By: Joey Robichaux
If you're a recent vintage guitar collector, the stories you've
heard are true. You once could step into pawn shops or flea
markets and find vintage Gibson Les Pauls and Fender
Stratocasters for $50 to $100. True. These guitars now sell for
thousands of dollars on Ebay and Gbase.
Those days are gone -- but there are still deals if you know
what to look for.
The simple thing to remember in vintage guitar collecting is ...
American guitars. Not to say Japanese or European luthiers
haven't made fine guitars, but the vintage market isn't looking
that way. If you stay American-made, you'll have the best chance
of an instrument that will appreciate in value.
Next, forget about those who claim certain years of American
guitars aren't desirable. It's true that folks once looked down
on '70's Stratocasters -- but folks are now scrambling and
paying top dollar for 70's and 80's models! Same thing with
'80's Gibson guitars -- once thought of as poor-quality
examples, people now bid high amounts for them.
Why? Well, once the most desirable pieces are gone, whatever's
left is going to command attention.
So -- to find the next "deal" -- look for American made guitars
that collectors are currently ignoring. Because -- soon enough,
these will be at the top of the food chain.
How about specifics? Well, think "student" models. Some models
are already desirable -- Fender Mustangs and Gibson Melody
Makers, for example; other models haven't gained notice yet ...
but they will!
For instance, Fender Bullets, made in the early 1980's, are
student model guitars, but are American made and use parts found
in Telecasters of the same period (pickups, etc). These are
great-sounding, easy-playing, and nice looking instruments. You
can still find Bullets for less than $300 ... although they're
beginning to gather attention. Note, we're not talking the
Squire Bullet Stratocaster-type model, but the American-made
Fender model (looks like a Telecaster).
Fender also put out a Lead series -- the Lead I, Lead II, and
the Lead III. Again, these were an American made student series
-- but are great playing, solidly made, and sound wonderful. You
can still pick up Lead's for less than $300.
Gibson Melody Makers have already been discovered by collectors
-- but there's not a lot of action with Gibson's Kalamazoo line
... yet. These student models are similar in quality to the
Melody Makers and Fender Mustangs. I've found Kalamazoo models
for less than $100!
I haven't mentioned other brands -- Epiphone, Gretsch, Guild,
etc -- because either their student models have already exploded
in price or they really don't have student models. Stick with
Fender and Gibson, stick with American made, and keep your eyes
on lesser-known student models ... and you'll find deals that
will likely join other lines in appreciating over the coming
About the author:
Joey Robichaux operates the Free Sheet Music website at
http://www.freesheetmusic.net and is an avid guitar collector.