Last updated on July 6th, 2023 at 10:02 pm
There are so many ways to express a love of music. Some people simply keep music on in the background all day or join a band with other music lovers. The most passionate music fans often take up more expensive pursuits, though — like collecting a vintage guitar.
Most guitar collectors start out as players. You might gravitate toward a certain guitar because it produces a unique sound or was used by a player you admire. Over time, you add more and more guitars, expanding your collection of unique sounds.
If you have a collection of guitars, you may be interested in selling or insuring some of them. Or you might just be curious about how much your inherited guitar is worth. Here are some tips to help you find out if your old guitar is financially valuable.
What Affects the Value of a Vintage Guitar?
The three main factors in a guitar’s value are condition, repairs, and originality. A rare guitar model in good condition will usually be worth a lot more than a common older model that needs significant repair work to be played again.
An appraiser looking to assess a vintage guitar will usually look for:
- A straight neck without twisting or high or low spots
- No cracks, or only cosmetic cracks
- A lack of rust
- Sharp frets
- A firmly attached bridge
- Minimal warping
- Consistently good sound quality
Most older acoustic guitars will have had some repair work done to remain playable, like a neck reset. Some repairs will diminish the value of a vintage guitar, but others won’t as long as they’re executed well.
Unique designs, past ownership, a rare model, or history can also affect the value of a guitar. If your guitar was once owned by Jimi Hendrix, it will be a lot more valuable than the same guitar model owned by a relatively unknown musician.
Condition, repairs, and originality aren’t the only factors in guitar valuation. The material and build quality of a guitar also affect its value.
If your vintage guitar has cheap tuning pegs that are hard to operate, that’s a sign of poor craftsmanship and a lower value. On the other hand, some vintage guitars are made with materials that would be nearly impossible to find in newer models, like old-growth Brazilian rosewood. These guitars will be worth more.
If you get a vintage guitar appraised, the appraiser will ask a lot of questions to estimate its value. They will need to know when it was purchased, where and how it was stored, who has played it, and more. They may need to do further research before they can tell you the market value of the guitar.
The Most Valuable Guitars on the Market
Famous guitar manufacturers often have a “golden era” for their guitars in general or for a specific guitar model. Golden era guitars are usually many decades old, but well-made with a unique sound quality, making them extremely valuable.
Some of the most valuable “golden era” guitars from famous manufacturers include:
- Martin or Gibson acoustic guitars from before World War II
- Fender Telecasters and Stratocasters from the ‘50s
- Gibson ES-335s from ’58-’59
- “Burst” Gibson Les Pauls from ’58-’60
However, these guitar models and years are rare finds. It’s a lot easier to find lower-valued guitars from the ‘60s, which was a heyday for American guitar consumption. These guitars are often budget guitars with lower build quality, although that isn’t always the case.
Not Sure Whether Your Vintage Guitar is Valuable?
The best way to get your vintage guitar appraised is to see an appraiser in person. You will want to talk to someone who has experience with vintage instruments and knows how to take the guitar’s condition, repairs, and originality into account.