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Baffled.

This guitar (with its crappy photos) sold for $13,100 or so. It's major issue was player wear and the need for a refret. Not a bad deal for an original stoptail 64 on Ebay. It was listed as a 63.

Just when I think I begin to understand the vintage guitar buyer, something happens that completely baffles me. This week, it happened more than once. The first odd thing was the apparent sale of a “near mint” 64 ES-335 on Ebay for $28000. I could see a dead mint 64 going that high-after all, how many can there be? But a near mint one should be under $20K. 1 percenters with more money than brains? Could be. Or perhaps it didn’t really sell for that amount and the original amount shows up in the Ebay completed listing. I dunno, just seems a lot of money for a 64. That’s not the one that completely baffles me, however. I get the idea that a 100% guitar in extraordinary condition can command a premium. What I don’t get is a guitar that was listed on Gbase for weeks and weeks and weeks at around $6000 with a lot of missing finish at the neck join, two filled holes by the bridge posts, a Nashville bridge and the wrong (chrome) pickup covers. There were no photos of the backs of the pickups, so there was no way to know if they are the original patent numbers or set of chrome covered t-tops. The fact that the wires were cut and spliced doesn’t bode well. If the previous owner just changed the covers as the listing says, then there was no reason to cut and splice the wires. Just sayin’. So, the guitar sells for $12,400 or so. Interestingly, a 64 (listed a 63) sells for a little over $13K with none of the issues of the one I just described. The only issue with the $13000 one was player wear and perhaps the need for a refret. There is no comparison. The $13000 was a good enough deal that I bid it to $12,500. I bid on the other guitar as well but only up to what I though it was worth which was $5800. I had the opportunity to buy it a month ago for $6000 and change and I turned it down because of the issues. Had I known some sucker would pay $12400 for it, I might have reconsidered. But I’m not looking for suckers. I probably would have priced the guitar at that price point after I had made sure the correct pickups were on it (which could cost $2000 for a pair of nickel patent numbers) and a correct wire ABR-1. Now, the buyer gets to take his chances. This is why I don’t buy a lot of guitars off of Ebay. My experience has been that 75% of the time, something isn’t right. Sometimes, it’s little like a changed bridge or an extra ground wire in the harness. Other times it’s an undisclosed repair or crack or changed pickups or something else you just can’t see in the photos. If you’re the guy that just spent $12,400 for that 63 form the UK, I suggest you carefully inspect those pickups and make sure they are correct. I also suggest you take a look at the neck pickup cavity to make sure the neck isn’t going to fall off (or has been replaced). That, to me, was a scary guitar. It should have scared you a little too.

This one, with its very professional photos sold for $700 less. It has a moved bridge the wrong bridge, the wrong pickup covers and possibly changed pickups. As if that wasn't enough, it had some scary finish damage at the heel.

10 Responses to “Baffled.”

  1. RAB says:

    Good advice as usual Charlie! Better to purchase a no issues or known issues guitar like pro refret, changed, disclosed tuners, etc! Surprises are no fun and all too common these days!

  2. rob says:

    Having been an auctioneer in a previous career, I don’t trust the Ebay process a whole lot and suspect that when some item that should go for “X” ends up going for “X” times 50 or 100 perfect, something’s decaying in Copenhagen.

  3. Mick Peel says:

    Being domiciled in the UK my take on this one is that guitar prices here are about a third higher than they are in the States. This seems to be true whether bought through a dealer new or second hand; or private sale through e-bay and the like. I’ve bought from the US in the past (dealers and private owners) and of course the initial price from a UK perspective looks great, but before you get it out of the case there’s shipping and customs fees to be paid. This usually evens it up. I’ve sold guitars on e-bay but the buyers are always from th UK or Europe as a US buyer knows he can get the equivalent stateside for less. No import fees either.
    I think if I buy one of Charlie’s fine guitrars somewhere down the road (I hope to!) I’ll hop across the pond and pick it up in Manhattan!

  4. OK Guitars says:

    That is a very good point that really didn’t occur to me as I was bidding on it from here in the USA. The buyer should still check the pickups. Splices in the wires are never a good sign.

  5. OK Guitars says:

    I think Ebay should also institute the “going, going, gone concept by extending the auction for a short time-say another minute, when a bid is made in the final minute. Sniping at the last minute is pretty much the rule.

  6. Ollie says:

    I’m with Mike on this. I’ve always bought Guitars from the U.S as it’s a much better deal. I paid around $650 more for my ’66 355 then Charlie recommended but it was still much cheaper then buying over here (and it turned out to be in stunning condition ). Then two ’66 355’s turned up for sale in the U.K and both were on sale for over twice what I paid. So whoever spet that much on a guitar with issues still may have thought he’s got a bargain. I’ve noticed a number of features in the newspapers recommending vintage guitars as investments and have noticed prices over here hardening, even for ratty guitars. I do think anyone spending that much money should do their homework though.

  7. Gary says:

    Just wanna comment that the $13000 one is also missing the orange label…although I am not sure how much of an impact that has on the overall value of the guitar.

  8. Chris W. says:

    I think a lot of guitars in the US get shipped to the UK as carry-on for that exact reason. I once did the reverse expatriation though. I bought a Shergold from London (pretty rare brand here in the US). My wife travels there for business 4x per year, so I had her pick it up while there. She popped off the neck and put the guitar in her carry-on (not something I recommend for an ES-335 😉

  9. RAB says:

    “She popped off the neck and put the guitar in her carry-on (not something I recommend for an ES-335.” Unless you use hinges!

  10. OK Guitars says:

    It makes a difference for sure. Not a huge one but all things being equal, I;d rather have one with the label than one without it.

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