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How To Buy Vintage In The New Eco. Climate?

jzilla

Member
Messages
1,498
been considering looking for a pre cbs strat soon since the prices seem to be getting more attainable. wondering the best way to do this though. it appears to me that the shops are still asking prices that are obsolete while the good deals are mostly through private sellers and ebay. but buying privately has some serious risks involved not to mention a more limited selection.

thoughts?
 

Martyk

Member
Messages
449
Stick with the reputable guys - they may charge more $, but not that much more than others, and the pedigree will be guaranteed. Gruhn, Mandolin Bros, etc. Prices are lower now, but they were stupid high, and don't assume they will re-attain those heights anytime soon.
 

Timmo

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,769
I love 'vintage' but considering ALL that is going on ( or DOWN however you want to look at it ) it's ALL still OVERpriced.


I doubt we will ever see those 'stupid prices' again.

Wait another year and old Strats will be priced where they should be.

You know, based in reality.

;):rotflmao
 

straycat113

Member
Messages
2,926
First you have me confused with the privately has more risks statement. I would believe that would be the #1 choice for anyone since you not only get to plug in and play it but if you are not sure about things you can bring someone with you to make sure everyting is as authentic as stated.

I buy on ebay but I would never buy a vintage ax with a high price tag, first off just because the guitar is vintage does not mean it has a tone to die for as their are a lot of dogs out there. I do agree if you always wanted a vintage guitar you will never find a better time to buy than now. I would also agree that you would make out safe and sound dealing with a reputable dealer but it also going to add to the price. Just do not be in a rush as we all know the economy is not changing anytime soon and look at every option.
 

jzilla

Member
Messages
1,498
it just seems crazy for a shop to often ask twice the price of private sellers. not sure i have the cajones to offer half. definitely worth a try though. i wonder if a lot of these guys are stuck with guitars they bought at the old prices.

straycat, by risk i mean the buyer is more susceptible to fraud when buying privately vs a reputable store. it's hard to know what's been changed if it's not obvious, and if it's even vintage at all. relicing have gotten really good! i totally agree about it being a bad idea to buy vintage without playing first.
 

DrumBob

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
18,755
Stan Jay at Mandolin Brothers has a very nice pre-CBS sunburst Strat that he's blowing out at just over 12 grand cash. It was previously priced at over $20K. Now's the time to strike while the iron is hot. You might do better if you wave some green stuff in his face.
 

Bluzeboy

Senior Member
Messages
7,850
The iron is indeed "hot" as they say however; unless you know EXACTLY what you are doing with "vintage" guitars... DON'T.. the unsuspecting/uneducated buyer is what attracts the "sharks".
 

jzilla

Member
Messages
1,498
The iron is indeed "hot" as they say however; unless you know EXACTLY what you are doing with "vintage" guitars... DON'T.. the unsuspecting/uneducated buyer is what attracts the "sharks".
care to elaborate? this is why buying privately makes me nervous.
 

WordMan

Homo Logos
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
9,832
care to elaborate? this is why buying privately makes me nervous.
You have to know your stuff - there are a lot of fakes, parts'd-together frankensteins and shoddy restoration work. Or, as the saying goes, there are more pre-CBS Custom Color Strats out there today than ever!

At a high level, there are three tiers to any collectibles market:

- Scouting - finding stuff at garage sales, dealers who specialize in other collectibles but have a guitar, estate sales, etc...

- Middle Tier - buy from scouts, but don't have high-end shops or advertising

- High-end - 'nuff said

The less you know about what you are doing, the better it is to move up the ladder to a reputable dealer. They must stand behind what they are selling and you can get an education in your buying process.

There's a reason the saying goes Caveat Emptor ("Buyer Beware") and there's a reason long-standing dealers appear to have higher prices - you are often paying for the security of their reputation...

If you can find a solid middle-tier dealer who you think will steer you well, you can get the security of a solid deal but with a somewhat lower price point. Depending on what type of guitar you are looking for, those dealers are known...
 

jzilla

Member
Messages
1,498
thanks wordman. yes, i should really educate the hell out of myself before heading out there...

appreciate the option breakdown. how's does one go about finding a scout?
 

dspellman

Senior Member
Messages
8,308
thanks wordman. yes, i should really educate the hell out of myself before heading out there...
I was looking for a Gibson L6S several weeks ago. It's been on my list for a while. Since there are three versions, I researched it pretty carefully. The good news is that it's never been copied, cloned or reissued, and it's been under most vintage dealers' radar until recently. The bad news is that a lot of owners have modded or "upgraded" it, and since the total production was only about 12,000 guitars, the number of good originals is fairly limited. And an original was really what I was looking for -- the bits and pieces are difficult to source and the guitar's Bill Lawrence-designed pickups and electronics (along with Gibson's first 24-fret neck) are some of what make it special.

The dealers' prices varied wildly -- they range from around $800 for the low-end version with mods to up around $1800 for a decent original example. Finding one with an original case is important, since the cases themselves are going for around $300 and the guitar doesn't fit in much else. Ebay was about the same; all over the place in terms of price and originality, with some of the sellers taking their cues from the dealers, apparently.

In the end, it came down to an eBay seller here in LA and one in the midwest. The local seller was a bit flakier and unwilling to show me the guitar in person -- a definite warning sign. The Midwest seller had a color he thought was rare (it was less popular than the "iconic" natural color for these guitars, but not rare), so we negotiated. The guitar photos were inconclusive; it looked like a moderately worn guitar, which was acceptable, but the case was good. In the end, we settled in at around $800, a good price for a moderately worn all-original version. What arrived was a nearly-pristine guitar. What I'd seen as wear in the photos was actually a combination of fingerprints and dirt, and a quick cleanup produced a guitar that was so good that I almost suspected a refin. But all the hardware (and the case) was in excellent shape and the frets and fretboard were untouched as well, and a quick check under the control cavities and pickguard showed original paint, so I was a very happy camper. I'd sort of started out the quest looking for the iconic clear-coated maple version with the black pickguard and maple fretboard, but ended up with a black painted version with an ebony fretboard. It's a bit more modern-looking, and not a bad thing at all.

I wanted a player; the guitar sounds like no other Gibson, and it will be PLEK'd over Thanksgiving. But if well-maintained from here on, it will likely continue to appreciate in value. It's just now being appreciated as a non-run-of-the-mill vintage instrument (six-way pickup selector that used serial and parallel with in and out of phase humbuckers and an unusual mid-cut knob in addition to the usual treble-cut tone knob) with moderate historical significance (first hot pickups on a Gibson, first 24-fret guitar by Gibson, endorsed by Santana and used by Keith on at least one Stones album). It's easily a better guitar in all respects than any of the old Juniors or Specials and better than most of the current Studios. Its original price was $499 in '75 (mid-production), sandwiched between SG's (generally lower) and LPs (a few bucks higher), so definitely a professional and not a student level guitar. The top of the solidbody line in those days was the L5-S at around $899, with the same general outline but much fancier with carved top and bottom, lots of figured wood and fancy abalone inlays and a neck straight off the L5 jazz box.
 

dspellman

Senior Member
Messages
8,308
You have to know your stuff - there are a lot of fakes, parts'd-together frankensteins and shoddy restoration work. Or, as the saying goes, there are more pre-CBS Custom Color Strats out there today than ever!

This is why I'd stay away from vintage and "collector" strats and teles and even Gibson Les Pauls altogether. They've been copied and plundered to death. And the prices on the good ones are still silly money.
 

jzilla

Member
Messages
1,498
This is why I'd stay away from vintage and "collector" strats and teles and even Gibson Les Pauls altogether. They've been copied and plundered to death. And the prices on the good ones are still silly money.
to stay away from strats and teles seems a bit extreme to me. definitely not the answer for me.

congrats on the gibby, btw!
 

bsuite

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,746
it just seems crazy for a shop to often ask twice the price of private sellers. not sure i have the cajones to offer half. definitely worth a try though. i wonder if a lot of these guys are stuck with guitars they bought at the old prices.

straycat, by risk i mean the buyer is more susceptible to fraud when buying privately vs a reputable store. it's hard to know what's been changed if it's not obvious, and if it's even vintage at all. relicing have gotten really good! i totally agree about it being a bad idea to buy vintage without playing first.
Business 101.
Ya, I agree it's just crazy to be in business to make money.
If I was in business I would give stuff away.
Pay my employees? nah.
Pay my high business taxes? nah
Pay my business insurance. Nah
Pay my unemployment insurance? Nah
Feed my family? nah.

I like it when people come in my store and dent & scratch my merchandise to check something out so that they can go buy it cheaper on the internet somewhere else.
:nuts
Glad I'm NOT in business.
 

jzilla

Member
Messages
1,498
you can make a point without sarcasm. i understand selling for more to cover overhead but twice? btw, i don't think anyone's buying for those prices.
 

Rick360

Member
Messages
875
Howdy,

I suggest cold, hard cash, nyuk nyuk! Seriously, in this economy deals shouldn't be difficult.
 

dspellman

Senior Member
Messages
8,308
to stay away from strats and teles seems a bit extreme to me. definitely not the answer for me.

congrats on the gibby, btw!
Thanks. My point (and I referred to vintage and collector strats/teles/LPs only) was that because these particular guitars attract the most attention, command the highest prices and thus often have the greatest number of fakes, counterfeits and just plain "iffy" examples, newbs might be well advised to simply skirt them. For me, it was easier to go hunting in less heavily-traveled woods.
 




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