Old Means Old.

Great old 61 but it was in pretty tough shape. The buyer was aware of the flaws and the price reflected them. Happy buyer. Happy seller. Ain't life grand?

Great old 61 but it was in pretty tough shape. The buyer was aware of the flaws and the price reflected them. Happy buyer. Happy seller. Ain’t life grand?

I am not a ranter by nature. This doesn’t quite qualify as a rant either but I’m getting dangerously close. I’m older than any ES-335 out there and I’ve had my share of bumps and bruises over the decades. That, folks, is going to be true of any musical instrument that is fifty or more years old. Of the 400 or so ES models I’ve sold over the past few years, I think there is only one or two that could truly be called “no issue” guitars. Surviving fifty plus years completely unscathed is completely against the odds. I bought a 62 ES-335 that had been in a closet-untouched for 47 years. The finish was checked because the closet wasn’t heated and the neck needed a lot of work to undo 47 years of gravity (the guitar was on its back on the floor). I’ve also bought guitars that were played every day for fifty years that had fewer issues than the one that sat in its case. Fortunately, most vintage buyers understand that the guitar they are spending so much of their hard earned money on has been around for awhile and the forces of nature, along with the forces of guitar players (and their whims) can wreak havoc on them. But there’s big havoc and little havoc. I had a 59 with a touched up cigarette burn on the back of the headstock that I felt was a non issue. The buyer disagreed. End of sale. Funny, but on a Stratocaster or an amp, that’s almost a badge of honor.

Of course, a guitar with issues is going to be less money than a guitar without issues. But the expectation that a $30000+ fifty five year old guitar is going to be perfect is a bit naive. I have never used the term “dead mint” when describing a guitar more than ten years old. There may be a few out there but i’ve never had one. I had a 60 ES-345 that was truly a no issue guitar but it had a little ding in the headstock. Is a ding an issue? Well, if I call it “dead mint” it sure as hell is. I can’t control the other sellers (the individuals are much worse than the  dealers in this regard) who use the term “mint”: so loosely. I can only try to describe my guitars as accurately as possible. That means long, boring descriptions but it also means no guitars coming back because the buyer saw something that I may have thought to be typical wear and tear. I recently sold a 59 ES-335 to a buyer who asked for the most complete description I could give him and I think that was sensible. I counted every ding and described every possible element that may have caused the buyer to question the condition. This can be taken to the extreme but I think it’s in the best interest of the buyer to do just that. “The pull ribbon inside the case is wrinkled and frayed.” Too much information? Maybe, but I had a buyer ask for compensation because the spring on a case latch was broken. But that’s an old ploy. Find something undisclosed, no matter how trivial and turn it into a reason for a partial refund. How much does a broken spring latch diminish the value of a guitar? Beats me but it can’t be much. “Knock off a hundred bucks” was the request. “Send the guitar back” was the response.

Sure, if you find an incorrect part, you are entitled to the right one or a partial refund. I try not miss stuff like that. The whole point is that there can be 100 different little issues and I can mention them all in a listing but you probably won’t read it. That’s what the condition scale is for. If I call a guitar a “9”, then it’s going to have a few dings and maybe a scratch or two. Maybe even a cigarette burn. If it’s an “8”, then there will be player wear and perhaps a veneer crack in the top (although I would probably mention that).  Most buyers are really happy with their purchases. My goal is to make everybody happy. If that means a little extra reading on your part, then so be it.

On another subject, OK Guitars will open it’s brick and mortar shop tomorrow June 27th in Kent CT (the motorcycle capital of New England). It’s a 11 Railroad Street in “the caboose”. I’m open Friday through Sunday. Other days, if I’m there (and I probably will be but call if you’re coming a long way), then I’m open.

OK Guitars opens in Kent CT June 27th. Cool guitars, cool spot. C'mon by and play.

OK Guitars opens in Kent CT June 27th. Cool guitars, cool spot. C’mon by and play.

6 Responses to “Old Means Old.”

  1. Mick Peel says:

    If there’s free champagne all day I might just make it if I can get the 8pm British Airways jumbo from heathrow!

  2. RAB says:

    Charlie, good points as always. Yes, the term “mint” gets thrown around and abused a lot. And someone’s “9.0” is someone else’s “8.25”. I’ve always preferred vintage guitars (and amps) that are all original (other than normal maintenance items such as frets, capacitors, etc) but with enough dings and dents that I won’t mind gigging them. I had a ’54 Les Paul Goldtop Standard that was so terrifyingly clean (yes, I’d call it mint…oh yeah, I think the strings had been changed) that I was not only unwilling to gig it I was scared to open the case for fear of inducing a single weather check. No point in having it so I sold the fiddle. All of my current vintage pieces get gigged routinely (otherwise why have it?) and, as careful as I am, do acquire an additional dent or ding through such use. These are instruments and they are meant to be played…

  3. Ron Colverson says:

    Best of luck with the shop! If my spending power ever gets to the necessary level, I’ll be over from London – you’re my kind of guitar nut! In the meantime, keep up the writing.

  4. Rob says:

    I love your new sign. I checked out your place on Google Earth and it looks like a really cool little town. Similar to the one I grew up in west of Philadelphia. Might drive up to visit before the leaves start to turn.

  5. RC9 says:

    Wow…I went to Kent School! Wish you were there when I was there.

  6. Craig Livaich says:

    The partial refund has become an epidemic. I LOVE YOUR RESONSE of, ‘send the guitar’ back! Perfect. Great article as always Mr. Charlie.

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