Carter Vintage Guitars Appraisals

Why You Can Trust Carter Vintage To Appraise and Authenticate Your Vintage Instrument

The Carter Vintage staff has decades of experience with vintage instruments, and are the leading experts in the industry. Whether you're looking to thoroughly document your entire collection or get a simple appraisal for insurance, our team can provide the most accurate authentication and value of your instruments by appraisal.

What Goes Into An Appraisal?

  • Model and year: The appraisal starts with determining the model and year. That may seem simple – Martin guitars since 1930 have the model stamped on the neck block; most Gibsons since 1977 can be dated from the serial number to an exact day – but if there have been alterations, the specifications may not line up with any standard model. Even on popular models, such as a Gibson Les Paul, Fender Stratocaster, or Martin D-28, the possibilities are mind-boggling. Gibson has made over 200 Les Paul models, Fender over 200 Stratocaster models, Martin over 70 versions on the D-28.
  • Specifications: We check the general features of the guitar – wood species, inlay pattern, logo style, body size and shape, and on electrics, pickups, knobs, vibrato – to identify the model and to determine whether the features are standard, custom (factory) or altered.
  • Finish: The finish gets a special look under an ultra-violet light, which will show any inconsistencies in finish, possibly indicating finish touchup, overspray, and refinished areas. Repairs that could be hidden under expert finish work will often show up under black light.
  • Inside: With an acoustic guitar, we look inside with a light and a mirror to check the bridgeplate, bracing, kerfing. With an electric, we disassemble it to check the electronics, body routing, and neck pocket for bolt-on necks when applicable.
  • Condition: We look at the playing wear – pickwear, armwear, belt-buckle wear, fret wear, dings, scratches, cracks, crunches. And general aging – finish checking, shrinkage of the plastic parts, glue seams, discoloration of the finish.
  • Functionality: Does everything work? We check the truss rod, tuners, electronics. Playability - string height, intonation, neck angle, fret buzz.
  • Provenance: Did anyone of note own or use this guitar? Was it featured in a book or a magazine article? Does it have an interesting story, even if it wasn’t celebrity owned?
  • Value: The typical thought process behind valuing a guitar is to first determine the value of an example in clean condition with no issues of originality. To that end, we consult every available reference: online listings, printed sources, instruments in our current and past inventories, our collective experience through the years and knowledge of the current market. We then adjust the value based on all of the factors listed above.

Carter Vintage Senior Authenticators

Greg Ellis - Greg has been repairing instruments in the Middle Tennessee area for nearly 30 years. He was a Repair Technician for 12 years at Franklin Guitar and Repair before purchasing the business and becoming the sole proprietor. Greg honed his skills during this time working on and appraising thousands of instruments. He has over 40 years of experience buying and selling guitars and related gear, all throughout studying vintage instruments in depth to better understand the market and authentication details for multiple manufacturers.

Gary Bohannon - Gary has been collecting, repairing, and reselling instruments since the early 70s, where he was a regular at LA shops such as Norm’s, Hollywood Guitar Center, and Red Rhodes, eventually amassing a collection and trading through just about every collectable Fender and Gibson that’s been made. He has worked at Gruhn's Guitars closely with George and Walter Carter, as well with Walter at Carter Vintage as an authenticator, amp, and guitar tech. He has been published in numerous books, mainly those by George Gruhn, Walter Carter, and Andre Duchossoir.

Choose Your Appraisal Package

We have multiple packages to choose from. Every bundle includes an expert and thorough inspection from a senior authenticator.

Gold Package - $950
  • Appraisal from Senior CVG Authenticator
  • High-res gallery of lifestyle photos in style of CVG Instagram
  • Digital scanner with photos and report
  • Professional demo by CVG staff member (at least 1 minute in length)
  • High-res product photos
  • Laminated signed appraisal document
  • Delivered in printed bundle with digital photos and documents included on branded USB thumb drive
Silver Package - $495
  • Appraisal from Senior CVG Authenticator
  • High-res product photos
  • Laminated signed appraisal document
  • Delivered in printed bundle with digital photos and documents included on branded USB thumb drive
Bronze Package - $250
  • Appraisal from Senior CVG Authenticator
  • Laminated signed appraisal document
  • Delivered printed in envelope and emailed digital copy

Carter Care Shipping - Materials and Insurance Included - $200

If you wish to ship your instrument(s) to us for appraisal, we can send you a box, packing materials, and a ready-to-print shipping label. Each instrument is insured for up to $500,000. Carter Care Shipping is $200 each way.

For collections larger than 5 instruments, please reach out for a specialized quote.

Appraisals For Insurance

If you need a formal written appraisal for insurance, we can provide it online from photos. Our online appraisal comes with the disclaimer “Visual on-line inspection only, does not include in-hand inspection.” If there are issues that are not visible in photos or in the information provided by the owner, that would negate the validity of the appraisal, so we would not recommend an online appraisal as a certification of originality.

Online Only Package - $150
  • Digital appraisal from Senior CVG Authenticator
  • Emailed digital copy of signed visual appraisal

Order Your Appraisal

Reach out to the Carter Vintage team with information on your instrument(s) and which package you'd like to purchase, and we will schedule a call to discuss!