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need help identifying and pricing an old J-45


kdrshocker

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Adjustable bridges came out in '56 I think. Post the serial number and we may or may not be able to confirm it as a '64. Gibson serial numbers are insane but we can often give a range. I have a feeling it's older than a '65 because the neck doesn't look like the '65 and later toothpick.

 

Is the bridge plastic?

 

jannusguy is right about checking ebay. Ebay may suck on many levels but it's a good indicator of what people are willing to pay for something and not just what someone thinks it's worth.

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Go to your nearest book store and look in the Vintage Guitar Price Guide. I am on vacation and don't have one with me, but someone on this forum should be kind enough to post the listing for you. (The 2009 Edition is in stores now, but a 2008 value won't be far off.)

 

Your mom's J-45 looks clean enough to demand at least the low end shown in the price guide, which gives the low-to-high prices range for a guitar in excellent original condition with original case. I would set the asking price at the high value listed, and settle for the low book value if you have to.

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The reason there's such a difference in J-45 prices is that what your seeing is the spread between relatively new ones, of which there are many, and prized vintage ones, which are relatively few in number and because of their superior tone have a reputation as being holy grail guitars to collectors and players. Condition also plays a roll. So, a 1944 Banner J=45 in good to excellent condition will command $6,000 or more, a 2002 in good condition maybe only $1200 or so.

 

This '64 falls somewhere between the extremes, and most likely toward the lower end rather than the upper end. The 60's and 70's are not the most desirable period for Gibson acoustics. While yours looks to be in excellent original condition, by 1964 Gibson was building guitars with heavier bracing, narrower necks, and the dreaded adjustable bridge. All of which makes it less desirable. Still, if the economy were doing well, you might expect to get a very decent price for it. In this economy, it may prove to be harder to sell.

 

By the way, the problem with the price guide is that it's out of date almost from the day it's published. Quite often, it lags behind rising prices, but right now I expect prices to be a bit less than the Price Guide lists. Good luck with the sale.

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The Price Guide is the best reference we have, and is remarkably good at indicating values. Trust me, you can't go far wrong using it. The only time the guide might be "instantly" out of date would be during times of prices rising like homesick angels, which right now they are not. In fact, prices have dropped precipitously for some high-end models like gold-top LPs since their 2007 highs. All I can say is please read the rather lengthy introduction to the Guide and let the two authors make their own case for the worth of their valuations.

 

It's important to undestand that a price guide is only a guide, it cannot tell you the precise value of a particular instrument. But it can and will put you on the same page as the rest of the collector world. You usually need to know if a guitar is worth close to $200, $2000, $20k, or $200k, and for that there is no better reference. Believe this: No vintage guitar collector or dealer would dream of being without a copy. And it is extremely enjoyable reading. By the time mine is one year old, it is well dog-eared.

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I don't just look at a "few" auctions to get an idea of how the market is going for a particular guitar. Maybe that's your idea, but it's not mine. Your reliance on a publication that collects data, collates it, writes about it, then publishes it, is nice (especially for the publishers). Most collectors I know use it as a starting point only, since by the time its published, it's mostly out of date. Far better to get an idea of what present values are by doing a bit more research than that, imho. Brian, we can agree to disagree about this, but I assure you, I don't just look at a few auction results to do research.

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Dennis,

 

Where did I ever say I ignore auctions, and only look at the book? I spend hours every day poring over auctions and dealer web sites! I've purchased many, many thousands of dollars worth of guitars on E-bay this year alone. But for a presumed newbie asking a simple question "What's this thing worth?" it is disingenuous to just send him to E-bay. Anyone with any serious interest in vintage guitars and their values has a copy of the Price Guide. I'll bet five dollars you have one.:-k

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