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Thread: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

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    Default Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    I have been thinking about the fact that people pay to have an instrument distressed.

    Let's say I have a Gibson mandolin that is a couple of years old and has a some dings and scratches. This will make it lower in value the same instrument in "minty" condition. Could I bring the value of my mandolin up by distressing it? Would I have to have it professionally distressed? What type of instrument can have its value increased by distressing and what type cannot.

    I have no opinions about distressing instruments or the people who pay for it. (Anyone who pays significantly extra to have a curled chunk of wood attached to his instrument cannot judge others' tastes or spending choices.) I am just curious about the economics of distressing.
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    Registered User Kerry Krishna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Oh boy. I can hardly wait to read this! Jonz, maybe someone can straighten me out on this, but I think I have read on this Forum that at the Gibson factory the distressed mandolins that sell for the much bigger bucks are done for no other reason than they were damaged on the factory floor. IF that's the case, then there would be some kinda argument for this. I'm sure someone will pop in and correct me if I'm wrong about that. There are certainly dozens of YOUTUBE vids dealing with everything from aging the metal parts (what chemicals eat chrome VS nickle) to how to vera quickly heat up your mando, then freeze it to shatter the lacquer, to wearing the wood edges (best idea for this I would think, is to have several really old axes handy to try and duplicate the wear/dings smacks/scratches) . There was a brand new high end guitar at last years NAMM that had been distressed, and although the owners did sell it afterwards, it had a more folks laughing at it, than playing it, all saying how unnecessary it was to do it. I posted a thread on this Forum a while back about the book "The Violin Builder" , and I mention one quite odd thing about this hyper expensive 30K violin. The last thing that happens to the violin is, after it is 100% finished, the Luthier calls the buyer to tell him it's ready, and asks him if he wants it 'aged'. Owner says yes, and out comes the sandpaper, scrappers, tiny screwdrivers, and it gets done in an eight hour period! After that, the mando looks like it is a few hundred years old. Violin players with Symphonies all over the world apparently regard new looking fiddles as quite possibly inferior sounding, so the 'aging' thing is widely done to new instruments. Different instruments, different attitudes.
    Last edited by Kerry Krishna; Jan-06-2011 at 9:49pm.

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    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    I think I have read on this Forum that at the Gibson factory the distressed mandolins that sell for the much bigger bucks are done for no other reason than they were damaged on the factory floor.
    Kerry, Big Joe, who worked at Gibson (and no longer does) never made that claim, ever.

    Jonz, I don't think you're distressing it other than through good use will increase your getting price. Rather, I think you will decrease it. Seriously, the people who do successful cosmetic distressing spend a lot of time mastering their techniques to get a good authentic look.

    Now you could just give it a Wakefield treatment and fill the body with milk and bake the instrument... But I'm still not buying your used distressed mandolin.

    Jamie
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Here's a lengthy, contentious, informative, and finally "locked down" thread on the subject of distressing.

    Doubt it should be a DIY project -- other than what I'm doing every day to my mandolins, by taking them out and playing them.
    Allen Hopkins
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    Registered User roscoestring's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    I've built a few guitars and have been asked to distress them. One guy wanted me to build him a 4 stringer that he could play with a slide. He wanted it to look like it was old and had been refinished several times over the years. And then just cleared over at the end. I guess I came close to doing what he asked because he bought it. He seemed happy with it. I have never liked distressed instruments unless they were done naturally over years of playing them. However, with folks asking me to build them this way I am learning to like them a little more. And for sure its easier to finish a distressed instrument than to finish one that's flawless. Here's a pic of the 4 stringer. Oh, and another thing - he wanted something built along the lines of a cigar box guitar w/o the cigar box. I used a coat hanger's wire to make the frets.


  6. #6

    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    I would guess you would CUT its value in half or more. Possibly way more.
    Bill Snyder

  7. #7

    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    One reason I can see for aging orchestral instruments, like violins, is that there tend to be a lot of old ones in orchestras. So if yours is bright and shiny, it will stand out like a gold tooth. It is not at all controversial, as aging or distressing seems to be among some mandolin players. Like I said, almost all of us pay for some visual aesthetics on our instruments. So who is to judge?

    I'm only interested in the economics, so please let's not get off on the merits of distressing, or any other such contentious topics. To each his own.
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    Registered User Kerry Krishna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Jamie, there is nowhere in my above post that I said a word about Big Joe. Why did you write that? So I was mistaken?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    The increased value would be that you no longer need to be afraid to play the liv'n tar out of it. ain't touch'n the other stuff.
    mandolinosoarus rex

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    Luthierus Amateurius crazymandolinist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    My guess is that if it was distressed by Gibson from the get go, price goes up, if it's a newish Gibson instrument and you distress it or have someone distress it, price goes down considerably, or maybe not. I really don't know. What I do know is that we are talking about a musical instrument here, so play the darn thing and don't worry about resale value, that's for people who don't care about their instruments. Best way to go about this is to play it as hard as you want, before too long it'll look like a well played in mandolin, and someone will want it. It's already a Gibson, so no need to worry about the desirability of it. And besides, by then you may never want to let it go because it just feels soooooooo good.
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Gibson NEVER distressed mandolins that were damaged on the factory floor. First, they never hit the floor. Second, they were the best of the best and completely finished before being distressed. If they were not the best they were not considered. When you are talking Master Models, it was a very fine line from best to average for that model. The distressing was done for a purpose and not to hide any damage from the floor or anywhere else.

    Distressing was more expensive on those instruments because it is a LOT of labor and time to distress a mandolin properly. The increased costs resulted in increased pricing. In addition, they were tonally above anything else comparable and were valued as such. They are extremely limited in numbers, and as such, will bring more. In time, I believe they will become quite valuable, as all the Derrington/ Roberts era MM's will. The rarity of the model and the quality will bring these to the top as time goes on.

    Distressing does not automatically increase the value of an instrument. On a new instrument the builder has the option and need to increase the price to cover the cost of the distressing. It is cool to have one that looks, feels, and sounds like a vintage instrument. However, if the instrument is not distressed right, is not high quality, or does not sound right, then its value is certainly not enhanced. In most cases the value may well be deterred to some degree than the same instrument not distressed.

    It is harder to take a builder who does not have a long history in building and make a credible instrument that would represent a vintage instrument simply because they were not in existence in the era they are trying to model. You can build a "clone" of a maker who was and may increase value to some extent if done very carefully. Many Fender clones that are distressed... if done right... will be more valuable than a pristine model of the same maker.

    Distressing is not an easy task, and some finishes do NOT distress well or accurately. Knowing which ones will or will not is vital to the end result. Once you begin a process like this you are making alterations that can not be undone. In addition, if they distressing is done in a manner that is unnatural then you are certainly going to devalue the instrument and possibly quite substantially. You have to know what you can do and what you cannot to achieve the results you wish. If done properly, it can look very cool and help improve the tone as well. However, if done wrong, it can ruin a valuable instrument.

    I do not recommend distressing most instruments. We do distressing in our shop, but we are careful about accepting an instrument for that work, and once it is determined we will undertake the job we make very sure the customer understands that what they get is what they get and much of it cannot be undone. We have never had a complaint from a customer on our distressing, but I attribute that to clear communication out front and careful selection of the projects we undertake. In every case the owner was very pleased with the results and improvement in tone.

    I do not recommend doing this as a do it yourself project. It is not an easy task and you can easily destroy an instrument. The techniques used to achieve the job are not readily available to do the job correctly, and most are not likely to share that information with you because they don't want amateurs ruining their instruments. This is a case where experience does pay off, and you are better off keeping it as is if you don't want to have it professionally done. Some jobs can be tackled by the owners and they can do them quite well if they have some basic skills and the tools or materials to do the job properly. However, this is one task that should probably not be undertaken by the owner.

    All that being said, it is YOUR mandolin and you can do whatever you chose. You just want to understand that doing it as a do it yourself project will probably cost you more than having it done professionally. Doing it right is not cheap, but doing it wrong is terribly expensive!!! This is not a job to be undertaken without sufficient consideration and forethought.
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    Registered User fscotte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Distressing the wood makes them more expensive cause it makes them sound old. Trust me. If you play an old looking instrument it will sound old to you versus playing a brand new shiny one. You'll be able to hear that old pre-war tone that eludes so many makers.

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    MandoChondriac adlerburg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Joe View Post
    I do not recommend distressing most instruments. We do distressing in our shop, but we are careful about accepting an instrument for that work, and once it is determined we will undertake the job we make very sure the customer understands that what they get is what they get and much of it cannot be undone. We have never had a complaint from a customer on our distressing, but I attribute that to clear communication out front and careful selection of the projects we undertake. In every case the owner was very pleased with the results and improvement in tone.
    Joe, I would think that distressing an instrument (which I would never consider, but that's me) would be purely cosmetic. Please expand on how it would have any effect on tone. Thanks...
    -Mick

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    Work in Progress Ed Goist's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    I've threatened mandolins by telling them that I planned on leaving them down the road for more expensive mandolins.
    I am sure this distressed them, but it didn't seem to have increased their value.
    c.1965 Harmony Monterey H410 Mandolin
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    MandoChondriac adlerburg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Quote Originally Posted by fscotte View Post
    Distressing the wood makes them more expensive cause it makes them sound old. Trust me. If you play an old looking instrument it will sound old to you versus playing a brand new shiny one. You'll be able to hear that old pre-war tone that eludes so many makers.
    You're kidding.. yes?
    Last edited by adlerburg; Jan-07-2011 at 9:52am.

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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    alderburg,
    Not necessarily, check out this thread I started a couple of months ago: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...355#post858355
    It doesn't answer the question of the sound actually changing or we just think it does. I've watched the video several times and it still works. Our brains are complicated.

    Jonz,
    I think it would de-value the instrument considerably. Then, I'm not a fan of distressed instruments, and don't believe it helps the sound in any way.

  17. #17
    Registered User Kerry Krishna's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Thanks for clearing that up Joe. Now we know...

  18. #18

    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Always glad to help, ...or not...

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    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Kerry, I said Big Joe in my post because he was a defacto Gibson representative here and spoke frequently about their distressing techniques, how instruments were selected for it and the results while he was employed with Gibson.

    Jamie
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    You don't have to worry about me distressing my mandolin except through time and use. It was just a hypothetical question.
    Last edited by JonZ; Jan-07-2011 at 5:19pm.
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    My guess is that you might or might not increase the value of yours if you distress it... But more importantly you will almost certainly increase the value of other owners of the same model mando who do not distress theirs..
    Bart McNeil

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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    If you really want to increase the value of you mandolin I would recommend recording a hit record with it. Actually, the more hits the better. Good luck with that.
    Byrd
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    Moderator JEStanek's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Byrd, you don't post often but you make great points.

    Jamie
    There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second. Logan Pearsall Smith, 1865 - 1946

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    Registered User mandowilli's Avatar
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    Default Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Lot's of opinions, here is some data.

    I recently sold a mandolin in the cafe classifieds that I bought brand new in 1996 and spent the next 14 years distressing. I did a good job on it but it was still a solid, structurally sound instrument. I advertised it as "distressed by me" and sold it for 83% of the original purchase price.

    There was a lot of interest in it and I think I could have done a little better but the buyer was the right guy in the end.
    willi

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    M@d| - M@dce|| Keith Erickson's Avatar
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    Question Re: Can I Increase the Value of My Used Mando by Distressing It?

    Please forgive me for asking....

    .....how exactly do you go about distressing a mandolin or any instrument? What exactly goes into the process?
    Keith Erickson
    Benevolent Organizer of The Mandocello Enthusiast

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