The strange and FASCINATING phenomena of Used Boutique Guitar pricing...

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by AJ Love, Aug 7, 2006.

  1. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    It's always fascinating (to me) watching the used pricing trends on Boutique guitars. Sure it is all about supply and demand to a large degree (we've seen prices sky-rocket on guitars that suddenly become unavailable to purchase new) but another phenomena I find strange and interesting is the way "hype" can temporarily effect pricing. I say "temporarily" because eventually used pricing does get established as to what guitars actually sell for typically here and on ebay...

    I've joked around before with a famous (and I'll leave his name out of it) guitar maker that all one needs is a super nice website with amazing looking pictures and 4 or 5 people on the Gear Page raving about their guitars to drive a Guitar's prices up both new and used. Of course there is more to it than that but there is some truth there. And of course none of that can really drive long-term success.

    The other thing I find fascinating is how pricing doesn't always equal quality (of course just my opinion). We'll see some guitars on the Emporium that barely last a few hours sold quickly while others can stay for sale for weeks despite endorsees or builders giving rave reviews.

    Anyone else fascinated by this kind of thing?
     
  2. big mike

    big mike Moderator - EL34 Emeritas Staff Member

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    it is interesting. In some cases I believe the PT Barnum comment of 'one born every min' but all of the 'boutique' builder's wares I've seen are very good. Can't comment on all of them obviously, but you know what I'm saying. I haven't had a 'the emperor is wearing no clothes' moment yet.

    I think it's a great time to buy 'out of the norm' guitars, but I also think it can be a hype thing too.

    Is that confusing enough? :D
     
  3. slipbeer

    slipbeer Supporting Member

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    You only need one buyer when you are selling used.

    It's in your best interest to sell while the hype is happening but it seems like a whole lotta work to get some friends to start a thread that you can proclaim your love for your instrument on...and then a week later, list one of those "Circumstances are forcing me to sell my beloved Twangblaster so before it goes on eBay, I'll give you brothers a shot" ads.

    There will always be boutique churn. I guess there is a 'try it by buying it used' element that will always be there.

    Oh, gotta go check the emporiums, you never know what deals lurk:)
     
  4. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    Just to be clear, I'm not accusing anyone of doing that...

    The price discrepencies intrigue me. USA Fender prices are fairly constant. Used G&L's remain the steal of the century to me, especially if you find a nice older early 90's late 80's one. Never could figure out why Melancons go for so much less than other makers that sell used for a good $600-$700 more. Same new pricing, different ballpark used...
     
  5. John Bell

    John Bell Member

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    It's like a big poker game.
     
  6. mude

    mude Supporting Member

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    Tell us more about the "Twangblaster." Now that sounds like something that might be worth the hype. Nitro? Old wood? Horsie glue? Eastern maple? Sig? Getting sued by any big companies that could change future production? Sounds like a winner! :AOK

    Evan.
     
  7. 1959burst

    1959burst boogieman

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    it's called the old pump and dump.:jo
     
  8. thesedaze

    thesedaze Member

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    I've always wondered why 'boutique' guitars that come from a basic template and duplicarve can reach higher prices than a truely handcarved labor intensive axe. The pretty presentation accounts for most of it I think. As he said, with the website, pictures, and hype....it goes a long ways. Seems like the demand is for unnatural top dyes, extra binding (often plastic), and lots of inlay. Perhaps the high prices are justified by the labor spent on these asthetics, but wouldn't you rather pay the same, or often lower price on a guitar where the labor was spent on the build and tone of the instrument, rather than getting a maple top to look like your daughter's nail polish?
     
  9. tradarama

    tradarama www.PRIMEGUITARS.com Silver Supporting Member

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    They were in stores and sold well but always in stock. Stop making them and it was INSANE. Prices through the roof. Guys were buying cardboard boxes that said Matchless for $50. A great guy in TX with a room full. The total Tulip Bulb Craze. $3500 for HC30s. I sold a Matchless dealer sign for $800. Then suddenly they go back into business in several forms (Bad Cat & Matchless) and the prices sink back to normal.

    I got out from under that falling card house just in time.
     
  10. JoeinLA

    JoeinLA Member

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    "Twangblaster".

    Love it. I want one!
     
  11. DucatiWebDesign

    DucatiWebDesign Member

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    Whoa, I was just reading about something like this today. They call it "astroturfing" (a fake 'grass roots' movement, get it?).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

    In American politics and advertising, the term astroturfing describes formal public relations projects which deliberately seek to engineer the impression of spontaneous, grassroots behavior. The goal is the appearance of independent public reaction to a politician, political group, product, service, event, or similar entities by centrally orchestrating the behavior of many diverse and geographically distributed individuals.
     
  12. enharmonic

    enharmonic Old Growth Gold Supporting Member

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    Based on what I've seen, not many people want "new". Everybody wants a veriation on the same old tried and true designs, and while there are a ton of great luthiers out there, some are more sought out than others...for better or worse.

    I gave up trying to figure it out, and chalk it up to the fickle finger of fate. I do my best to buy guitars that I would never want to sell, but GAS and the fact that I can't afford to be a collector often dictate otherwise.

    I'm getting ready to buy a Grosh Set Neck. I know that I'll take a hit if I ever go to re-sell, but I'm hoping that I never have to re-sell. I'm buying it because I have decided that it is a superior instrument among similar guitars in its style, and also because I don't have the time or $$ to spend on a Gustavsson. sure, the JG might be a better instrument, but I doubt that it's $5000 better. the only thing I lose is the ability to flip it for at least what I would pay for it, and the joy of sitting on my arse for 2 years waiting for it to show up.

    IMO, aside from a few well documented cases to teh contrary, all bets are off when you go with a boutique guitar. Also IMO, you should only go boutique if there's something you want that cannot be achieved by a big company. If you're a guitar investor, it would stand to reason that boutique guitars are high risk, as opposed to big 3 offerings...especially short run or custom shop pieces.
     
  13. eric102673

    eric102673 Member

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    You've obviously not read this thread

    -e.
     
  14. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    I am amused by the OUTRAGEOUS prices some of these "boutique" instruments are fetching. I laugh and enjoy what I have.
     
  15. Dana Olsen

    Dana Olsen Gold Supporting Member

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    Another facet of the boutique market: Some high-end builders have such a long waiting list that those who are 'dyin for one of their models will pay a premium to get one RIGHT NOW - no waiting.

    Johann Gustavvson recently raised his list price from around $4500 to around $8000 because he'd seen a couple of his guitars sell used on Ebay for that amount and thought, "Why should THEY get the money instead of ME?"

    Good Question, especially if you have a waiting list and more people trying to sign up every day. If he doesn't raise the price, he leaves the door open for market speculators to buy his guitars cheap and resell them for big money on Ebay. Simple supply and demand.

    Obviously this is not the case with every boutique builder, just some very high end ones with a long wait. It's not the builders who create this situation - the 'market' does it. It has to do with a very small supply usually. A guy like Gustavvson makes maybe 30 - 50 guitars a year ...

    Dana O.

    edit: I have left the impression here that JG raised prices solely because of this issue of reselling on EBAY for big money. Matte, who plays a JG guitar and is in the loop w/ Gustavsson informs me that JG raised prices last year, not because of scamming (probably due to increased demand),and that he makes more like 20 guitars per year, not 30-50 as I posted. Thanks for the correction Matte! Dana O
     
  16. pokey

    pokey Supporting Member

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    +1

    I was wondering if someone could tell me why the same 5 JG's have been advertised at wildwood when they were sold, what- 3 years ago?
     
  17. AJ Love

    AJ Love Senior Member

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    What do you guys think about threads in the Emporium on this forum where the builder or builders themselves are posting on the "For Sale" threads? It happens from time to time...It's not a big deal to me, and I have no doubt the builders themselves believe in their product, but when you look at the role "hype" and "reviews on The Gear Page" help sell guitars, the builders are in essence helping (or inadvertently trying to help) establish a price range on their guitars...

    Not exactly ethically "wrong" but one of those things that makes you go "hmmmmmm"
     
  18. pokey

    pokey Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the the Gear Page, where hype is King!
    Really I love this place but when you take a step back and look there are alot of people that use this place to hawk their wares. Nothing wrong with that but my hype detector is set to high when visiting here, ymmv.;)
     
  19. sanhozay

    sanhozay klon free since 2009

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    Lets not sensationalize the myth. Basically this user page is a very valid consumer group that generally offers more than accurate and useful commentary on guitar related gear. The used prices are determined by contemporary market determinants. Of course there's a psychology that immediately effects prices but overall the name of the game is an ideal exchange of consideration that satisfies both buyer and seller. Seller experimentation to promote their wares beyond equal market requirements is generally short lived before the buying public hangs them out to die. Still, even the sagest consumer can't insulate themselves from buyers remorse or being swayed towards a purchase based strictly on popular opinion. The Kiss of Death to me is the builders that selflessly promote their wares and provide nothing else to the community other than their infomercial posts. I'm not talking about the ones that show up to defend themselves but just the few that use the forum as a pseudo chamber of commerce.
     
  20. whitehall

    whitehall Member

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    I think it's funny. Most people go to a boutique builder because they want something made to their specs. Then they are schocked to find no one else really wants their spec. when they try to resell.
     

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