The five most important questions about Vintage Guitars!

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  • Durch Erik Bogaards
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The five most important questions about Vintage Guitars!

We have been buying and selling vintage guitars for years and get a lot of questions about them. That's why we heave listed the five most important questions and answers.


When is a guitar vintage?


For antiques it is very easy: after exactly one hundred years something becomes antique. With guitars it is slightly more complicated, because 'vintage' just means secondhand. That can basically be anything, even a guitar from 2018 is vintage by that definition.


But usually vintage guitars refers to special instruments from a specific period. Guitars develop over time and the term vintage means that these guitars are now peaking. Famous vintage acoustic guitars include pre-war models from the US. Martin guitars from the 1930s are pretty much  seen as the holy grail. For electric guitars, the ‘50s and ‘60s are often considered the ultimate vintage guitars. So they're less than 100 years old.  There are more and more vintage guitars emerging from the 70s. So there is no strict definition as with antiques. Whether a guitar is considered vintage depends on the type and is also a bit fashion sensitive. When an artist suddenly puts an almost forgotten old model on the map, it can become vintage more or less overnight. In general one could say that after about 30 to 40 years the vintage label is within reach.


Which vintage guitar should I buy?


No guitar is the same, so that depends entirely on what you want to do with a vintage guitar. Play on it? Or do you want to complete a collection? Maybe you see it as an investment and the guitar stays in its case, hoping that it will be worth more one day.


Our advice: buy a guitar that you enjoy. Of course, that pleasure can be that you play on it for hours , but we see that a lot of people enjoy, gathering information about that one model or brand or series and when they finally manage to buy the one they were looking for…WOW! Collecting can be great fun!


Of course there are some guidelines about the most wanted vintage guitars. As mentioned before: US made acoustic guitars from before 1940 are always interesting. Especially from a big name like Martin or Gibson. Fender Stratocasters and Telecasters from 1950 to roughly 1965: no brainers. The same goes for Gibson Les Pauls  from  around 1960. The  supply of these guitars remains very limited, demand is high, so there is usually a hefty price tag attached  to them. Not all guitars from this period are the same, there can be a lot of difference between them. Some of them have been tinkered with and there is fake in circulation. That's why it's important to delve into it before you buy, ask questions, do a bit of research on the seller and ask someone who knows more about it to take a look.


And don't forget, maybe you want something completely different than these most want guitars. If so: you are absolutely right! What's crap today, could be the next big thing tomorrow.


What does collector- & player grade mean?


These qualifications refer to the condition of a guitar. Collectors will be looking for 'collectors grade 'guitars. That means everything original with as little damage as possible also known as mint. Players will be looking for player grade guitars that might show some more traces of use, but are still playable. In short: mint, near mint, excellent et cetera indicate how 'clean' a vintage guitar is.



Are vintage guitars always expensive?


No. The lesser known brands, such as Guild and Epiphone, also made good guitars in the 1960s that are now giving you an awesome sound and are still affordable. Looking for something older on a budget? That's possible!  There are very affordable prewar parlor guitars from Stella,  Oahu and  Harmony. If you run into one of them, you can buy a real vintage guitar for less than a thousand euro’s that is 80 to 90 years old with that delicious vintage barky blues sound.


Are they as good as a vintage Martin or a Gibson? They are different, with a distinct character of their own. At that time, production could be rather erratic and not everyone has been careful with the instruments over the years. Not all of them are great, so you have to pay attention when you buy something.


What is my vintage guitar worth?


This depends on many factors: brand, model, year of construction and the state and therefore varies  greatly from one guitar to another. There are useful tools that can help determine the value. For example, there is the very comprehensive Vintage Guitar Guide for guitars and amplifiers.   


In addition, there is the Blue Book for Guitar values. Online you can search by make and model and request a more detailed report for a fee. Both of the above reference books focus mainly on American guitars., the Marketplace for guitarists, has a very full price guide in which they follow the trends of all the stuff offered for sale through that site. By now this is an impressive database.


The Fellowship of Acoustics  also offers a trade-in service where, after completing our web form,we can give a good indication of the value. We offer that service for free.


Would you like to know more about a vintage guitar? Or are you looking for something specific? We have guitars from and for all ages. We'd love to see you in Dedemsvaart.



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