We’ve just received Vintage Guitar Magazine’s Price Guide for 2018 and have been pouring over the data. We’ve used the Price Guide for the past 6 years or so to add another data point to our pricing calculation when we’re preparing a listing for any vintage guitar. Do you have one? Maybe one from a few years back? It’s time to update your guide: Vintage Guitar Price Guide 2018 on Amazon. If you buy through that link then you’ll pay Amazon’s lowest price and I’ll get a little kickback for directing you there. You won’t pay a cent more than you would without the link. It helps me continue down this vintage guitar rabbit hole. Thank you!
How buyers can use the Vintage Guitar Price Guide: Let’s take a 1964 Fender Stratocaster with Sunburst finish and original case for example. Take the guide and flip to the Fender section in the Guitar tab, then over to the Stratocaster section (models are listed in alphabetical order of their catalog name). There are tons of different Stratocaster models made throughout the years. We’re just looking for the original Stratocaster model debuting in 1954 (the first listing). Look down at the listing for 1964, then to the Sunburst finish and Spaghetti logo (yes, they even break it down to logo style for years that change!). The VGPG list it at $14,500 for the low value and $19,500 for the high value.
Since there are a lot of Stratocasters sold every year, we can be pretty confident that these are the prices that the dealers are using to price competitively. If you’re looking for an all original guitar in perfect condition with case then expect to pay at the high end of the range. Looking for all the case candy, paperwork, pictures with the owner, hand written song lyrics too? You may want to toss that high end price out the window or you’ll go home without a guitar. The prices listed are for “excellent condition, all original instruments.”
How are values determined? Can you imagine trying to gather all this information for so many different models and years? It’s a pretty impressive set of data. It’s sourced from 37 traditional brick and mortar vintage guitar dealers that have been in the business for a long time. Some of the information is new but some appears to be carried over from year to year. Since vintage and collectible guitars are scarce, sometimes there isn’t enough data from year to year to keep up with the fast changing pace of the vintage guitar world. That’s ok though, some data is better than no data!
How we use the VGPG: Sometimes we don’t! But often times, the VGPG prices are just another data point that goes into the calculation. It’s more important to us to price competitively based on what similar or alternative guitars are currently available. We consider clean, unmolested vintage pieces with case, cover, and/or paperwork and tags to be vastly more desirable than the alternative and we price accordingly.
The vintage guitar market as a whole: That’s what you came for right? You heard about “the death of the guitar” in the New York Times and feel like a spectator in the Coliseum watching your favorite gladiator be pummeled by synthesizers and digital music. Just kidding!
The VGPG has a section in the beginning of the book called The 42 Guitar Index. The folks at Vintage Guitar Magazine selected what they considered the 42 most collectible models from Gibson, Martin, and Fender (14 each) and tracked their value as a whole starting in 1991. The Index saw a steady increase every year from 1991 until 2007 when it shot up (bubble city!!). 2007 to 2008 saw crazy increases but 2009 to 2013 saw the Index correct back down to about 2007 prices. 2014 to 2017 was generally flat line but 2017 to 2018 shows an Index decrease of about 4%. What does this mean?! Is the market dying?
Let’s remind ourselves that the 42 Guitar Index is based on the 42 most collectible pieces from each brand. Many of these end up being valued between $20k, to $200k and are available to high wealth individuals only. So the Index becomes more about tracking the part of the market that is based largely on speculation and investment and less on each model’s ability to inspire a musician to make beautiful music.
We’re excited about where the market for collectible guitars is going. In our experience, many of the coolest guitars have increased in value against the Index. Many of the Index models are valued so highly that they make other models look like much better buying opportunities. Can a vintage guitar also be an investment? Absolutely! But if you’re buying that guitar solely for the investment potential then you will likely be disappointed.
Our hottest sellers of 2017: Anything that’s clean and original seems to fly off the shelves. Custom color Fender guitars too do not stick around long. We’ve also seen a lot of action with amplifiers but more specifically, Fender amplifiers.
Pick up your price guide here: Vintage Guitar Price Guide 2018 on Amazon. Leave a comment and let me know what you think of our analysis. What brand or model do you think has increased or decreased in value exceptionally? Let us know.