Are All These Your Guitars?

As the final month of the summer season, August is traditionally marked by a number of festivals and concerts in outdoor settings such as the popular Lollapalooza in Chicago. While the likes of Lollapalooza are popular with touring musicians and fans like, they are also red flags for thieves.  Every year, you read news articles of touring musicians facing thefts of their gear from their vans with total values ranging up to $80,000.00. The non-professional musician and the collector are just as susceptible. Insurance is a necessity for these valued instruments, and policies are differentiated for the professional and non-professional in many cases to account for this fact. Guitars are a steady commodity in the market. Whether handed-down or purchased, they hold history and value, just as any other collectible. Unfortunately, sentimental value does not figure in determining replacement value.

Guitars, unlike a lot of other instruments, typically hold their value or even appreciate over time with the manufacturer, model and the current market supply and demand as the guiding factors.

Such appreciation is common among vintage Fender and Gibson guitars, as the shape, components and tone of their guitars evolve subtly through the years. Because of the popularity and market domination of  Fender “Strats” and Gibson “Les Pauls,” hundreds of lesser quality and value copies have flooded the market adding further complexity to accurate valuation.

Enservio has valued musical instruments from such noteworthy artists as KISS, Guns n’ Roses, The Beach Boys, as well as Motown and blues guitarists as part of contents claims. Stage-played or celebrity-owned guitars are on an entirely different plain. For example, the highest realized auction values in history include Eric Clapton’s 1956 Fender Stratocaster “Blackie”, a composite guitar that Clapton built from parts of 1956 and 1957 Stratocasters, as well as his 1964 Gibson ES-335 Guitar from the Yardbirds era. Beyond their inherent value, these types of guitars have added cachet because of their owners or the circumstances in which they were played. In many cases, these stage-played or celebrity-owned guitars never reach the auction or retail market. Accordingly, they are particularly challenging to value when lost or stolen. To come up with suitable and accurate valuations, Enservio must research and determine market comparison in collaboration with band-centric and other knowledgeable vendors.

Because guitars, like many collectibles, often hold special places in our hearts, it is particularly important to inventory and document them for future reference, should loss or damage occur. Unlike common household items or even other specialties, guitars gain much of their value from the circumstances of their use. Variables in determining the value of a guitar include standard price drivers such as age and condition, as well as the panache gained from a popular artist playing the same “model,” or even the actual guitar.

So, if you find yourself at Lollapolooza, or any other venue this year and you brought along your guitar to play along, don’t forget to lock the doors on the van.

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