Will Ray's eBay Strategies(6)

August 1, 2003

AUCTION ITEM: 1960 Gibson Melody Maker Winning Bid: $356
I have a confession to make. I’m a sucker for old Gibson Melody Maker guitars from the early ’60s. They’re built solid, have great necks, and are a hoot to play. The only downside to these guitars are the original single-coil pickups, which I find to be weenie sounding. In my early days, I had two double cutaway MMs, and I replaced the pickups on both guitars with beefier Gibson humbuckers. Those guitars screamed! But alas, over the years, I lost them in guitar trades—something I always regretted.

I was determined to find another Melody Maker, but, this time around, I lusted after the cooler-looking, single-cutaway version. They were going for approximately $800 at music stores in my area so I kept my eyes peeled until I found this one on eBay. It was a single pickup model, and the previous owner had replaced the original pickup with a Seymour Duncan mini-humbucker. Because of that modification, I knew most collectors would be scared off.

I was willing to go up to $425 for this item, so I bid $427.52, and I ended up getting it for $356! I received the guitar in about two weeks, and, upon unpacking it, I was pleasantly surprised that it came with a late ’60s/early ’70s Gibson Les Paul hardshell case. Cool! A hard case like that is worth another $75 or $100 to me. So how did it sound? Really cool! The Seymour Duncan pickup gives it a nice ballsy tone, and the neck is to die for. It’s a keeper.

Organized Bidding Tips
I’ve received many letters from fellow auction addicts asking for advice on how to keep auctions organized—especially when many auctions need to be tracked at once. First, I bookmark interesting auctions after doing searches for my favorite models. Then I group them according to their ending days and times. I keep a legal pad near my computer, and the night before a group of auctions is ending, I write down the auction end time, a description of the item, the current price, the seller’s feedback (low or negative feedback ratings warn me to be cautious in my dealings), and the seller’s shipping costs and payment options. These notes help inform my bidding parameters. In addition, I always write down the final selling price—even on items I decided not to bid on—so I can refer back to them for price comparisons.

Shipping costs are a very important consideration, as they must be added into the equation before bidding. If a shipping price isn’t listed, I always e-mail the seller to see what they charge. Beware—I’ve had some sellers try to charge four times the going shipping rates. If I’m on the fence about an item, the payment options are sometimes the deciding factor. My favorite methods are PayPal (an easy, online payment service), personal check, or credit card. I mean, who wants to go to the trouble of purchasing a money order or cashier’s check for a $10 bridge?

Check in with Will at willr@hellecasters.com.    

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