Guitares en vente

(page disponible uniquement en anglais)

A word on buying, selling and collecting historical guitars.

The guitars displayed on this page are a selection of instruments that I own, to which are added some that I have on deposit on behalf of other owners; all are instruments that I have worked on. If you are looking for something specific which does not pop up here, you are welcome to get in touch with me; there is a good chance I have what you are looking for, or at least know of somebody who has and may want to sell.

While the guitar (classical/historical) is a reasonably simple instrument - for there is no mechanism or artefact of any sort interfering between player and string, for example – its trade is not. Buying or selling an antique guitar comes with strings attached. Or, in other words, with issues that many sellers and buyers tend to ignore, being either aware or not of the pitfalls that are lurking around the corner. Here are the four major issues one may encounter when dealing with antique guitars: authenticity, playability, transportability and CITES-conformity. Let us have a closer look at each.

Authenticity: If you own an antique guitar of interest (or one that you suppose might be), there are only few people on this planet able to provide sensible advice. Yours truly included. But if this expertise is to be used as a tool for better trade, then it comes at a cost. As it should. Because whoever sticks his hand into the fire in terms of legal accountability should indeed be paid for it. That is the price of professionalism. So if you need a written certificate of authenticity/estimate, please be prepared to pay for it. Else, the worth of such document is hardly more than that of the paper it is printed on.

Playability: That, again, is a very sensitive matter. Truth is that most antique guitars exposed in the flesh or via the internet and that happen to have strings on them are not playable by any professional standard. If a player with some experience in playing historical instruments can not perform or record on a guitar, then it is not to be considered playable. Plain and simple. Strumming an A-minor chord on a poor thing that would be better off left alone and share the result on social media is not a quality certification...

If you are looking for a guitar to play right away and thus focusing on instruments that are indeed playable, musical qualities should be assessed and compared. And the price of such instrument should reflect the time and money it took for a specialised craftsman – who should be at least as historically informed as you are – to bring the instrument into a playable state again. 

But then, playability is not always an issue in purchasing an antique guitar. If you are looking for a historical artefact in the first place, and one that may even be in poor shape, then playability is out the window. In that case, it all comes down to authenticity and historical relevance.

Transportability: The idea that the best way to protect a guitar before handing it to a courier is to put it into a hard case, may appear as a no-brainer, but has turned out fatal for many guitars. The problem with a hard case is that it will transform into a brick wall for your guitar to crash into whenever the whole package gets thrown or is falling down from several meters height. As packages do.

Amongst other nightmares, I have seen a guitar's solid maple neck with a massive glued-on ebony fretboard broken through and through in 2 locations across the wood grain. Right there where the neck rested on the supports located at both ends of the "strings and stuff-compart- ment" that is to be found in most modern cases. Just imagine the energy at play to achieve such damage!

Nothing beats a huge sturdy cardbox with a colossal amount of bubble wrap all around the instrument – and no hard case. It may appear counterintuitive, but it works.

CITES-conformity: That is the trickiest one of all – so tricky, that I will only venture to sum up a few facts and share my personal take on the matter. The fabrication and trade of many goods, including, but not limited to, traditional musical instruments has become much more complicated since the Washington Convention of 1973. Some 180 countries signed an international convention to halt the uncontrolled exploitation of endangered species, both fauna and flora. Whether you are a guitar maker or player and think that this is merely a big pain in the proverbial bottom – please think twice. The species in question make for the richness of our natural habitat, and they are a natural heritage that is worth protecting and handing over to the next generations.

But 180 countries agreeing on this is one thing (although quite significant in its own right) – 180 countries finding a way to put their good intentions in shared practice, that is quite another. Which is why CITES is a very complex matter. To inform yourself more thoroughly, the following link might be useful:

I for one had to update my business policy accordingly. If an instrument is made with materials listed in the annexe A of CITES (regrouping the most endangered species) then the instrument can be exported only with a written certificate of authenticity from me (and/or from another expert, if that is what is requested by the authorities in charge, which in France would be the DREAL). The purpose of such a certificate is to ascertain that the instrument was made before the entry into force of CITES - and this is a prerequisit to obtaining legal export/import papers.

Obviously, all this comes at a price, which, as customer, you have to add to the price of the instrument. Sounds like fun? Let me say as much: not only will you do the right thing, but the instrument imported this way will also prove to be a much better long-term investment on your side. Contrary to one exported/imported "under the radar", which will turn into a hot iron in your hands the day you want to sell.