This is often a difficult time of the year to sell stuff new or used. It's about the time most folks are getting their credit card bills telling them they spent too much money on Christmas presents and/or their tax paperwork suggesting they owe money and are going to have to come up with it or they're getting money back and should wait to have it in hand before buying something.
Often a lot of good deals to be had in the used gear marketplace the first quarter of the year.
This is definitely very true. January is a terrible time to sell stuff.
I have been wondering lately, though, if, outside of the "still in the shrink wrap" collector pieces, the market is starting to level off a bit for the highest end vintage stuff.
Nowadays, there are a number of great mouthpiece makers who are producing extremely high quality work for prices that are significantly lower than some of the outrageous heights that the vintage market has reached in the last 10 years. Given the often-justified fear of buying a fake or, even more likely, buying something that ends up not being what you (and sometimes the seller) thought it was, I definitely am much more willing to shell out to buy from the modern craftspeople that are still here to stand behind their work.
We've also got a greater awareness of non-Selmer vintage horns, massively increased quality from China and increasing respect for the well-established instrument makers in Taiwan. I personally think that part of what drove the vintage Selmer market was the question of bang for the buck in the high-end market for new horns from the major brands. With a lot of new (and "new") options that people seem excited about and more information available than ever before on the internet, it seems like many of us have moved on from the "Mark VI or nothing" mentality.
With that said, I recently picked up a Mk VI tenor for $4200. By the time it was shipped to me and put into perfect playing condition, I'd put about $5200 into it. Granted, this well-used 1968 horn (#156XXX) with silver keys is not the collector's wet dream that Ishimori and Blue Note Winds are listing for big bucks, but it's a good horn with tone, response and intonation that I really get along with. That wasn't a crazy deal, but it was a good price for a good horn, IMO. According to Reverb's list of sale prices for instruments classified as Mark VI tenors, they seem to be changing hands in the $4,000-$6,000 range. Very interesting, given that a quick glance at active listings there seems to indicate asking prices ranging from the low-end of $4,700 and a high end of $10,000, with my eyeball median somewhere in the ~$7,000 range.
Those actual sale prices are much more directly competitive with the prices of brand new horns than I've seen in the VI market in a while, though that does probably correspond with the most recent rounds of price increases on pretty much all of the big brands.
I wonder if we might be approaching a point where collectors are the ones paying these stupid (IMO) prices for horns they don't play, but they are passing up things not in "collectible" condition and people who intend to play the horns are starting to feel like they just have better options in that price range. In that sense, I wonder if the ceiling is still rising (though maybe not as quickly), but the floor is remaining a bit more stable or even dropping a bit on certain vintage items like the Mark VI or vintage Meyer alto mouthpieces.
Or maybe this is just fantasy. It's always been a bit strange to me that we as buyers have been so willing to accept the prices of these instruments when they are obviously not rare. How many Mark VI tenors were made? 50k, conservatively?