Vintage guitars are selling “unusually well” in Japan, thanks to boomers

Certain popular vintage guitars have seen astronomical increases.

Gibson Noel Gallagher ES-335

Image: Gibson

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The boom in vintage guitar sales has continued in Japan even as pandemic restrictions are lifted, leading to soaring prices.

Nikkei Asia reports that prices can jump 50 per cent from one month to the next, in contrast to previous periods where it took years for vintage guitars to accumulate value. A staff member in Tokyo’s upmarket Shinjuku Ward told the outlet: “Price gains have clearly picked up speed during COVID”.

Nikkei Asia also found that prices for certain popular vintage guitars have seen astronomical increases.

A 1950 Gibson J-45, the preferred instrument of Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan, has seen a 40 per cent increase in price up to ¥1.4 million from its 2021 price at Osaka-based music store chain Mikigakki.

Meanwhile, the Johnny Cash favourite 1960 Martin D-28 is up more than 30 per cent compared to its 2019 price with the current tag of JPY1.6 million at Mikkigakki.

A store representative told the outlet that “Right now, vintage guitars are selling unusually well,” in a continuation of a pandemic hobby buying trend that the representative said was driven by customers aged 40 and over.

Researcher Naoko Kuga also told the outlet, “When people approach their retirement years, they tend to seek fulfilment beyond work, and with the increase of disposable time during COVID, demand for vintage guitars has grown as an indoor pastime.”

The demand for vintage guitars and pre-aged guitars has always been characteristic of guitar culture. Guitar manufacturers often release multiple limited-edition and artist signature models to appease such market demand.

In recent months, some of the notable releases this year so far include the extremely-limited Noel Gallagher ES-355 that is reportedly already being resold by scalpers for £5,000 over its original price, as well as Fender’s latest signature guitar, a recreation of Beatles legend George Harrison’s ‘Rocky’ Stratocaster, which already received an extremely limited run that saw each copy priced at $20,000.


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