How Much is my Guitar Worth? (With Examples)

Identifying the value of a guitar can be a challenge. Whether you are insuring your instruments, selling or trading your guitars, or buying a new guitar, it is always crucial to know how to determine the value of a guitar. There are several ways to determine the value of an instrument; you simply need to know how to.

To estimate the value of a guitar, identify the brand, model, and serial number of the instrument. Search for the instrument on the brands’ online database based on this information. Value is determined by quality, materials, age, significance, and overall playability and tone.

Every guitar has a value. Some guitars are worth significantly more than others, and there are many factors that determine how much a guitar is worth. Learning how to estimate the worth of a guitar is important for all guitar players. Let’s learn some of the ways to value a guitar and explore some examples of guitar value.

How Much are Guitars Worth?

Understanding the value of guitars means understanding that the value of these instruments varies widely. No two guitars are worth the same amount, and there are several factors that influence the value of each individual guitar.

The truth is that some guitars can be wildly valuable, while others become less valuable over time until they become essentially worthless in terms of monetary value. Every guitar is worth something to someone, but the monetary value of any instrument is very difficult to determine.

The least valuable guitars are those that are designed for beginner guitar players or those that are produced very cheaply with low-cost materials. The most expensive guitars are those that are designed for professional musicians and are made to a high standard of quality and craftsmanship.

For example, some very basic acoustic guitars that are made for beginners on a budget may cost as little as $40 or $50, but very high-end acoustic guitars made by skilled luthiers can easily cost upwards of $100 000.

The same is true for every type of guitar, as there are some very low-end, very cheap versions of every guitar type, and there are extremely high-quality instruments of every type as well.

Most guitars will retain their value quite well, depending on factors such as how well they are maintained and looked after. However, a guitar that is only worth $40 brand new will not sell for much money at all.

Some expensive, high-end, or famous guitars may appreciate in value over time if the instrument becomes desirable or collectible.

To provide a rough range of guitar prices, especially on the second-hand market, beginner guitars are available for prices anywhere from $30 to $300, intermediate guitars can be bought for $500 to $2000, and good quality guitars will sell for a few thousand dollars second-hand.

The most expensive guitars will retain their value the best, and guitars that cost upwards of $10 000 will usually appreciate in value if they are maintained well.

What Determines the Value of a Guitar?

We have established that the value of a guitar can vary from minimal to shockingly high. There are several individual factors that determine the worth of a guitar, regardless of the type of guitar, it is, how old it is, and how the instrument is made.

Understanding the factors that determine the value of a guitar can help you to estimate the worth of the guitars that you have and any guitars that you may potentially buy.

Let’s explore some of the major factors that contribute to the value of a guitar.

The Materials the Guitar is Made From

Among the largest contributing factors to a guitar’s worth are the materials that have been used in the construction of the instrument.

Most guitars are made from wood and metals, and the types of wood and metals vary depending on the quality of the instrument. Guitars that are made from high-quality, dense, single-cut woods are more expensive than those that are made from inexpensive words, laminate woods, or composite woods.

Guitars that feature hardware and design elements made from high-quality metals or metals of high value, such as silver, gold, stainless steel, bronze, and nickel, will cost more than instruments that use simple steels, chromed steels, and brass for the same components.

Some guitars are made from or include components made from exotic materials such as carbon fiber, and some will have elements made from high-value materials such as pearl or bone. These high-value elements contribute to the overall value of the instrument as well.

The Age of the Guitar

The age of a guitar is another important factor in its value. Some guitars become more valuable as they age, while others become less valuable.

Older guitars that are made by well-known manufacturers or major guitar brands will typically become more valuable over time, especially if they are of very good quality or from a desirable year.

Guitars that are cheaply made or made by unknown brands and manufacturers will typically depreciate with time.

Identify the age of the instrument and the company that manufactured it, and you will have another clue to determine the value of the instrument.

New guitars are of more value than old guitars if the instrument is not collectible, but collectible or desirable guitars will cost more as they become older, so long as they are kept in good condition.

The Guitar Brand and Manufacturer

As we have already learned, the manufacturer or brand of the guitar plays a significant role in the value of the instrument.

A guitar that is made by a major instrument brand such as Fender or Gibson will typically have more value than a guitar that I made by an unknown brand or a brand that is known for producing cheap instruments.

If the guitar that you are trying to evaluate bears the name of a major manufacturer, the guitar is likely to be worth more than a similar guitar made by an unknown brand.

The Quality of the Guitar

This is an obvious factor, but the quality of the instrument is integral to the value of the instrument.

Guitar that is made to a high standard of quality will usually be made from good-quality components and is typically made with good craftsmanship as well. This means that a good-quality guitar will feel better to play and sound far better than a low-quality guitar.

The sound and feel of each particular guitar are important to its value, which again means that better quality instruments are more valuable than those that are built to a low standard.

The Condition of the Guitar

Another obvious factor that should be apparent to anyone, even those who do not know much about instrument value, is the condition of the instrument.

If a guitar has been abused, mistreated, damaged, not maintained, and generally allowed to fall into a state of disrepair, it will not have much value unless it is a particularly desirable model that can be repaired well.

A guitar that is in good condition and set up to be easily playable will always be more valuable than a guitar that is damaged or in bad condition overall. Repairing a guitar is very expensive, and unless the repairs are worthwhile doing, the guitar is not valuable at all.

This is why maintaining and taking good care of a guitar is of utmost importance, especially if the guitar is to be sold at some point.

How Famous the Guitar Is

Famous guitars and guitar models are of much more value than regular guitars. A guitar that is known to be made very well, a guitar that is of a year that the manufacturer produced excellent sounding instruments or a guitar that was played by a famous guitarist will hold more value than the same guitar without the fame.

For example, the 1959 Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocasters built in the 1960s and 1970s are considered to be some of the best guitars ever built and so are very valuable, even if they are slightly damaged.

The most expensive guitar ever sold was owned and played by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana. This particular guitar was sold for more than six million dollars at an auction in 2020.

The Way the Guitar Sounds and Feels

The final major factor in the value of a guitar is the way the instrument feels to play and the way the instrument sounds.

Even very inexpensive guitars can be sold for more than they are worth new if they sound better than other guitars in the same range. The sound and feel of a guitar are its ultimate value. If a well-made guitar that is comprised of valuable materials and wood feels terrible and sounds awful, the guitar will not be worth anything, despite the cost of its construction.

This is typically why the best guitars are the most valuable guitars and why certain guitars from specific manufacturing years are worth more than other guitars of the same model.

How to Estimate the Value of a Guitar

Now that we have learned about the important factors that contribute to the value of a guitar, it is time now to learn how to estimate the value of a guitar yourself.

The first step in the evaluation process is to identify the brand of the guitar. If the guitar is made by a well-known or major brand, then it should be instantly recognizable and bear the emblem of the said brand on the headstock or body of the guitar.

The emblem on the instrument will help to identify the age of the instrument, as companies change the font and style of their emblems over time. Specific styles of emblem can indicate a time period of when the guitar was made.

The next step is to assess the quality and condition of the instrument. If the guitar is of very good quality, made from good materials, and is in very good condition, it is worth investigating its value further. If the guitar is in poor condition or is obviously of poor quality, it may not be worth continuing the valuation of the instrument.

Once you know the brand and quality of the guitar, search for a serial number, as well as a model name. The model name of the instrument is usually paled on the headstock or on the body of the guitar ins some obvious location.

The model or the serial number of the guitar is less obvious to find. This number is typically found on the back of the neck joint where the neck meets the body, underneath the back plate cover, inside the body cavity of the instrument, or even on the inside of the neck joint, which will require the neck to be removed to find it.

Once you have the guitar brand, model name, and serial number, it is a simple matter of searching for those elements of identification online. There are several instrument databases that will hold this information and can properly identify the instrument.

Once the instrument is identified, simply look up the estimated cost of the instrument, search for another model of the same kind on the second-hand market, phone your local music store for information, or simply take the instrument to a pawn shop for a valuation.

These methods should provide a good ballpark figure of the value of the instrument relatively easily.

Examples of Guitar Values

The most direct way to get a good understanding of the value of specific guitars or types of guitars is to look at examples of specific instruments and find out their exact value.

For this reason, here is a table that lists the estimated value of several well-known guitars of every type.

Guitar ModelEstimated Price
1958 Fender Stratocaster$16 400 – $41 500
1964 Fender Stratocaster$14 800 – $20 900
1959 Fender Jazzmaster$7 700 – $24 300
1960 Fender Jazzmaster$3000 – $4000
1951 Fender Esquire Telecaster$25 000 – $35 000
2002 Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster$900 – $1 200
1961 Epiphone Casino$5 000 – $7 000
2010 Epiphone Casino$1 600 – $2 400
2010 Epiphone Dot$320 – $475
2010 Epiphone SG$250 – $370
2010 Epiphone Firebird$440 – $640
2012 Epiphone Les Paul$490 – $790
1992 Ibanez Iceman$2 500 – $3 500
1993 Ibanez RG$395 – $680
1988 Ibanez JEM777$3 400 – $4 900
1960 Gretsch Chet Atkins$6 800 – $10 800
1957 Gretsch White Falcon$17 000 – $25 000
1959 Gretsch 6124$1 200 – $1 700
1981 Gibson Explorer$1 800 – $3 600
1955 Gibson Les Paul Custom$19 000 – $26 000
1958 Gibson Les Paul Custom$30 000 – $50 000
2011 Gibson Les Paul$1 300 – $1 800
2012 Gibson Explorer$1 200 – $1 700
2012 Gibson Les Paul Studio$700 – $ 1000

Conclusion

The value of a guitar is based on several factors. Every guitar has a different value, and certain guitars will hold their value better than others. Some guitars depreciate while others appreciate in value, and some guitars will never be worth much at all, while others cost many thousands of dollars.

Understanding how to estimate the value of a guitar first means understanding the value that guitars hold. Understanding the brands, materials, ages, and quality of guitars in general and estimating the value of an individual instrument will be fairly straightforward.