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What is today's "Les Paul 'Burst" level collectible guitar?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by brenn, Apr 21, 2017.

  1. brenn

    brenn Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 8, 2013
    Because of the thread I posted about the first 1958 Les Paul Burst being up for sale for $625K, I was doing some reading and owners were talking about how they bought one in the 70's for $600 (no "K") and people thought they were crazy to pay $600 at the time. Now their guitars are worth a minimum of 100 times that and, of course #1 is probably worth 1,000 times that.

    My father has often said, cars like the '57 Chevy Bel Air were just ordinary cars people drove to work in the 50's and 60's and if you could spot what the current car is that will become that kind of collectible, you'd have an investment (as I recall, he thought it was the Pontiac Fiero...but the theory still works). I have always said that guitars are the best investment bet among collectibles.

    Anyhow, what current production guitar could you buy and put away as a "closet classic" that would be worth big bucks in 30 years?

    Hint: it won't be a Fender, because Fender has flooded the market with too many models and variations and low-end lookalikes.
    ReaL Madras and oldgofaster like this.

  2. hellopike

    hellopike Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 3, 2015
    None. Global communication, mass production and speculative buyers have insured that almost nothing "collectable" will ever be massively valuable. You might have instruments that retain their original value, or maybe double in price, but nothing like the les Paul you mentioned...

  3. Jules78

    Jules78 Tele-Holic

    Dec 12, 2016
    Northern VA
    I see those gibsons dropping in value as the only people who appreciate them are slowly dying off and being replaced with kids who would pay more for an autotuned track than an actual musical instrument. I think we need to face the fact that our guitars are more valuable to us than they will be to someone else 30 years from now.
    Boltneck, Obsessed, Nickfl and 12 others like this.

  4. pondcaster

    pondcaster Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 29, 2010
    Tryon, NC
    ^^ This ^^

    Excluding the most rare and unique (1st burst?), peak has been reached.
    Obsessed, Flakey and Colors like this.

  5. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Mar 17, 2003
    Spring City, Pa
    Hello Kitty Squier Strat
    First Act Paul Westerberg
    1hawkguy, AngelDeville, Deeve and 7 others like this.

  6. Colors

    Colors Tele-Meister

    May 12, 2016
    I just don't think we see another '58 Burst, consumer level stuff just isn't made like it was in the 50's. Plus those guitars have historic value, it was the birth of rock n roll, solid body's were a relatively new idea. There are just too many social, technological, and industrial differences between then and now. I really don't think any guitar produced now will command those prices in 50 years.
    gpasq and Flakey like this.

  7. jondanger

    jondanger Friend of Leo's

    Jan 27, 2011
    Charm City, MD
    The physical artifact in general is becoming less valued. I used to buy and sell used and rare books. Prices were tanking on truly rare and significant 20th century first editions 5-8 years ago when I got completely out of the game. I won't make a value judgement on it. In a lot of ways that kind of sentimentality is silly. I still have a pretty big shelf of first editions and signed copies of stuff that is important to me though. I imagine some day my kids will wonder why the hell I kept those worthless old books for all those years. They'll be right! Sentimentality doesn't pay. You do.
    Tootle, Flakey, DarkKnight37 and 2 others like this.

  8. pirate19

    pirate19 TDPRI Member

    Jul 28, 2016
    I hope! My HK will be an investment
    studio1087, Obsessed and rebelwoclue like this.

  9. Piotr

    Piotr Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 5, 2011
    It is a "work of art" vs "utility" vs "collectibility" issue. I guess early Les Pauls are unique in the sense that they were among first examples of electric guitars which stood the test of time and became a long-time favourite. No new types of instruments of universal appeal are being made these days and the music world changes.

  10. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Holic

    Dec 22, 2010
    You also have to consider that $600 in the 60s is about $5000 today. $600 back then was two months salary for the average working American. There are quite a lot of things that if you invested $600 in the 60s you'd be a millionaire now if you stuck with it.

    I imagine that a lot of today's guitars will be valuable in 60 years because rosewood will almost certainly be illegal for use in guitars by then. Heck, maple, ash and alder might even be rare by then. The biggest issue to getting to 50s Les Paul levels of collectibility will just be that sooooo many guitars are made today and relatively few of them will be destroyed in 50 years. At some point soon we will hit the point where there just isn't much of a market for new guitars.
    Boltneck and bparnell57 like this.

  11. fjrabon

    fjrabon Tele-Holic

    Dec 22, 2010
    People said the same thing about the les paul in the 70s. Remember, the SG was originally viewed as a Les Paul replacement because the general consensus was the Les Paul was starting to get outdated.

    Those Ibanez JEMs are starting to become valuable collectors items. Never thought I'd see that day.

  12. hrstrat57

    hrstrat57 Tele-Holic

    Nov 21, 2016
    Rhode Island
    82/83 Fullerton reissue 57/62 Strats have great potential IMHO
    tonyj likes this.

  13. Piotr

    Piotr Tele-Afflicted

    Jan 5, 2011
    I don't mean guitars - I mean instruments. Guitar is not the same anymore. And music seems to be not as formative to young people as it used to be.
    Flakey likes this.

  14. 3-Chord-Genius

    3-Chord-Genius Friend of Leo's

    Apr 3, 2015
    Winchester, VA
    About 20 years ago, I read an interview of an expert guitar collector in one of the guitar magazines and they were talking about vintage guitars and their increase in price. They asked the guy which current production guitars (at the time) he thought might become collectible in the future. He said to keep an eye on the Paul Reed Smith guitars.

  15. Paul G.

    Paul G. Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Rhode Island
    That $625k is because of the special circumstance of being the first one.

    A 'burst in great condition, unmolested goes for $100k to maybe double that for a really nice, flamey version.

    Guitars in that range: Some Pre-war Martin, Stromberg, D'Angelico, Gibson Explorer, Gibson Flying V.


  16. philosofriend

    philosofriend Tele-Holic

    Oct 28, 2015
    Somebody would have to make a guitar with genuine improvements that was recognized as both beautiful and functional. One problem is that guitar players don't have many complaints about the functionality of guitars.
    I suspect that fifty years from now electric guitars will have: frets past the 15th that play in tune, single coil pickups that sound like fenders but are adjustable for string-to-string balance, and cutaways/neck joints where your hand doesn't run into any lumps on the way to the high notes. The first maker that gets that happening might have a historic guitar, if the appearance is simple and beautiful.
    Paul Reed Smith might be capable of doing it, but he like everyone is caught up in selling a hundred models that are constantly changing. Remember, the sunburst was just the one available model of Gibson's pro solid body guitar, not one model of a dozen.

  17. brenn

    brenn Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 8, 2013
    Maybe, but I keep seeing guitars I was buying and selling for $500 or less in the 90's and early 2000's going for 3 to 5 times what I was paying and charging. If they go up that much in 15-20 years, you have to wonder about 30, 40 or 50 years down the road. The first guitar I ever bought on Ebay was an Ovation Breadwinner and I bought more than one for under $300; never paid more that $500 for any Ovation electric (Breadwinners, Deacons, UK II, Preacher, Viper, Tornado, etc.). Now I see them selling for $1,500-2,000 and wish I had back some of the many I have bought, sold and traded.

  18. brenn

    brenn Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 8, 2013
    That's what I'm saying. We know what the collectibles are now - those originally $300 guitars are now $60-100,000, so my question is, what guitar would you buy now, new down at Guitar Center, that would become that kind of collectible some day.

  19. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

    Jun 5, 2015
    None of them, IMO, though I think the idea of an all out vintage crash is exaggerated.

    A Roland TB303 or 808 in 30 years might bring insane money though.

  20. jondanger

    jondanger Friend of Leo's

    Jan 27, 2011
    Charm City, MD
    Here's the thing as I see it. That burst is valuable because it was innovative, and it was the first of its kind. Anything that is innovative now is code-based, and is immediately replicable on an almost infinite scale. Combine the scalability of current innovations, with the decrease in perception of the physical artifact's value, and the list of new "stuff" that will ever be collectible gets real small.

    Then combine all THAT with the risk-averse nature of Guitar Center, and I think you'd be better off investing in emergency food rations than anything on the wall in there.
    StrangerNY and hellopike like this.

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