Future Value of "Boutique" Guitars?

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by JoeinLA, Jul 15, 2006.

  1. JoeinLA

    JoeinLA Member

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    I've been on a "boutique" guitar thing recently (Thorn, Driskill, Heatley, Gustavsson) and am curious as to what people think these guitars will be worth 5- 10- 20- years from now. Will they disappear into oblivion or will they rise in value? I ask because they're relatively expensive to acquire presently (I'm guessing as a result of a fairly lenthly build times), but I wonder what happens when these boutique manufactures stop making guitars and no one knows who they were any more.

    Any thoughts or comparisons to previous custom builders would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    Joe
     
  2. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    Guitars increase in value for two reasons. First, the more that equivalent new guitars cost, the more a used one will be. Very basic. The other reason is far more arbitrary. It's akin to fine art. If a builder develops a cult-like following (for example Max for guitars or Dumble for amps), puts out pieces on a limited basis, and stops building or even sadly dies, their products will increase in value. If a builder puts out a lot of superb pieces and eventually stops, his guitars may or may not increase beyond the replacement cost factor, depending on the market perception of those 'other' factors.

    The other fold involves the larger boutique builders s/a PRS. His earliest pieces (85-86) command a big premium, especially compared to their cost. But the larger issuance of the newer stuff will most likely increase more as a result of inflation, aside from some of the rarer special editions.

    Other factors like Gibson's Braz. rosewood boards, Fender 'Cunetto' guitars and the like, will all figure in to the mix. So like someone with a good eye for discovering the next big artist, If you sense that a current builder has the mix for such elevated status (J. Gustavsson perhaps?), that may be a way to identify the next big thing. AC
     
  3. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    Of course there's one other factor, which is really a wild card: suppose the next "SRV" or "Robben" or "Satch" plays a [insert boutique name here]...

    Lorenzo (Klein Electric Guitars) worked really hard at getting them in the hands of guitarists at places like Berklee and N. Texas State, on the theory that the next Big Name Influential Guitarist may well come out of such a place. As of yet, hasn't happened. But other factors, mainly the difficulty of actually getting one built at present, have resulted in a noticeable appreciation in value of existing Kleins. The demand is still miniscule, but the supply is even more so. And there you have it, the magic bullet: demand > supply. Works every time!
     
  4. carbz

    carbz Supporting Member

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    I personally think they will most likely disappear into obivion. There may be some exceptions but this is my general opinion. I can't imagine that happening to Gibson or Fender but you never know. I say buy what you like regardless of the future value. Personally I think most of these hand made pieces are overpriced for the benefits. True the workmanship and detail is better then most high production pieces or parts guitars but the sound and playability can be just as good from actually a fairly inexpensive guitar with the right pickups and setup. I have a frankenstrat which I have about $800 into I would bet for the most part its as good as any Lentz, Anderson, Suhr, Tyler...etc.. Some of the others you mentioned I don't know much about but I am sure they are real nice eye candy.
     
  5. Supernova9

    Supernova9 Member

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    I think some will appreciate in value, I mean, look at Ron Thorn's stuff, used Thorns even now are selling for more than what they cost new.

    I think the builders with big lead times on builds will have the higher resale values - people may pay a premium to obtain one without having to wait.
     
  6. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    How many guitars by "Lentz, Anderson, Suhr, Tyler...etc" have you compared it to?

    P.S. Who did the frets?
     
  7. enharmonic

    enharmonic Old Growth Gold Supporting Member

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    I don't really know, but I will say this. There are so many excellent guitars being made today, that even if some of them...most of them...don't make it as collectables, they will all certainly make it as instruments that can be played for 5 or 6 decades without breaking a sweat...much like the classics of yesteryear that now command extraordinary prices.

    Another thing to keep in mind...a lot of what drives the value of those great classics is the fact that they were there at the beginning of rock and roll. They are the instruments which helped to create every variant of what has become rock and roll since. I think that the higher end Fender's and Gibson's will always be a sure bet to at least hold their value, if not appreciate. The PRS instruments have gained broad acceptance, and are in great demand...especially over thelast 10 years. There have been times when I've seen more PRS instruments on MTv than Gibson's and Fender's combined. Demand is the king of resale and collector value.

    In an unrelated market, consider the value of a Joe DiMaggio rookie baseball card. Now, consider the value of other cards of other players who shared the field with DiMaggio his rookie year. Many were great players, but the value of their cards will never approach Joe's. That analogy might not make a lot of sense, but it does say that even if an extraordinary instrument of today doesn't become tomorrow's most sought after piece of collector's nirvana...that doesn't mean that it's any less extraordinary. :)

    I'd stick with the big 3 for collector value. Some old Gretsch's and Hamer's are pulling big bucks these days too. 70 years from now, people might not be as well versed on the more esoteric instruments, regardles of their excellence.
     
  8. Luke

    Luke Senior Member

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    I believe they will drop in value by the 20 year mark. Today there are so many choices available, we are reaching market saturation. I am sure one or two of today's boutique guitar makers products will be an ok investment, but which one?

    I see significant problems on the horizon for boutique guitar makers:

    1. Computers, as we see with the Plek system, computers make a better instrument than 'hand made' can ever accomplish. Everyone is using CNCs already. Eventually the only people needed will be the UPS drivers to get the product out of the factory's back door.

    2. Modeling amplifiers, as computers take over the amplifier halve of the tone equation, the subtle tonal differences the boutique builders strive for are lost once the signal hits the amplifier.

    3. Sampling, once again computers are getting better and better and soon keyboards will mimic that 1959 Les Paul through a 1967 Super Lead at the touch of a key.

    4. Dumbing down of the audience, today's kids seem less interested in the tonal issues we addressed at their age. Perhaps their attention is diverted due to orgies breaking out at the house that has a Play Station 2?

    5. Dwindling reproduction, let's face it, the guitar collector seems to be a white male. With the face of the US becoming Hispanic, whites not reproducing in enough numbers to maintain their current population numbers, eventually the demand side of the equation reduces unless there is a Hispanic music revolution that is guitar based on the horizon.
     
  9. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    Interesting topic---

    It depends on many factors already mentioned: especially whether someone famous plays one... and it could be someone in the year 2035 who picks up a 30 year old Lentz or Driskill and wows the music world with it. (i.e. it doesn't have to be someone famous from this era)

    It also depends on just how great the quality of guitar building is 20-50 years from now. Perhaps innovations in guitar building 40 years from now will make the guitars from our generation obsolete. (or vice versa)
     
  10. Crazyquilt

    Crazyquilt Guitar Dad Silver Supporting Member

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    A nice instrument will always maintain a significant amount of value, as long as there are people playing that instrument. The rest is subject to the whims of "collectors." And, like all whims, they defy prediction.
     
  11. suhr_rodney

    suhr_rodney Supporting Member

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    I don't know and neither does anyone else. Buy guitars to play and enjoy, not as an investment. Statistically speaking, an investment in guitars will never outperform a well diversified portfolio.
     
  12. tonedaddy

    tonedaddy Member

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    I don't foresee boutique guitars ever possessing significant investment potential. As well known as some of the builders are those of us on some guitar forums, to the guitar buying universe the builders are relatively obscure.

    IMO, the monetary value placed on guitars has very little to do with the characteristics of quality and playability, and much more to do with whatever the market decides is colllectible.


    For that matter, to date what boutique guitars have exceeded their initial purchase price (not the price of new similar boutique guitars), except for guitars which for whatever reason are not available anymore (e.g. Lentz S and T, etc)?

    As far as I know that's a very, very short list.


    I don't think the value of many of these guitars will drastically fall or that the best regarded will slip into oblivion. I'd say it's more likely the prices will simply stabilize over the long term (as the

    Overall, guitar players have fairly traditional tastes. If I wanted to buy boutique guitars that will likely hold or increase in value (and I wouldn't do that, but IF I did it), I'd look for models that come as close as possible to looking EXACTLY like a Tele, Strat and Les Paul.
     
  13. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    That's not true.

     
  14. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    More ...

     
  15. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    See also the recent VG article exactly on point with $ numbers, too.
     
  16. Bluedawg

    Bluedawg Member

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    Best comparison may be archtop guitars from the jazz era. The two big names from that era equivalent to todays small shop luthiers are D'Angelico and Stromberg. These two maker's guitars are highly valued today.

    The next question is how many other small shop archtop makers were there during that time period and what is the value of their guitars now? This is a good research question IMHO since I don't know the answer.

    The question is who will be remembered 20 or 50 years from now and will anyone even be playing guitar.

    If the guitar fad fades you may be lucky to sell a real '59 LP someday for enough money to pay a couple of month's rent. This is unlikely IMHO, but possible.

    I'm sure that well built old Lutes are not cheap, but I doubt they are drawing prices on the level of a '59 LP, much less a Stradavarious. Hardly anyone plays them these days.

    :)
     
  17. JoeinLA

    JoeinLA Member

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    Do you have a link to the article?

    Thanks!
     
  18. Kappy

    Kappy Member

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    Name dropping wasn't my point. The absurdity of comparing the craftsmanship of a guitar built from inexpensive parts to a guitar built by the luthiers he mentioned was my point. Doing so is RickDick-ulous.
     
  19. GuitarGuy510

    GuitarGuy510 Member

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    I think the upper echelon of guitar builders (i.e. those whose names can be mentioned and half of the guys on this board alone know them for craftmanships and attention to detail) will be worth more in the future. A great example someone has already mentioned, the guitars of the UBER-excellent (IMHO) Ron Thorn ALREADY sell used for more than they do new. Now, obviously this also has to do with Ron pricing his guitars for less than he COULD (those who have played his guitars know that he makes some of THE most amazing guitars ever!), but will his name still be recognized in the future? I hope so, but no one is ever certain with things like that. I do know some people who have made a killing with selling vintage stuff. Problem with that is now that everyone and their mother knows about "vintage" items, the market is saturated with them and I'm sure over time the prices SHOULD go down, aside from hardcore collectors willing to pay whatever is necessary. That whole vintage-obsession is silly IMO when you could easily get a guitar of high quality for MUCH less. I've played vintage strats (Eric S's "twig" is a KILLER example) that were just awesome, but I'm sure SOMEONE out there could build a guitar with a similar feel for a reasonable price, eh? Will boutique guitars fetch a premium in the future on the used market? Maybe, maybe not. ;)
     
  20. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Supporting Member

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    If history continues to repeat itself, the guitars built by the masters using traditional materials will be valuable in the long run. If a builder could get him/herself included in the "whos who" of guitar builders and become a part of history I think their instruments would be sought after.
     

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