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How to sell a vintage guitar online:
Finding out what your guitar is worth

A guide to selling quickly at the best possible price

Step 1: How to sell a vintage guitar online
Step 2: Finding out what your guitar is worth
Step 3: Advertising your guitar for sale

Step 3: Advertising your guitar for sale

It is important you know what you are selling, but equally important you let everyone else know. This is key. Wherever you intend to sell your guitar, be it Ebay, Craigslist, Gumtree or a private guitar classified website, there will invariably be a listing title. Get this wrong and you reduce the likelihood of viewers buying. Leave it out entirely (rather, leave out the keywords for which people search) and you dramatically reduce the number of viewers. Great listing titles will include the make, model, year and maybe other details too. For example
Good: "Vintage Gibson SG Special guitar, 1969 with case" - this will be easily found by all of those buyers looking for a vintage SG Special
OK: "Gibson SG, red" - although this will come up in many searches, it will be swamped by the many thousands of SG listings, all variants, new and old
Bad: "Gibson guitar, rare" - it is difficult to come up in search results with so few specifics.

Use pictures to remove doubt

Close-up images really help demonstrate a guitars condition Taking as many close-up pictures as possible is an enormous help in showing a guitars true condition. The old adage of a picture being worth a thousand words is certainly true here.

The value of a vintage guitar is proportional to its originality. And it is well known that online sellers sometimes hide defects; posting poor quality pictures and claiming "I don't know anything about guitars" or "I'm selling this for a friend"... These tricks are well known, and in most cases will deter buyers. In some cases people will still buy, but assume there to be a problem, and bid accordingly. If you are not hiding anything, you should make this known! And truly the best way to do this is with large-sized, clear, photographs. Show the scratches, dents and wear patches. Show the electronics (and state potentiometer date codes if present) and the underside of pickups. You may also need to pay special attention to potential problem areas typical to that guitar. For example:

Gibson guitars can suffer from a cracked or broken headstock, especially those with a mahogany neck. There is a weak point at thinnest part, behind the truss rod cavity, and many breaks occur at this point. Guitars like the Gibson SG often break where the neck meets the body, or at the tail end of the body around the controls and input jack. A really good repair can be difficult to spot in a bad photograph. You must show these areas when selling a Gibson.

The pickups in a vintage Gibson are crucial for it's sound. You must show that these are original. Usually done by removing them from their routes, and photographing the underside (with patent sticker), and the routes themselves (this also shows whether extra pickups have been added, and that the finish is original.

Hofner guitars often require a neck reset to achieve a playable action This early 1960s Hofner guitar has had a neck reset; a standard procedure for such guitars.

A Hofner may have a high action due to movement on a neck joint, or worse damage from a badly performed reset. Hofner was previously better known as a violin maker, and the hide glues used in violin construction were also used on their guitars. This allows easy neck resetting, but over time they also slip, making a reset a standard procedure for Hofner instruments. However if this has previously been performed badly, it can impact on the value significantly. You must show the heel area and the side of the neck (to show the action) when selling a Hofner.

Fender guitars were designed to be easily bolted together, and parts replaced when necessary. Very many Fenders out there have had components swapped over the years. Naturally buyers want originality, so you have to try and establish this where possible. A Fender neck should have date markings on the body end of the neck. Any serious buyer will want to see this. Also many Fender guitars out there are actually an old neck with a whole load of new parts added. The more places you can show - inside the neck pocket, under the scratchplate etc, the less room there is for confusion.

Guitars in rare or custom finishes are often claimed to be original, but very often have just been refinished. To prove your rare coloured guitar has always been that colour, make a point of showing the serial number stamp - too faint suggests a refin; and underneath the scratchplate - finishes fade over time, but less so in areas not directly exposed to sunlight.

When pictures don't help

Potentiometer codes on a vintage Fender bass guitar If you are unable to clearly capture smaller details, such as potentiometer codes and serial numbers, be sure to include these within your description.

But pictures can't always tell the whole story. Sometimes you just need to state some obvious and some not so obvious facts, especially if you are unable to get decent close-ups, or if you are unwilling to dismantle the guitar.

  • Does it work?
  • Is the finish original
  • What colour is it (different monitors can show images very differently)
  • Does the truss rod nut turn
  • Is the neck straight
  • How high is the action at the twelfth fret (distance between neck and strings)
  • Is there concealed routing under the scratchplate
  • Are the electronics original, and working
  • What are the potentiometer codes

Disclosing a guitars faults may not reduce the amount a potential buyer may bid, as it also tells them that you are honest, knowledgeable seller, hopefully reducing the chances of them getting a nasty surprise when the instrument arrives. This is also simple fairness.

Provenance

For some guitars, most notably the guitars by Fender, but also Gibson and others, copies and forgeries abound. Fake parts or even whole guitars are passed of as original. Cheap Asian factories churn out authentic looking instruments that would only fool a novice. But then there are master fraudsters creating INCREDIBLY accurate guitars - often fitted with real parts. When some of these can sell for tens of thousands of dollars, it is no wonder. One thing these guitars never have is provenance. If you, or you grandfather, have played and loved this guitar for generations, show the pics! Cool old images of the instrument, however grainy, prove it's history. Buyers find these fascinating and will almost certainly add value to the instrument. In fact you should copy these images, and include them with the guitar when you sell. People buying a vintage instrument are also buying a piece of musical history.

Case Candy

Vox case candy from the mid 1960s Case candy is a term for the hang tags, manuals, catalogues and other goodies that came with the guitar when originally sold. The above came with a mid 1960s Italian Vox guitar.

If you are selling the guitar with it's case you should certainly say so, and include pictures. Is the case original? And does it come with case candy? These are the things that came with the guitar: hang tags, price labels, manuals, catalogues, inspection cards, tools, straps and cables. Many guitars came with some or all of these, and having them present and in good condition are definitely a bonus to any buyer. If they are there, photograph them, and include them in your advertisement.

Communicate

Be ready to answer questions. Hopefully you will have included everything in your listing, but if you have not, make sure you answer to the best of your ability. Failure to do so may look like you are concealing something.

Don't write "I'm selling this for a friend", or "I don't know anything about guitars". These are regarded as code for "there's something wrong with this sale, and i'm absolving myself of responsibility".

When to sell

As stated earlier, prices change throughout the year, with January and June-August being the worst times to sell. The fact is, people have less money just after Christmas, and tend to be offline in the Summer months. A good time to sell seems to be November and December, when more people are online, and in a mood for shopping!

In Conclusion

Just because your guitar seems to be worth $5000, don't get disheartened when it does not sell immediately for that amount. There are only so many vintage guitar collectors, and most are a cautious bunch. Also most will not have big piles of cash burning holes in their pockets. To buy your guitar they may need to sell one of their own, or move around funds first. You will have to be patient, and expect to wait weeks, months or even years for the most valuable guitars to sell at the best price. A dealer will no doubt offer you a much lower price in this time, and you can sell to them, but naturally they need to make a living which will be reflected in their offer.

If you want the best return, you will have to be patient. Best to sell because you want to, never because you need to.

Sellers that put a little effort into their listings certainly reap the benefits in the long run!


Vintage guitars for sale

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1970s Giannini AWN 300 Classical Guitar Brazil

1970s Giannini AWN 300 Classical Guitar Brazil

Point Roberts, Washington, 982**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$800

Up for sale is a hard to find vintage 1970's Giannini AWN 300 classical guitar.
Made in Brazil in the 1970s.
These guitars have intricate inlays on the back and sides. Very nice looking guitar.
The guitar is in pretty good condition for the age. a few scratches on the body , Finish checking on the headstock and a ding are the only finish imperfections.
Mechanically the guitar plays well with no issues. It sounds very rich and balanced. The guitar could use a setup to your own ... more
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2012 Martin Performing Artist DCPA4 USA Acoustic guitar with Martin Case

2012 Martin Performing Artist DCPA4 USA Acoustic guitar with Martin Case

Point Roberts, Washington, 982**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1200

Up for sale is a very nice 2012 Martin USA Performing Artist model DCPA4 acoustic guitar with Martin Alligator skin finish Martin hard case.
Guitar sounds amazing! Great projection and a balanced big tone!
Mechanically the guitar plays great with no issues.
Cosmetically the guitar is in great condition for the age with normal slight wear.
Has a Fishman pickup system and built in tuner!
Please see pictures for details on condition and email if you need any more or have any ... more
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Vintage Kay Value Leader single pickup / pickguard assembly complete and working.

Vintage Kay Value Leader single pickup / pickguard assembly complete and working.

San Francisco, California, 941**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$50

Well used Kay Value Leader pickup / pickguard assembly, complete and everything works. The pot codes are on the sides and tiny, but I think they date to 1961
It's in typical used condition for these things, except for the fact that it actually works - even the tone control. The pickup is healthy, and, of course, it comes with the original super-cool knobs. It's ready to go so your Kay / Old Kraftsman Value Leader can live again.... more
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vintage electric guitars 1980s

vintage electric guitars 1980s

Longs, South Carolina, 295**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$750

up for auction in an unknown guitar from the 1980s. This is a double cut made from ash electric guitar with two Seymour Duncan pick ups. there is a JBJ in bridge and JNJ in neck position. it??s wired with coil splitters and a master volume. the chicken head knobs are the only parts that have been changed as the old knobs crumbled apart. Grover tuners look original and the pots date to 1986. the pick ups could be older but not newer.
the guitar has age antique marks through out and the ... more
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Fender Telecaster Deluxe - 1974

Fender Telecaster Deluxe - 1974

Gunnison, Colorado, 812**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$4939

This Fender vintage guitar from 1974 is a must-have for any serious musician. With its solid body and 6 string configuration, it's perfect for both beginners and professionals alike. The right-handed dexterity makes it easy to play, and the brand is known for producing high-quality instruments. This guitar is a classic model and is perfect for collectors who want to add a vintage instrument to their collection. It's been well-maintained and is in excellent condition, ready to be played and ... more
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1952 Gibson ES-175 Natural Original for Repair or Restoration No Reserve As Is

1952 Gibson ES-175 Natural Original for Repair or Restoration No Reserve As Is

Phoenix, Arizona, 850**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$51

Up for auction is a 1952 Gibson ES-175 in original natural finish for repair or restoration, s / n A-10236. The heel is damaged and poorly repaired. There is also a damaged section in the side cutaway as shown in the photos. I do not know the extent of the damage and have not had the guitar evaluated, so do not know if it can be repaired or not. Please review the pictures, ask any questions and make your own determination. The guitar is being sold as is to the high bidder with no reserve. ... more
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1960s Silvetone U2 Danelectro

1960's Silvetone U2 Danelectro

Mustang, Oklahoma, 730**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$499

1960's Danelectro Silvertone U2 Headstock refinished and logoWilkinson tuners new pickguard New 3 way switchLow action great sound original pickups, Thanks !USA 48 only
... more
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Vintage 70s Lyle Electric Guitar Japan Lawsuit Era Bookmatched Headstock Cherry

Vintage 70s Lyle Electric Guitar Japan Lawsuit Era Bookmatched Headstock Cherry

Compton, California, 902**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$500

Cool guitar. In pretty amazing condition given that the case is falling apart. The case is really rough. The guitarist surprise only really nice and Appears to be untouched. It is being sold as it is no returns. I did not plug it in but it it's all there won't need much. Probably best to go to a collector at this point. What you see is what you get a guitar that looks like. It's been forgotten about In a garage for the last Fifty years.
... more
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Fender USA 1957 Reissue AVRI Precision Bass Neck Maple 1989

Fender USA 1957 Reissue AVRI Precision Bass Neck Maple 1989

Sheffield, Massachusetts, 012**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$80

Hello all!
For sale is a 1989 Fender 1957 Reissue AVRI Precision Bass Maple Neck made in the USA
The maple finish has ambered beautifully with age
I had it on a bass and it plays great! At the 1st fret, it??s 1 778?? wide & .782 deep. At the 12th fret, it??s 2 294 wide & .904 deep
The truss rod works as it should
The frets are in great condition with little to no wear
There are no cracks or repairs. It does have some non factory tuner mounting screw holes
It has... more
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1997 PEAVEY USA Wolfgang USA Standard Tobacco Sunburst EVH Arch Top

1997 PEAVEY USA Wolfgang USA Standard Tobacco Sunburst EVH Arch Top

Poway, California, 920**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$15150

Thanks for your consideration !
1997 Peavey Wolfgang Pat Pending Arch / Carved top in Tobacco Sunburst. Build sheet date 8 / 1 / 97.
Ser#91002758
I haven't seen another Patent Pending Quilttop Wolfgang EVH Standard on eBay or Reverb !
I??ve owned this guitar since 1998 and it has been played very little and never been gigged. The birdseye maple neck is simply beautiful. It plays nicely and was recently setup with new EVH 9's strings. At some point I added an FU Tone brass block. The... more
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Gibson Melody Maker guitar - 1962

Gibson Melody Maker guitar - 1962

Gunnison, Colorado, 812**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$3379

This Gibson Melody Maker guitar from 1962 is a rare vintage piece for any guitar enthusiast. With its solid body type and right-handed dexterity, it's perfect for both amateur and professional musicians alike. The guitar also boasts a classic design with a single-cutaway shape that gives it an iconic look The brand and model of the guitar speak for themselves, making it a valuable addition to any collection. Its exact year of production adds to its uniqueness, making it a significant piece of ... more
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GIBSON SG SPECIAL - 1966

GIBSON SG SPECIAL - 1966

Gunnison, Colorado, 812**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$13649

This vintage Gibson SG Special from 1966 is a true gem for collectors and musicians alike. Made in the United States, this guitar features a solid body and 6 strings for a classic sound. The iconic Gibson brand and SG series are well-known for their quality and craftsmanship. The model is SG Special, with a unique history and story behind it. Its exact year of production is clearly marked, adding to its value as a vintage instrument. Whether you're a seasoned player or just starting out, this ... more
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Vintage 1960s Silvertone 1448 Guitar & Amp Case, for Project  /  Resto  /  Repair

Vintage 1960s Silvertone 1448 Guitar & Amp Case, for Project / Resto / Repair

Point Pleasant, West Virginia, 255**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2000

Vintage 1960s Silvertone 1448 Guitar & Amp Case, for Project / Resto / Repair. Shipped with USPS Ground Advantage.
... more
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The Realist RLSTVNQT Copperhead Violin Pickup - Acoustic Instrument Pickup

The Realist RLSTVNQT Copperhead Violin Pickup - Acoustic Instrument Pickup

Brooklyn, New York, 112**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$200

The Realist RLSTVNQT Copperhead violin pickup allows for excellent sound amplification on acoustic instruments. Crafted by The Realist, this model is specifically designed for violin use. The RLSTVNQT Copperhead is a top choice for musicians seeking to achieve an authentic and natural sound during live performances or recordings

This high-quality instrument pickup is crafted to meet the demands of professional musicians. It accurately captures the nuances of the violin's sound, ... more
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1962 Gibson L-5CESN Natural w / OHSC

1962 Gibson L-5CESN Natural w / OHSC

San Diego, California, 921**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$25995

1962 Gibson L-5CESN
This Guitar Is Located At Imperial Vintage Guitars Sherman Oaks
In Excellent Overall Condition (Please See Photos)
All Parts Are Original
Original PAF Pickups Sound Incredible
Professionally Reset Neck Done Years Ago, Neck Is Perfectly Straight
Original Natural Finish Has Some Overspray
Set Up With Flat Wound 12??s, Very Low 3 / 64?? Action At The 12th Fret
No Other Repairs Or Issues
Early 60??s Neck Profile with Wide 1 & 11 / 16?? Nut ... more
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Vintage Luna Classical Acoustic w /  HSC

Vintage Luna Classical Acoustic w / HSC

Mesquite, Texas, 751**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$500


Item: Vintage Luna Classical Acoustic w / HSC!
Description: You are purchasing a Vintage Luna Classical Acoustic w / HSC! The acoustic currently has a broken string but there are otherwise no issues regarding playability. A true vintage Japanese made classical that is ready to be enlisted as a workhorse. Please inquire with any questions prior to purchase
Shipping: $80 00 shipping to the Lower 48 States! We ship overseas. Overseas shipping prices will vary. Overseas buyers ... more
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1975 RICKENBACKER 4001 BRIDGE PICKUP RING

1975 RICKENBACKER 4001 BRIDGE PICKUP RING

Westminster, California, 926**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$200

This vintage Rickenbacker 4001 bass guitar part will add some authentic 70s flair to your instrument. Specifically, it's a bridge pickup ring, compatible with Rickenbacker models from 1975. The brand is well-known for their distinctive sound, favored by many prominent musicians of the era. Whether you're a collector or a player, this piece is a must-have for any Rickenbacker enthusiast
... more
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c. 1972 Gibson Les Paul Recording Walnut w / OHSC

c. 1972 Gibson Les Paul Recording Walnut w / OHSC

San Diego, California, 921**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$4595

Circa 1972 Gibson Les Paul Recording Model In Walnut Finish
This Guitar Is Located At Imperial Vintage Guitars Sherman Oaks
In Very Good Overall Condition (Please See Photos)
Light Cosmetic Playwear Throughout Including Some Marks And Small Scratches
Finish Cracks On Top As Shown
Added Bigsby Tailpiece
Otherwise Original
All Mahogany Body With Belly Contour
3-Piece Mahogany Neck With Bound Rosewood Fingerboard And Block Inlay
Dual Low Impedance Pickups
Grover ... more
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1965 Hofner 500 / 1 Violin Bass

1965 Hofner 500 / 1 Violin Bass

Loveland, Ohio, 451**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$4995

1965 Hofner 500 / 1 Violin Bass, AKA the Beatle Bass, Hollow-body, Sunburst finish, Staple pickups, Large raised logo and larger Pearloid controlpanel, Fantastic warm and powerful tonality, Light weight, Plays great, Truly abeauty, VG++, Rare worn original hard case... more
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