"Premium" Price for Perfect (near mint) Vintage

Pemberton

Electromatic
May 4, 2022
34
Pennsylvania, USA
I get it that a vintage late 1950s Gretsch that is truly in near perfect (near mint) condition can fetch a premium price. But I'm wondering how much above the average used price for one that's all original and in typical excellent condition (some very minor wear or finish checking, one that been lightly played, etc. etc.). Let's say one that has a typical excellent range of, say, $3,000 to $3500. If it's truly in near mint condition (and I say "near," because, really, is anything really "mint"? And I don't use that word myself, actually, I prefer terms such as near perfect/like-new/flawless, etc). But what is this "premium" price? 20-30% more? 50% more? Double? If it's, say, $3,000 excellent, then $4,500 to $6,000 for a flawless one? I'm curious. Thought??
 

Jams

Electromatic
Mar 7, 2022
11
Haddonfield, NJ
Too many variables to tack down even a ballpark rule of thumb. There are some 1950s models that are not as wildly popular as others. It also depends on the buyer. The right scratch for the right itch could be worth double.
 

radd

Friend of Fred
Dec 27, 2017
5,656
Santa Cruz
Welcome @Pemberton

I don’t have an answer for you and I suspect any answer would be very general in nature. Let’s see if the vintage Gretsch guitar boys and girls have any answers for you.
 

Shock

Gretschie
Sep 7, 2020
451
Minnesota
I look at it from the other end. How much does it hurt the value of a guitar if it is in poor condition? For the assumption of a collector value, I assume it has no condition issues. Unless it is Jimi's guitar from the Monterey Pop Festival.

Jimi on fire.jpg
 

65club

Electromatic
Jul 31, 2017
77
USA
Too many variables to tack down even a ballpark rule of thumb. There are some 1950s models that are not as wildly popular as others. It also depends on the buyer. The right scratch for the right itch could be worth double.
About a year ago I bought a ‘58 6196 in excellent condition. I didn’t mind that I paid about $1500 over the going rate for a non-Caddy Green Filter’Tron equipped full sized Club both because it was the more desirable color, and because it’s a heavy trestle ‘58. There just aren’t all that many of them available for sale.

About 6 months ago I felt like I was overpaying for a ‘44 Martin 0-18 - I didn’t care because I had sold some stuff I didn’t play anymore for like 2 or 3 times what I paid for them to fund it. When I got to hear it in person I realized it was worth every penny.

In just the last 6 months the market has gone so crazy that you’d be lucky to find either guitar for anywhere close to what I “overpaid.”
 

Wayne Gretschzky

Country Gent
Aug 27, 2008
3,325
East Coast
Ya know there's a reason that some vintage guitars made 60+ years ago are still in "mint" condition... they play like crap, so nobody has played them. I actually like to see a little play wear when I'm considering a vintage investment. It helps moderate the premium for "mint" AND it suggests that somebody loved the instrument enough to play it a bunch.
 

j.s.c

Country Gent
Aug 19, 2008
3,612
france
I don't know, it depends on the model hype... I would say 30% premium after talking to my mouse.
 

stiv

Country Gent
Sep 12, 2014
2,301
Firenze, Italy
I guess it depends on who's buying, if it's a player I don't think you'll get that much more, usually people that use guitars it's more interested in tone/playability than cosmetics so it tend to reach a fair price.
Totally different situation if a collector is interested. Can't say how much more a super-mint condition could score but I've seen people pay an extra 10% more for a guitar with original strings and original 1967 shop label tag (it was a Strat. Fender collectors are weird people... :))
Obiouvsly, percentages may vary from model to model.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,383
Where the action is!
As with pretty much any facet of commerce, it's a function of supply and demand. Vintage guitars in just okay shape are plentiful and may not inspire irresistible GAS in most potential buyers. But the extraordinarily rare truly "near mint"/"like new"/"unused"/"new old stock" examples not only can make you weak in the knees, but may also present possibly a once in a lifetime chance. For me the breakdown would go something like 25% for rough but functional, 50% for decent, but nothing special, 75% for really excellent, low mileage, totally original, completely intact, and 100% for perfection. But if money is no object (especially when it's no object for two people with the same taste), then any kind of logic goes out the door.

This 1960 Guild Aristocrat came up in another thread.
1960-guild-aristocrat-m-75-sunburst-beJI2P0.jpg

It looks to be virtually untouched. And I say "untouched" rather than "unplayed" because I don't think I've ever seen 60 year old gold playing look that shiny and new before. It's priced at $9,500, which I think is probably about a 33% premium over an excellent Aristocrat. It hasn't sold yet, but I don't think that price is out of line. It's presumably the only one in existence in that kind of condition. For somebody, nabbing the finest Aristocrat in existence will be worth an extra few grand that they didn't need anyway.
 

Steph Bass

Electromatic
Aug 29, 2018
13
Paris, France
Hi guys,

In my experience, if a specific vintage guitar is usually between $3000 and $5000, for example (prices tend to vary a lot for the same guitar, depending on who is selling it), then a really mint condition example of this guitar will sell at $5000, ie the maximum price for the current price range of this model.
 
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ProJet1385

Electromatic
Jul 30, 2019
7
Arizona
As with pretty much any facet of commerce, it's a function of supply and demand. Vintage guitars in just okay shape are plentiful and may not inspire irresistible GAS in most potential buyers. But the extraordinarily rare truly "near mint"/"like new"/"unused"/"new old stock" examples not only can make you weak in the knees, but may also present possibly a once in a lifetime chance. For me the breakdown would go something like 25% for rough but functional, 50% for decent, but nothing special, 75% for really excellent, low mileage, totally original, completely intact, and 100% for perfection. But if money is no object (especially when it's no object for two people with the same taste), then any kind of logic goes out the door.

This 1960 Guild Aristocrat came up in another thread.
1960-guild-aristocrat-m-75-sunburst-beJI2P0.jpg

It looks to be virtually untouched. And I say "untouched" rather than "unplayed" because I don't think I've ever seen 60 year old gold playing look that shiny and new before. It's priced at $9,500, which I think is probably about a 33% premium over an excellent Aristocrat. It hasn't sold yet, but I don't think that price is out of line. It's presumably the only one in existence in that kind of condition. For somebody, nabbing the finest Aristocrat in existence will be worth an extra few grand that they didn't need anyway.
Quit posting pr0n in here! If had $9500 I would buy that in a hot second. What an absolute stunner of a guitar.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,383
Where the action is!
I know, it's painful. I've always thought that the Guild Aristocrat is probably the single coolest non-Gretsch electric guitar ever made. Seeing on in that kind of condition is almost painful. But it is a reminder that there's really no good reason that I haven't already picked up one of the reasonably prices reissues. I played one once and it was really, really nice.
 

loudnlousy

Gretschified
Oct 18, 2015
12,182
Germany
A few years ago I bought an all-original Gretsch Clipper from 1959 with some binding -rot for about 450 USD.
I don`t think that a model like that without the rot would ever be in the range above USD 2.000.
 

ZackyDog

Friend of Fred
Feb 6, 2015
7,483
In the USA
As with pretty much any facet of commerce, it's a function of supply and demand. Vintage guitars in just okay shape are plentiful and may not inspire irresistible GAS in most potential buyers. But the extraordinarily rare truly "near mint"/"like new"/"unused"/"new old stock" examples not only can make you weak in the knees, but may also present possibly a once in a lifetime chance. For me the breakdown would go something like 25% for rough but functional, 50% for decent, but nothing special, 75% for really excellent, low mileage, totally original, completely intact, and 100% for perfection. But if money is no object (especially when it's no object for two people with the same taste), then any kind of logic goes out the door.

This 1960 Guild Aristocrat came up in another thread.
1960-guild-aristocrat-m-75-sunburst-beJI2P0.jpg

It looks to be virtually untouched. And I say "untouched" rather than "unplayed" because I don't think I've ever seen 60 year old gold playing look that shiny and new before. It's priced at $9,500, which I think is probably about a 33% premium over an excellent Aristocrat. It hasn't sold yet, but I don't think that price is out of line. It's presumably the only one in existence in that kind of condition. For somebody, nabbing the finest Aristocrat in existence will be worth an extra few grand that they didn't need anyway.
That looks like the same guitar Keith Richards is playing.

1651960474191.png
 

mrfixitmi

Country Gent
Mar 20, 2010
1,851
Michigan
Ya know there's a reason that some vintage guitars made 60+ years ago are still in "mint" condition... they play like crap, so nobody has played them. I actually like to see a little play wear when I'm considering a vintage investment. It helps moderate the premium for "mint" AND it suggests that somebody loved the instrument enough to play it a bunch.
@Wayne Gretschzky.

IMHO, you couldn't have said it better. I have seen customers go crazy over closet/under the bed queens only to find out that they were not playable without a fight, had dead spots, and hidden rattles. I have also seen vintage guitars come in with several bumps and bruises, and worn out frets. There is a good reason why someone will play a guitar and it will be well loved, and some have spent decades under the bed.

I would prefer to buy a well loved guitar than one that lived under a bed or in a closet. I purchased a heavily worn 1986 pre-Fender duo jet that came out of a recording studio. It did have several bumps and scratches and five worn out frets 0 through 4. The pots, pickups, looked like they were living in the bottom of an ocean with all the sweat damage. I got it for a deal, by looking beyond the condition, most people would not see past the superficial damage.
To your point, there was a reason why it was heavily worn, it was used a lot. After cleaning it, changing the bad frets, leveling the remaining frets, replacing the bad pots, and corroded wiring. I gave it to my son whom used it all through schools, musicals, concerts, and other fund raisers. Honestly, it played better than my brand new 2016 Duo Jet. This is still his "GO To" guitar.

I am not saying that all "Near Mint" originals are problems, but PLEASE do yourself a favor by playing it before you buy it. Yes, I have experienced the pain from several buyers who paid a premium only to have buyers' remorse, I would hate to see any of our family members on this forum experience the same unfortunate situations. If you cannot play it before you buy it, be sure the seller has a return policy.

Good luck my friend.
 

afire

Friend of Fred
Feb 12, 2009
5,383
Where the action is!
That looks like the same guitar Keith Richards is playing.
Keith's Guild is actually a modded M-65 Freshman. The biggest giveaway are the f-holes, which an Aristocrat lacks. And they originally came with only a neck pickup. It looks like Keith installed a pair of white-top Dearmonds and added extra controls.
I am not saying that all "Near Mint" originals are problems, but PLEASE do yourself a favor by playing it before you buy it.
Not to be a contrarian, but in my experience, the better the condition, the fewer headaches, and the easier they are to get into top playing condition. I suspect that very few guitars that have remained pristine for 60 odd years stayed that way because they were lousy players. I don't think I've ever encountered that. And I don't think guitar players are generally that discriminating anyway. Many here profess to being meticulous caretakers of their guitars, and I'm sure those people have always been around. The Country Gent in my avatar was owned by a working musician and was clearly played plenty over the years. Yet, there was not a single dent or scratch on it. Anywhere. Just some fret wear and fading of the hardware. From the plating worn clean through on the bass side of the bridge, I'm guessing he was a Chet-style player. But the finish was pristine. It was clearly loved and well cared for by it's owner of about 50 years. It played and sounded fantastic. I gigged with it exclusively for ten years, and when I sold it, it still didn't have a single ding or scratch on it.
As for true "under the bed" virtually untouched examples, I would suspect that the overwhelmingly more likely explanation than "bad guitar" is that they were bought by or for an aspiring guitarist who just never took to it.
 


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