In part one of this blog we covered the history of the electric guitar and how the rarity and condition of a guitar impacts its value. In part two, we’ll discuss the importance of provenance and finally how to choose the best guitar to meet one’s needs.
Celebrity ownership of a guitar can have a huge impact on its price. Paul Allen of Microsoft is reported to have paid as much as $2,000,000 for a guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock.
A more public example is the guitar Bob Dylan played at the Newport Festival – his first appearance with an electric guitar – a huge turning point in his career. Rediscovered in 2012, it went on the sell at Christie’s for $965,000 narrowly surpassing the record set by Eric Clapton.
Examining any list of the world’s most expensive guitars will turn up a host of celebrity owned and/or historically significant guitars. Celebrity association with guitars, just like other assets, is generally a marker of increased value.
How to Choose?
It all comes down to what your priorities are. If you want a guitar you can play and enjoy then it’s just about which guitar feels ‘right.’ Without playing the guitar, you can’t know. The advantage of this approach is of course you may find a guitar that has been repaired or had a part or two changed but still feels and sounds amazing. This guitar will never be a true investment, but it will come at a cheaper price. Provided you take good care of it, it is unlikely to ever lose value.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a guitar to admire, and one that will increase in value, you want to look for as pristine and as rare a guitar as possible. Although they are becoming rarer and rarer, there are still 1950’s Fender and Gibson guitars being discovered in pristine condition having sat in their cases for years. Their value will likely increase over time.
Finally, if you want to own a piece of history, then look out for the celebrity owned guitars. There’s normally a lot of fanfare when one comes on the market, so they are hard to miss, but expect to pay a significant premium for the pleasure. So long as the celebrity owner remains popular, expect this guitar’s value to rise as their legend grows.
A Note on Markets
The market for guitars is like any other, it goes up and down. There are fewer buyers, and consequently fewer sales than for say, fine art. This means that guitars will not be as liquid – they are not an asset you can expect to buy and then sell a couple of months later at a profit.
To learn more about the market itself, look out for the upcoming blog post comparing the guitar market to the market for other assets.