Do You Need An Appraisal?
If you’re thinking of selling, and you need a dollar value, just give us a call. We’d be happy to tell you what we think your guitar would sell for, what we would pay to buy it outright, or what you would net on consignment.
Appraisal For Insurance
If you need a formal written appraisal for insurance, we can provide it online from photos or from an in-person inspection. Our online appraisal comes with the disclaimer “I have seen photos of the instrument but have not had it in hand.” 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.
For a complete inspection and appraisal, please call for an appointment to bring your instrument in to the store. Depending on the type and age of the instrument, the fee for an in-store appraisal may be higher than the standard online appraisal fee.
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, 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. If the neck is a bolt-on, we unbolt it.
- 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 important own or use this guitar? Was it featured in a book or a magazine article? Does it have an interesting store, 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 personal experience through the years, and our personal feelings about the current market. Then we adjust the value up or down for the specific example, based on all of the factors listed above.
Our basic fee for a single online appraisal from photographs is $150.