Year Ender 2018 Part 1 335’s.

The blondes were the big winners in 2018 rising double digits year over year from 2017 to 2018. These are all 59 and 60. OK, the one in front is a 345. 

Every year, I examine the past 12 months of sales and try to predict the future a little in the 335 market. Well, it seems that we’ve survived into 2019 and it’s time to assess 2018. From a non guitar viewpoint, it was a most unusual (strange, bizarre, scary) year. From the vintage vista, it was a little strange too.

The year started off in fine fashion-everything was selling and the prices on most models (335, 345, 355) were continuing to climb slowly. Of course, the overly optimistic sellers were still asking stupid money for their guitars (and that includes a lot of dealers) but the realistic sale prices were solid and improving. Then, when the Summer rolled around, the market simply died. It was slow from July until the end of October for most dealers. Part of it was simply the market getting ahead of itself-you know, the old standoff where the sellers ask too much and the buyers won’t pay it. I say that because my sales were fairly good until October (probably because my prices are generally lower than the cockeyed optimists). Another element may have been the political culture that has marked the USA since we elected the “stable genius” our president. Further explanation will not be offered. I’ll just say that people who are scared don’t buy guitars at the same rate as they do when the aren’t. October was really slow as was November but it picked up before Christmas and looks good going forward. We’ll see soon if that’s the case.

Dot necks were strong in 2017 and continued their strength in 2018 as long as it was a 59. 58’s, 60’s and 61’s still sold well but showed little, if any increase over the course of 2018. 59’s, if fairly priced sell really well and continued to climb in value, especially for no issue collector grade examples. Player grade 59’s also sold really well. That said, there are plenty of sellers and dealers who are creeping toward the $50K mark for a sunburst 59. There’s your market standoff. They simply aren’t there, at least not yet. Block necks had a great year after being a bit sluggish in the past few years. Especially red ones. In 2017, I found the $20K range to be the top for a stop tail 62-64 but this year that barrier has fallen and the best PAF examples are edging toward $25K but aren’t there yet. More like $22K.  Bigsbys did well with clean examples pushing to $15K and beyond.

I’ve noticed something this year that wasn’t so obvious in previous years. Folks are beginning to avoid guitars with the most common issues and spending a little extra to get all original examples. Most folks on a limited budget seemed to prefer no issue guitars with player wear over cleaner guitars with issues like changed tuners or extra holes. In 2018, a 335 with heavy wear was an easier sell than a 9/10 335 with Grovers (even if they were removed and correct Klusons were installed). More buyers are looking for guitars with original frets which, frankly, I don’t get-a good re-fret is often better than the original frets and playability and tone to me is still king. Guitars with holes from a changed tailpiece are getting pretty hefty discounts lately. I used to call them the $1000 holes because each one knocks about a grand off the price on a high end example. It’s still around $1000 per hole unless they are in the top-then its more. 335’s with stable headstock repairs are strong-that 40% discount is shrinking for good examples. Refinished 335’s are always a tough sell but if done well, can fetch 70% of the price if an original finish although 50-60% is more likely.

I think my big surprise this year was the blondes. There weren’t a lot to be found in 2018 and the prices of the best examples proved that there is still plenty of room for growth. I sold a very clean 59 (double white PAFs) for well into 6 figures and a near mint 60 (zebras) close behind it. With a total output of only 211 blonde 58-60 335’s, it appears that the collectors have most of them ‘cuz there ain’t many showing up on the market . Uncirculated blonde 58 and 59’s are all but gone, it seems. This was made more striking by the fact that the 59 stop tail I sold recently was gone in a few days. The 60 sold a week after I posted it. I don’t expect you will find a blonde stop tail 59 again for under $100K unless the market turns downward. The fact that a blonde 59 is still “only” half the price of a decent burst seems counter intuitive to me. I know which one I’d rather play.

After a sluggish 2016-2017, block necks, specifically red, PAF equipped stop tail 62’s were very strong and very popular. I sold a load of them this year.

8 Responses to “Year Ender 2018 Part 1 335’s.”

  1. RAB says:

    Charlie, thanks for the year end report. Yes, a little honest wear doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind a good refret if it is needed to make the git play the way it should. Don’t understand the original fret thing if it impares the Instrument’s playability. Guess those who are obsessed with original frets don’t play the guitar and what’s the point of that? I won’t own a guitar I don’t play! Happy New Year y’all!! RAB

  2. RAB says:

    Oops! SP; impairs!

  3. Joe Campagna says:

    I think the refret stigma is a hold over from unskilled hack jobs that prevailed for many years.Peeling the binding off,pounding them in with the wrong tools.Leaving the guitar worse than it was!You could spot this kind of work from across a room.The sharing of info. via the web has helped alot.folks being able to seek out and find skilled pros.Many collectors are unaware of this ’cause they gave up years ago.

  4. RAB says:

    Joe, excellent points! And PLEK computerized fret milling helps too! Best, RAB

  5. RAB says:

    Thinking back about your comment about hack jobs, I had the misfortune years ago to get my super rare original 2 pickup PAF ‘59 LP Custom refretted. The “luthier” came highly recommended by my local music store so I trusted my prized axe to his care. I nearly died when I opened the case and saw the hideous fret work. I was so distraught I immediately sold the axe replacing it with a mint ‘57 PAF darkback Goldtop…

  6. steven flygare says:

    Refretted guitars SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t mind a little wear ,but replacing the frets unalterably changes the guitar for the worse IMHO! I have played guitar for a living over 40 years and you vintage guys are lost in a time warp! Old guitars can be beautiful to look at,sometimes,but they are a pain in the ass in almost every other way! Every now and then when you find one that hasn’t been fucked up,they can work. When you are obsessing about the tone some guy got back in the ’60’s and you think you have to use everything he used you are making a fundamental mistake. Your job as a musician and artist is to come up with a new sound and style,not imitation. The new Gibson’s ( up to about 2010) have the best frets and sound of any guitar I have ever come across! People that need to use old shit to get a good sound aren’t trying very hard to be original and creative and not sound like the old stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. okguitars says:

    I think you largely miss the point of vintage guitars and you seem a little angry. I would suggest you take out your 2010 Gibson and play it. If you don’t like the vintage ones, then don’t play one and don’t spend your money on expensive vintage pieces. No reason to vent to those of us who like the old ones. I seem to find completely playable old guitars all the time. Some are re-frets and some aren’t. In fact, why are you even reading this blog? It’s about vintage guitars and you don’t seem to like them. I don’t like zucchini. If there was a zucchini blog, I wouldn’t read it and then complain about how awful zucchini tastes.

  8. steven flygare says:

    I have a lot of vintage guitars because I came up in the era when Gibson and Fender were not doing their finest work and the only good guitars were old ones! So believe me I understand the vintage thing. My first great guitar was a ’58 strat with a maple board by about 7th grade,and I played many more,mostly Gibsons. One of the points I was making is that the new guitars are truly excellent pro quality guitars that can be used very successfully with a whole lot of other new gear: amps ,cables,etc, to create a new sonic landscape! I visit your site because I am of the generation that will always venerate the great guitars of the “golden era’, almost in a romantic, nostalgic sense. The fact that you left my rant up makes me respect you more and I am sorry for the anger. I love the great old guitars as much as the next cat! But you can have my blonde ’02 59 335 re-issue when you pry it from my…………………hands!

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