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The Lennon mod - how do you value it?



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This is an interesting one - someone selling a stripped 1965 Casino for more than I would expect to pay for a good original condition example. My first thought was, you're kidding, right? But thinking about it, if it's an example from the same year as Lennon's, with the finish stripped round about the same time that Lennon stripped his, does the context give it a value that defies the usual rules with vintage instruments?

 

I'm not a huge Lennon fan, and already have a '65 ES-330, so I don't have a horse in this race, but I'm curious: so, what do we think? Rare opportunity or refin that's shooting for the moon?

 

Here's the auction: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/EPIPHONE-CASINO-1965-282976-lennon-finish-/111209441653?pt=UK_Musical_Instruments_Guitars_CV&hash=item19e4996975

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£4000 is the buy-it-now price placed on the item by the ebay seller.

 

Had the guitar not been modified, I don't think £4000 would be unrealistic.

 

Here is a 1963 Casino being sold by a vintage guitar dealer in London. The asking price is £4350. Link: http://www.vintageguitarboutique.com/guitars/epiphone-casino

 

A little more research shows that even in the U.S., where dealers' prices tend to be a little lower, the least desirable (to a collector) vintage Casino - the one pick-up model - will still set you back the best part of $3000 in decent condition. For example: http://reverb.com/item/40907-epiphone-casino-1965-sunburst?utm_medium=GPLA&utm_source=SEM&gclid=CNDPga7fm7sCFSEV7AodP3kANQ

 

As regards the OP's question - does the refinishing à la John Lennon add to the value of this guitar? No. Vintage guitar collectors are no different to any other type of collector, whether antiquarian book collectors, vintage car collectors, or whomever. There is a very strong correlation between originality and value. Whatever the merits or demerits of sanding the tops of guitars like John Lennon and Mick Ronson chose to do (personally, with all due respect, I think it was just a fad - it's not like those guitars had a thick, modern, gloopy poly finish), instruments of a similar vintage that have been modified similarly will have been devalued by the process (in terms of today's collectors' market, at least).

 

By the way, kudos to the seller of this guitar. It takes a sense of humour to be a musical instrument dealer with the username: cowboymod vintage guitars!

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I sold a '65 Casino a couple of years ago for £2900, an early '65 with the wide headstock, a not too slim neck size and a couple of minor issues. I might have put it up to £3500 without the issues. I guess I wouldn't be surprised to see £4000 on a nice original example from somewhere like Vintage & Rare. I know the single pickup ones get listed around the $3000 mark on Gbase but I'm a little skeptical if people are actually paying that for them - pretty sure Elderly had one last year for $2200 that took a while to sell. There's a beautifully figured Blonde 1960 ES-330T on Gbase at the moment for a little over $5K that has my mouth watering, single pickup or not.

 

I guess the thing with this guitar is it only takes one hardcore fan who doesn't care about the cost and he has a sale. But looks like a pretty unanimous vote so far!

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