Options abound on the Chicago floor.

The Future

Of course, the laws of supply and demand, and the dealer mantra of rotating stock, regularly tell us that these reluctant holdouts can’t last long. So, does that mean we’re now looking at an unparalleled buyer’s market in the vintage world? Once again, the answer likely depends on where you sit. If you’re buying vintage guitars as a straight investment (as a money-making proposition), it may be wise to keep an eye on that piece you’ve been waiting for a little longer, until dealers start adjusting prices downward even more to get pieces moving again. “We’ve still got guitars out at prices from a year ago that aren’t selling, so I think we’re going to reduce prices on our vintage stuff to make it happen,” says Rogers. “Everybody is going to do that until they start selling and until we find that happy medium.”

That said, players who have a real love for the instrument but found themselves locked out of the market in the past few years will find this an excellent time to take that step back into the vintage market. Depending on your guitar of choice, bargains abound: good Juniors and SGs are underpriced; Stratocasters and Telecasters are back within reach of players; and refins and repaired guitars are once again viable, affordable options for guitarists needing a “player” they can actually use. “Pricing is down across a lot of sectors of the market, and for the first time in a long time, musicians are buying gear again,” says Kevin Borden.

It’s the fact that musicians are actually returning to market that gives many dealers hope for the future. The passion is returning, and another generation of buyers can now have access to it. “It’s a great time to buy a guitar right now, the best time I’ve seen in 20 years,” says Jim Singleton. “With so many of them on the market, you can pick through them, find the best one and still get a good price.”

“I think it’s great. People are loving it, and we’re having a good time too, because now we can go to a show and buy things at a fair price and sell it at a fair price and everybody walks away happy,” says Rumbleseat’s Eliot Michaels a few days following the Chicago show, when asked about his impressions of the post-correction market. “We used to go to guitar shows with exorbitant amounts of money and walk away with one or two guitars. Now we can go to a show with a small wallet of money and walk away with a lot of guitars, and actually be able to sell them to people. Everybody’s happy.”