From 'Collector' to "Player"

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by nightbird, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. nightbird

    nightbird Member

    Jun 19, 2007
    The thread about Player guitars had me wondering what you thought about the value and threshold between collector or player guitars. I think we all can pretty much agree that a Vintage collectors guitar can have a substantial wear and tear for a 40 to 50 year old guitar, not a museum piece. So when does a guitar go from a collector to a player and what diminishes the value the most?
    So lets take a 1952 Les Paul. In original condition showing finish and fret wear value $20,000.
    What percentage would you put the value with the following and at which point is it a player:
    Changed nut
    Changed or missing plastics ie.. knobs, pickguard, etc..
    Changed tuners
    Changed pots
    Changed pickups
    Routed for different hardware
    My opinion: changed nut and refret devalue the least as those are usually necessary. So 2%
    Changed or missing plastics. about 7%.
    refinished: 10% to 15%
    Changed tuners. maybe 10%
    Changed pots, sometimes necessary, also,: plus you don't really see them. 5%
    Changed pickups: 20%
    If the body has been routed I put at least 20% to 25%
    So, I would put that '52 Les Paul, with all those changes, at about 75% less so a value of around $5,000.
    I also feel that it leaves collector status when major parts are replaced or gone, tuners , pickups, refinished, routing. I think its still collector status if it's been refretted changed nut, changed pots ( unless the whole wiring harness has been changed) repro knobs.
    So what's your opinion?
  2. nateco

    nateco Member

    Dec 20, 2002
    North X North East.

    Refin is 40 to 50%, pickup routing might 30%.

    After a while, they don't get any cheaper, no matter how fubar they are.
  3. simonm

    simonm Member

    Apr 15, 2005
    A '52 Les Paul is a pretty extreme example, you aren't going to get a deal when then the numbers of instruments on the market is small and I would hazard a guess that '52s in particular are sought more as historical artefacts than actual guitars that get played regularly.

    On the other hand there are tens of thousands of big selling desirable vintage gtrs like single cut Les Paul Juniors knocking around - that's where collector buyers can be picky, and players can get some good deals, especially where neck repairs are involved.

    Plus 'player grade' is just a category invented by dealers to say 'collectors look away now'. On some super-rare gtrs there will always be collector interest, and they don't use that phrase. Messed around rare gtrs are sold as 'in need of restoration' rather than player grade!
  4. Jayyj

    Jayyj Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2015
    Manchester, UK
    Refrets, changed nut, bidge pins on an acoustic are all wear and tear issues, and for me would factor into a general assessment on how clean the guitar is. A guitar where all parts are original and in good condition commands a premium, just as a minty finish commands a premium over one with a few nicks and scratches, but if we're talking guitars that are over 40 years you expect some wear and tear. Refrets in particular, I can understand a collector paying more for original frets in good condition, but the idea that a guitar is worth more with original frets that are worn to the point of the guitar being unplayable than it is with a well done, period correct refret is surely an alien one to anyone who plays their guitars rather than buys as an investment portfolio. If the frets are shot, the value is already gone as far as I'm concerned.

    Pots and plastic are a more difficult one. At a very extreme level, there are people out there who will pay $500 for a '59 selector switch tip for a Burst, and the number of parted out late '50s Gibsons attests to the fact that the parts on a '59 ES175 with PAFs are approaching and potentially exceeding the value of the complete guitar. By that logic original parts dramatically effect value, particularly on a high end piece. Some parts also have value in establishing the age of a guitar, particularly where serial numbers aren't enough pin down the date as with certain years in Gibson manufacture - if I see a 335 listed as a '66 and it has witch hats on it, it's possible someone swapped out the originals because they preferred the witch hats but it's rather more likely the guitar is actually a '69 and the dealer has picked the earliest year the serial number could apply to in the hope of inflating the price a little. And if it were a '66 and those which hats were replacements, best way to prove it is to check the dates on the pots... so some parts play a useful role in verifying that a guitar is what the seller claims it to be.

    Tuners, depends on what they are and whether the guitar was drilled to take them. If not, then knock off whatever a set of originals are going from on Ebay, if there are extra holes then 10% sounds about right. Pickups, depends entirely on the pickup. As in the example above, a '59 ES175 missing its PAFs is a huge devaluation, a '70s Strat with one pickup swapped not too big a deal.

    Refinishes are a big one - everyone says 50% but it depends on the quality of the refin - a body only refin on a Fender with an exceptional relic job is not going to have the same devaluation as a 30s D28 with the top thinned to nothing and slathered in barn paint. I'd say anything from 40-80%. Same with headstock breaks, a clean break with lots of gluing area and a nice clean up job maybe 30% - a horror show with dowels and epoxy everywhere you're basically talking upward of 50% off as if it were a reneck, less the cost of getting a reneck.
  5. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

    Aug 9, 2004
    The other problem with the question is the guitar in question. A 52 LP is a perfect candidate for a 'Burst conversion-a guitar that isn't desirable on its own to most players but has everything else that would make it a good copy. As such, players grade 52s sell for $10-12k all day, as long as there's no neck break. And perfect ones are a hard sell at $15k, no matter what the book says (because you're going to play a perfect one, and they don't play well).

    Looking to a more realistic guitar, say a 60s 335 as discussed above: a refin is roughly 50%, a headstock break is probably 30-40%, although both together won't be much less-say 60%. Changing out plastic, pots and hardware doesn't really work as a percentage-it's whatever it'll cost to replace it. So, in the case of the 335 you could replace it all for perhaps $3k? In an otherwise perfect 63, that'd only be 10%, in a late 60s it might be up to 30%.

    Does that help? Oh, and there's guitars that are so far gone that they're never coming back! The Martin mentioned above with the oversanded top-the only choice is replacing the top which makes it hardly a 50s Martin any more and a very hard sell at any price.
  6. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Exit row seat
    Yeah, except there are few enough clean-and-original 52s that there is a pretty good argument for leaving one of those be.

    The ideal scenario is to find one like mine: it suffered a truly bone-headed conversion at some point in which the top was shaved down to accomodate the ToM/stoptail bridge. It was acquired via a straight-up trade for a late-model 57 reissue. Better yet, unbeknownst to the seller, one of the pickups in it was an original PAF. So, effectively, it was acquired for $0. It eventually received a retop, neck reset, and a proper conversion (including a lot of internal work) after which it was kitted out with all vintage parts (except for repro pickup rings).

    So, in some ways (and assuming you have access to someone capable of and willing to do a proper conversion, which isn't necessarily cheap, and that's before we talk about outfitting the thing with proper vintage parts) a *really* boogered-up early LP can be a great find.

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