Investing in a Vintage or Collectible Martin Guitar

Investing in a Vintage or Collectible Martin Guitar

Martin guitars have been a favourite among musicians for generations, and their vintage models are highly sought after for their sound quality, craftsmanship, and historical significance. Choosing a vintage Martin acoustic guitar can be a daunting task, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding experience.  Here are some points to help you choose the right vintage Martin acoustic guitar for your needs:

    1. Determine Your Budget: Vintage Martin guitars can be expensive, so it's important to determine your budget before you start shopping. You should be prepared to spend anywhere from five thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the model, age and condition.

    2. Models: Martin has been producing guitars for over 180 years, and there are many different models to choose from. The most collectible Martin guitars are from the late 1920s to 1960s such as the D-18, D-28 & D-45 along with OM, 0, 00 & 000 models. 'Modern' Era models can be quite collectible - particularly limited edition runs and high end artist editions - however these are generally a lesser investment grade than a true Vintage Martin guitar - and care should be taken given the large array of limited edition models that have been produced - many of these will hold no more value than their base model equivalent. 

    3. Age / Period: The most desirable Martin guitars cover the Pre-War era of the late 1920s to 1939, characterised by exquisite craftsmanship, light bracing and old growth, super premium tonewoods. The War era through to 1946 shows a number of design changes as material shortages and supplies such as steel, Adirondack timber and herringbone purfling became unavailable. in 1964 production moves from the old factory and production numbers begin to increase dramatically in line with the folk boom of the 1960s. 1969 represents the last year that Brazilian Rosewood was utilised and generally defines the end of the Vintage era. Martin guitars have a serial number stamped inside the body, which allow you to determine the guitar's age and authenticity via the Martin Guitar Serial Number database.

    4. Condition: When buying a vintage Martin guitar, condition and originality is key. Many guitars have repaired cracks, replaced bridges / bridge plates, replaced tuning pegs, overspray or are even completely refinished. A replaced bridge is probably the least detrimental, as long as it is period correct and the bridge plate remains original. A refinish is significant and will usually halve the value of the guitar.

    5. Buy from a Reputable Dealer: Buying a vintage Martin guitar from a reputable dealer can give you peace of mind that you're getting an authentic, high-quality instrument. Look for dealers who specialize in vintage guitars and have a good reputation in the industry - if you cannot inspect the guitar in person, look for a return policy with reasonable inspection period where you can have a good luthier look over the guitar.

    6. Consider the Investment: Vintage Martin guitars can be a good investment, but it's important to remember that the value can fluctuate over time. If you're buying the guitar as an investment, do your research - The Official Vintage Guitar® Price Guide is published annually and tracks a significant number of instruments including nearly every Martin Guitar model produced. 

    7. Be Aware of CITES Regulations: The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement designed to protect endangered species from over-exploitation. Many pre-1969 Martin guitars contain materials that are regulated by CITES, such as Brazilian Rosewood or Ivory. Before purchasing a vintage Martin guitar, make sure you understand the CITES regulations and any restrictions that may apply. If you plan to travel or ship your vintage Martin guitar overseas, you may need to obtain a CITES permit or certificate to comply with international regulations. Be sure to do your research and consult with experts to ensure compliance with CITES regulations.

By following these tips, you can find the perfect vintage Martin acoustic guitar to suit your needs and preferences. Whether you're a professional musician or a collector, a vintage Martin guitar is a timeless piece of musical history that you can enjoy for years to come.