Pricing used steel guitars

Hello fellow players,

I must get sixty emails a week concerning people that want to sell me steel guitars, amps or related equipment. I have to change my policy on how I handle these emails. For instance, I just got an email asking me if I would buy a Sho-Bud, an old one in perfect shape with a good case and amplifier. But just like many other inquiries there was no asking price in the question and description.

To make a long story short, the price is an important bit of information that I need to make a decision on whether I want to buy it or not. As a matter of fact, you might say the price is the most important thing even over condition, model of guitar and brand. If I don’t have the price, I don’t have you an answer.

I usually email back with a question. How much do you want for it? My reply is always, “I don’t know. What’s it worth?”

So from now on, I’m not going to even answer folks that want to sell their guitar and won’t tell me how much they want for them. You don’t walk into a Cadillac dealer to buy a new car and have the salesman ask you how much his Cadillac is worth. You don’t walk into a restaurant I hope and ask how much breakfast is without being able to tell them what you want for breakfast.

The reason most people have trouble selling their steel guitars and related equipment is they just plain don’t know how to sell. You need to know the price, the model, the condition of what you have and you should know something about the market for the guitar you have.

Just because your Sho-Bud Maverick says Sho-Bud on the front, it’s not worth as much as a Lloyd Green model would be. The Pro II, Pro III and SuperPro may be about the same price, however a Sho-Bud Christmas tree amp is worth a lot more to use than a Sho-Bud Compactra 100 is.

Getting ideas off the internet on what your guitar is worth is not really very accurate. You’ll find the widow of some steel player in Yugoslavia that thinks her guitar is worth six thousand dollars or some wonderful player in Houston that wants a quick sale on his Super Pro II for only fifteen hundred.

Actually it makes no difference what your guitar is really worth unless you bought it just to make money with. What matters is what you’ll take for it. What the rest of the world tells you it’s worth or not worth probably won’t be accurate anyway because they won’t know how bad you want to sell it, what you need the money for or the condition of the guitar. So you are the one who needs to determine what you’ll take for it.

One thing I’ll warn everybody about whether you’re buying or selling is where the lowering bar in the mechanism touches the string cam and rubs on it to raise and lower the string is where many guitars will cut a groove into the finger. This will need to be replaced and has total control over tuning that string. It also will affect the tone of the guitar.

Sho-Buds with the zinc chrome plated finger are very bad about this problem. We have to repair several of these a month and it’s a pretty lengthy process. So even when we buy a Sho-Bud of this vintage now, we will check and repair if necessary any of these models.

All the guitars we have on the floor for sale have been checked and modified for many years of future use. If you buy a Sho-Bud from us, you’ll have no worries. However, if you buy one from eBay or craigslist or off the steel guitar forum, try to get it with a warranty against this potential serious problem.

To fix it involves tearing the entire guitar down, replacing the fingers or doing a modification that will keep it going forever. We have four or five great Sho-Buds on the floor right now that sound like Heaven and play even better. If we can help you with one of these let us know and remember this problem can occur with any all pull guitar using the three piece finger with the exception of Emmons LeGrande which doesn’t have a lowering bar rubbing the cam.

At least one good thing about buying used Sho-Buds is that parts are available from about anywhere including from this company, Steel Guitar Nashville and we do full service on all Sho-Buds.

Check out our monthly specials at and we’ll try to save you a lot of money.

Your buddy,

Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday

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2 Responses to Pricing used steel guitars

  1. David says:

    I am in my 70’s and want to buy and learn pedal steel. I imagine I will be die before I can be comfortable playing it. So …. I want something that sounds good……is nice to play and time… And cheap as I can get it. I know ….. you can’t get cheap and good. But what would you recommend. I play regular guitar and have tried playing the resonator. If you have the time any suggestions would be great. Thanks heaps

  2. Bobby Lee says:

    A used Carter Starter would be a good choice.

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