06 January 2011

This Old Guitar

I hesitated to post this story, but then realized that if I were to write about a vintage firearm, it most likely wouldn't be questioned.  This story's merely about a different kind of collectible.

About 10 years ago, I bought an electric guitar for my birthday. A Fender Stratocaster, bought at Mars ("The Musician's Planet") Music ... a year or so before they went out of business. That's to say that I got it for a decent price.

It was a decent guitar, too, although I've never been a fan of the vibrato bar (the so-called 'whammy' bar), as use of it causes the instrument to go out of tune. Nevertheless, it filled my need for an electric guitar at a time when I needed one. A couple of years later, I went back to an acoustic-electric model, which did a pretty fair job of rockin' the house with the proper effects pedal.

There was a guy named Andy, at church, who had admired the Strat several times, and I'd let him play it once or twice. I no longer needed said instrument, so I gave it to him.

A few months later, just before we relocated to Alaska, Andy presented me with a guitar case one Sunday morning. Inside was an older Martin guitar ... in good shape, and since Martin guitars are spendy by nature, probably worth a few bills. I was properly appreciative.

1963 Martin guitar

It's a 1963 Martin 00-21 in mint condition. According to the notes in the case, the purchase price was $750. There were also some appraisals conducted in the mid-90s, putting the value of the Martin in the $2000 to $2300 range. Cool.

I admired it, took a couple of pictures of it, put a fresh set of strings on it, and stuck it back in the case.

I have taken it out and played it a few times. It has a smallish body, whereas I prefer a larger one. Also, it's a classical guitar - meaning nylon strings - and I much prefer steel. But that's just me. It doesn't take away from the guitar, nor diminish my gratitude for the gift.

Stay with me; I'm going somewhere with this.

Fast-forward to today.  I posted a few days ago about the new guitar I bought. But my wife needs a keyboard, and the Martin is clearly valuable ... so I took it to the same store for an appraisal.

When I opened the case, all the staffers behind the counter stopped what they were doing & stared at it. "What year did you say it was?"


"But we never see one in that kind of condition. Ever."

(smiles) "Well, you have now. What do you think it's worth?"

They wrote down the model & serial numbers, went to the blue book of instruments, and came back with a print-out. "Sir, that model in mint condition, like yours, is worth between $8,500 and $9,300."

(cough, cough)

After I could talk again, I asked casually (at least I hope it was casually), "Would you consider taking it as a trade-in for store credit?"

I'm to take it back for the general manager's opinion tomorrow, so I have my fingers crossed. Even at trade-in prices, it ought to be worth the piano my wife wants, plus a boatload of sheet music for her, and perhaps even another guitar or amplifier for me.

On the other hand, I'm not the only guitarist in the blogosphere. Anyone interested in a vintage Martin? Reasonable offers, anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?


Julie said...


Hope you find a good home for it :)

Anonymous said...

Score! That's awesome.


Teresa said...

Wow!!! Holy smokes that is awesome!

Jim - PRS said...

Obviously your Strat must have been special too. Good move you made. Great story. I own a vintage guitar, but I'm not a good enough player to pay mondo bucks for one.

sr said...

Some things come from wonderfully unexpected places.

Peter said...

I'm linking to this on my blog tonight. You may get a few offers. Here's hoping, anyway!

Rich said...

It's not a classical!!!

It was designed for steel OR nylon strings. If you are in doubt, call Martin.

I've had a 1967 O16NY for almost 20 years, and I love it. It's far more rich and powerful than any guitar that size ought to be. It had silk and steels on it when I bought it. When I strung it with steel strings it just came alive!

I also suspect that your price estimate is a bit low. I took a quick look online, and Mandolin Brothers (an excellent shop by the way) has a similar guitar to yours for $5,500.