Sitting with Dave Crocker and John
Brinkmann, two parts of the prominent 4
Amigos show organization, on the second
day of the Chicago Guitar Show, things were
both looking and sounding better than they
expected. I’d made the four-hour drive to St.
Charles, IL, to spend a day finding out what
state the vintage guitar market was in, and the
first impressions were promising.
“Saturday was a good day. Traffic was about
what it was last year, maybe down a little
bit,” says Crocker, a 30-year veteran of the
vintage world and owner of Fly-By-Night
Music in Neosho, MO. I got the feeling
that he keeps a very precise pulse on the
show’s comings and goings, and that he’s
been pleasantly surprised by the outcome.
“We’re not seeing as much stuff walk in as
we did last year, but there have been a few
But, interestingly enough, even as the general economic news continues to look unimpres- sive at best, most of the dealers gathered for the third show of the 4 Amigos 2009 calendar seemed to be optimistic, albeit cautiously so. Perhaps it’s because any investment market is, at its core, a confidence game. If you can first sell yourself on a turnaround, you can sell others on it, too. Or perhaps it’s because it is difficult to extinguish people’s deeply-held excitement in a “passion” market like the gui- tar. Whatever the reason, it seemed that even the most buffeted dealers were looking for- ward to the coming months with high hopes instead of high anxiety.
Dave Crocker (left) and John Brinkman (right).
pieces—a ’ 58 EB2 [Gibson electric bass] just
walked in with an original owner.”
Although it may seem a bit odd for a long-time show organizer and savvy vintage player
to be pleased with flat traffic numbers, it’s a
sharp reflection of the odd place the vintage
market has found itself in. Recently one of
the hottest investment opportunities available
to people with nostalgic memories and cash
to burn, the vintage market is now down 20
to 30 percent from its 2007 peak, with oversaturated pockets of the market down even
further. It has been battered by the same economic forces that have plagued every other
collectible market in the US, from muscle cars
to guns. An accelerating foreclosure rate,
pervasive consumer uncertainty and a drastic
contraction of the credit markets brought
the emphasis from high-end investments and
“pleasure” purchases back to the essentials.
“After Dallas [in April], even the other dealers I
talked to there said they had seen an increase