Friday, November 14, 2014

US Vintage Guitars Rising In Value - Is the Tsunami to blame?

It is my belief that expensive vintage and acoustic guitars especially Fender, Gibson and Martins will see a dramatic rise in value later this year and next year once the general public and guitar collecting community realize that many valuable vintage guitars were destroyed by the recent Tsunami in Japan. It is no secret that some of the most valuable acoustic and electric vintage guitars are collected by Japanese guitar collectors. Many professional Rock and Jazz guitarists have made the trip to Tokyo and other cities to purchase vintage solid bodies like Stratocasters, Telecasters and other rare hollow body Gibson Jazz guitars. If they were made in the US and manufactured in the fifties and sixties, there is a good chance they are held by collectors in Japan. Tokyo and other Japanese cities still have the highest purchase prices and rent per square foot so it becomes difficult if not impossible to find inexpensive climate controlled storage space for their vintage American guitars within their most populated cities. I theorize that there must be many storage facilities in the Northern Prefectures (suburbs) that got wiped out in that Tsunami. It will probably be made public much later but I'll bet a lot of nice guitar and classic automobile collections got wiped out from the rising waters and the floodings. A lot of those guitars cannot ever be replaced and it will definitely drive up the value of other vintage US made guitars.

I may be totally wrong on this observation but only time will tell if we see huge bump on the values of used vintage collectible American made guitars.

Here's a link to a recent article in the Fretboard Journal which describes how Mac Yasuda rescued a priceless collection of banjos from a warehouse in Chiba prefecture in Japan. This article sparked my interest in developing my theory about the vintage guitars that have been damaged by the recent Tsunami.

Mac Yasuda Interview -Fretboard Journal

Spinal Tap Nigel's Guitar Room

Brown Fender Collection (Seventies)

Martin Guitar Factory Tour

Acoustic Vintage Guitars In Japan


  1. Interesting theory. Since the 3/11 quake has your view changed? I have lived in Tokyo on and off since 1992. The quake wreaked havoc along the Tohoku coast. However, Tokyo was mostly spared. If any rare guitars were lost, the ongoing economic malaise probably has had more of an impact on guitar prices (which have come down). While some individuals are wealthy, on average a lot of belt tightening is going on. The vintage market is not what it used to be from what I can see. One prominent dealer in Tokyo thinks the best prices are now to be had in the US.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      My theory has not changed that much. I think the shortage of select protected species of wood (used in construction of guitars eg African Mahogany) is also to blame for the bump in vintage guitar prices. Many woods are no longer available to build the type of guitars that make up the vintage guitar inventory. Curious to hear your take?