PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

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PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby LucB » Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:10 pm

Hey everybody,

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!
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby pflosi » Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:32 pm

nice topic

i think this is a good source for pricing. VSE is little dated out...

http://www.amazona.de/index.php?page=27
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby griffin avid » Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:40 pm

You say this thread shouldn't slide into the emotional, but you close on an emotional note about how your love/respect for synths determines your [selling] actions. This is either buying and selling as a capitalist business transaction or collecting as a hobby.

You charge the most you can. Market value determines that and that's truly based on 'the current going rate'. I know eBay isn't what it used to be, but a sellers site is the best indicator. I would set my price according to what they are currently fetching for. If they seem to be moving TOO fast, then maybe it's under appreciated by the seller so that people are buying it, only to resell it for more later.

If stuff isn't moving...you get the idea.
Supply and demand.
Either something is affordable or attractive at any price or it doesn't sell.
Seller then has to adjust so it all balances out in the end.

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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby Z » Tue Feb 10, 2009 9:52 pm

I had been visiting VSE for years before I knew there was a forum. I would visit for the synth knowledge. Since joining VSE almost 2 years ago, I seldom go to the "Explorer" part - only the forums. I have no idea what prices are on there, but I have seen in many threads people refer to the posted prices not being right.

EBay has pretty much become the way to determine pricing for most items. It's easy to look at completed listings to see what items have sold for. From time to time, certain synths get hyped on forums and such and the price goes up.

For me, I have certain prices that I am willing to pay for gear. Prime expample is a Korg MS-20. I'm not willing to pay more than $1200 for one, although they usually go for $1500+. I'd like a EMS Synthi or VCS3, but not willing to spend more than $2500 - so I'll probably never own one. Unless you've GOT TO HAVE a certain instrument for a certain sound, hold out to buy one until you see one for the right price. That will also help tame the prices.
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby Phollop Willing PA » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:32 pm

pflosi wrote:nice topic

i think this is a good source for pricing. VSE is little dated out...

http://www.amazona.de/index.php?page=27


Maybe for Germany, but I think prices are generally less expensive in North America, at least the synths I looked at.
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby pflosi » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:35 pm

yes, for most of the synths it's the upper end pricing...

dont forget it's € ;)
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby LucB » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Glad to see it got people's attention so quick!

Griffin Avid, i never said we shouldn't be emotional about this, on the contrary i expected this to get emotional, as my position on this is mainly motivated about the way i feel rather than the way i think. I asked for the replies not to slide into anger, which was a quick reminder of the possible downsides of trying to have a rational debate about something people get emotional about. I could never discuss this matter without refering to emotion.

I guess that my question ultimately refers to our own personal views on commerce. I do understand that water is more expensive in the desert, but i would never let someone die out of dehydration because he can't afford my prices, if you catch my drift. I'm not saying synth are as necessary as water (maybe to some...!), but your comparison is quite valid as it shows how you can address the value of something based on it's availability and demand. My opinion is that people of all trades and fortune should have access to this kind of stuff, regardless of their income. Obviously their budget would influence what models and makes they have access to, but i'm definitely not willing to say vintage analog synths are only for people who can afford the hype. I feel finding a good home for the synth is more important than that, but then again, as i mentionned in my first post, i don't need money like crazy right now, so who knows if my ethics would shift under different circumstances...

About the EUR vs N.America price difference : you also need to take into account the availability of these synths, is it easier to find specific models in Europe? Given the greater population density and all, i do wonder.
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby Z » Tue Feb 10, 2009 10:53 pm

LucB wrote:I'm not saying synth are as necessary as water (maybe to some...!)

Image
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby pflosi » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:13 pm

LucB wrote:trying to have a rational debate about something people get emotional about. I could never discuss this matter without refering to emotion.


so isnt that some kind of contradiction? :)

LucB wrote:About the EUR vs N.America price difference : you also need to take into account the availability of these synths, is it easier to find specific models in Europe? Given the greater population density and all, i do wonder.


hmmm. i guess there is generally more supply in the states. i'm really looking for yamaha-cs-anything (analog synth, not digital / guitar / scooter :)) here round switzerland. doesnt show up... i get the impression old roland / korg stuff shows up more often...

Z, i REALLY love that ad! :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby killertofu » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:20 pm

Prices are worth what people will pay. If I buy a synth for $100, decide to sell it 3 years later and the going rate is $5000, you can sure bet im going to try and sell it for $5000!! If I dont, chances are the person buying it will try to flip it themselves!

I have my eye on a few pieces im looking to purchase, but I believe prices are pretty much at their "peak" and will continue fall in the next few months. Ive already seen prices falling on ebay like crazy, remember all the $3500 - $4000 P5s that were selling? Ive seen a few lately with $2000 BIN's. Surely, they will go back up again.. perhaps way higher than they are now... but thats why im waiting. On the other hand, there are still people who dont mind paying top dollar.


I love sites like VSE and Prepal that have outdated prices. Better chance of me finding a deal!! :mrgreen:
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby griffin avid » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:35 pm

This is either buying and selling as a capitalist business transaction or collecting as a hobby.

I just don't see how the one emotion of anger is bad. If it's a business deal, any emotion is bad.
"Oh, I won't sell him my beloved vintage piece because he's going to..."
A) Resell it for more
B) Not use it
C) make horrible music I don't like
D) Strip it for parts

A vintage synth isn't a pet the housing complex won't let you keep that has to go.
YOU let it go because you no longer need it, use it - or you find the space it's taking up is wasteful.

The emotional side is from all the fond memories and sometimes the memory of how hard it was to get in the first place. Or maybe, just maybe you don't want to be Wrong about all the significance you've attatched to it and selling something (without flipping it) is a sign that maybe you don't think well enough about your purchases.

Maybe I didn't need to buy this one after all...
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby xpander » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:41 pm

personally, i could care less. i feel the same way about my synths dependent on CEM chips... eventually, all of the chips will be gone and somebody will manage to have them remade. i've thought more than once of buying a Chroma Polaris just for spare chips. however, i'm starting to see more and more old chips remade.

someone with space will buy up the broken synths & wait it out.
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby killertofu » Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:51 pm

I think for some of us (myself included) that have been searching for the right synth get frustrated that other people buy every synth in sight (working or not), fix it up, and immediately try to sell it for 3X as much. I see it all the time on ebay with certain sellers in LA. I wont list names, but theyre easy to spot. These auctions stay on ebay for MONTHS at a time at insane prices with no one ever bidding. All it takes is one of us to cave, pay the ridiculous amount, and the prices stay inflated from then on.

Why would I want to buy a synth for 3X what its worth, that has probably been on a few world tours and is beat to death internally, but looks "nice" because of $150 in repairs? You cant stop these people, its human nature to try and make a buck 8)

Sadly, its not really in our favor..... and you cant blame them.
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby JMP » Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:07 am

LucB wrote: i've been getting offers up to 600$ CAN for my little guy
:shock:

Blimey, £330 for an M500. Well then, I think the nail has been hit on the head when referring to 'supply and demand' in a particular area. Presume then there isn't that much availability in Canada ? :?

For your own area, just ignore the inflated BIN's on Ebay and note what they actually sell for for good working models (high and low to get a midway figure). Time shows the ones going up, down and those generally static.
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Re: PRICES : the most heated yet absent debate

Postby LucB » Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:17 am

Glad i could get the discussion going!

Griffin avid, i'm not saying anger is bad, i was just warning people to keep their posts civilized. If i decide to let any piece of my gear go, it's most probably because i'm not using it anymore and that doesn't mean i was wrong to get it, it means i can't predict how things are going to evolve as far as my use of gear goes.

Killertofu has 2 good points: of course selling higher than what you got is always cool in the way that profit is always cool. Yet, it has the perverse effect of some trying to make the most profit out of it by snatching every synth they can just to flip 'em. That's kinda where i was when i first posted this, stuck between the two.

Z, that ad is just awesome! Wish there was a Korg Trident-Sigma-Lamda-Delta on there hehehe .
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