vintage instruments
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Hotel Manners
Travelling with Equipment
You and Your Agent
The Sitting Musician
Open Mic - friend or foe
The Mustache Cup
Stage Lighting
Vintage Instruments
Creating a Press Kit

     Vintage guitars can be found in a wide range of prices and styles. Most vintage guitars generally hold or increase in their value. In fact, in past years many vintage guitars have appreciated significantly, often out performing many stocks. The value of the run-of-the-mill used guitar usually depreciates: The newer guitars do not have the exotic range of woods that can be found in the pre-war models.

     You should be looking for vintage guitars that are all original, if this is an investment. Instruments with changed pickups, pick guards or tuners are generally less valuable than originals. Now look at the condition of the instrument. Watch for scratches, cracks and marring as they tend to lessen the value. Screw holes or repairs can also decrease the value.

     The big thing to look out for is refinishing. Stringed instruments take about 15 years of seasoning before they come into their own tone-wise. Often, refinishing will be nothing like the original, the tone quality will suffer, and that will be reflected in the monetary value of the instrument.

     If this is a utilitarian instrument, or what we call a working vintage instrument then a repair, done properly, and a change of pick guard should mean nothing to you, as long as the tonality is there and the price is right.

      Buy the best case you can get your hands on, as cases from the 1920s and 30s do not hold up well. Keep the original case but protect the working instrument while on tour or transit.

     Demand is a consideration, so if you are buying this instrument, whether it is a guitar, banjo, mandolin, violin or ukulele, as an investment rather than a working instrument, find out if it is a popular choice and is coveted by your peers. Rarity does not always insure value, unless you are collecting stamps. If you are collecting or investing you must also consider the utilitarian appeal as this is what often times determines the resale value.

     Tone in a vintage acoustic or solid body is almost always superior to what you will find in a new instrument. Vintage instruments were all handmade where today the bodies and their segments are being cut out by automated milling and routing equipment that lacks the Luthierís eye.

     Vintage Guitar Magazine is a good resource. Go online and check the many websites that offer vintage instruments and' when you know what you want, you can go to Craig's list and look for it city by city, states and province, until you find a good deal. I did this once and found an instrument that I paid $10,000 less for than the best deal I could find on the vintage websites. It can be worth the task of looking, even if it takes you days.


Professor Douglas Fraser


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