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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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all original 1951 Fender ESQUIRE Blonde with orig. hardshell case

all original 1951 Fender ESQUIRE Blonde with orig. hardshell case

Carbondale, Illinois, 629**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$89000


Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers
Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1951 Fender Esquire in its original Blonde finish. It has a great playing neck with good frets. It's all original and includes the original hardshell case, "ashtray" bridge cover and original strap. This Esquire looks great with a lot of natural play wear including many nicks + dings, finish checking and other cosmetic wear. Some of the finish on the top treble of the body was sanded / buffed down to the wood. It... more
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Custom factory Metallic Silver electric guitars for standard LP USA delivery

Custom factory Metallic Silver electric guitars for standard LP USA delivery

Burlington, New Jersey, 080**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$130

Custom factory Metallic Silver electric guitars for standard LP USA delivery
Hello, friend: Welcome your inquiry and support shop! We're all like-minded people who love guitar. Trust me, my guitar will make you happy. I am also a guitar teacher and we have our own production factory where we can produce a variety of custom styles. As long as you explain the requirements or provide a reference picture can be customized, welcome to consult!The guitars we make are beautiful and of good ... more
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original 1963 Fender JAGUAR Sunburst w / orig. WHITE hardshell case

original 1963 Fender JAGUAR Sunburst w / orig. WHITE hardshell case

Carbondale, Illinois, 629**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$7190


Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers
Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1963 Fender Jaguar in its original Sunburst finish. It has a great playing neck with good frets. It's all original, but the original bridge position pickup has been professionally rewound by Tom Brantley. The original white hardshell case is included along with the original tremolo arm. This Jaguar looks great with a lot of natural play wear including nicks + dings, finish checking, belt buckle wear and other ... more
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Vintage Kay Archtop Acoustic - N

Vintage Kay Archtop Acoustic - N

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

$500


Item:Vintage Kay Archtop Acoustic!
Description: You are purchasing a Vintage Kay Archtop Acoustic! This acoustic has seen a "quick reset" at the neck joint and the guitar plays comfortably. Awesome vintage sound & aesthetics, please inquire w / any questions you may have prior to purchase
Shipping: $80 00 shipping to the Lower 48 States! We ship overseas. Overseas shipping prices will vary. Overseas buyers pay their own import taxes Payment: We accept Paypal for your ... more
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1968 Teisco Del Rey ET-220 - Vtg Electric Guitar Project - For RESTORATION

1968 Teisco Del Rey ET-220 - Vtg Electric Guitar Project - For RESTORATION

Birmingham, Alabama, 352**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$379

This is a rare model Teisco 2 pickup guitar

I believe its likely a model ET-220 from 1968 based on the number in the neck pocket plus other similar ones I've seen in catalogs etc.   If you know more details about it please let know and I'll update the description
2 color sunburst, Gold Foil pickups.    
Originally it had a pink / silver upper pick guard (included) that was damaged so i recreated it in a triple layer, parchment colored Pearloid material.  Teisco ... more
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Vintage 1978 Fender Musicmaster Guitar - Located In Baton Rouge

Vintage 1978 Fender Musicmaster Guitar - Located In Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 708**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2500

This vintage 1978 Fender Musicmaster guitar is a true gem for any collector or musician. With its iconic brand, this guitar is a rare find. It has mojo!

Perfect for those looking for a unique addition to their collection, this Fender Musicmaster boasts a classic design and sound that will impress any music lover. Whether you're playing on stage or in your living room, this guitar is sure to turn heads and make a statement. Don't miss out on this amazing opportunity to own ... more
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Custom factory Black Double Pickup electric guitars for standard LP USA delivery

Custom factory Black Double Pickup electric guitars for standard LP USA delivery

Burlington, New Jersey, 080**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$130

Custom factory Black Double Pickup electric guitars for standard LP USA delivery
Hello, friend: Welcome your inquiry and support shop! We're all like-minded people who love guitar. Trust me, my guitar will make you happy. I am also a guitar teacher and we have our own production factory where we can produce a variety of custom styles. As long as you explain the requirements or provide a reference picture can be customized, welcome to consult!The guitars we make are beautiful and of good ... more
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Headless 6-string LP style Custom factory High Quality Handmade Electric Guitars

Headless 6-string LP style Custom factory High Quality Handmade Electric Guitars

Dayton, New Jersey, 088**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$149

Your guitar purchased in the United States will be shipped by UPS or FEDEX, and the delivery time is about 3 to 7 days
About:
My friends, although our store is new, the factory has many years of production experience
We have guitars in stock for all US addresses and we can deliver them right away
Every guitar in our store is an absolutely excellent ensemble guitar, made from some custom branded electronics and hardware that delivers the best look and sound at an ... more
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Travis Bean TB 2000 Bass Guitar 1977 Natural Koa

Travis Bean TB 2000 Bass Guitar 1977 Natural Koa

Santa Clarita, California, 913**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$4999

1977 Travis Bean TB 2000 Bass in Natural Koa finish. This bass is in beautiful condition considering it is around 47 years old. Just plugged it in and gave it a test drive through my Mesa Boogie Bass 400+. Sounds great, in perfect working condition. Two volume and two tone pots performed as expected. Numerous variety of tones can be achieved. Three way pick-up selector switch works fine. Pick-ups sound great. Neck is smooth. Very little fret wear. I bought this bass about 23 years ago and never ... more
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~ 1965 Hofner Galaxie 176 Sunburst w Original Funky Cool Gig Bag

~ 1965 Hofner Galaxie 176 Sunburst w Original Funky Cool Gig Bag

New York, 100**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1599

Vintage original circa 1965 Honer Galaxie 176 solidbody electric
A very clean example with a good neck, excellent action and superb playability and tone
Neck is straight and plays with a good action and no buzz or issues
Original Hofner pickups sound incredible. Super warm and organic. All electronics fully functional and working great
Guitar comes with super cool original gig bag as pictured
Guitar is exactly as pictured.
Buyer pays $125 shipping in the USA, $150 to... more
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1963 Mosrite The Ventures Model

1963 Mosrite The Ventures Model

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

$7595

1963Mosrite ??The Ventures?? Model, Sunburst including the headstock with early largelogo, This is a fast player with a slim wide neck profile, Sounds great withoriginal hand wound pickups, Previously had a humbucker in the neck positionleaving a slightly enlarged route, Beautiful early example with great vibe, VG++, Early style Brown case with Red velvet lining... more
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Custom Factory Headless C S LP Electric Guitars Available For US Express

Custom Factory Headless C S LP Electric Guitars Available For US Express

Burlington, New Jersey, 080**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$156

Custom Factory Headless C S LP Electric Guitars Available For US Express shipping
Buyer friend:Hello, the guitar you purchased from the US warehouse will be shipped via UPS or FEDEX with a delivery time of approximately 3-7 days If you buy a guitar shipped from China, you can ship it immediately if it is in stock. If there is no inventory, then there will be a production period. Delivered by SF Express and UPS, The transportation takes about 8-12 days。 countries outside the United ... more
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Vintage 1966 Telecaster 250K pot Tele

Vintage 1966 Telecaster 250K pot Tele

Fort Wayne, Indiana, 468**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$149

Vintage 1966 Telecaster 250K pot Tele in perfect condition.... more
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vintage  Slick SL57 electric guitar sunburst Earl Slick, Band Music, Rock n roll

vintage Slick SL57 electric guitar sunburst Earl Slick, Band Music, Rock n roll

Hegins, Pennsylvania, 179**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$200

vintage guitar 39" tall in good condition see pictures... more
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1965 Fender Precision Bass pickup Cover #104

1965 Fender Precision Bass pickup Cover #104

West Point, Mississippi, 397**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$250

This pick up cover is a perfect addition to your vintage Fender Precision Bass. The cover, with the model number 104, was produced in 1965, adding to the authenticity of your instrument. Made by Fender, this cover is a great way to complete the look of your bass and protect the pick up.

A survivor from the last year Leo Fender was Fender

The pick up cover for the famous split pick ups made famous in the 1950??s on up to this very day!

The cover fits a variety ... more
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1983 FENDER PRECISION BASS 62 OR 57 REISSUE 250K CTS POT ALSO FOR R / I JAZZ BASS

1983 FENDER PRECISION BASS 62 OR 57 REISSUE 250K CTS POT ALSO FOR R / I JAZZ BASS

Berlin, New Hampshire, 035**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$59

FREE USA SHIPPING!
This is a nice original 1983 Fender CTS pot in superb condition. I've had it for quite awhile and guarantee it came out of a 1983 Fender '62 Reissue Precision Bass. 8312 date code for the 12th week of 1983. Parts like this are getting difficult to find and remember, it's over 40 years old! Of course you can also use it in 'regular' 1983-84 USA P & J basses
FREE USA SHIPPING and a 30-day return privilege if you are not happy for any reason. The Bass Palace will be ... more
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1974 Fender Stratocaster Near mint condition

1974 Fender Stratocaster Near mint condition

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

$8595

1974 Fender Stratocaster, Sunburst, Maple neck, Low action, Tremolo, Three way switch, Staggered pole piece pickups, Stunning near mint condition, Hang tags, Original bill of sale, One owner, EC++, Original hard case
... more
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1975 fender strat ,original vintage pots

1975 fender strat ,original vintage pots

Albertson, New York, 115**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$450

Here is a set of vol tone pots for fender strats , in excellent unused condition ,very rare to find ;look at pics ask questions ,being sold as is excellent condition working as they should ,no returns ,thanks for looking... more
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1964 Eko model 995 violin bass guitar with original case!

1964 Eko model 995 violin bass guitar with original case!

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

$1500

One owner mint condition vintage 1964-65 Eko Italy model 995 violin bass.
Kept under the bed for over 35 years?? plays well, electronics all work. Comes with original case. True classic!
Get it while you can. These don??t pop up for sale often in this condition.
Guitar is near mint but does have a few small finish checks in the clearcoat.
Please see pictures for details on condition and email if you need any more or have any questions.
Overseas buyers .Please email for ... more
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1953 Fender Precision Bass Pre-CBS Butterscotch Blonde w / HSC

1953 Fender Precision Bass Pre-CBS Butterscotch Blonde w / HSC

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

$14995

1953 Fender Precision Bass In Butterscotch Blonde Finish
In Good Overall Condition (Please See Photos)
Heavy Cosmetic Playwear Throughout
Body Partially Painted Black And Stripped As Shown
Extra Screw Holes Around Body Indicating a Previously Mounted Custom Pickguard
Older Re-Decal
Non-Original Pickguard
Original Cloth Wiring With One Changed Pot And Tone Capacitor
Original Pickup
Original Tuners And Bridge
Neck And Body Dated February 1953 And Signed By ... more
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