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Thread: Not all Collings hold their value

  1. #1

    Default Not all Collings hold their value

    I hope this message does not get deleted, so we can have transparency.
    I bought a Collings from a dealer.
    I paid a little over $6000 for it.
    I am lucky a half year later to get $4500 for it.
    So, anyone who thinks that one can buy these new and later turn it around for anywhere close to what they paid for it, should beware.
    Best to buy used, if you are not sure if you are able to hold on to it.

    Maybe years from now, it would be reasonable to sell it.

    I just thought I would pass on this experience to others.

    I am not saying not to buy Collings, because they are great. But if it is one of the expensive ones, be careful.

  2. #2
    Chu Dat Frawg Eric C.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    What mandolins DO hold their value? Or rather, what "anything" holds its value?
    Kentucky KM950 and loving it.

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    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    The general consensus from a value standpoint has been to buy used. The only argument for buying new is if you want to put the first scratches on it and you want the manufacturer/builder warranty. Beyond that, it is much like buying any big ticket item, the original owner gets the greatest depreciation. With some items or instruments that may level off or the market may bear price increases on new that help to maintain or elevate your original purchase value, but that is an exception, particularly with shop built instruments rather than individual luthiers.

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    Registered User flatpicknut's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    I think you WERE lucky to get $4500. I've seen suggestions that a used mandolin will generally be 70% of the price of the new instrument, with some leeway due to wear and tear as well as desirability of a particular instrument or maker. Anytime I see used instruments, I do that calculation and it seems to fit pretty well, from low-priced Eastmans and Kentuckys up to higher priced instruments. From that rule of thumb, a $6k instrument should go for about $4200 used.

    Folks who talk about buying and getting close to their original cost are usually talking about buying used instruments.
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  6. #5

    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    on the other hand, i see 5-10 year old MTs being posted in the classifieds all the time for ~90% of their original MSRP at the time of purchase.

  7. #6
    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    This isn't a new phenomena or even a new subject. It's been a reoccurring discussion here for years and has nothing to do with who made the mandolin or for that matter, mandolins at all. Buy a new car and try to get the same as you paid for it a few years later. You won't. The best advice I could give anyone is that you shouldn't buy musical instruments as an investment. Very few will appreciate in value, very few will hold that value and most will give up a big chunk of their value quickly. There are always exceptions. I don't know who told you it would hold it's value but obviously they were wrong.

    I'll also note that the term "hold their value" is pretty wide open to interpretation. A better question to ask when buying a new mandolin you might have to sell would be "How much have <insert brand and model here> been selling for used?
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  9. #7
    Registered User Buck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    Quote Originally Posted by ABmando View Post
    ...So, anyone who thinks that one can buy these new and later turn it around for anywhere close to what they paid for it, should beware...
    That's true for nearly all regular production instruments. By that I mean models that are currently in production by well known manufacturers, large or small. There are outliers, such as limited edition models, but the exceptions are rare. Neither does it apply to individual luthiers. I can think of some highly regarded builders where the used price exceeds the new price, but again, that is rare.

    When I think "hold value" in terms of modern production instruments, I think of instruments where the used price (assumed to be lower than new) tracks with the new price. So if the new price goes up 10%, so does the used price. I always expect the used price on very recent examples to be lower than new. With some brands it's a lot lower, some not as much.

    I tell people if you're buying instrument as investments, you need financial counseling. If you're buying new instruments as investments, you need to stop drinking. That's not intended to trivialize your situation, but to demonstrate the magnitude of the negative outcome.
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  10. #8

    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    The thing that people forget is that it is easier to buy than sell. That said, selling something in a relatively short period of time always yields the biggest loss. Especially if you consistently lower the price in your listing. People then anticipate a “backwards auction“.

    I’ve never had an issue selling or trading a Collings mandolin. But I never expect to get what I paid. 70% of new value is reasonable, so at $6k, $4,200 is reasonable. A dealer might get a bit more, depending on the dealer. However options like a wide nut reduce the pool of buyers, so your mileage may vary, depending on the options.

    Lots of variables will affect a sale, especially the stop and go ads (put an ad up, take it down), different prices on multiple ads, etc. all of these things will put prospective buyers off an instrument. This is why I consign my instruments or trade them in. It just saves all the frustration of dealing with buyers. I’ve consigned many Collings mandolins over the last ten years at TME and they all sold within two weeks for what I was asking. And yes, they were all fairly expensive.
    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

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  12. #9
    Registered User doc holiday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    ABmando, As has been stated, this is no surprise and is certainly not limited to or a reflection of the quality of Collings. It is though, a statement about supply and demand. There are currently a lot of mandolins on the market at all price points. When Gilchrist mandolins were being ordered new for under $10k, but there were none to be had, they disappeared quickly at a much higher price whenever they came on the market. A new mandolin is like a new car you just drive off the lot.

  13. #10
    Hack jeff_75's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    Quote Originally Posted by ABmando View Post
    I hope this message does not get deleted, so we can have transparency.
    I bought a mandolin from a dealer.
    I paid a little over $6000 for it.
    I am lucky a half year later to get $4500 for it.
    So, anyone who thinks that one can buy these new and later turn it around for anywhere close to what they paid for it, should beware.
    Best to buy used, if you are not sure if you are able to hold on to it.

    Maybe years from now, it would be reasonable to sell it.

    I just thought I would pass on this experience to others.

    I am not saying not to buy mandolins, because they are great. But if it is one of the expensive ones, be careful.
    Fixed it!

    "I'm a farmer with a mandolin and a high tenor voice."

  14. #11
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    This has been hitting the used guitar market as well. As us aging boomers are downsizing, retiring, financing hip surgery, etc. there is a glut of good quality used instruments on the market. The supply is currently rising faster than the demand. Also, one of the first things to take a hit when the economy slows is the discretionary "investment."

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  16. #12
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    I've watched the classified for years now. Based on that, I have a couple opinions on the used market:

    High end models rarely hold their value. Collings MT's don't seem to suffer the 25+% instant depreciation that a MT2 suffers from buying new. The only MT2's that disappear fast in the used market are priced in the range of new MT models.

    Upgrades [varnish, special wood, waverlies] are options that only add value for the initial purchaser. Buy them because you want them on the mandolin you bought new, they are a horrible investment strategy.

    There are times of the year when the market is flooded [tax time in particular]. If you want to sell, you may have to wait quite a while to get your asking price - especially for higher cost mandolins. Some of those seem to remain available a VERY long time.

    As the available varieties and makers of mandolins gets more diverse and more variety in wood, finish, and style offered - buying new with the thought that you can recoup value depends highly on choosing the most popular model, wood, finish, and add-ons. I like blonde mandolins, any used/online non-blonde mandolin needs to be cheaper or somehow stick out to keep my attention.

    Once you get above $4k or so, I think travelling to a major shop becomes fairly common. I have been surprised recently at the number of higher end Collings/etc being sold on consignment/ used from the more prominent mandolin shops - I’m guessing taking a loss to get it sold. When I thought I had a $5k budget, it would have taken one hell of a deal to make me buy used online.

    There’s a lot of buyer risk involved, even with a marketplace as good as Mandolin Cafe. More than a couple thousand sent on trust to a random stranger on the internet is nothing to scoff at.

    Overall, it's a buyers market and likely to remain one for quite a long time.

    -

    I have been shopping Collings mandolins and am in the process of purchasing one. When I have compared the available used MT2's against the new torrified MT2 at a local shop, everything above it's $4100 purchase price I disregarded as without saving anything as there are few upgrades that make it worth the risk, hassle, and expense of test-driving a different MT2 when there's one that sounds nice and is my preferred finish that I played a half dozen times.

    I love that torrified MT2, but I also like the $1000+ I'm saving vs. buying new. If it gets me 95% of the joy at 70% of the price and I have enough to left to buy a sweet parlour guitar - I'm guessing I'll end up happier with mandolin + guitar.

    Unless you love that particular mandolin and are set on keeping it, it makes little sense IMO to buy new. Especially with the very active and stocked used market on this site, as well as the fact that baby boomers are retiring and many of them built up quite a stable of mandolins over the years.

    Just my opinion.
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  18. #13
    Pittsburgh Bill
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    $4500 sounds reasonable to me. I would never pay more than 75% of new price for a previously owned instrument. For the other 25% I'll buy new.
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  20. #14
    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    Why would anyone buy used if they can buy a new one for the same price???

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  22. #15
    Registered User Tom Sanderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus View Post
    High end models rarely hold their value.
    It all depends on Supply and demand, and buying the right one. I sold 2 mandolins for over 5 times the price I paid new.

  23. #16
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    I would encourage as many people as possible to purchase High end mandolins from dealers and to resell them for 70% of the paid value after a year or two on the Cafe. Particularly a Pava F5 or an Ellis A. Then let me know...
    Reasons to buy new:
    1. They are shiny
    2. You can boast how much you paid at the jam.
    3. You don't have to deal with anyone's cooties.
    4. You can get exactly what you want, even if you don't know what that is.
    5. They smell better.
    6. It encourages builders to make more.

  24. #17

    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    What you get with a Collings is the ability to sell it much quicker than that Ajax no one has heard of. As for buying new, There are four or 5 Collings F styles, from an MF up to the real fancy one, and everything in between right now at Gryphon. Buying new you get exactly the finish you want at the price point you want. If you keep your instruments for a long time, that may be worth it to you.

    Otherwise buy used, accept you may settle for a common burst finish, reap the savings and be happy. The other factor is a buyer having cash. I have been almost embarrassed by some of my offers. I just say, hey, that's all the money I have. Not trying to lowball you. Don"t feel the need to respond.

    X amount of people can come up with $1K, Y amount can spend $2K, Z can spend $5K. What percent can spend $20K? So I don't know about you all, I'm retired living in a very expensive city. If I really wanted to, I could spend $4500 on a mandolin, well $10K but it wouldn't be prudent, but it would have to be a deal. Meanwhile I'm playing something I built that is very close to that $4500 Collings. Louder for sure. So every time you add a thousand you lose more from the buying pool. Selling as an individual, you need to compete with the established dealers too. As a buyer I'm happy with splitting the difference between what a dealer would offer and what they would sell for.
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  25. #18

    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    On my local kijiji (Canada's Craig's List) I regularly see listings for instruments where people want their money back plus taxes. It is usually on a cheap Epiphone or Fender. Or, just as often, they ask for the retail price and point out that it is just like buying new but you save the taxes. Crazy.

    I have bought a lot of instruments used, but almost as many new. What I like about buying new is that in addition to the consumer protections you get from dealing with a reputable retailer, you are supporting a local business. Even if it is a chain, you want that chain in your town, right?

    Also, the way I look at it is: what you 'lose' in value you actually recover in other ways. It was like you rented the instrument, got to use it, enjoyed it, learned something about that make/model, etc. I mean, why would someone expect to own something for a year for free?

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  27. #19
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    You would probably get the same $4500 5 years from now. or even 10 years from now. Now that is holding value.

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  29. #20

    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    There is a reason people watch the classifieds relentlessly. That is to find an instrument they want that is at a price point where they can get most of the money back or even make money if you really know the market and have good timing. That is pretty much not possible new. (Obviously) If you get a good price on a used Collings you can usually get your money back out of it...

    I think the reason to buy new is if you find an instrument you have to have. Or you really want something from a particular builder. In that case you pay the premium, knowing once you drive it off the lot, you are going to immediately take a hit if you sell it.

    Sounds like you learned all this the hard way.

  30. #21
    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    Resale value has never been one of the criteria I use in considering buying an instrument -- well, perhaps in the most general sense: I don't want to buy an instrument that I can't resell, for whatever reason, assuming I don't trash it or it's not found to be stolen.

    If you buy a new anything, you generally don't expect that you can turn around the next day and resell it for what you paid for it. Perhaps if you hold on to it for years and years: I recently received $3K allowance on a trade-in, for a '57 Martin D-18 I paid $300 for 50 years ago. True story, and great guitar. But that's getting into the always-weird vintage market.

    Depreciation is one very important reason that "churning" your instrument collection, buying and trading and selling frequently, can frustrate the poop outa you. Almost all the dealers I've done business with, have sold both new and used instruments, and have been pretty darn up-front about the calculations they were making in setting prices and trade-in allowances. It's when you're dealing with Semi-Honest Jim's New & Used Cars, and they promise to allow you more than you paid for your trade-in, that you know some other price is being inflated to permit this "one-time crazy offer."

    Buying a new instrument, playing it for a year, and then selling it -- that's a pretty sure way to take a good "hit" of depreciation. Wait ten years, and will it be better? What'll Collings prices do over the next decade? If they skyrocket, they'll pull up the used market with them to some extent. My crystal ball's cloudy, so no advice here...
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  31. #22

    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    Wow - I did not expect so many responses so soon!
    It probably makes sense to just hang on to the mando. Afterall it is a great instrument, and why take such a hit on selling it used.

    The lesson for me is to try to buy used to begin with. I need to learn that lesson somehow.

    Thanks everyone for your responses.

  32. #23
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    I always look at instruments for their pro-rated cost/hr entertainment, if I think about the cost at all. Your Collings MT2, if sold today, cost you about $6/hr of entertainment if you played it 10 hrs/week X 25 weeks.

    That's not too bad. I know plenty of people who dropped much more than that for an evening's "entertainment" at the tables in Las Vegas... or what about Greens fees at a fancy golf resort? Last mandolin I sold cost me $0.25/hr of entertainment value (bought used), and the MT2 I bought new and sold 10 years later was pro-rated at about $0.50/hr. I have taken bigger hits on some instruments, but look at those as the cost of education.

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  34. #24
    Fatally Flawed willkamm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    I've had pretty decent success buying NOS. (New old stock.) Generally those are priced as if they are used. Plus you get the warranty. If I do end up selling, I barely take a hit at all.
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  35. #25
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    Default Re: Not all Collings hold their value

    I'm in the process of downsizing my instrument collection (long, boring story). Most of my instruments are generic, garden variety, nothing worth over $1,000. My selling strategy is to search the Internet for the same instruments and see what their typical asking price is. I quote these numbers in my craigslist ad and then I price my instrument at 50% of that number. I have been getting responses in under 24 hours and selling the instruments within 48 hours. Am I leaving some money on the table? Maybe a little, but I'm not haggling or being hassled. And I am clearing out space in the house!

    I just sold one of the infamous Rogue mandolins featuring one of my own awesome setups <grin>, with a nice gig bag, an unopened set of D'Addario strings and three picks for $30. I made a very nice guy happy. Win-win.

    Oh wait, my point being it is rare to own an instrument and sell it for what you paid for it, unless you did a really good job when you bought it.

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