Under normal circumstances, asking, “What would you do with a billion dollars?” seems like a pointless question. Might as well ask, “How many kneecaps does a snake have?” Huh? What? Why would you even ask that? A snake has zero kneecaps, and I will never have a billion dollars. But times have changed. Now that Quicken Loans, in partnership with Berkshire Hathaway, is offering you a chance to win a billion dollars by creating a perfect bracket for the upcoming 2014 men’s college basketball championship, becoming a billionaire is closer to reality than ever.
You’ve become pretty darned good at managing your Magellan and vetting your Vanguard. But how’re your Stratocaster and Les Paul doing? These days, a lot of people are investing in vintage guitars – and singing the praises of their profits.
Consider this: Back in 1959, the retail price of a Les Paul electric guitar with a sunburst finish was about $300. That plank could cost you over $200,000 right now – if you can get your hands on one. In 1952, a new Fender Telecaster would set you back a mere $189.50. One with that exact pedigree was recently listed on the Guitar Center website for $45,000. That’s major return on investment. And you can play along with your profit. (Try strumming the Star Spangled Banner on an American Fund.)
But don’t go cashing in your 401(k) or taking out a second mortgage quite yet. Do some research before you plop down your cash on a vintage axe. Two great resources are the Vintage Guitar Price Guide, published by the folks at Vintage Guitar Magazine, and Gruhn’s Guide to Vintage Guitars, written by musical instrument experts George Gruhn and Walter Carter. Both books are available on Amazon.
Start by looking for a dealer who sells vintage musical instruments, such as Elderly Instruments or Mandolin Brothers. They’re selling at retail price, so any profit could take years to generate. However, these types of stores will back what they sell, which reduces your risk. Keep a watch on local music stores, flea markets, garage sales and estate sales, too. While many more people are aware of the general worth of vintage guitars, said instruments are also among the first things folks peddle during times of tight finance. And, in general, beware of pawn shops. They used to be ripe for pickin’ up good guitars for cheap, but alas, times have changed. The pawn shops I’ve visited were pricey and had musical instrument specialists on hand to set prices and handle sales; great deals were not in abundance.
So get out there and pick up on the vintage guitar market. There’s money to be made and fun to be had – all while financing your future.