Vintage Guitars
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How to sell a vintage guitar online:
Identifying the guitar

A guide to selling quickly at the best possible price

this guitar is sold!

Vintage guitars come in all shapes and sizes; some are incredibly rare, highly prized by guitar players and very expensive to buy. Some are nothing short of a hindrance to play; basically firewood with strings. Perhaps ok for decorating a bar wall, but that's about it. Most are somewhere in between. There is most likely a player or collector out there who would love to pay you for your guitar. If you have anything exceptionally rare, you are best off selling on consignment through a respected vintage guitar dealer, rather than privately online. Likewise if your guitar is basically junk, you might find selling it at a local table or car boot sale is most effective. But most guitars are suitable for selling online, and you can easily get a fair price, as long as you follow a few basic steps: correct guitar identification, correct valuation, and effective description.

There are a number of things that you can do to help your vintage guitar sell quickly, whilst maximising the sale price. If you don't, you run the risk of deterring buyers and ending up either getting less than your guitar is worth, or failing to sell at all. This article is aimed at all those individuals who want to sell a vintage guitar, but don't really know where to start.

Step 1: Identifying the guitar
Step 2: Finding out what your guitar is worth
Step 3: Advertising your guitar for sale

Step 1: Identifying the guitar

If you already know what your guitar is, jump to step 2: Finding out what your guitar is worth

So how do you know what you've got? There is a lot of information about the major American and European vintage guitars online, in fact that is the main focus of this site, and there are also some excellent books on guitar identification (Gruhn's Guide is about the best), and very many helpful collectors hanging out on guitar forums and social media groups. Accurate information is harder to come by for Japanese guitars. A handful of factories produced a huge number of guitars, often quite similar, but with the retailers branding rather than the manufacturer. Some will never have been shown in a catalogue, and getting detailed information may be quite difficult.

Start with the brand name. Most guitars have this somewhere on the headstock, on a label, in a soundhole, or on a scratchplate or pickup. Entirely unmarked guitars are rare, and as a general rule, better manufacturers were proud of their work, and will have applied their logos prominently. It is true that some decal logos are removed, but again, owners of better guitars tend not to let this happen, whilst cheaper copies are often anonymised in the hope that they might be mistaken for something that they are not. If your guitar has no markings, it is most likely not going to sell for any significant sum. Examine the guitar closely for any markings: model codes, serial numbers, and countries of manufacture. Look under the scratchplate, on the neck heel and in the neck pocket, on the neckplate, on the guitars hardware and on the back of the headstock.

Guitar manufacturers often put their brand name on headstocks, pickguards, pickups, tailpieces and bodies
Manufacturer logos are often on the guitars headstock, put also the body, or on hardware such as pickups, scratchplates, tuning keys or bridge

Guitar identification through hardware

If you are still stuck, start comparing hardware to other guitars. Look online for other instruments with the same pickups especially but also neckplates, headstock shapes and bridges. Tuning keys can also give clues, but many manufacturers used commercially available parts by Schaller or Kluson etc. rather than manufacturing their own.

What about where it was made? Is there a country designation? Made in Japan? Italy, USA? for example. Get out a ruler and start measuring any parts of the guitar. Are dimensions metric or imperial? Older American guitars tend to be in inches or fractions of. European and Japanese guitars are far more likely to be designed in centimetres. What about markings on the electronics? Any language clues there? If you know where it was built you have certainly narrowed down the number of possible brands.

Numerous guitar manufacturers produced generic-looking entry-level guitars under different brand names for selling cheaply in bulk to 1960s, 70s and 80s teenagers. Audition, for example was the name applied to Japanese guitars produced for sale in Woolworth stores in the UK. And there were hundreds of other store brands like this; guitars such as these are really quite common. Most unbranded guitars will be in this category, and although often acceptable instruments are unlikely to sell for anything more than two figure sums.

Older Guitar catalogues can be invaluable in instrument identification
Vintage guitar catalogues are a good starting point in determining model names, and approximate years of production.

Vintage guitar dating

Once you have a manufacturers name, determining the model and year are next. There can be a lot of subtle model variations, and pinpointing the exact name may not be essential if the guitar is largely unknown or often misidentified. Many identical guitars may have been given different model designations by different retailers. Guitars by Harmony, Kay and Valco in the US, Eko, Hagstrom and Crucianelli in Europe and Teisco, Kawaii and Norma in Japan were all sold under various marques, despite being very similar or even the same instrument.

For a guitar produced by the likes of Fender, Gibson or one of the bigger manufacturers, finding the year may be as simple as looking up the serial number on a chart online, then referring to a catalogue from a similar period to find the model. Even a web image search with the brand and year can show very many guitars that may match.

Precise dating can be tricky - but establishing an approximate age shouldn't be too hard. Most vintage guitar collectors and dealers can suggest a decade, simply by looking at the guitar, it's styling, the materials used and how it is constructed. This is something you get a feel for with time. If you are completely in the dark, post online and somebody will surely help. Often less well known guitars are actually copies of other guitars. Or their hardware may be copied from a better known brand. If you know the first production date of the guitar copied, this again can narrow down potential production years.

One trick that guitar collectors always use is reading pot codes. The pots, or potentiometers, are the tone and volume controls on a guitar. If you can get to the reverse side of these, you may well find a code, with some date fragments embedded within them. This is of course the date that the pot was made, rather than the guitar, but they are often closely correlated. For more about this, see our page on reading guitar potentiometer codes.

Is there any paperwork in the case? Sales receipts, price lists and other paperwork can often hold a date. Furthermore if you have a retailer name, you may be able to search online for a guitar catalogue that holds the model in question.

Look out for fakes

Of course you have to be aware of copies.. from the 1950s onwards, budget guitars (and some quite nice ones to be fair) were often modelled on more expensive guitars by the big brands. These were produced in huge numbers and are not uncommon at all. Unfortunately, these can look VERY convincing, and quite often an owner might have replaced a decal to complete the deception. There are ways of spotting these guitars. A 'Gibson' with 'made in Japan' on it's neckplate... or a Les Paul with a bolt-on neck. Generally these guitars will also not have a serial number (or at least one that corresponds to the correct numbering system). If in doubt refer the guitar to a forum / discussion group for a second opinion.


Vintage guitars for sale

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1960s Vintage "Norma" Violin Bass; Made in Japan! FAIR Cond. Sounds / Looks COOL!

1960s Vintage "Norma" Violin Bass; Made in Japan! FAIR Cond. Sounds / Looks COOL!

Chico, California, 959**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$595


I bought this a couple of years ago, installed flat-wound strings, and took it to my local guitar tech who made a few adjustments. I haven't really played it much at all. As you can see, it's in fair condition - scuffs, scratches, finish cracks, filled-in holes where screws were removed
It works pretty well, as you can tell by the video. (Even though I messed up a bit playing a C Major scale!) There is a bit of noise when the "TONE" or "VOLUME" knobs are turned
According to ... more
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Vintage 1967-1968 Fender Coronado II - Wildwood 1 in all original condition!

Vintage 1967-1968 Fender Coronado II - Wildwood 1 in all original condition!

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

$3510


An exceptionally clean and beautiful 1968 Fender Coronado II Wildwood 1 in all original condition! Serial # 245675 on logo??d neck plate. This beauty has just been thoroughly cleaned, professionally setup and ready for action! It comes with all original accessories (pictured) and original hard shell case.
This is the one you??ve been waiting for!! ?

... more
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1980 Tokai 1st Gen. Breezysound

1980 Tokai 1st Gen. Breezysound

Spokane, Washington, 992**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1600

1980 Tokai Breezysound Custom Double Bound Tele. All original except the Bridge Plate (off 62 Tele Custom) . Very good condition with some minor chipping on the back bottom ( pictured)... more
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Mint 1975 Authorized Gibson Guitar Dealer Window Sticker Vintage Original NOS

Mint 1975 Authorized Gibson Guitar Dealer Window Sticker Vintage Original NOS

Jacksonville, Arkansas, 720**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$40


Ireceived this ??Gibson Authorized Dealer?? sticker in January of1975. That's when I opened Jacksonville Guitar Center (inJacksonville, Arkansas) and became a Gibson dealer. I had one ofthese stickers in the front window of my store, and I put one in theback window of my orange Dodge Challenger.
RecentlyI was looking through my old stuff and realized I had saved someextras
Iwant you bidders to realized this is a window sticker, and is meantto stick to the inside of your window ... more
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Vintage Gibson L6S Midnight Special. Roadworn Classic. Rare Early 70s. Soft Case

Vintage Gibson L6S Midnight Special. Roadworn Classic. Rare Early 70s. Soft Case

Morrison, Colorado, 804**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1500

Awesome early 70s classic in actual road worn condition. Still looks plays and sounds great. Just had the electronics cleaned. There??s some fret wear as shown but it??s pretty uniform with no buzz. Finish is worn as shown in pics but that??s just cool. Comes with a plush Gibson soft case.
... more
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1979 Tokai Breezysound 1st Gen. Fab!

1979 Tokai Breezysound 1st Gen. Fab!

Spokane, Washington, 992**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1300

1979 Tokai Springy sound. This is a Fabulous Guitar in feel, tone, look, and for the price it is amazing. Everything appears to be original However I have had no need to pop it open. comes in Vintage Fender or fender style hard case pictured. Free Shipping !!!!... more
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Vintage 1972 Ovation Breadwinner, OHSC

Vintage 1972 Ovation Breadwinner, OHSC

Rocky Hill, Connecticut, 060**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$499

Up for sale is an Ovation Breadwinner. This is the first version of this model, with large single-coil pickups and the jack mounted on the body rather than the pickguard. The guitar is in excellent condition, set up nicely, with very little wear to the finish or the frets. The guitar is all original including the hardshell case, which is about as clean as the guitar is. It sounds great and everything works as it should, including the preamp
... more
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Early - Mid 60s 700 / V4 in Pearl all orig.

Early - Mid 60s 700 / V4 in Pearl all orig.

Spokane, Washington, 992**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$795

1961-65 Eko 700 / V4 Excellent condition. All switches and electrical work well with several different tones available. Very fun Guitar. No wear is evident, Great action. Will Ship in Older Bass hard case. This Guitar is slightly longer than most standrd Guitars so the bass case was a necisity.
... more
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1980 Hondo II Professional Lead 1

1980 Hondo II Professional Lead 1

Spokane, Washington, 992**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$395

There are Hondo's, Hondo IIs and Hondo II professionals. The Hondo II professional was the only one made in 1980 By the Tokai Plant in the same plant by the same workers in Japan. These are sleeper guitars, and this one is a beauty. Split Humbuckers and IN and out of Phase. a lot of Tonal Options. This is the best bang for the buck out there. Comes in original leather gig bag (pictured). This will come in gig bag and carefully double Boxed for 99 Dollars.... more
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1970s Greco Thinline Pre  Serial EXCELLENT  W / Case

1970s Greco Thinline Pre Serial EXCELLENT W / Case

Spokane, Washington, 992**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$875

Mid to early Greco Thin line Tele. The guitar is in EXCELLENT original Condition for any year , This is a 50 YO Guitar!Has the really beautiful Maxon Mid Range Humbucker That sound as nice as fenders original Seth Lovers . comes in Original case also in excellent condition . FREE SHIPPING !... more
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1970s Fresher Mercury Mustang fully upgraded W / Hard Case

1970s Fresher Mercury Mustang fully upgraded W / Hard Case

Spokane, Washington, 992**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$865

Fully Upgraded Mid 70s Fresher Mercury. Rosewood Slab Board. Has all upgrade ,quality fender parts ,including Trem. system, Noiseless Fender Pickups ups, Switches, guards and upgraded Kluson Deluxe type tuners. Refinished in Phelum blue ( was already blue ) when all the upgrades were done several years ago. The Paint has Cracked and crazed. no cracks in wood. Will ship in Brand new Hard case pictured. FREE SHIPPING !... more
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1968 Les Paul Gold Top original except for grover heads. Beautiful sounding

1968 Les Paul Gold Top original except for grover heads. Beautiful sounding

Medford, Massachusetts, 021**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$15000

This is a 1968 Gibson Les Paul electric guitar with a gold solid body. The model is a Les Paul and it belongs to the Gibson Les Paul series. P80 originals grover heads.... more
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1971 - 1975 Lot of 11 Gibson Catalogs Brochures Guitar Price List Original Owner

1971 - 1975 Lot of 11 Gibson Catalogs Brochures Guitar Price List Original Owner

Jacksonville, Arkansas, 720**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$100


Thesecatalogs are my personal keep sakes from the early 1970's when I wasa youngster writing to Gibson for literature, up to when I openedJacksonville Guitar Ctr in January of 1975. I operated my guitarstore for 45 years and recently retired.
Highbidder will receive the following items:
1-1971 Gibson guitar price list showing retail prices for all theirinstruments including electric guitars, acoustics, basses, banjos, mandolins and cases ?? mint condition.
1-1972 Gibson ... more
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Japan made electric guitar vintage

Japan made electric guitar vintage

Cincinnati, Ohio, 452**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$40

One electric guitar body that may have been made in Japan as seen in the photos - I have no idea if any part of this is good or worth owning - Please examine the photos and judge the condition of this for yourself - Shipping via Fedex ground with signature - Shipping to the lower 48 states only... more
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Rare Vintage late 70s / early 80s L-6S style Electric Guitar MIK

Rare Vintage late 70's / early 80's L-6S style Electric Guitar MIK

Lubbock, Texas, 794**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$450

Rare Vintage late 1970's / early 1980's Gibson L-6S style Electric Guitar MIK==Korea was just beginning to manufacture decent quality guitars when this version of the Gibson L-5S / L-6S design was made==The wider and thinner LP-type body is more comfortable to me than a Standard-style -- 13" wide lower bout, 10 3 / 4" upper, 1 3 / 8" thick, 3-piece body (seams are visible in the finish, but paint is smooth with no cracks; see pictures)==Original tuners are teisco / MIJ ... 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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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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1969 GIBSON SG CASE - made in USA

1969 GIBSON SG CASE - made in USA

Spring Hill, Florida, 346**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$500

1969 GIBSON SG CASE - made in USA. This case is an overall good condition. Has one broken latch. The inside is great. There's a few marks and little scuffs on the outside and could use a good cleaning. Will ship FedEx ground fully insured with tracking shipping to the lower 48 states only. No Alaska Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam or PO boxes. No international shipping
... more
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~ 1965 Hofner Model 173 Solid body Electric White Vinyl

~ 1965 Hofner Model 173 Solid body Electric White Vinyl

New York, 100**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1795

Vinage original circa 1965 Hofner Model 173 in original White Vinyl
Nice and clean and all original
Original electronics are working great, pickups sound super warm and organic. All three pickups fully functional and sounding great
Neck is straight and playing well all the way up and down. Just set up at our shop so it's playing great
A nice and clean example for the player and collector alike
Comes with chipboard case
Guitar is exactly as pictured.
Buyer pays ... 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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Find more vintage guitars for sale at vintageguitarsforsale.co

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millie Comment left 28th June 2013 18:06:11 reply
I have a guitar that I would really like to have identified. It is hollow body, 3pu, and has no label or serial number that I can find. It's a gorgeous sunburst (I think, cherry?) and I can't find any pictures of any guitar that looks just like it. Please help!
vintage guitar and bass Comment left 13th January 2017 00:12:03 reply
Hi Millie, post as many images as you can in the 'other guitars' section of the forum - I'm sure someone will be able to identify it for you

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