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Vintage certified electric guitars

1966 Fender Mustang

Do "vintage certified" electric guitars actually exist? Not really. This is a problem for both buyers and sellers.

Somewhere around 2010, it started to become obvious that without too much effort, it was easy for some to craft a new guitar, distress or "relic" it, outright lie and say the instrument was actual vintage, then sell it for 1,000% more than what it was worth.

Anyone can buy a cheap relic Strat copy from China right now. It's ridiculously easy. Do I have a problem with this? No, I don't. But I do have a problem with people reselling them as the genuine vintage thing. Anyone who buys one of those copies for $300 with the intent of ripping someone off by reselling it for $3,000 here in the USA is an ass. If you buy the fake for yourself, fine, whatever. But if bought to resell, you seriously suck.

Most guitar buyers these days are fortunately well aware of what to look for when buying vintage electrics. But every year, makers of the fakes are getting better at covering every single thing you could possibly check to ensure a genuine vintage example.

It is at the point now where you have to get science involved just to identify a fake. For example, on vintage Fender electrics, there is a date stamp on the butt of the neck. Since it's not really difficult to make a new stamp look distressed and old, you would have to bring that ink under a microscope just to see if that ink was recently applied or not. And that's assuming you already had looked at actual old ink under a microscope on a genuine vintage neck previously so you know what to look for.

Sellers of actual vintage electrics have a really tough time these days

There are many guys out there that have real-deal vintage electrics but can't sell them due to the pervasiveness of fakes.

Let's say you do have a vintage electric. How can you prove it's legit? You can't. Even if you have the guitar itself, original case, original receipts and even the original hangtag, it doesn't matter. All that stuff can be replicated.

The only thing that could prove without any doubt that what you have is the real deal is if it were somehow "vintage certified"...

...except that doesn't exist. And it should.

Until this happens (which it probably won't), what can you do as a seller?

The only advice I can give is sell locally and get a lawyer involved.

You basically have to handle the sale of a vintage electric the same way as a vintage Rolex watch. You have to talk to the buyer, get to know the guy first, meet in person, and so on.

If you think things will go well, you then agree to meet in a police station parking lot to complete the transaction. Payment is only accepted with a certified bank check and nothing else. The transaction might even involve a trip to the bank just to make 100% sure the funds are there.

The lawyer is involved where you have an iron clad contract written up that basically says, "After you pay for this and receive the merchandise, you own it for the agreed price 100%. No refunds. No price guarantee. I can't guarantee the authenticity of this whatsoever and you understand this. The only thing that is confirmed true is that this is an old guitar and nothing more. It probably will have problems because it's old. But those problems are yours to deal with. Thanksgoodbyegetoutofmyface."

Yes, it's absolutely annoying to go through all this crap just to sell a vintage guitar. But until some kind of vintage guitar certification service is offered, that's just the way things are.

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