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Old February 02, 2019, 20:07   #1
skeeterbay
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Advice on old musical instruments

Anyone have any advice on the best way to liquidate an old musical instrument collection. Right now they are being stored in a facility out of state but they need to be moved soon.
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Old February 02, 2019, 20:16   #2
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easy way = sell them as a lot to a musician or collector
hard way = sell them one at a time on eBay or Craigslist

Or, donate them to a music school and take a tax credit?
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Old February 02, 2019, 20:33   #3
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Member T210driver might have some good insight for you.
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Old February 02, 2019, 20:36   #4
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Old February 02, 2019, 20:42   #5
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The word "Collection" covers a lot of ground.

If they're utilitarian, donate to a school.

If somebody needs the funds then sell them individually if you have the time to hassle it.

You can do better on instrument specialty boards - reeds, woodwinds, strings, brass, percussion.

If you think these are VALUABLE, find an agent.
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Old February 02, 2019, 20:58   #6
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The word "Collection" covers a lot of ground.

If they're utilitarian, donate to a school.

If somebody needs the funds then sell them individually if you have the time to hassle it.

You can do better on instrument specialty boards - reeds, woodwinds, strings, brass, percussion.

If you think these are VALUABLE, find an agent.
^^ This. I bought a recorder { wind instrument } at a yard sale, because it looked old and I like old stuff. Some time later i needed cash quickly, and went to a music store to sell it. The guy said he'd give me $50.00 for it. Said I'd think about it and let him know. As I was leaving, a guy who was in the store followed me out, said the dude was cheating me, and offered my $350.00 for it. Mind you I paid $25.00 for it. Turned out it was made of Ebony wood, and had antique ivory inlays on it. Buyer was up front, said it was likely worth more due to the age and overall great condition it was in, but he had $350.00 cash to spend, so we did the deal.
Never assume something isn't worth more than what you think, always do research on the items you want to sell.
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Old February 02, 2019, 22:03   #7
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Member T210driver might have some good insight for you.
Well, you need to determine just exactly what you have and that may require you get some specialized help. You probably don't have a long lost Stradivarius, but even common instruments can have significant value.

Do you know basically what is in the collection? a list would be very helpful.
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Old February 02, 2019, 22:12   #8
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I'm looking for a kazoo, but it has to be in tune.
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Old February 02, 2019, 22:29   #9
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Well, you need to determine just exactly what you have and that may require you get some specialized help. You probably don't have a long lost Stradivarius, but even common instruments can have significant value.

Do you know basically what is in the collection? a list would be very helpful.
There is an insurance policy list and they were appraised. The collection runs pretty much anything with strings, banjo's, guitars, mandolins, violins, dulcimers, zithers and a couple of ukelele's and banjo uke's. We are talking round about 40 items.

Edited to add: I was told that some of these things don't do well being stored without the humidity being controlled. That's why they are being kept where they are now. I have no means to control humidity levels to that degree. I would like to see them liquidated before they have to end up with me and suffer damage. However no one wants to liquidate them for pennies on the dollar either.
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Old February 02, 2019, 22:40   #10
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Looks like no kazoos.
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Old February 02, 2019, 23:06   #11
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How much is it costing to store them?
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Old February 02, 2019, 23:14   #12
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Tell me about the guitars.

If these things are in any way valuable, you could have a respected expert/dealer sell them on consignment for you.

George Gruhn is a top suggestion. He also employs luthiers that would first bring them into top playing condition before selling them.
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Old February 02, 2019, 23:14   #13
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Sell, or donate. There might be a museum that
would love to have something from the collection.
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Old February 03, 2019, 00:03   #14
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It sounds like most if not all of them are acoustic instruments.

As TenTea said:
easy way = sell them as a lot to a musician or collector
hard way = sell them one at a time on eBay or Craigslist


If you have an insurance appraisal of everything in the collection you could pick out the higher end items on the list and see what comparable examples have sold for on ebay. Then, if you want to go for maximum value, put those nicer pieces on ebay.

A lot of acoustic instruments like banjo ukes and Appalachian dulcimers are often considered novelty instruments and not worth much. Acoustic guitars like Martins and Gibsons and some customs, like Collings, Gallagher, etc. tend to bring the most money. Gibson banjos and mandolins are also generally worth more than other brands in those categories. Fiddles can be tough to sell without the buyer having a chance to play it (unless, of course, it is a 17th or 18th century masterpiece).

Selling it all as a collection is a lot easier. But it will probably take a little time to find the right buyer.

A friend of mine died just over 20 years ago and left a significant collection of instruments. A couple went to friends of the family and the rest of the collection sold for around $250,000. I was told that the instruments that were sold as a group were easily worth twice that. But the family was happy to liquidate the collection in one transaction, and they were not at all interested in having to determine individual values and sell the pieces individually.

That brings us back to TenTea's succinct an appropriate comments.

Do let us know how this is resolved. If you would be so kind as to publish the list of instruments here, you would likely get some of us drooling.

Good luck!
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Old February 03, 2019, 00:38   #15
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Originally Posted by ratas calientes View Post
I'm looking for a kazoo, but it has to be in tune.
In what key? I have an extensive kazoo collection & may be able to help you out ...
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Old February 03, 2019, 01:39   #16
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In what key? I have an extensive kazoo collection & may be able to help you out ...
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Old February 03, 2019, 10:05   #17
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How much is it costing to store them?
It's not costing me anything, (friend of the family) but he needs the space back.
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Old February 03, 2019, 10:44   #18
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While the owner played them all his main interest was banjo's. The list of banjo's includes: Paramount's, Vegas, Orpheum's, SS Stewart's and some other odds and ends such as Robinson's. The Mandolin's are Gibson's. The banjo Ukes are SS Stewarts and Orpheum. The guitar's are odd's and ends mainly older lesser value brands. There are a couple of CF Martin's, such as HD 35's and a Shenandoh. The Ukelele's are Martin's. The violins are mostly mid 1800's European copies of Stradivarius. Countries like Germany, Czeck and France. There are a couple of 1890's HB Conservatory violins as well. Not much value there just nice old violin's. The zithers are 1800's American made and one Bavarian concert zither. Again not a lot of value there. Same for the dulcimer's which are American made 1800's vintage. Not a super great collection and certainly not worth a huge sum of money but some decent quality old instruments that others would enjoy.
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Old February 03, 2019, 11:06   #19
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easy way = sell them as a lot to a musician or collector
hard way = sell them one at a time on eBay or Craigslist

Or, donate them to a music school and take a tax credit?

This sums it up pretty well. I guess it's time to research some on line collectors sites and maybe some large music stores and see what I can work out.
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Old February 03, 2019, 12:32   #20
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To move all at once for the most money, consider an auctioneer/auction house. Yes, they do take a cut, usually 15% or so but they are all gone in one day and some may specialize in musical instruments. This would be a good option if you have any desirable pieces in there as the word will get out to the serious buyers.
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Old February 03, 2019, 12:45   #21
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DO NOT go to a pawn shop or auction house...they will both rip you off!

Find a reputable dealer and consign them after having them appraised would be the easiest.

Selling them yourself will get you more, but you have to account for your time in doing it, shipping, damage during shipping, returns because the buyer is a prick, etc.

I know nothing about instruments, BTW.
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Old February 03, 2019, 12:49   #22
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While the owner played them all his main interest was banjo's. The list of banjo's includes: Paramount's, Vegas, Orpheum's, SS Stewart's and some other odds and ends such as Robinson's. The Mandolin's are Gibson's. The banjo Ukes are SS Stewarts and Orpheum. The guitar's are odd's and ends mainly older lesser value brands. There are a couple of CF Martin's, such as HD 35's and a Shenandoh. The Ukelele's are Martin's. The violins are mostly mid 1800's European copies of Stradivarius. Countries like Germany, Czeck and France. There are a couple of 1890's HB Conservatory violins as well. Not much value there just nice old violin's. The zithers are 1800's American made and one Bavarian concert zither. Again not a lot of value there. Same for the dulcimer's which are American made 1800's vintage. Not a super great collection and certainly not worth a huge sum of money but some decent quality old instruments that others would enjoy.
That is a nice collection! I'd definitely think about getting an expert to guide you in selling those pieces. Good luck, an let us know how it works out!
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Old February 03, 2019, 14:06   #23
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My X's late brother had a colletion of highend strings, both acoustic and electric. We looked at several options, such as auction house, guitar forums, or consignment at known expert dealers, but in the end, we sold them one at a time on ebay and got good money.

There are different markets for different types, so the price a guy could sell one example we had, here in the US, would bring 4-5 times the amount in Japan. The trick was lots of good photos of the parts a musician or collector would want to see and a simple description of the type and any known specs and short history.

One guitar turned out to be a serious collectable, which we had no idea, it sold for $6000.
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Old February 03, 2019, 15:42   #24
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I want to thank you all for your advice on this. I truly appreciate it.


Thank You!
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Old February 03, 2019, 16:00   #25
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Be sure and have the Martin's examined by a knowledgeable person as they may be worth considerable dollars. The European violins can be worth $1k each if high quality instruments. My father's "fiddle" was a German copy of a "Strad" and the folks at the violin shop said it was a nice violin for a serious student and would cost about $1k and that was 20 years ago so go find someone who knows what this stuff is worth. Maybe contact the nearest symphony orchestra and see who maintains the players instruments and see if they know who might be interested in the collection. Good luck!
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Old February 03, 2019, 16:12   #26
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I could use a banjo
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Old February 03, 2019, 19:27   #27
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I have thought often of getting a clarinet or an obo, got one of those?
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Old February 03, 2019, 20:02   #28
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Be sure and have the Martin's examined by a knowledgeable person as they may be worth considerable dollars. The European violins can be worth $1k each if high quality instruments.....
Good points! Also, most pre-WWII Gibson mandolins (particularly "F" models but also "A" models) command a premium price. The same holds true for pre-war Gibson banjos. I've been out of touch with those markets for years, but a lot of the Paramounts, S.S. Stewarts, Orpheums, and the like often did not command high dollars (that may have changed, though). Often the instruments that did command the best prices were ones that current musicians want to PLAY, not just collect. Old Vega Tubaphones and Whyte Ladies fall into the category of highly desirable pre-war banjos, particularly for clawhammer banjo players.

Again, good luck with disposing of the collection, and please post what you end up getting for some of the primo pieces.
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Old February 03, 2019, 20:16   #29
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reverb.com is a good site to sell music equipment as well.
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Old February 06, 2019, 08:41   #30
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Put a notice on Marketplace for trade. Maybe some local FALaholic(s) might swap you FALs and other guns for instrument(s).

I heard lots of boys from Alabama like to travel with a banjo on their knee. I'm sure they get damaged and need replacing from time to time.

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Old February 06, 2019, 08:47   #31
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Where are they being stored? My brother is a Luthier in LA. He's made lots of Ukes.

His website sucks. http://ballonacreeklutherie.com/
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Old February 07, 2019, 10:02   #32
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While the owner played them all his main interest was banjo's. The list of banjo's includes: Paramount's, Vegas, Orpheum's, SS Stewart's and some other odds and ends such as Robinson's. The Mandolin's are Gibson's. The banjo Ukes are SS Stewarts and Orpheum. The guitar's are odd's and ends mainly older lesser value brands. There are a couple of CF Martin's, such as HD 35's and a Shenandoh. The Ukelele's are Martin's. The violins are mostly mid 1800's European copies of Stradivarius. Countries like Germany, Czeck and France. There are a couple of 1890's HB Conservatory violins as well. Not much value there just nice old violin's. The zithers are 1800's American made and one Bavarian concert zither. Again not a lot of value there. Same for the dulcimer's which are American made 1800's vintage. Not a super great collection and certainly not worth a huge sum of money but some decent quality old instruments that others would enjoy.
Well one of my other hangups is accumulating musical crap

Some points:

Banjo Ukes don't have much following in America
they are quite popular in the UK

Anything Martin is money

The Strad marked violins are likely all Sear & Roebuck specials imported from Europe years ago

Banjos vary widely

Big thing on this is condition
everything needs to be examined closely, repaired where needed by a decent luthier who specializes in restoration
on banjos often you are looking at head replacement, bridges and strings of course too
Just depends on the state of preservation.

Sold maybe 6 banjo ukes inside the UK
all were well under $50 each when I purchased them and generally took another $70+ worth of professional work
some went around $350, had a couple run up well over a grand.
Stateside though they remain dirt cheap

Some Banjos can run crazy money but to get that cash out of them you may have to consign to a specialty shop in Nashville
Same with the Mandolins

Educational grade violins can be had reasonable
probably what you are referring to as Conservatory
Snag those at yard sales and local auctions, bought a few for like a ten spot in mint condition

Woodwinds and Brass often can be had retardedly cheap
like Violins folks buy them for the kids Band practice and after graduation they are never touched again
I snag these up, usually sell them cheap to parents so they can avoid the usual rip off that having a kid in Band often is.
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Old February 07, 2019, 19:35   #33
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Sorry I haven't replied but I been fighting an awful chest cold and lost.

Sagerider: Sorry nothing but stringed instruments.

Ouroboros: Thank you for the link that looks like something I need to check into further.


Arby: He had a nice collection of Gibson banjo's for years. When he got ready to buy his retirement home he didn't have all the money and refused to finance any of it. So he sold the really good Gibsons to come up with the full price of the home.


Mark: They are in Western NY.


Riversidesidesports: He was very particular about most of them. When he purchased banjo's, mandolins, ukes, guitars, the better quality violins etc., he would have them repaired if they needed it. I know he sent a Martin guitar back to the Martin company just to be polished one time.
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Old February 07, 2019, 20:17   #34
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He had a nice collection of Gibson banjo's for years.......he sold the really good Gibsons..........
Then check out the Gibson mandolins. Most of the pre-war Gibson mandolins are highly desirable. You might have some really fine pieces, worth a lot to musicians and collectors.

Good luck!
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