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Are My Musical Instruments Valuable? A Pawn Shop’s Perspective

For thousands of years, people have been entertained by playing and listening to music. Through the centuries, musical instruments improved to what we are familiar with today. And they remain as popular as ever, if not more so.

The best way to determine the market value of your musical instruments is to take them to a pawn shop for a free evaluation. One that specializes in buying, pawning, and selling pre-owned musical instruments.

Market value or OMV (Open Market Valuation) is the price at which an item would sell for in a competitive auction. Refer to our article on how pawn shops determine value for more details.

Man looking at musical instruments in pawn shop

Do You Own a Valuable Music Instrument?

Here are some of the main factors that will determine if your musical instruments are valuable.

Rarity

Vintage violin

A rare Stradivari violin called “The Hammer” sold for $3,544,000 on auction in May 2006, a new world record at the time for a musical instrument. Violins made by Antonio Stradivari are rare and seldom come on the market. This particular instrument dates from 1707 and got its name from its first owner, Christian Hammer.

The chances of you having a lost Stradivari violin in your attic is remote. But if you do have a rare, sought-after musical instrument in good condition it might be worth a lot of money.

History

Musician playing guitar on stage

An ordinary musical instrument can turn into a valuable, collectible item if it has a good story behind it. This is typically the case if it was owned by a famous musician or celebrity.

Examples include the following:

  • Eric Clapton’s ‘Blackie’ Stratocaster guitar sold on auction for $959,500 in 2004.
  • Marilyn Monroe’s baby grand piano sold on auction for $662,500 in 1999. The buyer and current owner is Mariah Carey.
  • Ringo Starr’s Ludwig drum kit sold on auction for $2.1 million in 2015.

Condition

Mint condition guitar

A collectible musical instrument will be most valuable if it’s in mint condition.

Rare or vintage musical instruments, or musical instruments that belonged to famous people, are unlikely to be in mint condition. However, they should not be restored as that will almost certainly reduce their value to collectors.

An instrument that’s in good working condition will typically fetch a lot more than one that’s in poor condition. For example, a Stradivari violin remains valuable even if it’s in poor condition, but one in good condition (at least for its age) will be a lot more valuable.

The Market Value of Musical Instruments

Musical instruments

As mentioned earlier in this article, market value or OMV (Open Market Valuation) is the price at which an item would sell for in a competitive auction. It’s what a willing buyer would pay a willing seller. So one of the best ways to establish the market value of musical instruments is to have a look at what they are selling for on auction sites.

Here are some helpful resources:

eBay

With about 160 million registered users, eBay is the largest and best-known auction site on the internet. Type in what you’re looking for in the search box and then click the box that says “Sold Items” underneath “Show only.” It should give you a good idea of what your musical instrument is selling for on the open market.

Note: As with all auction sites, you need to deduct auction fees and costs to find out how much money the buyer received.

LiveAuctioneers.com

LiveAuctioneers has a database of over 29 million results. It includes musical instruments that were auctioned off from thousands of global auction houses. And it’s free to use.

UsedPrice.com

UsedPrice joined forces with Orion Bluebook to create the largest database of used music equipment values. In addition to fair market values, they provide data on product descriptions, specifications, user reviews and comments, and suggested retail price levels.

That’s a Wrap

What you paid for a musical instrument is often irrelevant. The market value of your instrument is based on what it can be sold for.

Pawn shops that specialize in musical instruments such as our Van Nuys pawn shop and other Maxferd pawn shops are good at determining the value of musical instruments.

Bear in mind that pawn shops cannot pay you market value for your musical instrument as the pawn shop also has to make money. However, pawn shops offer many advantages that online marketplaces and auction sites cannot match.

If you have any questions about musical instruments you want to sell, pawn, or have evaluated don’t hesitate to contact Maxferd.

Call us at (800) 888-7296 or visit one of our five locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles to find out how we can assist you.

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