Vintage Guitar Appraisal

"What is my guitar worth? When was my guitar made and by whom? What kind of vintage guitar do I have? Why or why not is my guitar special or collectible?"

These are some of the most common questions I get at True Vintage Guitar. Take advantage of my professional appraisal services to get definitive answers, in writing. I formally appraise all kinds of vintage musical instruments for insurance purposes, estates, and future resale. For just $68 per instrument, you can get a fully-researched appraisal of your guitar or amplifier.

A professional appraisal for insurance purposes is important

Your vintage collectible instrument and its story is priceless, but an insurance company needs a specific number that's backed by facts and figures in order to attempt to compensate you in the case of a loss. Your small investment in a professional appraisal will yield dividends by simplifying your claim process and giving you fair compensation that allows you to replace your vintage collectible guitar or amplifier.

Click the red "Contact Me" button to send pictures and information about your vintage guitar. I'm looking forward to checking it out!

Vintage Guitar Valuations: here is how I determine a value for a vintage Gibson, Fender, Martin, or other similar USA made vintage guitar. The market value of a vintage collectible guitar is not just difficult to determine, it's not a real number. I don't think that is what we should be basing a vintage guitar's value off of. The market value of a vintage collectible guitar is different depending on who is selling the guitar, how well the guitar has been marketed, location of the guitar, return policy, etc etc. There are so many variables to consider that I don't think it's a helpful term. 

I like to appraise vintage collectible guitars based off of a replacement value. I define the replacement value of a vintage guitar as the amount of money a buyer will need to purchase the same model vintage guitar of equal or greater quality. For most vintage collectible guitars, there will be similar enough examples available for purchase at any given time online. We can use those examples to determine what your vintage guitar may be worth if properly marketed. Here are the steps I use to help determine the market value of a vintage guitar. If you decide to do an appraisal then you will receive a document including this information as well as my opinion of the replacement value.

vintage 1957 Gibson Les Paul TV Model

1. Determine the exact make and model of the guitar.

The Make may be rather obvious but you may be surprised at how very small differences in the Model name result in a significant change in the supply and demand function.

Let's consider the Gibson Les Paul TV Model versus the same year Gibson Les Paul Junior. The Les Paul TV Model and the Les Paul Junior from 1955 share the exact same body style, pickup, electronics configuration, scale length, and every other specification except one: the finish. The 1955 Gibson Les Paul TV Model is finished in what the catalog calls "Limed Mahogany" and bears a silkscreen at the top of the headstock that reads "Les Paul / TV Model". The 1955 Gibson Les Paul Junior bears a standard Sunburst finish and has a silkscreen that reads "Les Paul / Junior".

It's a small difference in specification BUT the Les Paul TV Model in exact same condition is often double the value of a comparable Les Paul Junior model. You'll benefit from knowing the exact model of your guitar in your appraisal as well as why that may be important.


Vintage 1957 Fender Telecaster guitar serial number neck plate

2. Determine the exact year of manufacture of the guitar (Do not use the serial number!)

Determining the exact age of a vintage guitar is of paramount importance before attempting to establish a fair market value. Many people attempt to use simply a serial number to accurately date a vintage guitar and this can lead to significant errors in vintage guitar valuation.

Let's assume we are looking at a vintage Fender Stratocaster guitar that bears a four digit serial number on the neck plate. Fender guitar design is such that the neck is attached to the body via four screws and a metal plate. The serial numbers were applied to metal plates before being assigned to a body and neck and as a result, were not applied consecutively. Not only that, but these plates can be replaced and exchange by anyone with a Phillips head screw driver. This is not a reliable way to date a vintage Fender guitar.

I use multiple data points in order to establish an exact year of manufacture. For appraisals on Fender guitars, I'll start with verifying the serial number and continue on by using the potentiometer manufacturing codes, neck and body dates, as well as established features typically found in specific years. You'll receive a properly researched estimate of the year of manufacture in your appraisal since the replacement value is highly dependent on the year.

Vintage 1954 Gibson Les Paul Model goldtop serial number, neck

3. Check for breaks, repairs, and replaced parts. 

Repairs and replacement parts can affect a vintage guitar's value significantly. The finish on the guitar and neck condition are the first things to check. A refinished guitar is often half as desirable or less than a comparable guitar with an original finish. It's not always obvious whether it's been refinished and often requires a vintage guitar expert to make that determination.

Guitar necks, especially those of vintage Gibson guitars, are a structurally important part of the guitar that is prone to fracturing. Mahogany necks on vintage Gibson guitars are especially prone to break and repairs are not always easy to spot. Neck repairs on vintage Gibson guitars affect their value typically by about 50%!

Replacement parts can also significantly affect the value. Vintage electric guitars commonly had pickups replaced, electronics replaced, bridges, frets, etc in the 1960s and 1970s before they were considered collectible. I'll inspect the photos of your vintage guitar with a fine toothed comb and make a determination on what appears to be original and what does not appear to be original.

4. Find comparable examples of vintage guitars currently available for sale. 

Vintage guitar comparables can only be provided if we've established steps 1 through 3. I'll research comparables on the top three online marketplaces that vintage guitars are found as well as use real world examples I've tracked for a decade. I'll use this information to determine the replacement value of your vintage guitar in the case of damage, loss, or theft. 

Vintage Guitar Valuations are not simply opinions, they are well researched and determined by facts and figures. I'm standing by to start the process on your collectible vintage Gibson, Fender, Martin, Epiphone, and other vintage collectible guitars made in the USA. 

Vintage Guitar Appraisal Service