For what it's worth: pricing junk guitars.

One thing I have discovered is that people have a tendency to overprice cheap guitars. They learn that a vintage Gibson has sold for thousands of dollars, and suddenly their garage sale cheapie is a rare treasure. Or they see a guitar similar to theirs sell for $400 on eBay and begin to think they ought to get that much for their junker. Never mind that the $400 sale was a fluke, a result of a bidding war between two bidders who really wanted one for whatever personal reason. Never mind that the guitar in question was a higher-end model in dead mint condition, where one can almost understand its desirability to the winning bidder, if not to justify the price, exactly. But next thing you know, everybody drags their corroded, scratched-up, single-pickup student models out of the garage and starts going "what's it worth, what's it worth, what's it worth???".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I see another common 1960's no-name Japanese three-quarter sized plywood sunburst thingy priced at $299 and hyped as a "cool, rare vintage collectible", I think I'm going to scream. There is simply no reason to pay too much for these guitars. They have no inherent value as musical instruments, only as oddities and collectibles. Unless it is truly a rare and interesting model, in a rare color, with unusual features, in uncommonly good condition, it is in fact worth no more than $100 in most cases. Often, even that much is more than I personally would spend. As a seller, I could charge $100 or maybe even a little more, but only AFTER completely overhauling the instrument. I have sold plenty of such vintage student models for under $100, too. It's one thing to charge top dollar for a clean, top-of-the-line Teisco Spectrum V in a cool blue finish, and quite another to expect more than a few bucks for a corroded, single-pickup Teisco E-100 in an utterly common sunburst. These guitars are by no means rare, they were cranked out by the truckload in the 1960's, and the supply is still plentiful. It will probably take another fifty years before such mass-produced instruments actually become rare, and no amount of hype will bestow any special coolness upon them. A low-end, early 1960's Harmony archtop priced at $99 is cool. At $300, its coolness starts to evaporate rapidly.

My opinion may be in the minority, but I believe that it would be a good thing if most older off-brand models DIDN'T appreciate in price quite so much. Today, it is pretty common to see certain Teiscos sell for as much as I used to pay for lesser Gibsons just a few years ago. While it's always great to see a guitar like the one you own sell for big money, it has had an unfortunate effect on the marketplace. Too many people are only interested in the value of their guitars, not in the guitars themselves. It is really exhausting to have people asking you "what's it worth?" a hundred times a day. You can tell that the only thing they really care about is making a profit. So let's try to keep this in perspective, eh? Like anything else, an old guitar is only worth as much as someone will pay you for it. Let's collect and enjoy and appreciate these fun little toys, let's learn about their history, and let's not worry about profit too much.

 

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