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City bankers pile into financial instrument

(reprinted from

The Times

August 24, 2006

City bankers pile into financial instrument

BABY-BOOMERS trying to put the rock back into their lives are driving a healthy market in vintage guitars, which are now seen by some as a better investment than the stock market.

Fender and Gibson are the two big performers, with the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul showing the most dramatic rise in value.

Dealers say that the most soughtafter vintage guitar is the 1959 Les Paul Standard Sunburst, favourite of rockers such as Jimmy Page and Neil Young. Fewer than 1,000 of these were made during the birth of rock ’n’ roll between 1958 and 1960, and so a mint-condition original with good “flame” markings on its maple top can sell for £250,000. That is up from about £65,000 five years ago, and about $250 when it was originally sold.

Fender Stratocasters from the late 1950s, as played by the likes of Eric Clapton, originally sold for less than $300 but now fetch £35,000 to £45,000.

Derek Eyre-Walker, of Guitar Village in Farnham, Surrey, says that Gibson and Fender guitars have risen by 10 to 50 per cent annually in recent years. He said: “There are a lot of people who played in their teens who have now got good incomes and want the guitar they couldn’t afford before.”

Chris Trigg, of Vintage & Rare Guitars, London, said that City bankers, as well as professional players, collect guitars. “Everybody who buys a guitar is capable of standing in front of a mirror and pretending to be Pete Townsend,” he said.

Experts say that the shrinking of the pool of 1950s and 1960s guitars underpins prices, but future generations may not share the guitar fascination.

(reprinted from

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