Rant Part 2: The Great Guitar Standoff

A Beautiful 1960 Dot Neck 335 with a Removed Bigsby. But, other than the PAFs, almost all the parts are repro. What would you pay?

These are strange times indeed. Your house is worth 20-30% less than it was in 2006. Your stock portfolio is down 50% from its high. I paid $16000 for a 59 ES 345 and now it’s worth $12,000 if I’m lucky. I acknowledge all these things as a result of the bad economy and, while it upsets me, I am not in denial. I get it. And if you’re patient and I am too, this will change-for better or for worse-it always does. Why are so many people in denial about the value of their vintage guitars? In fact, many sellers-including dealers have actually raised their prices based on what they think their guitar would be worth if the huge runup that occurred in the past decade had actually continued. Examples?-I got a load of ’em.  I bought a really nice 66 ES 345 near the top of the market for $3600 or so.  I found one on Ebay today for $7489 described as a 66-67 (it’s actually may be a 68 but there aren’t enough photos to tell for sure). It’s a Bigsby (-25%) it’s been Grovered and it isn’t going to sell. If this was 2008, the top of the market, this was a $4000 or $4500 guitar at best. So, this guy thinks the market just continued to go up for the past 2 years. There are no buyers as I pointed out in Part 1 of my rant. Well, actually there are would-be buyers but they aren’t buying overpriced guitars. Thus, the standoff. There’s a 59 345 for $12,500-that’s about what I thought mine was worth at the top of this post-that’s a good deal, right? Wrong-it’s got DiMarzio pickups and if a pair of PAFs is worth $3000, then would this be a $15500 guitar? Nope. Not since 2008. The dealers aren’t any better. Some of the most venerated of the vintage shops seem as out of touch as Joe E. Bayer from Dogfart Falls, Michigan. There a very nice 1964 (my favorite year!) ES -335 in red-just like mine on Ebay. All original-just like mine. But there aren’t any stickers on the pickups-well, that’s a problem. This should be, in my opinion, a $20000 guitar at most.  This particular dealer is looking for $27,500. Twenty seven thousand five hundred dollars for very nice 1964 ES-335. If this guitar had been under the bed since 1964 and was a virtually unplayed 9.9 museum piece, I can see it-barely. Wishful thinking? Wiggle room? These guys have a lot of money tied up in these guitars and I understand the desire to get their money out.  The problem is that the individual sellers are getting their pricing information from other listings and from Gbase. And you know they are going to find the same guitar they have and look for the highest price and offer up Grandpa’s beat up and modded old 335 for top dollar. Yeah, top dollar for 2008.  Here’s an example from a dealer not listing on Ebay. Let’s look at a 1960 removed Bigsby ES 335 dot neck. Issues? You bet: repro bridge, repro tailpiece, repro knobs and filled Bigsby holes on the top. Oh, and a new nut and a repro switch tip. And it’s been refretted. Price? $25,000. I think that this price is way high. These are very expensive missing parts. This was a Bigsby guitar (-25%) If the market is down 30%, then was this ever a $37000 guitar with all these missing parts? Not a chance-do the math. The reason I used these 2 examples is because while they are both high, they illustrate another market reality. The no issue guitar will hold up better in a down market than an issues guitar. I actually think that the 27000 ’64 may be a better deal than the issue laden ’60. When and if the market finally rises back up, the most desirable vintage pieces-the ones that command the largest premium and the one’s that will lead the market out of its funk are the no issue “museum quality” examples. So, make ’em an offer. Take it upon yourself to negotiate with these guys. Just because they set the prices doesn’t mean you have to pay them. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that because many of these dealers are experts, that they wouldn’t charge you way more than a guitar is worth. Most will sell them for as much as they can get. Period. That’s how capitalism generally works. When’s the last time you made an offer for a guitar and the seller said-“you know, it isn’t really worth that much, why don’t you knock 20% off.” And what about Joe E. Bayer? He won’t lower his price until he really needs the money. He also won’t sell his guitar until he does so. Update: I noticed that the dealer with the 64 has added a “best offer” to his listing which is what he should do. At least it shows a willingness to negotiate. However, to me it says-“if you aren’t dumb enough to pay my asking price, how dumb are you?” But that’s just me.

A Spectacular 9.5 condition 64 ES 335 but the pickups have no stickers. Is it worth top dollar to you?

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