If you’re new to investing in vintage guitars, you’re probably wondering what exactly qualifies as a vintage guitar. A vintage guitar, in the general sense of the word, is from the 1980s or earlier. American-made Gibson and Fender guitars from the 1950s and 1960s are some of the most valuable. If you’ve got a vintage acoustic guitar, you’d want it to be Martin, Gibson or Guild.
If you have an even older guitar, that’s even better. A “pre-war” guitar is a guitar that was made before World War II. The most valuable you’ll find are pre-war Martin and Gibson, explains Fata. You’ve got one of those in your attic, and it’s like you’ve just found gold.
“Yes, that guitar in your grandpa’s attic could actually be really valuable. But wait: don’t just take it to the pawnshop. There’s a lot more to the vintage guitar world than meets the eye, and you should weigh your options before making a rash decision,” advises Steven Fata, a seasoned vintage guitar investor, and collector. He’s been playing the guitar since he was a teenager and began investing in vintage guitars in his thirties. “I’m an entrepreneur by trade. I’m in the stock market, I have investments,” explains Fata. “But there is no investment as fun as when you open a guitar case and see what you’ve got in front of you. It’s like Christmas morning when you get a new instrument.”
But even still, when is a good time to get into the vintage guitar space? Is now a good time, especially with the pandemic?
It sounds like that depends on who you’re talking to. Like any other collectible, values are subjective. You never know when you could be making a great investment, or you could fall into a huge loss. There’s no substitute for talking to seasoned professionals, getting a good handle on the market, and learning how to take calculated risks. Just like everything else, guitars took a hit. Prices for instruments were skyrocketing in the early 2000s and then the market plummeted by as much as 30 percent by 2010.
As founder and investor of Honest Instruments, Steven is one of the internet’s top vintage guitar collectors and was at the height of his collecting when the Great Recession hit. Vintage guitars investing is just like all markets; it’ goes up and down. Ever since 2010, the market has continued to go up and he believes that the market is still on its way back from the Great Recession, and will get back to its former glory eventually.
So yes, that guitar your grandpa passed on to you could change your life. And don’t worry if it’s beaten up: collectors will still pay big money for some of the most valuable instruments, even if they have wear and tear.
As to whether or not you should start your vintage guitar collecting journey, Fata asks ‘why not?’
Again, if the stock market is volatile, the vintage guitar market is right up there with it, but
look at it this way, the worst-case scenario is that you end up with a basement of some pretty interesting guitars. The best-case scenario, obviously, is that you just made a lot of money from them.