Where Yesterday Meets Tomorrow
by Edward J. Ranno
Recently, while at an auction gallery previewing, to my amazement I observed, enshrined in a glass case, what I thought was a vintage Fender guitar. To me, that was like a geologist finding a rare fossil.
Naturally, I started asking questions about it. If I'd had my way, I would have plugged it into one of my vintage amps and started playing it. But I knew that was not possible, so I settled for getting my preliminary questions answered. Before I left, I spouted my "guess-ti-mate" selling price. I knew it was the first year of production for that model (Fender Stratocaster) and from what I could tell it seemed real. So I said "I bet that'll go for 20 or 30 grand!" and rushed home to begin my research.
However, when I got home and came down from my adrenalin rush, the price fell like the stock market crash of '29.
First, my guess was about double the amount for a mint model from that year - say 14 to 17k. Then we should factor in wear and general condition, not to mention missing and broken pieces. The original case was in terrible condition. The realistic price might to $3,500 to $5,000.
On my return visit, I searched for the particular factors which would determine whether it was the genuine article or an elaborate reproduction. I found there was no coverplate over the tremolo bridge. That's where the serial number was affixed only in that year. Other important points were also not present. It soon became apparent that this was a made up piece which put an end to my interest.
As you can see, I'm pretty enthusiastic about musical instruments - guitars in particular - and Fenders are my personal favorites. I have nine of them in my collection, the most of any one manufacturer. And for me Fender produces the best sound. I know all you "Gibson" lovers don't agree but that's all right. That is part of the fun of collecting. There are lots of different makes and models and tons of guitars still out there to be found. Even in a small town in Upstate New York. You never know when you'll run into Rock History.
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