Just to let you know my guitar arrived yesterday afternoon. It is in excellent condition as promised, very pleased. Great doing business with you.
Dave F. UK
Gibson Robert Johnson L1
Precision bass arrived today. Bass exactly as described. Thank you very much for a really fast and professional transaction. I would certainly have no hesititation in recommending just great guitars to all my friends.
Martin, Cumbria, UK
Fender Precision Bass
Russ (owner of JGG is on assignment in France and here’s a quick blog post from him..)
It’s “Bastille day” in France. A public holiday commemorating, not so much the regicide that began the French Revolution, but more the Fête de la Fédération; the beginning of the Republic. The bunting is out in the village, and a military march has just struck-up outside my window. Being Southern France, there’s every chance this is a real band playing real instruments, however, a few weeks ago I noticed small speakers hanging from drainpipes and balconies up and down the tiny main street. So perhaps this is the day their purpose becomes clear.
Since our offices are closed today, I was checking-out the website for the Jazz a Juan (les Pines) Festival (http://jazzajuan.com/) here on the French Riviera and came across Rhiannon Giddens (http://jazzajuan.com/fr-fr/programme2015/artiste.aspx?id=66) – a name I didn’t know at all. Following the link to her website (http://rhiannongiddens.com/) I watched the very beautiful and moving performance of Up in Arms with Bhi Bhiman.
Rhiannon plays violin and when she sings the chorus harmony with Bhi it’s one of those “tingle” performances – it sends tingles down your spine and sets goosebumps on your arms. Bhi sings from the heart and his voice has a rawness that reminds me of Dylan and Guthrie and sits perfectly atop the sound of the big rosewood Larrivee acoustic. Do check-out the video here: https://youtu.be/4i4QDkMJpeM
When he’s not fingerpicking the Larrivee, Bhiman plays Epiphone’s equivalent to our beloved Gibson ES-330 TD. His is the modern masterbilt version of the Epiphone Casino (vintage 1960s Casinos are seriously expensive thanks to their association with the Beatles). If you’ve seen the film Whiplash and if you have studied an instrument I encourage you to see it, you will love this pastiche: https://youtu.be/M-QAupdp4v8 I’m ashamed to say that I’ve adopted the J. K. Simmons “stop” hand signal – what does that say about me?
Giddens is a multi-instrumentalist and interested in many styles. One of her groups is the deliciously-named Carolina Chocolate Drops https://youtu.be/1xOxHyTP91c who celebrate the folk music of the Carolinas with unbounded talent, confidence and fun!
I hear the band starting-up again, so it’s time to wave something red, white and blue.
Vive la Revolution!
We buy the majority of our vintage guitars in the US, on dedicated buying trips. Gibson guitars were sold in the US domestic market with only a tiny minority few arriving in the UK since the 50s and 60s. So, we go to where the guitars are, importing them back to the UK carefully packed into special containers.
On a typical trip our buyer will buy 20 or more instruments. That means he has selected, examined, negotiated and then not bought some 80 items.
Over the past 10 years, we have developed ‘special relationships’ with a few very dealers and collectors all over the US. These remarkable individuals know what we want and we have built-up personal and professional trust in each other. Special though these relationships are, the vintage guitar market, as in any market, is price-driven. Dealers that rely on sales to other dealers have to leave enough profit for those dealers to make their money.
Prices across the US and Europe are broadly harmonised. Prices in New York, London and Stockholm are noticeably higher, reflecting the overheads of running a shop in those cities. Japanese buyers are especially aggressive at importing Vintage Guitars from the USA, often paying record-breaking prices for vintage guitars in the absolute best condition. With their Yen-backed Dollars these buyers do push the US prices up, especially for ‘top-end’ guitars. Whilst Sterling remains weak against the Dollar, ‘top-end’ guitars will continue to find new homes in Tokyo rather than Europe or the US.
We also buy directly from American individuals. These are often wonderful encounters with musicians, generally older in years who are selling their personal instruments. This is where our buyer hears some of the most charming stories. Fathers feature often: the gentleman in one of the ‘Bible belt’ states selling a guitar his Dad bought for him and which he only played in church on Sundays; the lady selling her Dad’s guitar complete with pictures, sleeve notes, lyric sheets, and spare strings – just as he left it after his last recording session.
However, there are far more ‘private individuals’ selling guitars in the US that we politely decline to do business with. It’s a judgement call, but if the person doesn’t seem 100% genuine, or there are any doubts about a guitar’s authenticity or legitimacy, our buyer prefers to pass than take any risks.
Typically these instruments are offered for sale on eBay, which is another ‘no-no’ for us.
Thankfully, being a web-based business we don’t get offered stolen guitars, which continues to be a regular occurrence in London’s Denmark St. Shame on those who support thieves by buying their hot gear.
Importing vintage guitars into Europe attracts VAT which is liable at the rate of the European country into which they are imported. In the UK that’s 20%.
You may need to get an EORI number for importing into the EU. It’s free and easy and the link is provided below.
Once inside the EU, VAT has been paid and you are free to move the guitar around without paying VAT again. That VAT cannot be reclaimed by an individual.
There is import duty payable as well, currently at the rate of 3.7% in the UK.
If you are comfortable about smuggling items into the country, you can fly to the US, make your purchase in person and then hand-carry the guitar home. Check that the airline will allow you carry the guitar into the cabin – you don’t want it crashing down the luggage chute with the suitcases!
Importing into the UK guide.
Duty calculator for countries.
Commodity codes lookup for imports.
EORI Scheme – registration and guidance.