested in, check it out as best you can for condition, and do your homework to try and figure out how much is too much to pay. And in the end, if you’re happy that’s all that matters.


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