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What’s Your Guitar Worth?

I recently spent some time reflecting on how much I love and admire all of the guitars in my collection. Each piece has its own character, feel, and vibe.

I recently spent some time reflecting on how much I love and admire all of the guitars in my collection. Each piece has its own character, feel, and vibe. I currently own approximately 25 guitars – they are tools for me to carry out my dreams, using the gifts God has blessed me with. Those gifts are my music and instrumental ability, which I have the opportunity to share with everyone.

However, I occasionally stop to wonder if younger players or pickers really appreciate their instruments. Do parents, when purchasing a nice guitar for their child, really understand the true investment they are making? It is important to know the value of your instrument.

When you purchase a guitar, what will it be worth 20, 30 or even 50 years from now? For example, I recently acquired a beautiful 1968 D-35 Martin. It was purchased and given to me by a dear friend of mine, Tom Misner, owner of the 50 SAE audio engineering schools around the world. On a bit of a side note, if you are looking to become a studio engineer, SAE is the school to attend.

I had fallen in love with this particular vintage piece about six months prior to ownership – the tone and volume of the D-35 is incredible. By researching in buyer’s guides and online, I discovered what 1968 D-35s were worth, and I also understand how this guitar will grow in value over a number of years. I sincerely love this vintage Martin guitar with all my heart and I want to thank Tom for his kindness and generosity.

Finding a vintage instrument can be both exciting and gratifying and ownership can bring an enormous satisfaction to your life. However, it can sometimes be difficult to privately purchase a vintage instrument, as many pieces are family heirlooms handed down through the generations. The owners may have a hard time parting with their old instruments, for sentimental reasons.

If you are seriously looking for vintage guitars, there are several different ways to find this gear, so don’t give up! I would first suggest buying a magazine that features vintage guitars (Vintage Guitar and Premier Guitar are two options). They list stores, collectors and guitar shows which will have all have vintage guitars for sale, or at least have information about a specific model you’re searching for. I would also recommend checking guitar buyer guides and even an Uncle Henry’s or Thrifty Nickel book. You just never know what you might find.

Guitar shows are also very fun to attend. You will be offered the opportunity to not only see cool vintage pieces, but new guitars as well. Keep in mind when shopping for an instrument many of today’s newer guitars will be tomorrow’s treasures. The upcoming Dallas International Guitar Festival is one of the best places to check out gear and the players that use it – for example, my band and I will attend and perform for Paul Reed Smith Guitars.

The Dallas show is extremely awesome with a wide variety of great vintage and new gear. It is one of the oldest and most respected vintage guitar and trade shows in the industry. It’s a great feeling to be surrounded by guitar enthusiasts and culture while you’re looking for the perfect instrument. I am very proud to be a part of their show and I highly recommend this event to any serious buyer or player.

Guitar shows are also a great way to put your own vintage guitar on the market, as there will be lots of interested buyers in attendance. However, if you are considering selling a vintage piece and are not sure of the value, I would highly recommend contacting a certified instrument appraiser like George Gruhn [of Gruhn Guitars] in Nashville to determine the value. You might be surprised with the result.

In closing, vintage pieces are just wonderful to own and can cause a huge addiction. I am proud to have a 1939 J-45 Gibson that once belonged to my grandfather, and now, the old D-35 Martin. I am sure you all will love and cherish each vintage piece you purchase for a lifetime. For those who have never experienced vintage gear, I urge you to do so. I’m currently looking for an old Paul Reed Smith Custom 24. I guess you could say I have “Vintage Fever!” It is so awesome to pick up one of these vintage models and just wonder whose hands have touched these instruments over the years. God Bless and happy hunting!

Johnny Hiland
Guitar Player Extrodinare