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Are some vintage basses losing their value?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by PDGood, Sep 15, 2017.

  1. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    More and more I'm seeing vintage gear with high price tags staying in stores for a long period of time before selling. I first noticed this with Gibson EB-2's, but there are others. There is a Danelectro that has been on the local Craig's list as long as I can remember.

    Of course, old P's and J's will always have value, but I'm beginning to wonder if the less popular models are losing value simply because every year there are less and less of us old guys wanting them. I grew up dreaming of EB-2s and Mosrites and Hagstroms and Coronados. I want them today mostly because I couldn't afford them when I was young - not because they are great instruments. I'm just fulfilling a fantasy.

    But new generations are coming along that don't have that desire and have lots of other options. Can't help but wonder if the market is declining for many of these instruments.

    And reissues are not helping. The new Fender Coronado basses are as nice or better than the old ones. Same with Guilds. Affordable Hofners are now a temptation. And there are plenty of hollow bodies that sound better than an EB2. Warwick comes to mind.

    Is there going to be a point where you don't want to get stuck with certain vintage models because the value will drop below what you paid and they will be impossible to sell?
    StrangerBasses and RedVee like this.
  2. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
  3. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    It all depends on the asking price and the demand. Then factor in the condition and how rare the instrument is. Most vintage stuff is overpriced in stores. In auction vintage gear can be had for a good price or can be inflated with propaganda to fool the masses.

    Real good quality vintage gear is getting harder to find, and most players want a player instrument. Thus, only the esoteric will consider a high quality vintage instrument.
    StrangerBasses and PDGood like this.
  4. IMO the vintage/collectibility phenomenon is not at all organic but is is a ginned up process of, by, and for the dealers who have vintage gear to sell. They set the value, they reap the process. It is all subjective.

    I too was an EB-2 adorer when I was young, but I moved on. I still like the design but the playability, not so much. One positive to come from the reissue market is that not only are the reissues better than the originals (and in many cases, cheaper), their availability drives down the vintage prices somewhat and makes the old basses less of a target for theft.
  5. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Back in the late 90's, I got the idea that I'd like a birth-year (1956) bass for myself. I went to guitar shows and dealers, and was quoted (what I thought then) preposterous prices for a 56 P... like 4 grand and up. Fortunately, the vintage craze had not taken full flight, and I was able to find a '56... not a pristine showpiece, but "player's grade" with a replaced pickup... for a very reasonable price... from a local musician.

    I also subscribed to "Vintage Guitar" magazine, but slowly and surely, almost EVERY dealer with anything deemed vintage was starting to list with "Call for Price" instead of just printing an asking price. Screw that... the vintage market has just become a big game of "Liar's Poker" IMHO, and I'm glad I was able to get mine and walk away from it, SMH.

    I personally don't know any rock stars, wealthy orthodontists, Japanese industrial tycoons, or anyone else who is snapping up 10K+ vintage instruments that they just have to have. Seems a lot like the fine art market, entirely "generated" and without a basis in reality.

    To each their own, far be it from me to tell anyone else how to spend their money. But I'm not buying it.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
    J_Bass, NEOBart, TinIndian and 11 others like this.
  6. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    Modern instruments are just getting better. Just because its vintage does not mean it sounds good. Not all vintage models are the same, as well as instruments made today.
  7. filmtex


    May 29, 2011
    My understanding is that since music has changed from being centered on guitars to keys, samples, loops and computer generated songs, coupled with the fact that it seems there aren't really any "guitar gods" like Jimi, Eric, Eddie and the rest on either the charts, the tv or the interwebs, there just isn't the same kind of market for guitars, and basses, in general. Supply and demand economics dictates lower prices when there is lower demand. I think it's merely a factor of changing musical tastes affecting the market and vintage instruments being part of the market reflect that change. We'll see if in the ensuing years the next generations tastes change enough to impact the market. Stranger things have happened.
  8. PDGood

    PDGood Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Great comments! If and when prices fall to my definition of reasonable, I will probably buy some of the basses I always wanted just to satisfy that itch. The EB-2 to me is a beautiful instrument (but honestly they sound like crap). Ebay is loaded with them for 2 grand and up but if you look to see how many have sold there are hardly any. The EB0's and EB3's are not moving well either.
    There are three used Baldwin basses at GC at 1 grand or more. Those were crap when they were new. When us baby boomers are all dead and buried there will be no one who will even remember that brand. Very few even heard of them back in the day. I just don't get the pricing I'm seeing on a lot of these.
    StrangerBasses, mindwell and Tvrtko like this.
  9. mindwell


    Aug 17, 2006
    Wichita, KS
    Acoustic USA endorser
    It isn't a dying market--yet. But the time to sell high has long passed, and the writing is on the demographic wall.
    lowplaces, GregC, Johnny Crab and 9 others like this.
  10. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    When the Great Vintage Guitar Bubble bursts in 20??, it will make the housing bubble look like a hiccup. ;)
    raal, jamro217, J-Bassomatic and 3 others like this.
  11. As a "millenial" born in 1983, I can tell you that the entire idea of vintage gear being more expensive than the new stuff with objectively more features, isnt even something I can begin to understand.

    If you grew up in the 50-70s, I guess I can understand the nostalgia factor, but thats not exactly a growing market.
    Spacehead_, Leonerd, MartinB and 11 others like this.
  12. Handyman


    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Right. It's not a dying market, but much of it is approaching retirement age if it isn't there already. It certainly isn't the time to invest in pre-CBS Strat futures.

    I'm pushing 40, and I honestly don't know of many folks my age who put stock in famous guitars made two decades before we were born.
    MobileHolmes, murphy, NEOBart and 5 others like this.
  13. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    What I didn't think of originally was, not as many musicians today than there were a generation ago. The pay in a club has not gone up as with most day jobs. Those who did corporate or weddings have dropped dramatically. There are more weekend warriors than full time. To buy an instrument takes many months, some years of saving. Shoppers are more specific these days. They research more.
    StrangerBasses and PDGood like this.
  14. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    The only two prices that matter are what you pay for it and how much you get at the sale.
  15. donahue

    donahue Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2015
    I think the older instruments that were built well and play well will retain value because, at the very least, players will still want them.
  16. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I mostly agree about the sales-driven hype of the sellers but then there's a certain high profile player who starts playing a certain vintage bass/guitar that was sort of in the shadows up until then and suddenly they start becoming sought-after and the price is set by what someone pays for it - so that is certainly more organic/less predictable. It would be interesting to interview the appraisors at Gruhn to hear their take on it. Like anything 'collectable' there is a formula of some sort how monetary worth is determined.
    NEOBart, gebass6 and bobyoung53 like this.

  17. I have never bought a bass just because it's a vintage bass, I buy them because I want to play them and like them so if they drop in value I don't care, well not too much anyway. I just bought a much maligned (in this thread anyway:roflmao:) 1966 EB-2 bass and it plays great and sounds good, in fact when i played it in my 60's and 70's band last month everybody including the sound man loved it. I would like a nice pre CBS P bass but I'm not going to pay the prices I see for them unless it is an exceptional bass and I don't think that's common, I've played a few nice vintage Fenders and I've played a few klunkers, I would never buy one online like I would a new Fender, the new ones are that good.
    lowplaces, Rocker949, Mugre and 3 others like this.
  18. It made sense when new Fenders were mediocre as they were from the early 70's to the late 90's, but they are so nice now I think that takes the wind out of the vintage Fender market's sails a bit.
    lowplaces, lowdownthump and gebass6 like this.
  19. Vintage instruments losing value? Ah Oh.
  20. HypersoulRocks

    HypersoulRocks Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2011
    Why buy vintage when you can pay $7000 to the Fender Custom Shop to take a perfectly nice new handmade bass and make it look like 50 year old crap?

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