And before you think too fast on this and who could blame you, this being a guitar related blog and all, I am not referring to the Mr. Buffett who gave us the advice to waste away in Margaretville or get drunk and screw. All valid nuggets of advice for sure, but to the other well known Mr. Buffett, as in Warren. He said:
“Value is what you get.”
And though the former Mr. Buffett’s quotes are a lot more fun than thought provoking, I thank the latter Mr. Buffet, for giving me an entry into this post, with his idea of value. What is value and how can one place value when it comes to buying a guitar? It is one of the oldest tricks we play on ourselves when squelching the call of that demanding mistress known as Guitar Acquisition Syndrome, or G.A.S. We convince ourselves that what we are about to acquire is indeed a good value and no logical person would pass it up. But do you really consider the value of your purchase and if you wanted to take a step back and consider value in terms of buying a guitar, what questions would you ask yourself?
When it comes to buying a guitar value can be debated in many contexts.
Picture an empty school gym and a circle of chairs. Got it. Now picture that guy standing there in middle saying, “My name is…and I am a G.A.S. addict”. That guy, he was me. I never really had an understanding the idea of the value of my instruments. My concept of value was strictly in the context of the cheapest for the money and ability to add my ever-growing collection of guitars. I was proud of the size of my collection. I was proud of the perceived value of the total out of pocket cost to acquire that collection but then one day I had a realization. I was not proud of the build quality of the instruments or the differences in the tone woods to provide for a variety of sounds. And more importantly I was not proud of how they made me sound as a player or the inspiration they inspired in my playing. This is when I took a huge leap of faith, for me at least. I sold the collection and set out to discover the idea of value.
Sadly this was the first lesson I learned. The old saying, you get what you pay for, when you go to sell it, you get half of that in most cases if you are lucky. Although we all hope to bond with our guitars and forge a partnership for life with it. You may at some point have the opportunity to sell that guitar. When purchasing a guitar, resale value should not be your leading cause for purchase but it is okay to consider that option and what return you will have on your investment should the occasion arise. The general rule I have discovered and feel safe in backing, the better your instrument in terms of build quality, tone woods, reputation of builder, the better your odds for recouping more of your initial cost. So that lower priced import may seem like a bargain today but in the life of the guitars investment will it really be? If you buy a $300 guitar today but can only sell it for $100 in a year, is that a better value than the $700 guitar that you could sell for $500 in 4 years?
There is a reason we have a booming vintage market today. Builders build their guitars to last. Inflated for today’s dollar, these guitars would not be in our current market what we reflexively label as value models. Now that is the perceived fiscal value of a lower cost to acquire, but when we consider the quality of the build versus out of pocket expense, you can begin to see the true value of the guitar. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the factories of a higher end builder, take the tour, once you see how much goes into the construction of your guitar you will begin to see where the value in building quality begins to take shape. Again a $300 guitar that last a few years versus a $1000 guitar that will last a 100 years. Which guitar has better value in that context?
Now this is a question that lacks a chart or diagram that I can point you towards to understand the concept. The personal value that the guitar brings to you can only be quantified and assessed by you. I must confess that I took a break from writing this and strummed a few chords on one of my, what I considered to be expensive guitars when I bought it. And even all this time later I still get goose bumps when I play it. How can I associate a value with that? Your guitar is an investment in you. It is in investment on what Cameron Crowe called “pure joy”. If you take your answers to the above mentioned questions raised in this post:
Is it a good investment financially? Is it a quality build that will act as a better tool for my passion for music?
Add them together and you may begin to see where you can create and define that value to yourself. That personal value, that pure joy you get when you play the guitar. Now, one can certainly argue that the act of playing music is in of itself the goal, but I would argue that given the right tools, any passion can be amplified to the next level and you may find yourself stopping one day after all of the stress and worry of buying that “more expensive” guitar is over, and say, wow I did not realize I had it in me. The idea of the muse inspiring art has been around since, well, art.
Value is what you get. And at the end of the day no one can really help you come to terms with the value you get from your instrument purchase, there are plenty of logical rational arguments that can help ease your mind of what ever worry you may have to bear down on, but at the end of the day, all I ask is that you take a step back and ask yourself those questions. The goal of music is to inspire. I want to be inspired when I play it and I want to be inspired when I hear it. And to get both, we here at Guitar Adoptions want to make sure you are getting the best value for your dollar and more importantly, the best value for your soul. The next time sticker shock raises it ugly head, take a breath and remember what Mr. Buffet said:
Come Monday it will be all right………