Year Ender 2023-Part 2

It’s been a bit of a rough patch for 345’s since they surged big time during Covid. They have dropped back and the market is at a bit of a stand off. 59’s are strong but the rest seem to sit unless really well priced.

The second part of my year ender generally deals with 345’s and 355’s and this year is no different. Last year it almost looked like 345’s were going to catch up to 335’s in value. They surged ahead and sold like there was no tomorrow. And that may have been the impetus-during Covid, folks might have felt like there was no tomorrow and if there was, it didn’t look all that good. No tomorrow? Better buy stuff that makes you happy today. I think that’s what happened.

It couldn’t last. These guitars were bound to hit resistance and, sure enough, they did. Those sellers on Reverb who think they are going to get $40,000 for a 1960 or 61 ES-345 are going to be disappointed. I don’t think they will get even $25,000 and probably not even that. During Covid, I sold a 59 for $40K. That is the highest I’ve ever gotten for a non blonde or black 345 and that was a pre first rack prototype. The good news is that 345’s are, once again, a relative bargain. Most folks convert to 335 and never look back. It’s such a popular mod that it doesn’t diminish the value at all (especially if the original stereo harness and Varitone are included). There are very few mods to vintage guitars that don’t hurt the value. I think a 60-64 ES-345 in the high teens or low 20’s is a good buy. Keep your eyes open. Later ones have settled a bit as well but, as you all know, I don’t pay a lot of attention to 65-69 and I pay no attention at all to the 70’s.

Stereo 355’s didn’t really run up like the 345’s did during Covid. Probably because they all have a vibrato of some sort and that makes for a less desirable (or at least less popular) model. Big neck 59’s are rare (they went to the slimmer neck mid year in 59) and still can command a premium and stop tails are so rare, it’s hard to quantify the price trend. If yu want a stop tail, prepare to pay what the seller wants or wait a long time for another. I only know of about a dozen to 15 of them from 58-64. Bigsby versions always command a fair bit more than sideways (great for stop tail conversions) or Maestros. 99% of them are red so any color other than red is going to cost you some big dollars (especially black or blonde).

Mono 355’s have become kind of rare. I used to see a few dozen come up for sale every year but lately, they seem to be the Bigfoot of the guitar world. Today, there are just three for sale that I can find. 59’s are, as usual leading the charge. A mono 59 can command $40K if it’s clean. And that makes sense given what a 59 335 is selling for (as much as $90K for a collector grade sunburst). I’m not sure anybody is getting $90K but I know of at least two in the mid 80K range. If you don’t mind playing a guitar with a Bigsby, mono 355’s are a great choice. It’s just a fancy 335-the fancy bits used to double the price back in the day. Now they nearly cut it in half. The bargain 355-mono or stereo-are the 61-64’s. And look closely at 65’s and even some 66’s. There are wide nut versions out there from those years.

The market hasn’t really acknowledged that the “Covid Surge” is over. Folks have a hard time accepting a flattened or declining market. Most of it just leveled off but 345’s have softened and the sooner the seller acknowledge that, the sooner they will start selling again and maybe even start to run back up. They can’t appreciate of they sit on the market for months at inflated asking prices. The over all vintage market has picked up considerably after a very slow Summer, Fall and Holiday season. But January was excellent and February has shaped up pretty well too.

Clean, mono 355’s have gotten kind of scarce and the prices are quite strong for them, especially early 59’s. This one is a 60 and sold for a very high price because it was virtually brand freaking new.

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