When you buy a new guitar, you might not be thinking about selling it. But since most guitars get sold at some point, it might be something to consider.
Not only do some brands command good resale value, sometimes it comes down more specifically to where a guitar was made, and the reputation of that model with guitarists.
Fender guitars are best if you want to buy a guitar that will keep its value. Given a few years, used Fenders can sell for as much as they sold for new, or even more.
There are other guitars that are sought after too, but which ones?
Why Some Guitars Hold Their Value and Others Don’t
How much of its original value a used guitar retains depends on several factors:
The number one thing you can do to help your guitar retain its value is simply to take care of it. A mint condition guitar will sell for more than one that shows obvious signs of use.
The higher value a guitar is considered to have in the first place, the higher the value generally stays. This is why more expensive guitars lose more of their value (with a few exceptions)
A big part of an instrument’s value comes from the market demand for it. That is why popular brands like Fender or Martin tend to keep their value better than lesser-known brands.
Color and other aesthetics
Although it may not be the most obvious difference, the color and/or wood grain of a specific guitar can affect the resale value of the instrument
Country of origin (and sometimes even the specific factory of origin)
Where your guitar was built can have a significant effect on its value retention. Typically, American and Japanese-made guitars hold value better than anything else. That said, as the quality of Asian-built guitars increases, they get better at holding their value.
How many were made or are available
Scarcity nearly always increases the value of something. So a guitar that is made in small quantities, such as a limited edition model, will likely keep its value and sometimes even appreciate.
Each of these parameters are related to each other. Meaning that even if a guitar is in mint condition, it may not retain its value as well if there are many available on the used market (for example).
Another thing to consider is market demand. Even though your guitar may be a mint example of a limited edition MIJ (made in Japan) Stratocaster, if nobody is looking for it at the moment, you may have a hard time selling it at a good price.
How Well Do Specific Guitars and Brands Hold Their Value?
1. Do Epiphone Guitars Hold Their Value?
Epiphone guitars are seen as having high value for money, and this helps them retain their value fairly well in most circumstances. Even lower-end models only tend to lose a small fraction of their worth.
You can buy a brand new Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus for about $600. The used ones in mint and excellent conditions sell for an average of $530.
That means that right now the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus is holding almost 90% of its value.
The demand is high for name-brand Les Paul-style guitars. Still, this is pretty incredible for a guitar made in China.
2. Do Taylor Guitars Hold Their Value?
Taylor makes some excellent acoustic guitars. A favorite brand of intermediate and professional players alike, you can expect a nice example to retain its value well.
Two of Taylor’s most popular models, the Academy 10e and the Baby Taylor BT1, are currently holding about 79% of their value in the used guitar market.
3. Do Martin Guitars Hold Their Value?
Like Taylor, Martin produces only acoustic guitars. Martin is seen as a top-tier brand, producing some of the highest quality instruments money can buy.
That also means they are generally expensive.
Perhaps their most popular model to date (despite its price of over $3000) is the HD-28, a beautiful instrument with regard to both looks and sound. It currently sells secondhand for about 84% of its original value.
Because Martin is such a prestigious brand, it’s no surprise that the HD-28 is keeping its value a little better than the Taylors.
4. Do Fender Guitars Hold Their Value?
Fender is the top-selling guitar brand in the world, and the used market reflects that. There are always innumerable used Stratocasters and Telecasters for sale.
Fender guitars keep their value impressively well despite the market saturation.
The MIM (made in Mexico) Fender Player Strat holds about 80% of its value on the used market right now.
As for their American-made cousins, they suffer a bit more depreciation.
Fender’s flagship Strat (Fender American Professional II) holds only 75% of its worth compared to its retail price of around $1,700.
Similarly, the American Ultra Stratocaster which usually retails for around $2000 sells used for an average of $1500 meaning it also retains approximately 75% of its value.
5. Do PRS Guitars Hold Their Value?
PRS is a fairly new guitar manufacturer in comparison to many of the other brands on this list. That said, they have become quite popular.
The PRS SE variants are certainly some of the most popular instruments in Paul Reed Smith’s lineup. The SE Standard 24 currently holds 79% of its worth on average.
The more expensive PRS SE Floyd Rose Custom 24 sells for about $1000 new and keeps about 74% of its original value.
6. Do Gibson Guitars Hold Their Value?
The Gibson Les Paul is one of the most iconic guitars you can buy. And despite its infamous weight, it sells like crazy.
Brand new, the Gibson Les Paul Classic will cost you about $2300. On the used market, however, they sell for $1800 on average. This is about 78% value retention.
The Les Paul isn’t the only popular guitar from Gibson. The SG is a favorite of classic rock and metal players, and nobody minds getting that classic Gibson tone without the weight of an LP.
That said, the Gibson SG doesn’t keep its worth quite as well: 72% for mint examples.
7. Do Gretsch Guitars Hold Their Value?
Gretsch is known for its big, beautiful hollow body guitars. They make affordable and less affordable versions, but nothing they sell is of poor quality.
The Instantly recognizable Electromatic line is by far their best-selling model. The G5420T will cost you around $850 new.
If you have one in excellent condition, you can sell it right now for around $700. That’s 82% of what it costs brand new.
The Gretsch Jet FT is another of their most popular guitars. However, it doesn’t keep its value quite as well. The average price of used examples in excellent condition is only 73% of the usual price of new models.
8. Do Suhr Guitars Hold Their Value?
There isn’t nearly as much data available on Suhr guitars. That said, what information there is, points to Suhr having exceptional resell value.
The few used Suhr guitars that have sold recently have gone for 80-90% of their original worth.
Considering the typical prices of Suhr guitars (around $3000), that is exceptionally good.
9. Do Ibanez Guitars Hold Their Value?
Ibanez is a big name, especially on the rock and metal scene.
Their budget guitars are incredibly popular because of the surprisingly low cost for a decent quality instrument. You can get a Gio series guitar for $200 new and around $165 used. This equates to an average value retention of 82%.
Their more expensive options do equally well. The Ibanez RG550 costs significantly more (around $1000 new) but still holds 79% of its value on average.
The Guitar Value Takeaway
The value of a guitar depends on many factors. What’s more, is it changes frequently.
The brands explored in this article all keep their worth quite well. That said, there are a few that stand out:
1. Epiphone Guitars
People say that Epiphone makes guitars that are nearly as good as Gibson’s pricier models for one-quarter of the price. Their value for money helps them to keep their worth exceptionally well.
The rarer the model, the more they hold their value, with most average production models retaining around 50-65% of their original price for near mint condition examples.
Early model Epiphone guitars from the 1940’s-50’s in good condition can sell for a few thousand dollars.
2. Martin Guitars
Status certainly helps Martin guitars retain their worth despite their high retail prices. But Martin’s unquestionable quality and craftsmanship is likely the most defining factor.
3. Fender Guitars
The newer Fender guitars hold their value similar to other brands right now, but what is truly impressive is Fender’s older editions:
MIM Fender Standard Stratocasters (discontinued by Fender, but still available on eBay and Reverb) in mint and excellent conditions hold up to 95% of their original worth.
Similarly, the Fender American Standard Strats (also discontinued) are now sold at about the same price point as the new ones were three to four years ago, meaning that they have retained about 100% of their value.
4. Suhr Guitars
It’s a little surprising to see such a small brand keep its value so well, but Suhr produces supreme guitars in smaller quantities, which helps their guitars keep their value.
Looking to see how much your guitar is worth? Reverb.com has a great tool that looks at the most recent sale prices of similar equipment to give you an estimate. You can find it at reverb.com/my/collection.
If you are looking at a particular guitar, then the Blue Book of Electric Guitars, and the Blue Book of Acoustic Guitars is produced regularly, and is the best resource to find a realistic price based on the condition of the guitar.
Suhr guitar image credit : James “SpaceDock”, CC BY 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons