Buying pre-owned old guitar (photos added)

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Telebrian, Aug 12, 2020.

  1. Telebrian

    Telebrian Tele-Meister

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    Hey guys,

    Not sure how much info I'll find on here for this, but maybe someone can point me in the right direction. I'm looking to buy a very old acoustic guitar from someone locally and wanted to confirm if it was stolen or not. What's the best way to search this?
     
  2. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    first thing is, do you have a reason to think it might be stolen? abnormally low price, for instance? sketchy seller?
     
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  3. drf64

    drf64 Poster Extraordinaire

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    If it's a very old guitar it might not have anything particularly identifying about it such as a serial number.
     
  4. Fretting out

    Fretting out Poster Extraordinaire

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    I guess if you’re really paranoid about it you could call the local police and see if they have it reported as stolen

    Any guitar you buy other than from a shop could have this possibility

    And who knows if it is “very old” that it wasn’t stolen decades ago
     
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  5. ReverendRevolver

    ReverendRevolver Tele-Afflicted

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    Make sure to get a receipt.
    Why do you think its hot?
     
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  6. Telebrian

    Telebrian Tele-Meister

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    It's a 1934 Martin guitar. Not many of those lying around and I feel as if the seller doesn't know as much as he should know about the guitar. Also if it's stolen, I wouldn't mind connecting the rightful owner to it if that's the case. If it's not, I'd love to have the guitar.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2020
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  7. Telebrian

    Telebrian Tele-Meister

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    It's a 1934 Martin guitar. Not many of those lying around and I feel as if the seller doesn't know as much as he should know about the guitar. Also if it's stolen, I wouldn't mind connecting the rightful owner to it if that's the case. If it's not, I'd love to have the guitar.
     
  8. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    There are some things you can do. A 1934 Martin will have a serial number between 58679 and 61947, regardless of the model. Most people who would own a '34 Martin are smart enough to write down the S/N and to notify the police if it was stolen. Your local police department can search those records for you.

    Secondly, a '34 Martin will be a valuable guitar - ranging from just sorta valuable to priceless. If you are not a member at UMGF I would suggest joining and ask about that S/N in the vintage subforum.

    Lastly, as you know, a 90 year old guitar will have potential issues - bar frets, needing a neck reset, all of the other things that happen to great old guitars. There are a number of vintage Martin repair techs who should be consulted - again, their names will pop up at UMGF.

    Finally, if you do buy it, congratulations.
     
  9. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    Not everyone knows everything about an instrument - some people aren't interested or may have been given it as a gift or heirloom. Lots of people acquire things through estate sales or inheritance that mean nothing to them.

    As someone said, ask for a driver's licence and a signed receipt. If they are reluctant to let you come to their address that could be a warning sign or just they don't let potential thieves in.

    Meeting them at a business address is fine.
     
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  10. drf64

    drf64 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Maybe it is all on the up-and-up and the seller has no idea of its true worth.
     
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  11. Telebrian

    Telebrian Tele-Meister

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    True. You all could very well be right. I guess I felt that way cause it's such a rare guitar. Doesn't come up often and it's at a good price.
     
  12. Recce

    Recce Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Really if you just called Martin and gave them the serial number they could give you a lot of information which could include if it was ever stolen. Martin is open for business again.
     
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  13. Wallaby

    Wallaby Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I applaud your ethics - thank you!

     
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  14. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    The due diligence doesn't seem so hard to me. Ask him how long he's had it and where he got it. Surely you can do that normal guitarist conversation in a normal way. I often ask why someone is letting go of the guitar -- again, a normal, non-CIA type question. It's pretty easy to suss out weirdness. And yes, a receipt and an exchange of ID info can be done normally, too. Check with Martin if you want; check with the local police for any stolen property reports. I've bought zillions of used guitars and rarely if ever have indications that something's awry. Even so, I always get a receipt and confirm the seller's identity. I don't want the cops showing up at my place looking for a '34 Martin someone reported stolen.
     
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  15. Twang-ineer

    Twang-ineer Tele-Meister

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    Buying and or selling a 90 year old Martin is not something that most folks would engage in without involving an expert. One of you is very likely getting a bad deal. I would suggest getting an actual appraisal from someone qualified, rather than throwing it out to the folks on a forum. I mean, if you are both being fair, this is somewhere between new car money and house on the beach money. If you live in the Bay Area there are a TON of shops local to you who would love to look at it.
     
  16. Telebrian

    Telebrian Tele-Meister

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    Haha. Well it's a 0-17 Martin. If it was a D-28, that would be a different story. But involving an expert would be a good idea.
     
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  17. teletail

    teletail Tele-Afflicted

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    +1

    If they balk at this, it's probably a sign that there is something fishy going on.
     
  18. Bill

    Bill Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Your bio says your in San Francisco. Real Guitars on Lafayette could help you as they handle some vintage.

    But I got my ‘27 Martin koa 0-28k from Gryphon Music in Palo Alto. Vintage acoustics is their specialty. And Frank Ford is one of the world’s finest repairmen, so he could check out any issues on originality or repairs or getting it set up the way you like.
     
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  19. Matt Sarad

    Matt Sarad Tele-Holic

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    Steve Swan guitars or Eric Schoenberg's both deal in vintage Martins. Steve is just
    South of SF Airport. Eric is in Tiburon. Both Steve and Eric rely on Alan Perlman to work n vintage Martins.
    I took my Merrill OM 28 to Gryphon for work. Frank suggested removing the bridge, filling in the six holes in the top and drilling new ones. As a short term solution, he made a mixed set of strings in custom gauges rendering the guitar ridiculously hard to play.
    Then I took it to Alan. He filled in the old bridge slot, cut a new slot a millimeter or so moved, worked on the frets, and my intonation problem was solved. That was about 15 yeas ago. When the top seam separated, he glued two cleats to stop it. Since I was interested in OMs, he told me to open a case . Inside was Bob Weir’s 1930 OM 45.
    If you get the guitar, take it to Alan.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2020
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  20. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    Sold a 80 year old Martin a couple years ago, Played perfect.
    As far as worry about being stolen. Contact the police with a serial number etc and see if it was reported. If not, no one may have title to it without a sales receipt more than whoever possesses it .

    Here's a story:
    A non musician friend of mine had a fancy anniversary 60's Les Paul of some sort he was selling for a friend of his who had it like 12 years. My acquaintance brought it to the Sunday jam I was doing for a couple of years. He had it out laying on the pool table to view. After a couple weeks of doing that, the Sheriff showed up. It turns out the guitar had been stolen like 15 years previous, and someone had noticed it.
    All ended well, the original owner got his guitar back. My friend's friend was out what he paid for the guitar years back, but was OK with that. But you never know....
     
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