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Year Ender: Part Two

One offs and rarities have been incredibly strong lately. This blonde 68 “long neck” 330 is an affordable rarity that would enhance any collection. Yeah, those black 59 345’s I had would be a nice addition but the six figure price tag isn’t for everybody.

In part one, I laid out what was going on in the vintage market in 2021 and tried my best to interpret it. Hindsight is always 20/20, so it’s a pretty easy thing to do. Looking ahead is not an easy thing to do and I am making a very strong disclaimer that I don’t have a crystal ball and anything I write is sheer speculation. I come at it with logic and experience but, truthfully, I have no idea what will happen next. Being a little less than a hundred years old, I have limited experience with pandemics. Nor with insurrections, climate change and bizarre conspiracy theories. All these things affect the vintage market in some way. I just don’t know how but I will take a crack at it if for no other reason than to entertain.

At the start of the pandemic, I thought the market, which had been steady and strong, was going to tank. Folks were out of work (especially musicians and restaurant workers-often the same people) and the economy was headed for trouble even if the Federal Government was handing out money with reckless abandon to small businesses, large businesses who said they were small businesses and just about everybody else. It must have worked because the market took off like a rocket. So, we still have a pandemic and it seems to be getting worse. The worse it got, the stronger the guitar market got. So, it is logical to expect that the market will continue to rise and folks will buy a lot more guitars in 2022. I don’t know if it will surpass 2021 in sales but I don’t see why it wouldn’t as long as Covid continues to be a big factor in everyone’s lives. The government handouts have slackened for individuals and small businesses but the payout for infrastructure projects is likely to put a lot of money into a lot of local economies. Good for the guitar market.

But what about the other stuff? Bad political behavior is nothing new and doesn’t seem to have a big effect on the market. The midterms aren’t until November so, I don’t expect much impact from that front until late in the year and then only if the republicans take back the congress. Interest rates are bound to rise but they are rising from nearly zero so how much will it hurt? A lot of folks buy guitars on credit but they already pay ridiculously high rates so high interest seems to be baked in already. Don’t ask me how credit card companies can get away with interest rates in excess of 18% when they can borrow money for virtually zero per cent. Climate change is a slow moving freight train that will cause massive problems eventually but much of the American public doesn’t acknowledge that a problem exists until it directly affects them on a daily basis. So, it won’t cause much alarm in the guitar market this year unless a tornado flattens your house and your guitar collection with it (“save yourselves, I’m going back in for the dot neck…”) A weak economy could be trouble but it doesn’t look that weak right now. Unemployment is down. Jobs are fairly plentiful and if it wasn’t for that pesky pandemic, things would calm right down and the guitar market would chug along like it has for the past 13 years.

Supply chain issues and inflation (both due largely to the pandemic) are driving factors, I think. The well heeled collector has a lot of cash and wants it to work for him. That cash had been on the sidelines for a number of years but with inflation ramping up, it’s a losing proposition to leave it as cash. Tangible goods are, they say, the answer. Up goes the collector market as long as inflation continues. The player grade market tends to follow the collector market and, even though the folks buying the player grade instruments don’t have a lot of cash on the sidelines, they are still buying. We all feel pretty bad with the ongoing pandemic and getting a new guitar makes us feel good. For a while, anyway. That’s a huge factor. I don’t know about you but even though I buy close to 100 guitars a year, every one I open feels like Christmas morning or my birthday. Feeling down? Buy a guitar. Feeling bored? Buy a guitar. Feeling good? (although I can’t imagine why) go play your guitar and decide you need another one.

My prediction is that this strong market is going to be here for a long time. I believe the guitar market has been undervalued for decades and this pandemic fueled correction will endure. The rising values will probably slow down and even eventually even stop but the market is, in my opinion, not going to tank. It can’t burst if it isn’t a bubble. Now go back and read the first paragraph.

Amps were lagging badly in 2021 but they are poised to move. Tweeds big and small have already taken a big leap forward as have Marshalls and small blackface Fenders. There are still bargains galore but don’t snooze for too long. In a world where a Dumble can sell for $175,000, anything is possible.

11 Responses to “Year Ender: Part Two”

  1. RAB says:

    Charlie, an impressive and multi-faceted discussion! Kudos to you for raising these points. Buy and play what you love and don’t worry too much about appreciation. Yes, few of us can drop six figures on a vintage guitar. Interestingly my favorite guitar is my 2018 SVL ‘61 Reserve hardtail Strat. Simon Long custom built it for me. It plays and sounds as good as any of the many 1959-63 Strats I’ve owned over the decades and it cost under $4K. It gets gigged the most. I rarely bring my vintage guitars out. Even there the most valuable is likely only worth in the low $30K range. Not 6 figures…best, RAB

  2. RAB says:

    Here’s a photo of my SVL in aged Olympic White…

  3. RAB says:

    To give “equal time” to the vintage guitars, my ‘59 FR (First Rack) ES-345T, factory zebra PAFs…

  4. David says:

    Looking to bye Gibson ES335 12string 1966 ebony black

  5. RAB says:

    My 345 is a Burst Killer for sure! When you think about it, same tuners, neck and fingerboard woods, PAF pickups, bridge and tailpiece. Significantly less coin too!

  6. RAB says:

    Speaking of market trends, and to Charlie’s past point, here’s an exceptionally rare guitar (only about 40 made in 1962), my Epiphone Riviera E360TD but it isn’t worth much money in the vintage market…

  7. RAB says:

    P.S. for the guitar geeks among us (all of us, eh?) my ‘62 Riv has stickered PAFs and a “short” headstock. Small pickup routes too like a similar vintage 335!

  8. okguitars says:

    I’ve never seen one in black.

  9. RAB says:

    I recall seeing a 335-12 in Sparkling Burgundy…

  10. Rod says:

    Sparkling Burgundy was used by Gibson around 1968 as a ‘camouflage colour’ on 3x5s when they were having mnufacturing problems and guitar bodies needed a lot of filling so this 12 string would not be unusual. In fact any ‘see through’ finish would have been more unusual at that time!

  11. RAB says:

    Makes sense!

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