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Old 10-18-2019, 08:17 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Default Impact of cosmetic flaws on guitar value

Friends, forgive me if this topic has been beat to death elsewhere, or does not merit a beating at all for some of you. But I am new to the vast options for guitars that are available at one's finger tips. It is quite extraordinary and, frankly, overwhelming for someone new to this world. I am learning a great here and on Reverb exploring different brands, models, wood combinations, body shapes and all the other variations that are available to a person with a wallet. Then I head over to YouTube, a mesmerizing musical black hole. It has been a steep, but very enjoyable learning curve.
I have become intrigued by the grading system on Reverb, and apparently adopted universally as well. Recognizing that there is no object measure - that one person's "mint" is another's whatever - I have come to wonder what impact "impacts" have on the value of used guitars.
I have the sense that with true vintage instruments, those decades old, cosmetic imperfections may be respected as rings of a tree, or even badges of courage, commanding reverence. But with more recent guitars, those with thousands of siblings, they are not so well tolerated.
I also recognize that we all have different tolerances for such things. I am counting on someone telling me that they do not give a hoot what the box looks like if it sings like the Seraphim. While others may not give a second glance to a splendid instrument which has suffered the ravages of time, incaution or even disrespect.
I do not yet know where I come down on this spectrum. I suspect my tolerance for cosmetic flaws would depend on how much I am spending - the more, the less forgiving. Or how unique the instrument is, or if it just sings so sweetly to me. If there are 285 Martin D-28's, I would likely pass over the "very goods" for an "excellent or "mint," unless the price is right. There's coin in them dings and divots, especially if I planned to flip it.
I suspect many of you, particularly those with large guitar quivers have your own standards of what you will tolerate, and how you would value a guitar in light of its cosmetics. I'd be interested to know.
David
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Old 10-18-2019, 08:38 PM
mawmow mawmow is offline
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I look at acoustics as for cars : They loose 20-30% value when got out of store unless it is a collector's unplayed rare instrument. So a few dings will not matter.

But I will look with scrutiny at nut at bridge and action at twelve fret with lateral pic of the neck to see bow and need for neck reset that is rarely if ever mentioned.

Finally, fret wear and all around pics for cracks is a must.

Youtube is not helping much as recording setup differs and you can barely compare different instruments.
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Old 10-18-2019, 09:51 PM
Osage Osage is offline
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Sometimes guitars stay in such great shape because they just aren't very good and never leave the case. I find some wear and tear to be a sign that the guitar was played a lot, which is almost always a good thing.
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Old 10-18-2019, 09:57 PM
Deliberate1 Deliberate1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osage View Post
Sometimes guitars stay in such great shape because they just aren't very good and never leave the case. I find some wear and tear to be a sign that the guitar was played a lot, which is almost always a good thing.
Nicely put.
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:04 PM
gstring gstring is offline
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Default Cosmetic flaws

Hummmm...... I have a Northwood Brazilian D that earns it keep and is still dead mint after 3 years of playing and recording.


Come to think of it, my Greta and Miller are the same after more than 4 years of playing. ( I play 3 to 4 hours each day )

d

Last edited by gstring; 10-22-2019 at 07:45 PM.
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:20 PM
jaymarsch jaymarsch is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Osage View Post
Sometimes guitars stay in such great shape because they just aren't very good and never leave the case. I find some wear and tear to be a sign that the guitar was played a lot, which is almost always a good thing.

I concur with this. I take excellent care of my guitars but have two that are 15 and 18 years old respectively and each have a few dings from having a musical life. The older one I purchased used and it had belonged to a gigging musician. It came with some dings in the cedar top and a nick on the edge of the binding but nothing that would show that it wasn’t well cared for. It is a fabulous sounding instrument.

As you say, every person has their own comfort level. Damage can happen and there are excellent repair folks who can bring a guitar back to full structural integrity and cosmetic beauty. Lots of respected and trustworthy individuals who work with guitars. But, private and online sales may leave more things to chance. If I was interested in investing in a vintage or high end guitar and I was concerned about structural integrity then I would make provisions to have it checked out by a trusted repair person. Normal superficial cosmetic flaws would not concern me.

Best,
Jayne
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:30 PM
CitizenAudio CitizenAudio is offline
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I have been looking at used acoustic guitars for 15 years. Here are my observations about how various conditions affect used guitar prices (and I am going to answer the OP's question from the point of view of a seller listing a mint guitar versus the same guitar with cosmetic flaws):

1. Finish dings, finish checking, or scratches that are only in the finish do not significantly affect the value of an instrument, generally.

2. Cosmetic flaws that affect the wood impacts value much more, especially if the damage is not a result of playing the guitar in a normal fashion (i.e. dropping the guitar, banging the guitar against furniture). Some normal wear and tear on the wood from specific styles of play sometimes adds a bit of character and does not detract from the value.

3. Imperfections to the neck are perceived to be more significant than headstock or body, especially the back of the neck. I imagine it's because of the thought that you will feel that imperfection constantly during playing and it will negatively affect your playing.

4. The edges/binding of guitars impact value less than imperfections on the soundboard, side, and back of the guitar.

5. String scratches on the headstock or bridge area do not really affect the value or are rarely mentioned as a significant cosmetic defect.

In general, the things that I care about the most when I evaluate a guitar that I cannot physically touch or hear:
1. Humidity maintenance (warping, cracks)
2. Action/playability/neck angle
3. Repair history
4. Modifications (pickups, strap buttons, etc.)
5. Condition that the guitar has been in (smell, pet hair, etc.)

Over the years, I value a guitar's playability more than its cosmetic condition as long as the wood itself is not affected. Finish checking, dings, scratches do not matter to me.

Last edited by CitizenAudio; 10-18-2019 at 10:40 PM.
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Old 10-18-2019, 10:35 PM
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The " Default Impact of cosmetic flaws on guitar value. ", to me, is determined by a buyer. Everyone has a different ideal for their instruments. There are some flaws that I won't purchase and others that I place a specific dollar value on. I calculate that into any guitar's value I am contemplating purchasing prior to making an offer. I believe every buyer has to do the same. I keep my guitars in as mint condition as possible. I don't stress over it. I play them like they were meant to be played and take care of them.
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Old 10-19-2019, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
I have the sense that with true vintage instruments, those decades old, cosmetic imperfections may be respected as rings of a tree, or even badges of courage, commanding reverence.
Good questions, Delib. Unlike many others, I'm not big into vintage, and I don't buy into the idea that excessive scratches and dents, etc. are good things as signs of some secret club "mojo."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deliberate1 View Post
I would likely pass over the "very goods" for an "excellent or "mint," unless the price is right.
Yes, I much prefer my guitars to be in excellent or mint condition (and I've been acquiring used instruments for the most part). My 17-year-old JF30-12 is in excellent condition. But as you say, if the price is right.... My most recent acquisition (and likely last for quite a while) was made in 2018 but had a couple very nasty gouges on the edge of the top. But it was discounted about $2,000! I do like a good deal! I'll get the gouges fixed, get a K&K installed, and be real happy. It's a spectacular holy grail guitar!

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Old 10-19-2019, 10:04 AM
Bluemonk Bluemonk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CitizenAudio View Post
1. Finish dings, finish checking, or scratches that are only in the finish do not significantly affect the value of an instrument, generally.

2. Cosmetic flaws that affect the wood impacts value much more, especially if the damage is not a result of playing the guitar in a normal fashion (i.e. dropping the guitar, banging the guitar against furniture). Some normal wear and tear on the wood from specific styles of play sometimes adds a bit of character and does not detract from the value.

3. Imperfections to the neck are perceived to be more significant than headstock or body, especially the back of the neck. I imagine it's because of the thought that you will feel that imperfection constantly during playing and it will negatively affect your playing.

4. The edges/binding of guitars impact value less than imperfections on the soundboard, side, and back of the guitar.

5. String scratches on the headstock or bridge area do not really affect the value or are rarely mentioned as a significant cosmetic defect.
When it comes to certain high dollar, highly desired, instruments that qualify for the "collector's market" (think Olson, Walker, Traugott, Somogyi, etc.), people won't buy them unless they are in mint or near mint condition or otherwise very significantly discounted. So these considerations go out the window when it comes to them.
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Old 10-19-2019, 10:07 AM
ManyMartinMan ManyMartinMan is offline
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A collector-grade instrument needs to be mint. Otherwise it's a player-grade instrument. For me there's no such thing as a collector instrument as a musician instrument's are meant to be played not to be case queens. If an instrument isn't played properly (like you stole it) it will never be the instrument it was built to be.
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Old 10-19-2019, 10:23 AM
Bluemonk Bluemonk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManyMartinMan View Post
A collector-grade instrument needs to be mint. Otherwise it's a player-grade instrument. For me there's no such thing as a collector instrument as a musician instrument's are meant to be played not to be case queens. If an instrument isn't played properly (like you stole it) it will never be the instrument it was built to be.
Not sure exactly what you're saying, but there are plenty of folks who have Walkers, et al., play them, and go to pains to protect them both to (1) preserve resale value, and (2) because they are expensive items worthy of caring for.
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Old 10-19-2019, 10:25 AM
ManyMartinMan ManyMartinMan is offline
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No disagreement. I play all my guitars hard and they're all mint or near-mint. They just aren't for "collecting", they're for playing.
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Last edited by ManyMartinMan; 10-19-2019 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 10-19-2019, 10:28 AM
Bluemonk Bluemonk is offline
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I hear ya!
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Old 10-19-2019, 11:22 AM
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It's up to the buyer, so it's hard to predict. I would definitely buy a wonderful sounding instrument with dings, but I would expect a sizable deduction for every ding.

All my instruments are played, and all are near mint. I put a nice dent in my flugelhorn bell by hitting my trumpet water key when picking it up off the stand. That doesn't add mojo and it doesn't make it more of a player's instrument - it makes me way too careless for those few seconds.
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