The 10 Fastest-Selling Used Guitar Brands on Reverb

As guitarists and gearheads, most of us have a specific piece of gear for which we’re always on the hunt. We keep our eyes peeled at local music stores, add it to our Reverb feeds, or just obsessively search every day until that special rarity pops up. And when it does, we know we have to act fast, because if we don’t snag it right away, someone else will—sometimes in a matter of minutes.

When you take all of these lightning-fast sales in aggregate across an entire brand, you uncover a baseline measure of how in-demand the brand is on the used market, what we could call “gear hotness.” And today, that metric is exactly what we're looking at: the top ten used guitar brands on Reverb as ranked by how quickly their used listings sell—from the moment they’re listed to the second they’re sold.


10. Ormsby

Coming in at number ten is Ormsby guitars of Perth, Australia. A key innovator in the current wave of multi-scale instruments, luthier Perry Ormsby's reputation in the world of shred has seen a sharp incline in recent years.

While most Ormsby guitars are built-to-order (which contributes to a low used inventory on Reverb), the company has recently launched the production GTR series which seeks to bring their designs to the masses.


9. Electrical Guitar Company

Another custom builder, Electrical Guitar Company is the brainchild of Kevin Burkett—a true zealot for aluminum neck guitars. Inspired largely by Travis Beans of the '70s, EGC is the current torchbearer of the aluminum neck format.

While largely associated with noise rock and sludge metal, aluminum neck instruments are starting to be embraced by a much wider range of players, fueling EGC's visibility and demand for the occasional used specimen that comes to market.


8. Whitfill

Coming from a background as a machinist and cooper, Charles Whitfill is one of many luthiers specializing in vintage-styled, Fender-esque guitars. Lots of fans remark on the value of a Whitfill relative to other guitars of the ilk.

Typically selling in the $2,000 USD range, Whitfills aren't cheap but are certainly more modestly priced than many competitors in this segment—especially considering the hand-wound pickups, relicing, and other standard appointments.


7. Hallmark

Founded in Bakersfield, California in the ‘60s as something of an offshoot of Mosrite, the original Hallmark guitar company operated for just a couple of years, producing a relatively out-there model known as the "Swept Wing."

In the late '90s, the brand was revitalized by Maryland-based builder Bob Shade, who produces a whole range of guitars based ultra-rare original Hallmarks as well as some Mosrite-inspired designs. Based in their popularity, it appears the the current generation of Hallmarks have earned a spot as the go-to make for anyone looking for a Mosrite-esque guitar.


6. Chapman

The brainchild of eminent, British YouTube personality Rob "Chappers" Chapman, Chapman Guitars specialize on low-to-mid tier, metal-oriented instruments and has built a sizable following based mostly around Chapman's visibility in the online guitar community.

Demand for these guitars seems largely tied to YouTube, and a perusal of Chapman's artist endorsement page shows mostly players known for their millions of video views rather than millions of record sold. It's an interesting model that reflects shifting paradigms of guitar culture more broadly. Chapman Guitars' global distribution is increasing every year, which will likely create more used inventory and decreased demand.


5. Republic

A family business found in Texas in 2007, Republic Guitars follows a business model used by a number of burgeoning brands: guitars are built to spec by an overseas manufacturer and shipped to the US for final setup and inspection.

Republic guitars are alone, however, in applying this model to a growing range resonators. With prices hovering around $600 USD, these instruments occupy a unique space between lower-end mass-market resonators being built by larger companies and the lofty prices commanded by vintage Dobros and Nationals.


4. Sho-bud

Built from the 1950s until sometime in the early '80s, Sho-Bud is one of the most common names you'll encounter if shopping for a used pedalsteel guitar.

While there are some Sho-Bud models that can fetch hefty prices (for steels with multiple necks or with more exotic looking enclosures, especially), the bulk of sales fall somewhere in the $1,000 USD range, which mostly encompasses basic single-neck examples like the three-pedal Maverick. This is the sort of instrument that someone who just wants to learn the pedalsteel would likely seek out on the used market.


3. Danocaster

In a field crowded with custom builders working with classic Leo Fender templates, it's difficult to stand out, but that's exactly what Danocaster seem to be doing. Based largely on his forum-fueled reputation, builder Dan Strain is known for the individual attention he gives to every instrument, and having one of his guitars built is like commissioning a custom suit from a tailor: it just fits.

His wait times are usually about a year long, so when used guitars hit the market, they tend to get snagged by players who want to skip the line.


2. .strandberg*

Based in Uppsala, Sweden, .strandberg* is one of the more forward-thinking companies in the guitar industry. With their headless Boden model, .strandbergs have become the dream guitar for a growing community of metal, fusion, and prog players. Ola Strandberg's designs emphasize ergonomics and playability with a few unique design elements. Their "EndurNeck" neck profile, for example, is made up of several flat plans of wood rather than a traditional curve. Based on the reviews, it seems like they're onto something with the concept.

With their fanned-frets, .stranberg* guitars are similar to Ormsby listed above which reflects the growing popularity for this genre of guitar. The demand is there, and it'll be interesting to see if any larger companies start to create guitars that fit this mold at lower price brackets.


1. Carter

Carter pedalsteel guitars were made up until 2010 when president and co-founder John Fabian passed away. Much like Sho-Bud above, the popularity of this lines comes from offering instruments with price tags that a novice steel player can justify spending. There are, for instance, Carter guitars that have sold on Reverb for less than $700, which is about as affordable of a pedalsteel as you could hope to find.

According to a tribute on steelguitar.com, Fabian understood this market need and combined it with an early understanding of the power of online marketing. While there are higher-end Carter models that sell in similar ranges to the classic steel companies, it's the entry-level steels that tend to move right away when they come to market.


Conclusion

With a few exceptions, every brand on this list offers a relatively unique product line. From the mid-tier resonators of Republic to to the ergonomic necks of .strandberg, the fastest-selling used brands derive their desirability from operating in a niche without too much direct competition.

The ultra-fast sales of used, entry-level pedalsteels is a great example of this: clearly, there are aspiring pedalsteelists out and not a whole lot of options when looking a deal on a starter instrument. Carter was filling this void, but now that the company has closed, perhaps it's time for another maker to step in.

I should also point out few caveats about above rankings and how these numbers were approached. First, this is just measure of how quickly things sold for listings that actually sold—if there are overpriced listings hovering on the site for months or years, they do not impact the averages.

To control for the impact this might have on the rankings, I've only included brands with a total sell-thru rate is above 50% of all historical listings (and in fact, most brands on the list sold at rates much higher than that). Additionally, we set a floor at 50 completed sales, which filtered out some smaller boutique brands and luthiers with fast-selling guitars but without a meaningful amount of sales history to pull from.

Jargon aside, while the stats may have been sliced in different ways, the above rankings should still provide a baseline for what's quickly on the used market right now. In many cases, the rise of these brands reveals some holes in the new market, and in other cases, predict up-and-coming trends with guitar buying more broadly.

Any of these guitars on your radar? Let us know in the comments.


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