The Washburn Guitars Forum

Washburn General Forum => General Discussion => Topic started by: Tony Raven on October 05, 2016, 10:48:53 PM

Title: The Eternal Question
Post by: Tony Raven on October 05, 2016, 10:48:53 PM

I've been a guitar fanatic for almost a half-century, & in my declining years have enjoyed finally being able to indulge my obsession. In recent years, I've gotten really good at valuation. And I've fielded That Question literally hundreds of times --

What is my guitar worth?


That sounds smart-alecky & dismissive... but it's the absolute truth. Like, if you're truly desperate for cash -- as in your kid is critically ill & you need cash Right Damn Now for medicine -- you'll sell a 1957 Strat for $100 if that's all you can get.

So the longer version of The Answer is, "Whatever you can get for it, at the moment you want to sell it, where you happen to be."

While Fjestad's Blue Book publications are THE Bible of traders like me, the fact is that ANY moron can look in the same damn book & read off the same damn numbers. Problem is, The Book does NOTHING to take the actual marketplace -- real supply & demand, in the recent past -- into account, & at its best can be incorrect AND years out-of-date. (If it was truly definitive, it'd at least offer some production numbers, right?) However, Blue Book DOES give hardcores (like me) a great place to start from, & that research is why my services usually go for $50-$150. But I'm a generous guy, so here's some insights.

First, it depends on whether you actually want to sell -- maybe you're looking to insure it, or just want "bragging rights" when you tell others about the absolute steal you got. That's going to be the maximal "value."

Then there's time to sale. If you intend to sell it soon, you're a LOT less likely to max the price, compared to what you could make if you can locate some serious buyers & pit them against each other to bid up your guitar. If that can be done at all, it might take months, or even years.

If you want to maximize your price, you can sell it on eBay... which of course means fees, photos, & shipping; if you live in any moderate-size city, any of that stuff can be handled by one service or another (like the UPS Store)... which of course means more fees. If you already sell stuff there (or know someone), this is a good route, but it's a HUGE learning curve just to sell one or two items.

By comparison, you can bring your guitar to the nearest Big Chain Store -- specifically Music-Go-Round or Guitar Center, but there are regional chains like Sam Ash -- where they will likely offer you 40%-60% of Blue Book value. Last time I sold an amp at MGR, I got what I'd paid for it, walked out with a check, & it took all of a half-hour.

Consider straightforwardness, too. While Craigslist is a reasonable option, it can also result in someone showing up just to try wearing you down further. While there's apps that hope to get the cash before you meet, none really has much reach yet, but here's a few examples: (

And let's not forget stupid blind luck. I still have my second electric guitar. Back in 1974, it cost me about $48 new, plus the fitted chipboard case (+$15) & shipping; all told, less than $80.
I was the only player I knew who liked the darn thing, & I've been told they were a common sight at pawnshops around the country, going cheap but no takers. Then in the early '90s Kurt Cobain started playing them, & when the Heart-Shaped Box video was released on MTV, the whole brand became "collectible." Now the mania's faded, but my axe has a quick-turn street value of $400, +/-$75.
Title: Re: The Eternal Question
Post by: Tony Raven on October 20, 2016, 05:14:06 AM
One thing: don't be coy. ::) It doesn't fool anyone.

On a regular basis, sites like this & various gear-related sites & just about any real-world store & even guys like me in person get the innocent po-faced I only want to learn a little more about my guitar.

Then they begin to fish around... ask  for a build date... details about factory or contractor or country of origin... build years... number of units... variations & special editions...

And quickly enough they circle in on the critical issue: What is it worth? because that's what they REALLY wanted to know all along & somewhere deep down inside they knew they had to try sneaking this one in because appraisal is a combination of skill & training & experience, & thus likely has cash value, & therefore should NOT be a given.

As often as not, these people don't even own the guitar. :o They spot one at a pawnshop or thrift store, or it's posted on Craigslist, or maybe they know someone who has one & figure there might be cause to demand a deal.

And of those, IME most don't WANT to actually OWN the instrument -- they're looking to flip it for some fast bucks, & are secretly hoping they can pay $20 & turn it next day for $10,000 or maybe more -- because they often know nothing about guitars.

(Every time I see someone on sell a Washburn or Tonk beginner-grade guitar for $400 or more, I laugh -- take it to a luthier, have $500 of work done, & you've got yourself a really good $700 guitar. ;) Anyone who wanted to simply play a parlour would know the R320SWRK can be had for $700 or less. There's plenty of Stage series (originals & reissues alike) still floating around with insane pricetags, as they seem to set their asking prices based upon "what the other guys are doing" & so NONE actually manages to SELL.)

Want to impress people like me? If your question is What can I reasonably expect to get for this guitar, right now, right here? then ASK THAT. Me, I might give you a number.

(The info is worth cash, though, so don't be a dick: if you don't like the number, then either prove me wrong or pay me my usual fee to do some actual research & maybe even find you a buyer.)
Title: Re: The Eternal Question
Post by: Tony Raven on April 02, 2017, 12:30:21 PM
I need to bump this because the question keeps recurring. Sorry.
Title: Re: The Eternal Question
Post by: Tony Raven on January 06, 2019, 02:16:40 PM
Another bump.