Resale value


Oct 14, 2013
New PRS owner here.

Sometimes I wonder why the resale value of PRS guitars are lower than fenders and Gibsons. It just doesn't make sense given the workmanship and the wide range of tones it produces.

I could understand that in the 90's, but now after 30 years I would have suspected it would be different because it has a larger client base, wider application and is actually considered - by most - to be third in line in popularity after the two giants (compared to Gretsch, Rickenbacker, Jackson, Musicman or G&L, and all other high end manufacturers).

I've had over twenty guitars over the past few decades, I buy them and trade them for something else or just sell them and buy something different, so I have some knowledge of the used market in many countries (the US and Europe) and the discounted PRS used market - ALTHOUGH GETTING MUCH BETTER - is still a puzzle for me.

Any comments welcome... thanks ...
I think I'm in the minority on this, but I hear people justify guitar purchases as "investments" that will hold value... and I think it's kind of BS, unless you're buying used, something that's already shed a good percentage of its original price and relatively rare enough for the market not to be saturated with more current production models. That's my thought on guitars in general, not just PRS. You can do well trading and selling guitars, or at least break even, but you're probably not going to be dealing with brand new stuff very often.

When it comes to PRS, I think part of what could drive used prices down are the improvements of new models. 57/08, 59/09, 58/15, 408 pickups over the older HFS/VB and Dragon II, better V12 finish, tuners, bridges, for some people the 5-way blade on Customs (for the sake of forum peace I will refrain from personal opinion on that one :) ) - things that are innovative but moving in a direction of what players actually want. Things that the general guitarist community agrees are improvements to a guitar without being gimmicky - I won't name names like robot tuners, baked maple, personality cards, and blatant illogical price increases, because I'm polite and I wouldn't do that. Those kinds of things might increase the value of a used guitar if the market doesn't want to pay a doohickey upcharge on new models, or just doesn't want them in their guitars and have to look used for the volume of demand there is.

Anyhow, back to PRS specifically, I just don't see people lusting after older model PRS guitars, with the exception of '86-88ish stuff and special limited runs. And, truth be told, my inkling is that while some have a special place in their hearts for an '86 Custom 24, sit down someone who's never tried a "vintage" one in a room with an '86 and a '17, don't tell them what they are, I wouldn't be surprised to see most people pick the '17. They're just more betterer every time they're updated, as far as I can tell. PRS is constantly unlocking secrets to what made certain historic instruments so great, and making those traits consistent in new instruments, which is where other makers seem to miss. So maybe the allure of better new models negatively effects the price of used ones (even though the older model is still very good). That's probably just part of the equation, but I think there's something to it.
My opinion on the matter is that PRS is a very forward thinking company unlike some of the other brands that are constantly trying to recapture the past (you know, like the year 1959). I personally salivate over pre lawsuit singlecut as they are a spec that works for me and it's what I grew up playing. It's great because I know that I can get them cheap but I also realize I will never get my money back out of the ones I bought new or had refinished by the boys in the PTC. At the end of the day, I don't believe in buying guitars as investments. But that's just how I roll personally.
OK I'll probably get hammered for this but as a guitar collector/player it seems pretty obvious to me.

I also am a classic car collector. Why does a restored 64.5 Mustang Convertible bring 40k yet a 1978 Corvette convertible fully restored is lucky to bring 10k? The Mustang has history. Many of the music legends played Gibsons or Fenders. That makes them collectible that the PRS will never have.
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I wouldn`t say never, and I agree with you about the illogical reasons a person has for paying more for an item that`s not necessarily better. I have a friend who bought a holy grail F guitar. When we played it, it stunk. There was clearly a reason it went under the bed. In spite of this it`ll always be worth 300X what it`s really worth. I wouldn`t trade it for an SE. as more "stars" buy and play PRS, the value on the used market will go up. No matter the price, I think the PRS are simply better instruments.
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I've never quite under stood the whole guitar value scheme anyway. I mean it doesn't follow the same logic as most collectible items. You take a car, lets say the 64.5 Mustang Convertible again, in mint condition we're looking at a book value for 60k. Of course like collectible guitars book value and what you can actually get are two different things. Really it's only worth what someone is willing to pay. Anyway, You take that same 64.5 Mustang and it's got the crap beat out of it and looks 42 years old you'll be lucky to get 10k. Not true for guitars. Now this is where I'm lost.

I can have a closet queen mint vintage guitar and get good money, or I can take a new guitar, beat the crap out of it so it looks old, or I guess its called "relic", and get a fortune for it. WTF? The whole concept of a relic'd guitar escapes me. Why would someone not prefer a old guitar in mint shape over a new guitar that looks like it ws drug through the mud for 50 miles? I'm just bewildered.
The whole concept of a relic'd guitar escapes me. Why would someone not prefer a old guitar in mint shape over a new guitar that looks like it ws drug through the mud for 50 miles? I'm just bewildered.


They seek him here, they seek him there,
In Regent Street and Leicester Square.
Everywhere the Carnabetian army marches on,
Each one an dedicated follower of fashion.

— The Kinks, 1966
A lot of it has to do with hero worship and age. People into collectables generally collect the things they wanted when they were younger once they reach an age where nostalgia finally catches up to their discretionary income.

I saw the shift in prices from 12" GI Joe's to the 6" ones while helping a buddy eBay stuff a few years ago. And the same started to happen with Militaria goods where Vietnam era stuff started to rise in price too (no idea if that has continued). The funny thing was he kept some stuff to sell at the very end that he thought that because of their age would be the big ticket items. Stuff like Roy Rogers toys NIB and Civil War paraphernalia... It turned out they tanked in value because everybody who wanted that stuff died. :oops:

The unique thing about musical instruments is how new generations are still discovering or listening to old music that was being made with those guitars, and identifying with those iconic player's guitars. Fortunately, PRS has invested heavily into some area's that will assure their future popularity once the Nu Metal and Bro Country kids grow old. :p
I'd have to agree about the "hero worship and age.". But will it continue to advance or remain the same? That is to say we know the 1959 Les Paul is currently a collector's dream, but will say a 2016 Traditional, sort of a modern favorite, have the same collector value in 60 years as the 1959 does now? I don't think it will. I don't think we will ever see the collector values we see for the original old guitars ever again on any model no matter the age.

We've had a like discussion on collectible vehicles. Will a 1989 Supra ever have the same collector value of a 1932 Duce Coupe? I think those high value collectables will always be limited to the era that made them popular. If there was a PRS model that would fit this class what do you think it would be?
The sheer number of guitars produced during the past twenty-five years will decrease the probability of making any of them collectible IMHO, Why??? because they're mass produced.... they will remain in the used market for years.

A first-year PRS maybe something different, artist's PRS may have a different value to it as well.

A 2015 martin would not be like SCGC guitar, IMHO, for the same reason.

TBH, ten years ago a CBS late seventies strat was, and rightly so in general, considered crap, that however, is beginning to change, many just buy it because of the vintage hype. YMMV. You never really know.

In the violin world, a luthier's excellent productions don't increase in value until after he dies. Cruel world!
In the violin world, a luthier's excellent productions don't increase in value until after he dies. Cruel world!

So true! And it's sad.

I have always looked at a guitar, well most anyway, as a work of art. Even the mass produced ones are still hand assembled making each one somewhat a reflection of the maker. Or in mass production, the last to assemble it.

I know a lot of people buy a guitar with little thought other than does it play and sound the way I want. Good enough and I see no problem with that when buying a "player" guitar. Most of what I buy I look at as sort of a collector's eye. Get's me in trouble all the time but I can't help it. That is why I ask so many questions about buying a PRS. I don't want just a players guitar I want something more. I want it to play and sound good because I plan to play it, but I also want to be able to hang it on the wall and smile every time I walk by if you know what I mean.

I bought a 1973 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, a 2006 & 2007 Les Paul Premium Plus, a 2014 120th Anniversary, a 2016 Traditional and ended up with a 2005 LP Supreme. All of them played great but a few stuck out. The 2016 Traditional and the 2005 Supreme were more than just art. All were Heritage Cherry Sunburst with at least a AAA top other than my 2016 T which was a plain top. My Supreme is a AAAA top and really close to a AAAAA because of its uniqueness. All of these have some collector value but will be years before they really start to appreciate in value. My kids may reap the benefits are more hopes.

Never was much for Fender so I just own a 2007 MIM Strat. Very nice guitar. Plays and sounds great. A few other odd names like a Floyd Rose guitar, Bixby and an Electra White Zyphr 2264 I bought new in 1975. Gigged the crap out of that one but still in great shape.

Does PRS have such a model? Is there an investment quality that doesn't cost an arm and a leg currently. I know I'm not asking much LOL I just want one that plays and sounds fantastic and looks like a piece of art.
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