The State of the Vintage Guitar Market by Jim Pasch
I would first like to thank Billy Penn for inviting me to write a bi-monthly column for 300guitars. I look at this as a great opportunity to help educate the public on some of the knowledge I have acquired over the past 20 years in the vintage guitar business. This column will be a based on my knowledge and experience with vintage guitars mostly Fender, Gibson, Rickenbacker, Gretsch, Mosrite, Guild an Epiphone guitars made in the U.S.A. There may be a few others in there but these are the basic ones.
The good thing about this column is that I will answer directly all your questions you may have personally and within 48 hours. So please feel free to e-mail me at anytime and I will be glad to help. My strengths are in the American vintage guitars. I know something but not a lot about imported models and the vintage Japanese market but will try and answer the best I can. I also have a wealth of knowledge of vintage guitar parts and restoration so we will be also touching on these areas over the months as well.
Commenting on the state of the vintage guitar market would be an appropriate start. The market has taken a beating like everything and everyone else in the past few years. The collectors have stopped buying and have thinned out their collections. The vintage enthusiast has had less free cash to buy guitars and the players as always are the ones who suffer because they have less money and now less gigs to play.
The good news is this is not an article on gloom and doom. There is enough of that in the world. This is first of all to make it clear the vintage guitar market never bottomed out the economy did. Yes the market got inflated but so did everything else. The market adjusted but again this was due to a banking problem and greed on Wall Street not the vintage guitar market. This is a very important fact to remember. In fact if you had a 401k or a vintage guitar collection I am sure dollar per dollar you were better off with guitars.
Today there are many promising signs on the horizon for us guitar lovers. The market has bottomed out last year and has slowly been gaining momentum. It will never be what it was but then again a 59 jr should have never been 14k to begin with! Today sales are booming on guitar under $3000. I have spoken to dealer after dealer who says I need more guitars under $3000. The market from $3000-$15000 has been seeing a significant increase in sales and the demand is coming back. This has always been the pivotal market because it is the middle ground for vintage guitars. 70% of the vintage guitars fall into this range. When this sector is well the business is well.
The only dismal news is about the guitars in the $30,000 -$500,000 range. These guitars are stagnant and because the people who buy them used to have lots of disposable income and today that is still not around. There are sales and I know of many bursts selling for $200,000 to $250,000 but that is not the majority. Every week I still here of a dot neck selling for $38,000 or a gold top for $60, 000 so there is money out there and people are buying. This is the great news.
So now maybe a musician can actually afford a real vintage guitar and play it!! This is the time to buy this is the lowest prices have been in 7 years. Again this is the great news so forget the gloom and doom plug in and turn it up!