Gear Gab


Brazilian Rosewood Acoustics

by Dan Yablonka of Dan Yalonka Guitars


     What I have seen the hobby/biz/obsession go through in the last 30 years has been a real fun ride and full of surprises. What once seemed absolute, has changed so many times. I remember hanging one day with pals in this biz in the early 80ís, after we had seen what we thought to be "the unbelievable", but that era now makes us crave time machines. One of the guys in the room was insistent on making sure that the rest of us knew that these newfangled collectors were out of their minds paying $10,000 for more than one Les Paul Standard from 1959, when they were "just five grand last year", and how he'd feel much safer in T-bills! Now that those guitars can retail for 40 times that much, I'm not so sure that he still feels the same way.


     The last four or five years have especially shown an exponentially charged market that saw many iconic guitars quadruple in price. In 2000, a 56 Strat was $15k and they have recently hit prices of $50K and $60K - sometimes even more for the unusually well equipped with case candy, tags, and custom colors. However, as I recently wrote for an online magazine and especially highlighted at the last Dallas Guitar Show, there is some cooling off of the really high dollar stuff. I have never seen so many Gold Tops and 2 tone Strats in one room as I did in Dallas. Also notable, was that they were down a bit in price and yet many remained in the hands of the same guys they walked into the show with, even with the discounted attempts!

What I havenít seen and frankly am still expecting, is an area of the market that I don't think has felt the benefit of the upswing of the last few years. I am speaking of the vintage acoustic market, especially focused on Brazilian Rosewood Martin Guitars -especially the ones of the 50ís and 60ís as opposed to the 30ís and 40ís where the growth has long been established. All will see growth but there is much more room for the appreciation in the later ones.


      In the old days we could pretty much see the price of a 1960ís Strat and a 60ís Brazilian sides and back Martin D-28 at approximately $1000 each. If you look at the market today, that Strat is $20k+ and the Martin is still $5-7K. I'm going to go out on a limb here (but I think it's a good solid one!), and say that we haven't seen the full potential on the acoustic market, but also caution people to remember that there will be lots of particulars, much like the electric solid body market. It wasn't until much later than that early 80ís conversation that I alluded to, that terms like "Slab Board" and "green guard vs. white guard" meant much to the price. A rosewood board 60's was a $1K and a maple 50ís was $2K. If the new market were more predictable than that, we'd all be buying 100 of the "Guitar Du Jour" with surety, but trends and some basic tendencies seem to be traceable - and you heard it here 10th.... (lol!) Watch out for the really pristine great old acoustics to perform some magic. Their time is yet to come and their potential yet to be fully realized, though I am just one opinion.


     Let me close by saying if I'm right you can find my site on Gbase, but if I am wrong, this tape will self destruct in 15 seconds.....



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