For what it's worth: pricing junk guitars.

One thing I have noticed over the years 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 reason. Never mind that the guitar in question was a higher-end model in dead mint condition, where one can 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 1960s 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 maybe charge a little more, but only AFTER completely overhauling the instrument. It's one thing to charge top dollar for a clean guitar that's ready to play, and quite another to expect more than a few bucks for a trashed piece of junk without putting any effort into it. If you're going to flip it, either fix it up or price it low enough so that someone CAN buy it and fix it up - and not just laugh at your silly price and move on. No amount of hype will bestow any special coolness upon an overpriced guitar. An old Harmony archtop priced at $150 is cool. At $350, it's still kind of cool, if it's nice and clean and doesn't need everything. But at $800, any coolness it might have had starts to evaporate rapidly.

My opinion may be in the minority, but I believe that it would be a good thing if most older vintage oddballs 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 only care about the value of their guitars and don't really care about the guitars themselves. 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 twangers, let's learn about their history, and let's not worry about "what's it worth" too much.


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