A vintage guitar is an older guitar usually sought after and maintained by avid collectors or musicians. While any guitar of sufficient age can be considered a vintage instrument, the term is typically applied to guitars either known for their sound quality or rarity.
As early as the 1970s, musicians and collectors began to recognize the value of older instruments. The mass production of both acoustic and electric guitars in that era served to highlight the quality workmanship and materials of the older instruments. Historians, such as George Gruhn, helped to codify both the monetary value and sound quality of these guitars for both collectors and musicians.
Examples of well-known vintage electric guitars are 1950s and 1960s era Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster and Gibson Les Paul. Although less well-known and not as financially valuable, older electric guitars under the names of Harmony, Danelectro or Kay are becoming increasingly collectible.
Values of vintage guitars have risen considerable in the past 30 years, and are considered by some as a stable investment. While the average value of these instruments has risen and fallen roughly equivalent to other more traditional areas of investment, particular models of guitars have seen very steep increases in value. For instance, 1959 Gibson Les Pauls which may have sold in the early 1970s for less than a thousand dollars are valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Early Martin acoustic guitars, especially those known as pre-war models (prior to the Second World War), can realize values in the tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.