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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Vintage 1960s Global Les Paul Copy Electric Guitar W / TKL Hard Case "Lawsuit Era"

Vintage 1960s Global Les Paul Copy Electric Guitar W / TKL Hard Case "Lawsuit Era"

Elmwood Park, New Jersey, 074**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$950

Up for sale is a Vintage Electric Guitar, Very Good Condition As Shown, Please see photos for details, Plays & sounds great, Neck is straight, Low fast action, Loaded with character showing age-handling-play wear-nicks-scuffs-finish loss-light surface rust / tarnish & patina with a superficial chip near one bridge post as shown, Weighs just over 9 pounds, DiMarzio PAF pickups replaced the original pickups about 20 years ago, I misplaced the original pickups - otherwise I would include ... more
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Gibson Standard 58 Les Paul Goldtop 1958 Reissue 1971 1 of 25 rarest Les Paul

Gibson Standard 58 Les Paul Goldtop 1958 Reissue 1971 1 of 25 rarest Les Paul

Hopewell, New Jersey, 085**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$10695

Gibson Standard 58 Les Paul Goldtop 1958 Reissue 1971 With original hang tag and blank guarantee card returnable to Kalamazoo
Being offered from the private collection of Sound Investments USA LLC

CONDITION AND PRICING PLEASE READ:
All electronics work and are original . very clean guitar. The Frets are ok but here is what my luthier said. The neck is slightly bowed on low E side and straight on high E side which he states can be fixed by replacing frets and compensating for ... more
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original 1958 Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster BLONDE with 3 PAF humbuckers + BIGSBY!

original 1958 Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster BLONDE with 3 PAF humbuckers + BIGSBY!

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

$19500


Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers
Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1958 Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster in its original BLONDE finish which really helps show off its flame maple. It has a great playing neck with worn, but good frets. This guitar really plays well with great action. It's all original with the exception of the Bigsby bridge and tailpiece which conceals a couple of additional screw holes. The original brown hardshell case is included. It's in great condition with a ... more
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original 1971 Fender MUSTANG BASS Competition Red w / MATCHING HEADSTOCK!!!

original 1971 Fender MUSTANG BASS Competition Red w / MATCHING HEADSTOCK!!!

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

$5190


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Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1971 Fender Mustang Bass in its original Competition Red finish with a matching headstock. It has a great playing neck with great frets. It's all original with the exception of the nut and the added Jazz Bass bridge cover. It is also 100% complete with the exception of the mute pads. The original hardshell case is included and has a broken "repaired" handle. This bass looks great with some nicks + dings finish ... more
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1961 Gibson Les Paul / SG Custom original WHITE with Sideways Vibrola

1961 Gibson Les Paul / SG Custom original WHITE with Sideways Vibrola

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

$31900


Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers
Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1961 Gibson Les Paul (SG) Custom in its original White finish with gold hardware and a factory sideways Vibrola. It has a great playing neck with very worn frets, but still playable. It's all original with the exception of one volume knob. It's also 100% complete along with its original hardshell case. This original Les Paul Custom looks great with lots of minor nicks + dings (most have been touched-up with white... more
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1979 Fender Stratocaster With Original Hardshell Case

1979 Fender Stratocaster With Original Hardshell Case

Elmhurst, Illinois, 601**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2899

Revolution Music is proud to present this Beautiful, 1979, Black on Black Fender Stratocaster in great condition. This vintage beast oozes with mojo. There is honest wear throughout. The guitar has some kinks, scratches, & chips. It sounds amazing. Original Hardshell Case with 2 broken latches included.

WE HAVE A BRICK AND MORTAR STORE - PLEASE GIVE US A CALL OR STOP BY IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS  


Shipping in the continental USA will be by FedEx Ground or ... more
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1978 Olympic White Fender Telecaster

1978 Olympic White Fender Telecaster

Portland, Oregon, 972**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$3700

Here is a 1978 Fender Telecaster in original Olympic White! Although it has been played, it is quite clean for its age. The pickup is an all original save for rewound neck pickup. This was rewound by Five Star Guitars luthier Ian Pender. There is less than normal wear for the era, and the body is very clean with only a few scattered dings in the finish. Original color has faded / yellowed slightly. Pot codes (only one is visible) date to ??78. There is a stamp / tag in neck pocket that matches ... more
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original 1958 Fender Telecaster Blonde

original 1958 Fender Telecaster Blonde

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

$37900


Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers
Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1957 Fender Telecaster in its original Blonde finish. It has a great playing neck with great frets. It's all original with the exception of the nut. It even has its original tweed hardshell case and original "ashtray" cover for the bridge. This Tele looks great with nicks + dings, finish checking and other cosmetic wear including a very small area where the finish is worn off from the corner of the headstock on ... more
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1965 Fender Jaguar electric guitar sunburst pre CBS excellent condition

1965 Fender Jaguar electric guitar sunburst pre CBS excellent condition

Blue Springs, Missouri, 640**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$12500

1965 Fender Jaguar sunburst pre CBS excellent condition. One owner purchased in California. Guitar has been stored and unplayed since the late 1970??s. All original and includes bridge cover and tremolo bar. Condition wise there is one small nick to the bottom, two areas on the back where the clear coat has scuffed, and the first string E tuner coating is peeling. Case with original key is also in great condition with one small dime size dent to the top.... more
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1958 Fender Precision Bass

1958 Fender Precision Bass

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

$30500

1958 Fender Precision Bass, Early ??58 with a Two tone burst, Anodized pickguard, Maple neck, Both Covers, Spaghetti logo, Wonderfulinstrument from the family of the original owner, VG++, Original tweed hardcase.
... more
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1965 Fender Stratocaster Vintage Cady Apple Red Custom color Original 65

1965 Fender Stratocaster Vintage Cady Apple Red Custom color Original 65

Ladera Ranch, California, 926**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$48000

1965 Fender Stratocaster early custom color Candy Apple red 100 % Original, nothing touched, all the solder Joints are untouched. Gray bottom pickups have the original winds, Green pick guard early 65' pot dates. No routes, extra holes, touchups or repairs. The original Large frets are in great shape. A true collector grade instrument. Comes with the original no logo black case. This is an Extremely rare Vintage guitar. Buyer is responsible for all shipping.... more
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1963 Fiesta Red Fender Precision Bass

1963 Fiesta Red Fender Precision Bass

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

$37600

1963 Fender Precision Bass, Very Rare! Fiesta Red finish, Greenpickguard, Nice Dark Brazilian Rosewood Fingerboard, Clay dots, Spaghetti logo, Both covers, Fantastic instrument, Absolutely gorgeous, EC, Original White hardcase
... more
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1965 Hofner 500 / 1 Violin Bass

1965 Hofner 500 / 1 Violin Bass

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

$5395

1965 Hofner 500 / 1 Violin body Beatle Bass, Amazing sounding ??Staple??pole piece pickup, individual tuners, Raised logo, Nice light weight, Fun toplay, VG+, NSSC
... more
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Fender Jazzmaster w / OHSC, All-Original- Blond (1961)

Fender Jazzmaster w / OHSC, All-Original- Blond (1961)

Mansfield, Ohio, 449**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$24900

Metronome Music inspects and test all used gear before listing and again before shipping. Photographs are of the product that will ship and accurately represent condition and appearance.
SERIAL NUMBER: 61459 WEIGHT: 7lbs 9oz Very Good Condition: This guitar is in very good condition overall and shows signs of being played and loved by one previous owner over 62 years. The finish has various marks, scuffs and wear but it mostly in-tact with nice checking. The transparency of the ... more
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original 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special double cut 1st edition FIGURED MAHOGANY!!!

original 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special double cut 1st edition FIGURED MAHOGANY!!!

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

$18900


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Olivia's Vintage would like to present this original 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special in its original Cherry finish which shows off a very rare figured mahogany body. This is the first version with the larger control cavity and the lower switch position. It has a great playing neck with great frets. It's all original and 100% complete along with its original chipboard case (missing handle). It's in great shape with some nicks + dings, finish checking and other... more
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Vintage Kent 740 Electric Guitar Solid Body Sunburst 1967-1968

Vintage Kent 740 Electric Guitar Solid Body Sunburst 1967-1968

Belmont, North Carolina, 280**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$1300

This vintage Kent 740 electric guitar is a collector's dream. Made in Japan in 1967-1968, this classic beauty boasts a sunburst finish on a solid body, with 6 strings and right-handed dexterity. The guitar bears the Kent brand and model 740, making it a rare find for any guitar enthusiast.
The guitar's country / region of manufacture, Japan, adds to its allure and authenticity. With its vintage charm and high-quality craftsmanship, this Kent 740 electric guitar is a must-have for any serious... more
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original 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special double cut Cherry

original 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special double cut Cherry

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

$13900


Add Me to Your Favorite Sellers
Olivia's Vintage would like to present this 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special in its original Cherry finish. It has a great playing neck with great frets. It's all original with the only exception being the black switch tip. It's also 100% complete along with its original chipboard case (missing handle). There is a hairline crack in the thin portion of wood in the body on the bass side of the neck joint that remains only a cosmetic issues as the guitar itself ... more
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Vintage Univox Les Paul Copy w /  HSC

Vintage Univox Les Paul Copy w / HSC

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

$1100


Item: Vintage Univox Les Paul Copy w / HSC!
Description: You are purchasing a Vintage Univox Les Paul Copy w / HSC! Awesome & all original without any issues. Gorgeous aesthetics and comfortable playability. 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 pay their own import taxes Payment: We accept Paypal for your convenience. Payment ... more
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Vintage 1967 Epiphone e230td Casino

Vintage 1967 Epiphone e230td Casino

Beaumont, Texas, 777**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$10000

57 year old vintage electric guitar. Amazing condition considering it??s age. Everything works including the knobs, the electronics, and the hardware. Original case and whammy bar. Sure to exceed all expectations.
... more
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Hofner 1965 Vintage 4570e Hollow Body Electric Guitar NEAR MINT - W. GERMANY

Hofner 1965 Vintage 4570e Hollow Body Electric Guitar NEAR MINT - W. GERMANY

Montclair, New Jersey, 070**, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

$2795


Hofner 1965 Vintage 4570e Hollow Body Electric Guitar NEAR MINT - W. GERMANY
Gorgeous vintage 1965 wide-body semi-hollow Höfner was made in West Germany and is a special instrument. It has been remarkably preserved over the years and shows little to no signs of its age.
A beautiful medium sunburst, a pearloid inlay fretboard and headstock make this a work of art. Every bit of this guitar is original.
The pickups were rewired about five years ago (see pictures) and the slot ... 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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