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Restoration or Leave "As Is"


J-200 Koa

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Jannusguy2 has a link to an interesting old slope-shoulder on eBay

that makes me curious about how to approach a very old acoustic.

Does the value of the guitar in its original (though needing repair)

state outweigh the value of repairing the guitar to a more playable

state? What repairs are deemed acceptable vs. those that diminish value?

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Jannusguy2 has a link to an interesting old slope-shoulder on eBay

that makes me curious about how to approach a very old acoustic.

Does the value of the guitar in its original (though needing repair)

state outweigh the value of repairing the guitar to a more playable

state? What repairs are deemed acceptable vs. those that diminish value?

 

J200k,

 

I wouldn't mind playing it the way it is . after all it would show the age and all .

 

 

 

 

JC

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There is no simple answer to this. A lot depends on whether you are a player, or a collector. For an extremely rare guitar, the collector is more likely to leave it in its original state--provided it is in one piece--even if it is unplayable. He either enjoys it as an original object, or hopes it will appreciate over time. Or both.

 

Someone who is looking for a reliable player, however, may have to do a certain amount of repair just to stabilize the guitar and make it usable. Examples would be neck re-sets, re-attachment of loose braces, structural repairs that allow stringing the guitar properly, even re-frets and fretboard planing.

 

How repairs impact on collectible value is very, very tricky. If you owned Willie Nelson's Trigger, for example, you would never replace or repair that top, because it defines what that guitar is. If you were to find a similar Martin without that provenance, chances are you would want to repair or replace the top. In that case, a repair is usually better--even if a replacement might be more functional--because you retain as much of the original fabric of the guitar as possible.

 

I learned this lesson fairly early in my career when I took a late-19th century Martin "New Yorker" to Martin for restoration. They refused to do it, saying the instrument was beyond practical repair. Instead, I gave to a luthier who specialized in restorations--yes, there were such people even back in 1970--and he painstakingly restored it without sacrificing any original wood, other than as necessary to incorporate the dozens of splices necessary to stabilize the brazilian rosewood back and sides, with their very convoluted grain. Because the restoration was virtually "invisible"--and the guitar was now playable--it sold for a very high price for those times. I had saved the guitar from going out in someone's trash, literally.

 

In any restoration--whether it is a painting, a guitar, a vintage airplane, car or boat, or even an old house, you try to save as much of the original material as possible. In car restorations, for example, you usually patch-weld rusted panels and structural members when practical, rather than replacing them.

 

A vintage piece that cannot be returned to service without a significant amount of material replacement sometimes retains more value as a non-functional relic. Personally, I'm not interested in "relic" guitars, unless they are purchased for a song at some yard sale.

 

Quality repairs/restorations aren't cheap, and their cost always has to be considered when buying vintage guitars in need of significant work.

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Restore it and play the hell out of it! These are instruments, and were built to be played, not hung in glass cases, whatever the value.

 

I can understand someone handling, say, a prewar Martin D45 with kid gloves, but I'd far rather sell something that was worth telephone numbers and use the proceeds to surround myself with guitars I wanted to PLAY without fear and second thoughts.

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When you're looking at changes made to a guitar there are really three catagories they can fall into, which all effect value differently: maintenance work to remedy the effects of normal wear and tear which has minimal effect on value; necessary repair work to damaged instrument; and unnecessary modifications.

 

Refrets and neck resets certainly come under the catagory of necessary maintenance and shouldn't have a major effect on value. There is a small group of collectors who would discount buying a guitar which has had either procedure, and you might pay a premium for a guitar with original frets in good condition or which hasn't, and doesn't need, a neck reset - but the bits in italics are really important here. The guitar will not command the same premium if the original frets are in poor condition, or the guitar is unplayable due to poor action. The point is, if the guitar needs a refret or reset, there is nothing to loose from having it done.

 

The same in principal goes for structural repairs - if the repair is necessary, then the guitar has already suffered a loss of value, so executing the repair is the only sensible option to go for. However, it is extremely important that repairs are done properly, as undoing previous poor quality work is often a much bigger job than the original repair would have been Guitars can be irrepairably damaged by poorly executed repairs, and for this reason many collectors will be more hesitant in buying a repaired guitar than one where they can supervise the repairs being done properly by a luthier they trust.

 

Removing an original finish is definately a bad idea from a value point of view, and personally there are lot of stories told by an old, scarred and pockmarked finish that it seems a shame to obliterate to make it shiney and new again. Redoing a poor refinish with a good quality one can potentially improve the performance, and also increase the value and sellability of a guitar, although the cost of doing it might outweigh the financial benefits.

 

Of course, good repair work costs money, and from an investment point of view, you always need to work to the formula of "is the cost of the guitar plus the cost of repairs equal or less than the value of the restored guitar?"

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Restore it and play the hell out of it! These are instruments, and were built to be played, not hung in glass cases, whatever the value.

 

I can understand someone handling, say, a prewar Martin D45 with kid gloves, but I'd far rather sell something that was worth telephone numbers and use the proceeds to surround myself with guitars I wanted to PLAY without fear and second thoughts.

 

+1 [thumbup]

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Well, Stradivarius violins have all been restored to some degree, and they're still being played (the hell out of, I don't know). Last I heard one went for some $15.9 million. Hardly chump change. So...I imagine if you have guitar that does have something about it worth preserving (say, Brazilian rosewood), then maybe it should be restored--and then played.

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