Ideas for collecting Guitars

November 24, 2015 by  
Filed under Collectibles, The Den

Ideas for Collecting Guitars
If you’re considering ideas for collecting guitars you’d be well advised to plan carefully.

It’s always possible that depending on the niche, you’ll find pseudo-collectors that may not always have a strong knowledge of the collectible. Collectors like this may be strictly in it for the investment.

Or more specifically the return-on-investment …the ROI. Their emotional detachment gives them objectivity. That can definitely a plus for an investor.

What they lack in passion they round-out with strategy. That can actually be a good thing in some cases. This is especially true when the goal is strictly profit.

If you’re considering ideas for collecting guitars be genuine…

What exactly do I mean by that?

I mean be genuinely interested for your own sake. I think collectors are much better off in the end if they have their heart invested, as well as their wallet.

The collector that has a passion for their particular subject does more to keep that niche alive and growing than one inspired only by profit.

Of course profit is important. But I think you would fare just as well or even better by having some genuine passion. Or at least have a guitar-playing background.  Knowing the instrument you’re dealing with is always a smarter way to buy. That’s especially true with guitars.

The emotionally involved collector usually has a playing background which is good for several reasons. It’s the collector who is passionate about guitars that would be better able to recognize deficiencies in the instrument.  They would be more likely to notice a part is missing – or the sound is not quite right.

Collecting anything is a lot easier when you have some emotional involvement. How else will you push yourself to chase down those obscure deals in the middle of nowhere?

Part of what makes any guitar collectible is it’s particular sound or performance quality.

Whether that performance quality is the result of specific materials or the association with a particular craftsman. That could mean anyone from the original concept person to the hands-on craftsman – the builder.

An emotionally motivated collector-player would be better equipped to distinguish all the intangibles as well. Nuances such as a slightly imperfect balance or sound quality. It takes someone musically inclined at this level of collecting. Without some musical background this may put the non-playing collector at a disadvantage.

Think of this in terms of when it comes time to check out an instrument you may be considering. There’s a steep learning curve associated with collecting guitars. It’s not really what you want to be doing while trying to collect.

With time guitar values began to climb according to the guitar’s provenance.

That emergence was based on a mix of historical relevance as well as the physical characteristics of the instrument.

Collectors of musical instruments are generally musicians with deep pockets. Or they may be individuals that at one time were contemplating a musical career.

Most likely they are of the baby boomer generation or older. And now financial stability has enabled them to go back and revisit what may have been an exciting hobby or unfulfilled musical aspiration.

While the guitar collector may not fit within the typical framework of definition for a collector they are still a special breed. They are well equipped to appreciate the art and craftsmanship of a finely produced guitar.

That means the physical attributes of the instrument as well as the quality of it’s performance – no easy task. Which may actually put them in a unique collector category of their own.

In fact their musical background probably makes them a superior judge of the quality and details. Which brings up another point. If you are planning to start a guitar collection, as a non-player, it would be a good idea to at least consult with a musician.

So where is a good place to start?

You can start by deciding on the limits you want to collect within. Some options you have are American-made versus the off-shore models. You could focus on different eras such as the 50s-60s-70s.

Some other points to consider are  electric or acoustic, make and model and of course your budget. It’s also a good time to consider the distance you’re willing to travel for a deal. Or will your focus be online auctions?

Most experts consider guitar collecting to still be in its infancy. But there are still opportunities for collectors in this growing niche. As with any area of collecting we can assume guitars were originally collected based on what people had access to as well as what they could afford.

This was especially true in the days before the Internet.

Online purchases are convenient but they do have pitfalls.

Since you can’t physically hold the guitar how will you know how it plays and sounds? You can see the make and model but even the condition is not 100% apparent through pictures alone.

Do you have confidence in the seller’s ability to communicate every chip, scratch and dent? Will they recognize if the neck is slightly bent or if all the parts are original? You could easily end up being stuck paying $50 to replace something as simple as a non-original screw, depending on the rarity of the model.

Another drawback to dealing online is the bidding-frenzy that can sometimes take place during an auction. You may have your heart set on a purchase only to find the price quickly exceeding your budget. And don’t assume you aren’t a victim of schill bidding – it does happen.

NOTE:Shill bidding is where a third party, sometimes known to the seller, places bids on the same item you may be after in order to artificially drive the price higher. Which in turn may cause you to increase your bid.

While online purchases are made safely everyday the advice here is to be diligent in asking lots of questions and request pictures from every angle. Make use of the internet for research. Check out guitar blogs and guitar forums.

Make sure to ask lots of questions. Experts love to talk about their stuff. Usually the more informed the blogger the more helpful with information.

Once you decide on a niche you need to search for price guides.

With price guides make sure to check the publication dates. Contact appraisers locally and inquire if they charge for bringing a guitar in. Let them know you’re contemplating using their services as you go forward.

Now ask for a ball park estimate on a model of the one you are looking at. Ask for a range of ‘rough to fair’ condition. They may help you out with some quick free advice if they think you’ll be bringing something in for a follow-up.

If you are determined to begin collecting guitars why not think strategically? Look for models that originated off-shore or ‘player’ models from the U.S. While you may dream about that ’59 Sunburst Les Paul, get familiar with affordable models. They may not be as sought after as collectibles but they’ll still have a serious vibe.

“So where does one start to gather ideas for collecting guitars?”

Look for special features and craftsmanship details. Buy yourself  a sleeper, something less popular. and work up to a sought-after collectible version. Remember to buy what you can afford, and of course what you like. Decide on a niche and get passionate about it.

To decide on a niche try to align yourself with something you may be familiar with already.

You may already be passionate or at least familiar with a time period, location, type of music or specific musician. Those answers will steer you towards your starting point when searching for your niche.

As you get more involved with the actual buying and selling of guitars you will invariably meet many experts. Just by getting started and putting yourself out there you are sure to find yourself in the right-place-at-the-right-time for that sweet deal.

At the very least all this should lead to even more ideas for collecting guitars.

Best of luck and collect well.


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