I wanted to start a thread that will hopefully provide some form of reference in the pricing of vintage synths. The point here is not to create a bluebook for traders/sellers/buyers, but rather provide a comprehensive guide to evaluating what price you should ask or look for when doing vintage synth business.
Many argue that the price range given as information on VSE synth descriptions are innacurate, which is kind of a given with the constant change in 'consensual' market prices. Yet, many use VSE's description information to set the bar in their various classified adds, mostly outside of VSE (kijiji, craiglist,etc.), whether it is because VSE might appear as a valid reference to people unfamilliar with the whole vintage synth business, or because they feel like they could get more by refering to VSE as a reference than they would normally.
My point here is not at all to discredit VSE, which in my humble opinion is THE BEST place to go if you need info on the history and components of vintage synths. I would just like to know what, in your mind, should determine the price of a synth, because let's face it: the current hype for vintage gear has led to aberations, not only in asking price (other VSE users have posted links to excellent examples of outrageous auctions in the past) but also in the behavior of opportunistic traders/buyers that will constantly cruise classifieds and garage sales to try and make a fortune on the ignorance of some and the gullibility or greed of others.
A few instructions before we begin:
1) While this may be an emotinal subject, please don't speak with you anger but with your mind: whatever is your point, abusing caps, being condescending and mean won't help you prove it at all.
2) Please, while i'm sure we all have examples, refrain from identifying anyone in your comments: this should be a civilized debate about ideas, not people, your personal vendettas are nobody's business but yours and there are other threads for flagging the OBVIOUS frauds.
3) Mods, should you believe this belongs in the buyer's guide section, move it there, i wouldn't know.
Here's my opinion, may it be a starting point in this debate: My golden rule is 'be fair' : just because a synth is in very high demand doesn't mean you should sell it at a ridiculously high price. The same goes reversly: just because you paid 20$ for a synth doesn't mean you have to sell it 20$. I believe that the following should be taken in consideration: rarity,sound quality, cosmetical condition and general quality/state of components.
A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR DISCUSSION: monophonic presets synths. As my profile shows, i'm the proud owner of a Korg M500. I got it for a few dollars from a vintage synth enthousiast that wouldn't take the time to repair it. And repair it did need indeed, only 3 voices were functionnal as well as a few external components, namely missing/broken sliders and knobs. I did get it repaired in time, and it required a lot of tinkering given the complex (read: shitty) architectural nature of a synth who's components were crammed entirely on the left-hand side in a rather small compartment. It costed me 150$ to get this repair done, and it was a good deal in my opinion because the list of repairs was almost endless, it took a lot of time, even with detailed schematics (what was Korg thinking on this one, i don't know, the values are just leaving me speechless, not in a good way) and not only is it now fully functionnal and the repairs of an amazing quality, but anyone in my timezone people would have given up on this project way before getting the job done.
Now, opening this bad boy up made me realize it had two Korg35 IC chips, which are somewhat in demand for repairing older MS-20s and such. Since then, i've been getting offers up to 600$ CAN for my little guy, and while a big profit is always a good excuse for selling (especially for those in need in these hard times were facing), i felt like it would betray the spirit in which i do business in regards to vintage gear, especially since i'm not in dire need for this money. My point is that i'm not going to sell it to someone who will tear it to pieces, keeping only it's valuable heart and scrapping the rest, M500's are very very rare (at least here,in Quebec, Canada) but i don't think it's a reason to sell it a high price, i think it's a reason to cherish and care for this interesting piece of analog synthesis history. I believe vintage gear should not be a reason for mad speculation and investment, nor should it be treated like worthless and outdated junk.
So, what do you guys think? Make as much of the hype? Buy it exclusively from people unaware of it's true value? A little bit of column A and a little bit of column B? LET THE DEBATE BEGIN!