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Vintage High end gear as investment?
Old 8th July 2017
  #1
Gear Head
Vintage High end gear as investment?

Hey guys,

yesterday I had an interesting discussion with a friend, who´s thinking about buying some vintage studio gear for investment. He claimed, that certain devices and instruments will always be rising in value and won´t have any inflation. When I look at the prices on ebay for let´s say a Gibson Les Paul, an original Roland Jupiter 8 or some devices of Focusrite´s vintage Red Line - just to mention a few – I think he could be right with his guesses.

Maybe it coud be an interesting issue form e, or others, too… What do you think?
Which instruments or studio gear can be considered as investment objects in general?
I know, there are many „fetish“-pieces out there, like the ones, mentioned above.

Which ones would you recommend me to buy?
What has to be especially considered when buying to get a good collectible?

Looking forward to hear your thoughts.
Old 8th July 2017
  #2
Lives for gear
I don't encourage gear to be taken out of the market to just sit in someones store room in the hope of it adding captial value.

Gear is for using, if you buy something to make music with and it goes up in value, well that's a nice added bonus.
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Old 8th July 2017
  #3
Gear Head
Don´t get me wrong, I´m actually making music and just like to buy the "right" things. And I will use them. I don´t appreciate great gear to be taken out of the market, too.
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Old 8th July 2017
  #4
Lives for gear
 
DarkSky Media's Avatar
We may not like it, but it's a reality that for everything of value, there are people who buy it for what we might consider the 'right' reasons, others who buy it 'for show' and others who buy it to sell for profit. Happens in many if not most valuable goods, in some form or another, so musical instruments and gear are merely part of a larger picture.

That aside, I think the problems in vintage gear as an investment are twofold.

One is that it's hard to predict which pieces are going to be highly sought after, and which are going to be regarded as 'just old junk' down the track a way. A lot of people have filled dumpsters with old failing gear in decades past that would bring them a mint now. Even gear that's going for a mint now may not continue to appreciate or be considered so desirable in 10, 20 or 50 years.

The other problem is that with use and with time gear (some types/designs/components more-so than others) deteriorates. Capacitors dry out, foam disintegrates, rubber perishes, plastics and paint hardens and crack etc, and suitable/authentic replacement parts and materials become unobtainable. Every repair and maintenance effort carries the risk of negatively impacting resale value. The more you use vintage gear, the more likely it is to be true.

The two things combined don't necessarily mean you won't be lucky and have some vintage gear that appreciates in value by the time you're ready to sell it. The opposite might also happen (the world moves on and no-one is interested and/or vital and irreplaceable components have crumbled to dust - etc etc).

It's for these reasons more than anything else that gear is at best a risky investment IMO. If it happens appreciate by the time you get to sell it, that's a bonus.

And - if it's gear that's really worth having, the bonus will probably be for your heirs, not for you.
Old 8th July 2017
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Based on 40+ years of pro sound work I recommend investing in high quality pro speaker systems: Meyer, D&B and KV2 are three of my go to favorite brands. I also know stellar investment in a carefully selected mic locker will provide useful service and stand the test of time.
All processing is far more likely to become obsolete and financially problematic. When the secondary market dies the best bet is to donate yeaterdays boutique gear for a tax deduction. Unfortunately I have recently donated to a small local church a 24 channel Gl2800 console, and several SKB cases full of hard wear. I gave my 14 year old grandson the QU16 that was my initial excursion into the digital processing world. I have a dormant UA 4-710d & ADL600 with a UFX interface that was my studio go to before I crossed over to a Digigrid/Waves LV1 system that provides super sonic quality and handles studio and live concert work with ease.
The KV2 ES FOH stacks and EX10 wedges I bought 12 years ago, along with 4 of John Peluso's finest mics and several of Audio Technica's best mics including a 4060 with a mullard NOS tube, are functioning today as well as they were when purchased. I also still occasionally use the RE20s that were acquired in the 70s.
Bottom line put your serious $ into speakers and mics and use great caution in chasing the fast moving technology in audio processing.
Hugh
Old 8th July 2017
  #6
Lives for gear
 
dbjp's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
Based on 40+ years of pro sound work I recommend investing in high quality pro speaker systems: Meyer, D&B and KV2 are three of my go to favorite brands. I also know stellar investment in a carefully selected mic locker will provide useful service and stand the test of time.
All processing is far more likely to become obsolete and financially problematic. When the secondary market dies the best bet is to donate yeaterdays boutique gear for a tax deduction. Unfortunately I have recently donated to a small local church a 24 channel Gl2800 console, and several SKB cases full of hard wear. I gave my 14 year old grandson the QU16 that was my initial excursion into the digital processing world. I have a dormant UA 4-710d & ADL600 with a UFX interface that was my studio go to before I crossed over to a Digigrid/Waves LV1 system that provides super sonic quality and handles studio and live concert work with ease.
The KV2 ES FOH stacks and EX10 wedges I bought 12 years ago, along with 4 of John Peluso's finest mics and several of Audio Technica's best mics including a 4060 with a mullard NOS tube, are functioning today as well as they were when purchased. I also still occasionally use the RE20s that were acquired in the 70s.
Bottom line put your serious $ into speakers and mics and use great caution in chasing the fast moving technology in audio processing.
Hugh
When have speakers ever appreciated in value?
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Old 8th July 2017
  #7
Lives for gear
 

If you had purchased the gear in the 80's through to even the very
early 2000's it would have made sense to 'invest', but that ship sailed..
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Old 8th July 2017
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
Much better to enter the stock market with Apple stock or head into investment with companies developing driverless cars.

Only certain select vintage pieces show appreciation in price.
With the worldwide contraction in the recording business, one also has less customers for the vintage "gems."

Only when a sale is made can current value be set.
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Old 8th July 2017
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Showcase's Avatar
 

All my equipment is from the 80´s or earlier it was never improved since imo hehe
Old 8th July 2017
  #10
You can't go wrong with classic microphones and high end speakers, but you'll have to figure out for yourself what is going to be truly rare or valuable in many years time, and that is impossible.
Old 8th July 2017
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Oldone's Avatar
I would say the premise is not universally true but it still can be depending how patient and market savvy you are about gear.

The facts standing against this are that the home mixing market, on the bell curve of adoption, is probably just past it's peak. For many years the people pool who record live musicians has been getting smaller. The EDM type musician and mixer pool has probably peaked at this point driven by the desire to be Deadmau. If you had started say back in 2000 or earlier, the opportunity to buy gear for a reasonable price and see it double in value was definitely there. Another factor is that many people who would once buy outboard gear and high end mics have been moving to hybrid mixing to eliminate or reduce the investment in mixing consoles and outboard.

Once that article in the Wall Street Journal came out about 7 years ago about the investment opportunities in pro audio gear, it was pretty much game over. This spiked the price of a lot of older gear and especially microphones. A U47 could be had for $8k went up to over $10k. U67s went from $3-4k up to $8-9k. The Fairchild compressors were available for $15k and are now up to $60k and I've seen some over $100k now. I think from this point on, (add the baby boomer retirement thing in there, the guys who love to drive up the prices on all things, I know, I'm one of them) and you get a perfect storm for market decline. IF you have a lot of money to get hold of the truly rare things like Telefunken Elam 251 or Fairchilds, the things are so overpriced at this point with a reduction of available buyers that it's kind of like that tulip market bubble in the 1800s.

So less and less people of your target market want the old gear (well they want it but it will be too expensive for most) which will make moving it in the future harder and riskier.

That said, there are still opportunities to make back at least what you invest and maybe 10-20% more. Great if you are moving gear all the time, just OK as an investment if you hold on to it for years your return over time gets less. Also, against a host of other things, like real estate or stocks or offshore investments it's just an OK investment. 10 years ago, yeah for sure it was an incredible investment. Today, much riskier.

Also, investing in speakers systems is a sure recipe for disaster. The best speaker systems used in making classic albums of the past can be found for under $500 in a lot of places.
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Old 8th July 2017
  #12
Lives for gear
 
voodoo4u's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plush View Post
Much better to enter the stock market with Apple stock or head into investment with companies developing driverless cars.

Only certain select vintage pieces show appreciation in price.
With the worldwide contraction in the recording business, one also has less customers for the vintage "gems."

Only when a sale is made can current value be set.
Plush, you and I don't seem to agree on much and here's another example. I don't see a worldwide contraction in the recording business. High end studios are disappearing at a fast rate, that's true, but the rise of the home studio has seen a huge explosion. Both in numbers and quality. The value of high end classic pieces like U47's C-12s and 1073's has never been higher, even old tube mixers ribbon mics from the 40's seem to be at record prices and I think a good number of these pieces are finding their way into high end home studios.

I've made more money from real estate and Tesla stock than I could ever hope to make from studio gear, but I have no fear that classic gear I've bought along the way will continue to at least hold its value and then some even for years to come. There will always be demand for the best of anything that's a combination of "useful" technology and art as long as they don't become entirely obsolete.
Old 8th July 2017
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Plush's Avatar
Oh well.

<SNIP - you know the rules!!!>

Last edited by psycho_monkey; 9th July 2017 at 02:30 PM..
Old 8th July 2017
  #14
I think you missed the boat on that. Prices are fairly stable and as emulations get better they'll be less demand. You are starting to get issues getting reliable valves like 701s these days so it gets riskier. I love old gear its amazing but it's not classic car land. Also easy to get stung. I suspect there are lots of people who got 414EB "brass capsule" only to find out it was a later nylon one or their Neumann vintage MIC 701 is knacked and when they got a "new" one it wasn't very good etc etc. I also think gear sells for less than typically advertised, I tried to sell a few classics last year 33609 33135 etc only got joke offers after a few months. I know they aren't "classic" classics but they're still not tat. I don't think you'll loose much but it's not the way to make a lot of money. Some super classics will always get a price but the average stuff like I just mentioned I don't see it,
Old 8th July 2017
  #15
the economy isn't stable though, no matter how bullet proof it looks, any empire can crumble, always remember that when you think about 'investments'
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Old 8th July 2017
  #16
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
In 1999, the NASDAQ had been going nuts for several years. Pundits told me it could NOT go down. I invested. I lost a LOT of money.

In 2007, Real Estate in the US had been on a record run. People told me that there was only so much real estate, and that it could never go down. I invested in a couple of properties. I lost a lot of money. 10 years later, I still have a long ways to go to break even.

In 2017, vintage gear has been on a tear for over a decade. People tell me it can't go down in value. Now I laugh at that.


1st rule of investing - buy low sell high. It's not buy high, sell higher. That's a Las Vegas gamble. And that's where the vintage market is now. Cloners and plugin developers are getting soooo good. I prefer the hardware, and in may cases, it's as good or better than vintage at 1/3 the price new, with a warranty. At some point the tear will tip the other direction. It could be a single piece of gear that does it. Or another recession. Either way, vintage is a gamble.

If you're buying in 2017, Vintage is a gamble - not an investment. If you've got the money and like to gamble, go for it.
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Old 9th July 2017
  #17
Lives for gear
 
voodoo4u's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
In 1999, the NASDAQ had been going nuts for several years. Pundits told me it could NOT go down. I invested. I lost a LOT of money.

In 2007, Real Estate in the US had been on a record run. People told me that there was only so much real estate, and that it could never go down. I invested in a couple of properties. I lost a lot of money. 10 years later, I still have a long ways to go to break even.

In 2017, vintage gear has been on a tear for over a decade. People tell me it can't go down in value. Now I laugh at that.


1st rule of investing - buy low sell high. It's not buy high, sell higher. That's a Las Vegas gamble. And that's where the vintage market is now. Cloners and plugin developers are getting soooo good. I prefer the hardware, and in may cases, it's as good or better than vintage at 1/3 the price new, with a warranty. At some point the tear will tip the other direction. It could be a single piece of gear that does it. Or another recession. Either way, vintage is a gamble.

If you're buying in 2017, Vintage is a gamble - not an investment. If you've got the money and like to gamble, go for it.
I agree. Vintage is a gamble and like other items of value, there's a curve and we may be at the top of it. And as already mentioned, a lot of this gear is gettin' old and the replacement parts are scarce on the ground.

I'm a complete ignoramus when it comes to investing, but the only times I've made a little (and I mean a little) was through shear dumb luck and timing. I also didn't mention the times I've lost and other times when I've been outright scammed. But I'm not joking about Tesla. Over the past week, it's dropped pretty significantly. It takes a bit of courage to buy when others are selling. Just an observation, absolutely not professional investment advice.
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Old 9th July 2017
  #18
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by voodoo4u View Post
I agree. Vintage is a gamble and like other items of value, there's a curve and we may be at the top of it. And as already mentioned, a lot of this gear is gettin' old and the replacement parts are scarce on the ground.

I'm a complete ignoramus when it comes to investing, but the only times I've made a little (and I mean a little) was through shear dumb luck and timing. I also didn't mention the times I've lost and other times when I've been outright scammed. But I'm not joking about Tesla. Over the past week, it's dropped pretty significantly. It takes a bit of courage to buy when others are selling. Just an observation, absolutely not professional investment advice.
This could be true, but I don't think vintage gear will go down for these reasons

1) there are only so many made
2) Once you improve your monitoring and awareness, analog hardware is still far better
3) since a lot of plugins have the vintage look, it keeps the new generation curious on what a original would sound like..

Nobody can really call the future.. for that matter.. But I do remember when studio owners threw away pultecs, Yes threw them away.. because solid state was so much easier to maintain.. I lived threw so many cycles, I sold and traded all my vintage Neve's for reissue's ... Do you think I learned my lesson? I did and for the 10th time?
Old 9th July 2017
  #19
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
I think you friend is about 30 years late.
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Old 9th July 2017
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
I think you friend is about 30 years late.
Well the price on the classics have atleast x2 or x3 in the last 10 years or so.


There Will always be rich ppl buying at whatever price. Just look at the Beatles console sold earlier this year at 2 or 3m $..
Old 9th July 2017
  #21
Gear Addict
 

Invest in a time machine.
Travel back at least 30 years in time.
Buy up all the vintage gear you can find.
Return to the present.
Sell it.
That is all.

Anything else is a gamble.


Quote:
Originally Posted by danibert View Post
Hey guys,

yesterday I had an interesting discussion with a friend, who´s thinking about buying some vintage studio gear for investment. He claimed, that certain devices and instruments will always be rising in value and won´t have any inflation. When I look at the prices on ebay for let´s say a Gibson Les Paul, an original Roland Jupiter 8 or some devices of Focusrite´s vintage Red Line - just to mention a few – I think he could be right with his guesses.

Maybe it coud be an interesting issue form e, or others, too… What do you think?
Which instruments or studio gear can be considered as investment objects in general?
I know, there are many „fetish“-pieces out there, like the ones, mentioned above.

Which ones would you recommend me to buy?
What has to be especially considered when buying to get a good collectible?

Looking forward to hear your thoughts.
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Old 9th July 2017
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by danibert View Post
...He claimed, that certain devices and instruments will always be rising in value and won´t have any inflation. ...
Ridiculous. There has never been a "collectable"/speculative market without the ups and downs generated by irrational exuberance.

If your pal thinks his Crystal ball can predict the future, it can be put to much better use elsewhere.

As a collector of sports cars and rare watches, both domains littered with items vastly more scarce and exquisitely recherché than any audio gear I can imagine, my advice when asked about "investment" in such things is simple: if you can afford it, if it does/has something you want that will bring you enjoyment, then buy it. If you need to worry about its future value, you're probably buying for the wrong reasons, and if you need it to maintain or increase in value you're probably in for a disappointment down the road.
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Old 9th July 2017
  #23
Gear Guru
 
Drumsound's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by crille_mannen View Post
Well the price on the classics have atleast x2 or x3 in the last 10 years or so.


There Will always be rich ppl buying at whatever price. Just look at the Beatles console sold earlier this year at 2 or 3m $..
A lot of things have actually gone down in the last 5ish years. U47s, C12s, Fairchilds all were selling for more than current prices. Whereas I know plenty of people who bought those items at prices that would be considered affordable 30 or so years ago. They are still worth much more than people paid in the 80s, but buying those pieces NOW probably wouldn't yield the same percentage increase. I, of course, could be wrong. I just don't see the price of a U47 becoming $25-30k.
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Old 9th July 2017
  #24
Lives for gear
 
NoVi's Avatar
I think many of the arguments why not to invest in music gear already have been made. If you buy now old gear, there is already a lot of overpricing involved (Jp-8 for $8000, TB303 for $3000).
With newer gear the problem is that they are produced in such large quantities (compared to instruments from 70s/80s) that chances of price rising over time are rather limited.

If there is one thing I could tell your friend to invest into, then it is digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum etc. Although prices have been rising significantly in 2017 I still think there is room for enormous growth in years to come when the average Joe starts to discover it.

Last edited by NoVi; 9th July 2017 at 06:24 AM..
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Old 9th July 2017
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Drumsound View Post
A lot of things have actually gone down in the last 5ish years. U47s, C12s, Fairchilds all were selling for more than current prices. Whereas I know plenty of people who bought those items at prices that would be considered affordable 30 or so years ago. They are still worth much more than people paid in the 80s, but buying those pieces NOW probably wouldn't yield the same percentage increase. I, of course, could be wrong. I just don't see the price of a U47 becoming $25-30k.

Really? From what i remember like 8 years ago i saw adds for u67 for like 4k-ish $. I don't Think anyone thought they would be paying 18k för a u47 10 years ago. Only time Will tell so maybe we all be fools in 15 years or told that we made bargins buying a u67 for 10k
Old 9th July 2017
  #26
Gear Addict
 

I knew a retired ABC radio broadcast engineer (Australian Broadcasting Commission) and he told me that he sold a pair of his personal U67's for $500 (for the pair) 30 years ago after his wife kept complaining that they took up too much space in the top of the wardrobe.

He bought them via the ABC's government auction in the 1970's when they were decommissioned to be replaced by U87's. He thought they had about a dozen U67's in total for recording orchestras etc.

I nearly choked on my coffee and so did he when I told him what they were worth.

And here's a Neumann U77 (see pic) I bought for $300 (not working) from another ex ABC radio guy about 28 years ago. A 10 minute solder job and it was fixed. The same ex ABC guy also found me a Neumann KMS 84i in a pawnshop for $30. That was around the same time he sold me the U77.

I also picked up a bunch of other stuff for peanuts from him including a Neve 3115 module which was a spare for one of several ex ABC Neve Melbourn broadcast consoles that also got auctioned off in the early 1980's for cheap.

The catch is this was all before the internet, eBay and forums like this.
So these deals are much fewer and far between these days.

Like I said, invest in a time machine.
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Old 9th July 2017
  #27
Lives for gear
 

Any discussion pertaining to potential investment profits needs to have a parallel disclosure of the ubiquous pontential companion exposure to capital loss. I was a licensed customer's man in the late 60s and was well schooled in the practice of carefully explaining the risk factors to be found in all investments.
DPJP asked "when have speakers ever appreciated in value": The answer is the value of speakers and studio mics will probably never surpass their original price when new. However their value as a useable asset to the original purchaser will remain long after obsolesce has rendered most processing gear obsolete and without sufficient demand to creat a profit potential.
Anyone chasing "V14 tube" type profits in yeaterdays vintage studio hard wear is buying into Blue Sky fools gold.
Hugh
Old 9th July 2017
  #28
Gear Nut
 
georgehenderson's Avatar
As general investment I would buy only fx-processors since microphone capsules wear over time.
FX processors do also wear, but a microphone capsule is much more sensible...

Fairchild, Teletronix, etc. :-)
Old 9th July 2017
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by rowmat View Post
The same ex ABC guy also found me a Neumann KMS 84i in a pawnshop for $30. That was around the same time he sold me the U77.
Old 9th July 2017
  #30
Deleted User
Guest
Quote:
Originally Posted by danibert View Post
Hey guys,

yesterday I had an interesting discussion with a friend, who´s thinking about buying some vintage studio gear for investment. He claimed, that certain devices and instruments will always be rising in value and won´t have any inflation. When I look at the prices on ebay for let´s say a Gibson Les Paul, an original Roland Jupiter 8 or some devices of Focusrite´s vintage Red Line - just to mention a few – I think he could be right with his guesses.

Maybe it coud be an interesting issue form e, or others, too… What do you think?
Which instruments or studio gear can be considered as investment objects in general?
I know, there are many „fetish“-pieces out there, like the ones, mentioned above.

Which ones would you recommend me to buy?
What has to be especially considered when buying to get a good collectible?

Looking forward to hear your thoughts.
Absolutely. It's a fine investment but not as secure as a bond.

It's all about supply and demand.

Folks buy and hold all sorts of things: art, antique cars, property, antiques ...

If you buy an SSL 384 and hang onto it for 5 years, you'll see a profit unless the economy tanks (demand).
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