In the vintage guitar business, we often hear the complaint that rich collectors have pushed prices so high that the finest guitars have been taken out of the hands of
In the vintage guitar business, we often hear the complaint that rich collectors have pushed prices so high that the finest guitars have been taken out of the hands of deserving musicians. This is hardly a new complaint. It’s been circulating for almost 200 years, ever since the emergence of violin collectors in the early 1800s. And the argument was as groundless then as it is now.
Let’s address the last part of the argument first. Are musicians really deserving of these instruments? Well, yes and no. We would all like to hear the finest musicians playing on the finest instruments, of course. But some of the greatest musicians have been among the biggest abusers of guitars—at least from a vintage collectible standpoint. They’ve routed and drilled and refinished and renecked and modified instruments until there’s no originality left, and the only vintage value of the instrument is its celebrity association.
We really shouldn’t vilify musicians for that sort of treatment. After all, in most cases they’re just being pragmatic. As professional musicians, they have to make a living with their instruments, and the instruments must be up to the task at hand. Often, the instrument had no significant value at the time they had their way with it. Nevertheless, musicians often customize instruments in ways that destroy originality.
Who replaced those necks and made all those other modifications to the Strads? It wasn’t the collectors. It was musicians and their repairmen. Sooner or later, as musical tastes and styles change, the same thing would happen to virtually every guitar left in the possession of working musicians. Musicians should not necessarily be vilified for this, because few would knowingly damage a valuable instrument. More often, they are merely “upgrading” a utility instrument that later becomes collectible.
Ironically, the same group who “damaged” vintage instruments were also the first to recognize their value. It was musicians in the early 1800s who discovered that older Italian instruments sounded better than new factory-made violins, and it was musicians in the 1960s—people like Mike Bloomfield, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Stephen Stills— who discovered that some of the older Martins, Gibsons and Fenders sounded better than new ones. Their preference for older instruments caused other musicians and fans to appreciate these instruments and created a desire to own them. As the vintage market grew, the activities of collectors and dealers rooted out many instruments and actually put more good instruments into circulation than they removed.
It’s a short step from owning a special item to wanting to protect it, and that’s where the accusation begins that collectors take instruments out of circulation. It’s true, but only to a point. Owners of valuable violins routinely loan them to musicians so that they can be appreciated by the masses. The nature of rock and roll performance makes this a more dangerous proposition for a Les Paul or Stratocaster than for a Strad in a symphony setting, but owners of great guitars generally like to hear them played.
The late Scott Chinery, for example, had a fabulous collection that he kept in glass display cases, but when he hosted a party to celebrate his Blue Collection of commissioned archtops, he opened up those display cases to provide such notable guitarists as Tal Farlow, Arlen Roth, Jimmy Vivino and G.E. Smith with instruments for a jam session. He also sponsored recordings that used his instruments. So while Chinery may have taken instruments out of general circulation, he by no means retired them.
In addition to protecting instruments, collectors make a great contribution in the area of education. Their passion has driven much of the research that has been published on vintage instruments. Many of those who criticize collectors might never have heard of their coveted instruments in the first place had it not been for collectors’ educational contributions.
The biggest complaint about collectors is that they drive prices up. That’s true, but that’s the nature of any open market where demand exceeds supply. Collectors can’t do anything about it, nor can dealers. The upside of rising prices is that they protect the instruments, because instruments with no value get no respect.
As a final note, let’s imagine what would happen if disgruntled musicians got what they wished for, and all the instruments in collections were released. Musicians would either use them as utility tools, further damaging them, or take better care of them and put them in protective custody. In the latter case, musicians would then become their own worst nightmare: collectors depriving deserving musicians of fine instruments.
has been dealing vintage guitars since the 1960s. Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars (co-written with Walter Carter) is the “bible” for vintage collectors. Visit www.gruhn.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.
The new finish, according to Lava Music, is “inspired by the beauty of the golden hour,” a shining time just before sunset and after sunrise when photographers covet to capture stunning pictures.
With bright and warm golden hues, the new finish adds a brilliant metallic glow to the surface of Lava ME 3, complementing its AirSonic 2 carbon fiber unibody which features L3 Preamp with FreeBoost 2.0, delivers industry-leading sounds by breakthrough acoustic technologies, and houses a multi-touch display powered by Lava-developed HILAVA system.
Speaking of the HILAVA system, Lava Music also added four new effects: Nebula, Desert Rose, Cassette, and Edge of Breakup. As unique as their names sound, they are very much different from what we normally know about effects. Programmed into the HILAVA system, each of the four is powered by the company’s latest ArctanDrive algorithm and incorporates effects like Pitch Shift, Delay, and Reverb. And every one of those incorporated sub-effects comes with various parameters that players can adjust to design unique, overdriven sounds by just tapping on the multi-touch display. That said, those effects enable users to play with overdriven tone on an acoustic-electric guitar without even plugging in any external gear.
LAVA ME 3 | Now in Golden Hour | LAVA MUSIC
Lava Me 3 in Golden Hour is now available starting from $999 on LAVA MUSIC, Amazon, and local guitar dealerships near you.
For more information, please visit store.lavamusic.com.