Colorless writings, part 18 – Buyer’s market

So scratching more area of collector’s world?

In part, yes. As some of you may already know, i do buy a lot of factory made pedals. As both new and used. I do trade a lot too, but let’s just focus on the buying part today. Why i named today’s writing as “buyer’s market” is a part of that. As with economy of supply and demand, there are pedals that are cheap and there are pedals that are not. As a collector, to find the sweet spot in pricing versus quality is a walk on a tightrope. Some brands are cheap to begin with, while others, it will be an understatement to call them expensive. Both, and everything in between will lose a bit of their street value the second they are driven out of the  shop. Think of cars as a analogy. This analogy isn’t as far fetched as it might seem at first sight. You buy a Toyota, it will lose most of it’s value once you drive it off the shop. But. If you buy a Ferrari, the losses as percent are not as significant as with that Toyota. But you will drive that Toyota to the market, take your missus to work and it will offer you a lot of mileage before it turns into trash. For the Ferrari, you will only drive it a little to keep the value up. A Ferrari isn’t a tool. Now let’s look at the same thing with effects. I got perfect examples to offer for this thought. You buy a Digitech Tone Driver to boost your highs. It too will lose most of its value the second you take it out of the box. The losses aren’t as significant in percentage if you buy a *insert your top end boutique brand’s effect name here* as new and open that box up. But you will boost your highs with that Tone Driver in all the joints you can get yourself a gig. It will get its share of beer spills and its paint will chip from use, but it will keep boosting a long time before it turns to trash. For the high end boutique pedal, you will only use it a little and keep it out of harm’s way to keep its value up. That pedal isn’t that much of a tool as it is a status symbol.

Let’s face it. You really think 98% of the audience you’ll ever get will notice if you play with a Tone Driver or an overdrive that’s hottest hot at the guitar player forums? Or if they do, you are doning something else wrong that’s taking all the interest out of the music itself) Sure, the high end pedal will be a huge thing when you’re in studio, but is it really worth the money that gets you more than 20 Tone Drivers? Think about those questions for a second.

The examples above give you two separate viewpoints. First, the price vs. usability. Then, the price vs. collector’s value. For me, i always do everything in my power to find the ones that follow the middle of the road. As low price as possible with as high collector’s value as possible. This means that i’m partially stuck with lower end brands (my enthusiasm with the electronic design and the learning aspect do play a big part too). But then again. What’s wrong with these lower brand name boxes? No that much. There are some serious gems in that range which may never gain the recognition they would deserve. The title of this writing goes deeper in to this. The number of Marshall BB-2 Bluesbreaker IIs manufactured vs. their price on the used market is a good example. I think i can safely say that for at least next twenty years there will always be more used and new units available than there is a demand for them. Which translates to Bluesbreaker IIs selling for ~25 €/£/$. That’s a lot of weight in metal and electronics for the price. And it is, in fact, a whole lot better device than the price would let you believe.

These are the units that will be on the good purchase side of things for a long time. That 20 years will pass, but since there isn’t anything resembling a scarcity for these units in sight even then, these will not ever become highly collectable. As another example, let’s take the Danelectro Cool Cat series. The most common ones can still be found as new and for cheap. But there are units like CTO-1 and CO-1 which were manufactured for a short period of time and sold for peanuts when they were released. I’m still missing the CO-1 from my collection at the time of the writing. This pedal should be easy to find and it should sell for cheap. But it isn’t and it doesn’t. Without taking any stance on the electronics inside, the Danelectro Cool Cat series is already a collectable series. Launced in late 00’s and i’m under impression the tese aren’t made anymore. At least none of the big european resellers have any the these on their lists. That’s a way to create a series that isn’t praised on its release, but just five years later will become understood and wanted. For the most of Cool Cat series pedals it is still a buyer’s market. Especially for the units that have their sounds right. Lower end Ibanezes (5 and 7 series) are another good example of low price vs. collectability. 5-series will enter the “vintage” status soon, when the magical 30 years of age creeps on them. The 7-series is still cheap to acquire and the quality of these units will keep their value where it is now, or possibly even take it on the rise in following decades. All these are common and it’s a buyer’s market for all of them. There may be a few units that are more rare, but still. You should have to pay real big money for any of these. It may be just my opinion, but these factory made units are usually higher in build quality and design than many high end brands. These higher end brands do hold their value better, but then again.. Do they sound all that much better? Or is it just that we want to look like we know something that others don’t?

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