Vintage Guitar Appraisal
Appraisals for vintage Fender, Gibson, and Martin guitars
If you've inherited a vintage Fender, Gibson, or Martin guitar then you need a certified appraisal to find out how much it's worth. The value of a vintage guitar depends heavily on first determining the exact make and model, identifying the year by serial number, identify color and features, and a careful inspection for originality. Click the red Contact Me button below to speak to a vintage guitar expert with over a decade of experience selling vintage USA made guitars.
You can learn more about John with True Vintage Guitar here: About.
Which guitars are eligible for a free appraisal?
In short, the guitars that are eligible for my free appraisals are made by Gibson, Fender, and Martin from the 1930s until the mid 1960s. Many other guitars are considered vintage, but I only offer help to owners in the areas that I have thorough expertise. My current primary focus is solid and semi-hollow electric guitars in the very high end range ($20k USD and up). If your guitar isn't in this range then I may connect you with an appraiser who has more expertise in the area you need.
Feel free to reach out if you're not sure if your guitar is eligible for a free appraisal (red "Contact Me" button in the lower left corner of your browser).
Note: I am only able to offer help if you are the owner of the guitar. I do not offer buyer agent services at the moment. Thank you!
Free Guitar Appraisal Vs. Insurance Appraisal
If you have a vintage guitar and are interested in how much it may be worth, an appraisal from a trusted vintage guitar expert is important. I offer a free vintage guitar appraisal to those with vintage Fender, Gibson, Martin, and similar USA made guitars manufactured from the 1930s until about 1980. A free vintage guitar appraisal starts with checking the serial number and pictures of your guitar to determine when it was made. You can click the Contact Me button below if you want to reach out to me about your vintage guitar.
If you're looking to insure a vintage guitar and need a professional guitar appraisal for your insurance company then I can provide that as well. I formally appraise all kinds of vintage musical instruments for insurance purposes, estates, and future resale. For $300 per instrument, you can get a fully-researched appraisal of your 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 Values: this 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.