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"Vintage" guitars - worth the cash?


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Hey gang,

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on vintage gear. Is it true that they don't make em like they used to? Has the "cost cutting" really made the quality all that different? Or are the older parts exactly that --old and not as effective?

 

Is it worth paying $1,000 more than a new one for an older Firebird???

 

 

Thanks for your opinions. These forums are amazing to spend time on.

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IMO, vintage guitars are ridiculously fetishised and overpriced.

 

If I had the money, I'd certainly buy sound vintage peices for their investment value and lock them away in a vault, but i would never choose them as playing instruments - I'd much rather spend a fraction of the money on a great, new custom shop piece. I like to buy used guitars to get them cheaper than new!

 

Interestingly, I once talked to a guy who worked in a music store, and whose opinion I trusted, about this all - the store sold both vintage and modern stuff, and he was very much of the opinion that the better Fender reissues blew the original vintage instruments away, especially for use at band volumes. He was amazed at the silly money some people were prepared to pay for really knackered old pups because they were from the 50s - never mind that leave 'em in front of a TV for a week and they'll be gone!

 

I would agree that tone can change with age - solid top acoustics the tone can open up and improve - not enough to justify vintage price tags. Solid body electric guitars I don't think it makes enuogh difference, myself, to really matter plugged in. And past a certain point, really all it is is *different*, not necessarily better. I'd infinitely rather have a 58 Corvette or a 64 Mustang than a 2006 Porsche or Ferrari..... but it'd be absurd to say that they were objectively better cars just becuase they're older.

 

Interestingly enough, Les Paul was interviewed in one of the UK guitar mags for September, and he completely dismisses the idea of vintage guitars being superior. I also read one of the UK vintage experts last month saying that you have to watch with vintage instruments - often the most valuable ones are crap - if a 59 Strat is mint and in as-new condition, for instance, sometimes that's because it always sounded dead and "players rejected" it.

 

Seems funny to me how the whoel vintage thing kicked off with the perception that CBS era Fenders were crap, and so demand grew for pre-65s, and demand grew for 5os LPs because they weren't available new anymore, to the point where demand far outstripped supply and now that rarity is what is prized and not intrinsic value as instruments at all.

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A few months ago I bought a newer Gibson Sg because I played it and knew it was "the one". It felt better than any I had played and was in the natural burst. If I did find a vintage that felt that way I would consider buying it. But if it were $1,000+ more than a new one that felt great there is no way I would do it.

 

I'm looking for a Firebird to try out but see mostly vintage stuff and they're WAY overpriced.

 

Shopping for a Guitar is tricky - some Epiphones feel better than lower priced Gibsons to me but the Gibsons are more expensive.

The Standard Gibsons are great but are normally near $1500 - $2,000.

 

The concept of "used" in most other situations means that it will be cheaper. Not here. The current guitar market is just crazy. I could see selling it for a bit more but asking $10,000 for an old guitar just seems nuts.

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Vintage guitars are so expensive because they are collector's items. It has a lot less to do with their musical qualities than the fact that they are old, of limited quantity, and original designs.

 

I'd love to have a '62 Strat - I think old guitars are very cool. At the moment I wouldn't dream of spending the kind of cash I'd have to in order to get one. Who knows, though, some day I might.

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Here's a reality check. In the 70s both Gibson's and Fender's quality declined with cost cutting by the companies. The guitars were OK but the ones produced now are much better quality. All of a sudden though the vintage craze has made the 70s guitars out to be special because they're old. Old being relative as it's only been thirty years not two hundred. So is the higher price justified? Not from my standpoint as a player. For a collector though I can see why they want vintage guitars. So are you a player or collector? That's how you can judge whether the $1000 premium for an older guitar is worth the cash. My choice between a new Custom Shop LP and a 70s for the same price is no contest. I own a 2005 Goldtop Custom Historic '57 Reissue.

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here are some basic facts, and a little personal opinion based on current market thinking.

 

1. old American made, Name Brand guitars have already proven themselves over time, if they have survived this long, then they must be pretty good. if they were good to begin with, then there is no reason they won't continue to be. and with the fact that American made guitars are now above 1K in street price for nearly ALL models, + the fact that their are TONS of high quality Asian made models now flooding the market. Vintage AMERICAN guitars are appealing as both an investment and an instrument.

 

2. they are not making REAL 19?? whatevers models, anymore period. ( and I'm not taking reissues here. those can't be counted in the totals of the REAL ones made back in the day.)

and the ones they did make, ARE being lost every year to fires, floods, accidents, etc.etc. so they ARE becomeing "rarer" by the day. and some models that are way high today , if you go back and look at the orignal total production figures, you'll find that many of the super expensive guitars today, were made in VERY limited quantities. ( the Gibson 1959 Les Paul Standard only had 1700 made that year and after 50 years are estimated to be only about 800 still surviveing)

 

3. a "good guitar" is a good guitar period. but when your speaking about "Vintage" things change just a bit.

if the thing plays and sounds great, then it IS great. every guitar MUST be evaluated on it's own merits. the problem here, is that rarity of model and it's time tested background will make it's market value high and often times if it's a highly desireable model.. force it's value even higher due to low supply V higher demand.

 

4. no matter what the price books say. anything is worth what someone will pay for it. MOST often, this figure is lower than the books...

But recently, for whatever reasons, the open market values have been MUCH higher than the book values ON CERTAIN MODELS. this is a market "trend" and WILL CHANGE. they could go up higher or they could go down.

I personally feel that higher desireable models will not go down.

but lesser models will most likely drop in price once this "bubble" the market is currently in, begins to fade. that does not mean that the prices will ( although we can hope) become super cheap. but you may see some foks willing to take a 2-300 dollar loss on some of the lesser desireable models in the next couple of years.

...Maybe

 

5. guitars on the whole ( as seen over the last 20 years) have HELD their values much better than Stocks. which is why we are seeing so many non-players in the guitar buying market right now.

Once these "Day traders" make their profit.. they WILL dump these guitars back on the market, then it will be anybodies guess as to what the values will do. this is not the best time to buy, unless you are EXTREMELY knowledgeable about guitars in general, models & desireability and older established values. I have found a bargain or two even on ebay recently.

But ONLY because I'm intimately familar with all the above.

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Originally posted by Bruce Bennett

here are some basic facts, and a little personal opinion based on current market thinking.


1. old American made, Name Brand guitars have already proven themselves over time, if they have survived this long, then they must be pretty good. if they were good to begin with, then there is no reason they won't continue to be. and with the fact that American made guitars are now above 1K in street price for nearly ALL models, + the fact that their are TONS of high quality Asian made models now flooding the market. Vintage AMERICAN guitars are appealing as both an investment and an instrument.


2. they are not making REAL 19?? whatevers models, anymore period. ( and I'm not taking reissues here. those can't be counted in the totals of the REAL ones made back in the day.)

and the ones they did make, ARE being lost every year to fires, floods, accidents, etc.etc. so they ARE becomeing "rarer" by the day. and some models that are way high today , if you go back and look at the orignal total production figures, you'll find that many of the super expensive guitars today, were made in VERY limited quantities. ( the Gibson 1959 Les Paul Standard only had 1700 made that year and after 50 years are estimated to be only about 800 still surviveing)


3. a "good guitar" is a good guitar period. but when your speaking about "Vintage" things change just a bit.

if the thing plays and sounds great, then it IS great. every guitar MUST be evaluated on it's own merits. the problem here, is that rarity of model and it's time tested background will make it's market value high and often times if it's a highly desireable model.. force it's value even higher due to low supply V higher demand.


4. no matter what the price books say. anything is worth what someone will pay for it. MOST often, this figure is lower than the books...

But recently, for whatever reasons, the open market values have been MUCH higher than the book values ON CERTAIN MODELS. this is a market "trend" and WILL CHANGE. they could go up higher or they could go down.

I personally feel that higher desireable models will not go down.

but lesser models will most likely drop in price once this "bubble" the market is currently in, begins to fade. that does not mean that the prices will ( although we can hope) become super cheap. but you may see some foks willing to take a 2-300 dollar loss on some of the lesser desireable models in the next couple of years.

...Maybe


5. guitars on the whole ( as seen over the last 20 years) have HELD their values much better than Stocks. which is why we are seeing so many non-players in the guitar buying market right now.

Once these "Day traders" make their profit.. they WILL dump these guitars back on the market, then it will be anybodies guess as to what the values will do. this is not the best time to buy, unless you are EXTREMELY knowledgeable about guitars in general, models & desireability and older established values. I have found a bargain or two even on ebay recently.

But ONLY because I'm intimately familar with all the above.

 

I can see how what you're saying makes sense. I can't see paying the higher prices - mainly because I'm a player and not a collector. I've also still been looking for that "deal" on eBay.

 

I've had no luck on Firebirds yet but if I ever make a big score I'll post here for sure.

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Originally posted by badshirt

Hey gang,

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on vintage gear. Is it true that they don't make em like they used to? Has the "cost cutting" really made the quality all that different? Or are the older parts exactly that --old and not as effective?


Is it worth paying $1,000 more than a new one for an older Firebird???



Thanks for your opinions. These forums are amazing to spend time on.

 

 

 

Buy a new firebird. Play many and pick a "singer".

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Originally posted by Bruce Bennett

here are some basic facts, and a little personal opinion based on current market thinking.


1. old American made, Name Brand guitars have already proven themselves over time, if they have survived this long, then they must be pretty good. if they were good to begin with, then there is no reason they won't continue to be. and with the fact that American made guitars are now above 1K in street price for nearly ALL models, + the fact that their are TONS of high quality Asian made models now flooding the market. Vintage AMERICAN guitars are appealing as both an investment and an instrument.


2. they are not making REAL 19?? whatevers models, anymore period. ( and I'm not taking reissues here. those can't be counted in the totals of the REAL ones made back in the day.)

and the ones they did make, ARE being lost every year to fires, floods, accidents, etc.etc. so they ARE becomeing "rarer" by the day. and some models that are way high today , if you go back and look at the orignal total production figures, you'll find that many of the super expensive guitars today, were made in VERY limited quantities. ( the Gibson 1959 Les Paul Standard only had 1700 made that year and after 50 years are estimated to be only about 800 still surviveing)


3. a "good guitar" is a good guitar period. but when your speaking about "Vintage" things change just a bit.

if the thing plays and sounds great, then it IS great. every guitar MUST be evaluated on it's own merits. the problem here, is that rarity of model and it's time tested background will make it's market value high and often times if it's a highly desireable model.. force it's value even higher due to low supply V higher demand.


4. no matter what the price books say. anything is worth what someone will pay for it. MOST often, this figure is lower than the books...

But recently, for whatever reasons, the open market values have been MUCH higher than the book values ON CERTAIN MODELS. this is a market "trend" and WILL CHANGE. they could go up higher or they could go down.

I personally feel that higher desireable models will not go down.

but lesser models will most likely drop in price once this "bubble" the market is currently in, begins to fade. that does not mean that the prices will ( although we can hope) become super cheap. but you may see some foks willing to take a 2-300 dollar loss on some of the lesser desireable models in the next couple of years.

...Maybe


5. guitars on the whole ( as seen over the last 20 years) have HELD their values much better than Stocks. which is why we are seeing so many non-players in the guitar buying market right now.

Once these "Day traders" make their profit.. they WILL dump these guitars back on the market, then it will be anybodies guess as to what the values will do. this is not the best time to buy, unless you are EXTREMELY knowledgeable about guitars in general, models & desireability and older established values. I have found a bargain or two even on ebay recently.

But ONLY because I'm intimately familar with all the above.

 

I agree with 2., 3. , and 4.

 

 

With #1, there is the argument that many of the instruments from that era that have survived have done so because they were worth maintaining and taking care of. However, I have also seen the argument that the truly good ones almost NEVER come up for sale for the same reason, and it is the second tier (or worse) that circulate in the marketplace.

 

As for #5, that is certainly true for late-50's Les Pauls and pre-CBS Strats and Teles. However, "guitars on the whole ( as seen over the last 20 years) have HELD their values much better than Stocks" appears to mean that all guitars, new and used, sold since 1986, taken as a whole, have held value better than stocks.

I sincerely doubt that. It is closer to the truth that the vast majority of those guitars have at best held their original street value not corrected for inflation, and the reality is that most are at or below one-half of their new selling prices.

Pull up a 50-year chart on the S&P500 and it becomes very clear that the mid-1980s index levels (around 200) are at about one-sixth of today's index levels (around 1300). With the exception of a few models that were already 20-30 years old in 1985, almost no guitars can claim that sort of performance, and certainly not "guitars on the whole". Look at values on mid-60's Fender Jaguars: They sold new for about $350 and go for about ten times that now. However, the S&P 500 was at about 100 in 1965, and is at about 1300 now, thirteen times. (Both stocks and the Jag beat inflation: the buying power of a 1965 dollar was like 6 dollars in 2006.)

 

 

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=%5EGSPC&t=my&l=off&z=l&q=l&c=

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Originally posted by Edward

IMO, vintage guitars are ridiculously fetishised and overpriced.


If I had the money, I'd certainly buy sound vintage peices for their investment value and lock them away in a vault, but i would never choose them as playing instruments - I'd much rather spend a fraction of the money on a great, new custom shop piece. I like to buy used guitars to get them
cheaper
than new!


Interestingly, I once talked to a guy who worked in a music store, and whose opinion I trusted, about this all - the store sold both vintage and modern stuff, and he was very much of the opinion that the better Fender reissues blew the original vintage instruments away, especially for use at band volumes. He was amazed at the silly money some people were prepared to pay for really knackered old pups because they were from the 50s - never mind that leave 'em in front of a TV for a week and they'll be gone!


I would agree that tone can change with age - solid top acoustics the tone can open up and improve - not enough to justify vintage price tags. Solid body electric guitars I don't think it makes enuogh difference, myself, to really matter plugged in. And past a certain point, really all it is is *different*, not necessarily better. I'd infinitely rather have a 58 Corvette or a 64 Mustang than a 2006 Porsche or Ferrari..... but it'd be absurd to say that they were objectively better cars just becuase they're older.


Interestingly enough, Les Paul was interviewed in one of the UK guitar mags for September, and he completely dismisses the idea of vintage guitars being superior. I also read one of the UK vintage experts last month saying that you have to watch with vintage instruments - often the most valuable ones are crap - if a 59 Strat is mint and in as-new condition, for instance, sometimes that's because it always sounded dead and "players rejected" it.


Seems funny to me how the whoel vintage thing kicked off with the perception that CBS era Fenders were crap, and so demand grew for pre-65s, and demand grew for 5os LPs because they weren't available new anymore, to the point where demand far outstripped supply and now that rarity is what is prized and not intrinsic value as instruments at all.

 

 

+1

 

Well said. I think this covers it perfectly. And just to add 2 cents....I believe that "vintage" is just a term applied to a aged object. All it has to be is (I think) 20 years old. That alone does not make it better. I agree with the "feel" being the guide...tone helps too.

 

With guitars in particular I think there is an attempt (by older rockers like myself) to have that guitar you couldn't afford back in the day...or to capture a piece of magic that was in existance when Rock and roll was born and then flourished through the legendary days.

 

To me none compelling enough to pay those prices...unless the guitar belonged to Duane Allman or something.

 

But back to that elusive Mojo....it does exist...but a year and a manufacturer can't tell you what guitar has it or not. Only your fingers and ears can tell you that.

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I could ramble on and on about this topic.

I have new guitars that I like alot as well as old guitars that I like alot. In fact I have paid less for the older guitars I have than I did for most of the newer ones.

 

I get alot of my older guitars from pawnshops. But I also try them out first. If they are structurally sound, sound good, play well, and are cool to me then I will consider if the guitar is worth enough to me to add to my collection to justify the price.

 

Later this year, once I get settled into a new house I just bought, I am actually going to a handful of vintage guitar stores to pick out one particularly nice old vintage guitar. But I like archtops. And fortunately in general archtops do not command the really high prices of things like vintage Stratocasters, Telecasters, and Les Pauls. Though some do. It just so happens that the ones I like don't.

 

I am thinking along the lines of 50s Gibson ES-175, ES-5, L-5, Super 400, ES-300, even sixties ES-330s, Barney Kessel, Tal Farlow, etc. Many of those can be found for less than $10000, a good bit for less than $5000. My budget is $10000 or so.

 

Most of the ES-175s with P90s, up to about 1957, sell for $3000 for single pickup sunburst models to around $7000 for particularly nice blonde double pickup ES-175s. All things considered, I would pay that much for a vintage ES-175. But it would have to suit my needs really well with no issues. It would have to have alot more use to me than just being an old collectible guitar. I don't really care about the collectibility. Whatever I buy I intend to use, just like all the guitars I already have.

 

But then there are other brands- none I will mention here because I would like to keep the prices down on those so I can still afford them. Fender and Gibson are not the only companies who made fine guitars back in the day. Other folks made nice old guitars too. And most of them cost less today than comparable Fenders and Gibsons. Still though, for me to buy it the guitar has to be useful to me and of a quality of sound and playability that makes me want to pay the price for it. And that is just a matter of me sitting there trying it out for a little while.

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In 1979, I developed an urgent need for a Strat. Within a year, I'd bought - and sold - three late-model Strats, and tried out almost a dozen more. They were all crap.

 

By which I mean: they were (a) heavy and cumbersome - some of them weighed as much as a Precision - (b) coated in a finish so dense that it completely strangled any acoustic resonance the body and neck might have had, and © fitted with thin, harsh, tinny pickups.

 

In late 1980 I realised that the only way I was gonna own a decent Strat was to bite the financial bullet and buy an old one. Which I did: a 63 I got for

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Originally posted by Edward

IMO, vintage guitars are ridiculously fetishised and overpriced.


If I had the money, I'd certainly buy sound vintage peices for their investment value and lock them away in a vault, but i would never choose them as playing instruments - I'd much rather spend a fraction of the money on a great, new custom shop piece. I like to buy used guitars to get them
cheaper
than new!


Interestingly, I once talked to a guy who worked in a music store, and whose opinion I trusted, about this all - the store sold both vintage and modern stuff, and he was very much of the opinion that the better Fender reissues blew the original vintage instruments away, especially for use at band volumes. He was amazed at the silly money some people were prepared to pay for really knackered old pups because they were from the 50s - never mind that leave 'em in front of a TV for a week and they'll be gone!


I would agree that tone can change with age - solid top acoustics the tone can open up and improve - not enough to justify vintage price tags. Solid body electric guitars I don't think it makes enuogh difference, myself, to really matter plugged in. And past a certain point, really all it is is *different*, not necessarily better. I'd infinitely rather have a 58 Corvette or a 64 Mustang than a 2006 Porsche or Ferrari..... but it'd be absurd to say that they were objectively better cars just becuase they're older.


Interestingly enough, Les Paul was interviewed in one of the UK guitar mags for September, and he completely dismisses the idea of vintage guitars being superior. I also read one of the UK vintage experts last month saying that you have to watch with vintage instruments - often the most valuable ones are crap - if a 59 Strat is mint and in as-new condition, for instance, sometimes that's because it always sounded dead and "players rejected" it.


Seems funny to me how the whoel vintage thing kicked off with the perception that CBS era Fenders were crap, and so demand grew for pre-65s, and demand grew for 5os LPs because they weren't available new anymore, to the point where demand far outstripped supply and now that rarity is what is prized and not intrinsic value as instruments at all.

 

 

maaaan... just what i think... all i can say is:

 

+1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

:D

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Originally posted by Edward

IMO, vintage guitars are ridiculously fetishised and overpriced.


If I had the money, I'd certainly buy sound vintage peices for their investment value and lock them away in a vault, but i would never choose them as playing instruments - I'd much rather spend a fraction of the money on a great, new custom shop piece. I like to buy used guitars to get them
cheaper
than new!


Interestingly, I once talked to a guy who worked in a music store, and whose opinion I trusted, about this all - the store sold both vintage and modern stuff, and he was very much of the opinion that the better Fender reissues blew the original vintage instruments away, especially for use at band volumes. He was amazed at the silly money some people were prepared to pay for really knackered old pups because they were from the 50s - never mind that leave 'em in front of a TV for a week and they'll be gone!


I would agree that tone can change with age - solid top acoustics the tone can open up and improve - not enough to justify vintage price tags. Solid body electric guitars I don't think it makes enuogh difference, myself, to really matter plugged in. And past a certain point, really all it is is *different*, not necessarily better. I'd infinitely rather have a 58 Corvette or a 64 Mustang than a 2006 Porsche or Ferrari..... but it'd be absurd to say that they were objectively better cars just becuase they're older.


Interestingly enough, Les Paul was interviewed in one of the UK guitar mags for September, and he completely dismisses the idea of vintage guitars being superior. I also read one of the UK vintage experts last month saying that you have to watch with vintage instruments - often the most valuable ones are crap - if a 59 Strat is mint and in as-new condition, for instance, sometimes that's because it always sounded dead and "players rejected" it.


Seems funny to me how the whoel vintage thing kicked off with the perception that CBS era Fenders were crap, and so demand grew for pre-65s, and demand grew for 5os LPs because they weren't available new anymore, to the point where demand far outstripped supply and now that rarity is what is prized and not intrinsic value as instruments at all.

 

Well said. :cool:

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in ecomomics, there's something called the 'greater fool' theory: when an asset has a run up exceeding intrinsic value, it's due to passing it on at a profit to an even greater fool until, one day, the last fool gets stuck with it prior to its decline in market value. Thus, gentlemen, the vintage guitar...

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Originally posted by Fernabulax

in ecomomics, there's something called the 'greater fool' theory: when an asset has a run up exceeding intrinsic value, it's due to passing it on at a profit to an even greater fool until, one day, the last fool gets stuck with it prior to its decline in market value. Thus, gentlemen, the vintage guitar...

 

Irrational exuberance. Bubble.

Here is a classic case see 2000-2002.

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=%5EGSPC&t=my&l=off&z=l&q=l&c=

 

Once you pass it on at a profit, you are no longer a fool; ALL commodities, currencies, and economies eventually fail; many cycle in value multiple times before they do.

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Originally posted by Fernabulax

in ecomomics, there's something called the 'greater fool' theory: when an asset has a run up exceeding intrinsic value, it's due to passing it on at a profit to an even greater fool until, one day, the last fool gets stuck with it prior to its decline in market value. Thus, gentlemen, the vintage guitar...

So you're saying very much like the baseball card market back in the 80s?

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the vintage guitar market is more volitile than bball cards and other such collectibles, since the value is to subjective. For example, the Univox Hi-Flyer which Cobain helped run up. Is it worth it? If it was, if would've been run up prior to Cobain due to its objective worth. The Hi-Flyer is a toy compared to lots of other electrics, but emos are running it up at every evilbay auction. Buying guitars is like buying stocks - buy quality when the price is low.

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Originally posted by Fernabulax

the vintage guitar market is more volitile than bball cards and other such collectibles, since the value is to subjective. For example, the Univox Hi-Flyer which Cobain helped run up. Is it worth it? If it was, if would've been run up prior to Cobain due to its objective worth. The Hi-Flyer is a toy compared to lots of other electrics, but emos are running it up at every evilbay auction. Buying guitars is like buying stocks - buy quality when the price is low.

 

:confused:

 

The value of little pieces of cheap cardboard with bball players pics on them isn't subjective???

 

If so, then I don't know what is...

 

AFA stocks are concerned "low" is completely relative to what you SELL them for.

 

And for all the press Hi-Flier prices get, keep in mind that a Phase 3 was about $125 new in 1975. A 1975 dollar had the purchasing power of about four 2006 dollars. Thus to have kept pace with inflation, a Hi-Flier would have to be worth $500 today... just to break even. (Most sell for less than that.)

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