Do Custom/Flipped Guitars Sell?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars' started by wyxe, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. wyxe

    wyxe Squier Talker

    Feb 2, 2018
    I came across a really cheap really badly maintained First Act guitar a little over a year ago, and the time has come to show it some love. Filed the frets to a shine, cleaned the fretboard, routed a new body cavity to fit 2 Seymour Duncan humbucker pickups, designed a custom pickguard to go over the cavity and mount all the electronics to (a lot like a Stratocaster), took apart and polished the bridge. I'm going to refinish the body because it shows some deformities, but the neck isn't that bad. Going to replace the tuning machines because they were god awful.

    My question is, how do guitars like these sell? Do custom guitars (built completely from scratch) sell well, do they sell for a fair price for the builder? Is the market for this sort of thing good?

    Also, side question, how hard would it be to flip a well known guitar, like a cheap Epiphone or Squier? Taking a no-name guitar and modifying it so much that it can't be recognized and is basically custom is one thing, but taking a stratocaster and upgrading the electronics sounds very different. Typically I find the aforementioned guitars at prices between 150 and 200, so the profit margin here is extremely small compared to the First Act I got, which I think I bought at 30. I'm hoping if it plays and sounds great I can get at least 600 out of it.
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  2. squierbilly

    squierbilly Dr. Squier

    Apr 21, 2013
    sunny phoenix
    600. for a First Act?... Lol.. this i got to see!..
    You would have to be quite the magician or a very goood artist to pull that off..
    Though there is a first act custom shop or at least there used to be.. they could command quit a bit of moola..
  3. Toddcaster64

    Toddcaster64 Squier-holic

    Apr 1, 2013
    This reminds me of the time I decided to sell my first car. It was by no means really old, but neither was it new. I had put so much into it - nice rims, high end stereo, etc., and it was immaculate. Surely I’d get way more than the blue book value........ yeah right. That was a life lesson. I hope you get your $600 figure, but at the end of the day it’s a First Act (btw, not knocking it - I have one), and I don’t think anyone’s going to care if Seymour Duncan himself had installed the PUs. As they say, don’t quit the day job.
  4. Mfranzdorf

    Mfranzdorf Squier-Meister

    Feb 2, 2016
    NW Ohio
    It’s possible to make a small profit on it I think. You might look into replacing the neck though. Find a nice strat neck on CL maybe. After that, you might look into swapping out the body. Loaded Squier strat / something like that.:D
  5. jefffam

    jefffam Dr. Squier

    Jan 26, 2015
    Portland, TN
    While modding very inexpensive guitars, i.e. First Act, Squier, Epiphone and a host of others, can be a fun, satisfying and enjoyable experience, I would not recommend it as a money making experience. You might be able to make a very small profit off your initial outlay but not much. Any modifications you do should be for your own personal enjoyment. The expense of mods, pickups, painting, pickguards, electronics is by and large non-recoverable. You have to do it for the pleasure of doing it.

    Like the old joke about the kid who takes a $3000 Civic (or similar car) and puts in $30,000 in engine and interior/exterior upgrades and mods. He still has a $3000 Civic. The same applies to inexpensive guitars. You might garner $10-$50 for the right mods, but you're still bound by what the market will bear among a plethera of similar model guitars.

    Have fun but don't look for it to be a money making enterprise.
  6. BlueSquirrel

    BlueSquirrel Squier-holic

    Dec 21, 2018
    If you change both the neck and body, then there isn't a lot of the original instrument remaining, don't you think?
  7. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    No market for it. I think that just like you, someone looking at a First Act ad is looking to buy the cheapest guitar he can find.

    I paid $50 for mine and I have no intention of selling it, but if I did, I'm not sure I'd get my money back. But did I have fun modding it !

    First Act - SX P90.jpg
  8. RegularJim

    RegularJim Squier-Nut

    Dec 30, 2017
    Illiconsin, Wisinois
    Guitars of any sort are an iffy investment at best. In many cases, customizing guitars will reduce the value even further. ($100 guitar + $200 mods = $50 guitar)

    Modding, in my experience, is just a fun way of keeping me busy on the weekends. The only way to make any real money at it is to have other people pay you to mod their instruments. But then it becomes more like work instead of a hobby.

    With something like a $30 First Act, I would only mod it if it was a "keeper". To sell or flip it you'd be better off cleaning it up, put the original electronics (if they work) and try to sell it for $50.

    Here is a First Act I picked up for $10 and sold for $15. I put in a lot of work getting a bunch of stickers off it, and I did have to switch out the pickup with one I had laying around because the old one didn't work. And of course I put strings on it. Previous owner "painted" over the First Act logo with a Sharpie.


    Good luck!
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  9. Lonn

    Lonn Administrator Staff Member

    Dec 19, 2009
    Carmel IN
    Admin Post
    Seriously, you'll be lucky to get $150 out of it.
  10. bigtuna

    bigtuna Squier-holic

    Nov 1, 2015
    Have never considered buying a first act. Guy I know and have done business with. Put up a first act garage bend v.w
    Golf model. Very cool looking. Like new. $175.
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  11. Michael7

    Michael7 Squier-holic

    I agree with everyone above. Go ahead and mod it to your heart's content, but then in the end, pull the SD pickups and stick in some much cheaper ones, like some from Guitar Madness on Reverb/Ebay. Buy all of your components for the rehab as cheaply as possible, to minimize your investment. Then you have the best chance of a modest profit. By the way, FA necks are pretty nice in my opinion, I have 6-8 of these guitars. The stock head stock can be modified to look more like Gibson than Gumby, and if it is a Strat shaped body, there are FA Strat type necks that would look better than the original FA. I think 3x3 on a Fender look guitar is goofy. Or you could fit a Squier one if you find a cheap one on CL, OfferUp, LetGo, or a local garage sale.

    Here is a FA Overtone body with Squier neck that looks cool and would catch a buyer's eye in first pic. This isn't my guitar, I think the seller was having trouble getting $200 for it when I lost track on Ebay. That one has a real nice example of "black burst". Most Overtones are dark greenish/black that looks like sewage and hides the grain.

    Modified FA Strat type (head stock reshape) in second pic, for which I have about $50 invested, including the great sounding $16 Ali Express P-9os. I can certainly make some money on selling that one. The thick poly paint job is going to be a tell to anyone that this is not a top end guitar that could command a high price.

    When you go to sell any FA body based guitar, the mess of poly resin that they coat them with will usually still be showing and will reveal it is a cheap donor guitar. Pic 3.

    s-l1600.jpg IMG_20170614_050042108_HDR.jpg IMG_20160626_205804868.jpg
  12. Hotrodleroy

    Hotrodleroy Squier-holic

    Dec 7, 2011
    Last FA I bought was 5$ and the guy just wanted me to take it for free, but I felt 5$ was fair for the parts. It was one of those Adam lavine edition I think? :(
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  13. Eddie

    Eddie Dr. Squier

    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    Lucky to get $50 for a First Act.
  14. jman72

    jman72 Squier Talker

    Jan 16, 2019
    Buy a cheap guitar to keep it and play. Fix it up and upgrade it to your heart's content. But you'll never get anything out of it if you try to resell it. Craigslist is full of high-end parts guitars (Warmoth, etc) with $1000+ worth of parts selling for 1/3 of that. Most people pay for the name (at least partly), which makes up a lot of the resell value. If it has First Act on the headstock, that's what it is, regardless of the parts you've added to it.

    I've got a Squier Jagmaster that I'm modding heavily. I paid $50 for it and will probably have $100 in parts to fix it up. It will be a great guitar, but I'm doing it for fun and to play, not to increase its value.
  15. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    I have often thought of this question. I have rebuilt several Squiers into my own custom creations and I put my own logo on all of them. I also have a FA now that will be one of my future projects. Are any of them worth flipping to make a profit? Probably not. Maybe for a very small profit on two of them. But I think where I could turn them into a profit would be if I could get a local professional musician to play one. If my work was good enough, and enough other musicians asked about the guitar he was playing, then maybe there would start being some interest in the guitars I was making. Only then would there be an opportunity to start making some money. But I would probably have to give a few away or sell them at a loss just to get them out there for others to see.

    That said, I don’t think my work is good enough yet and I don’t know any professional musicians. So I think I’ll just keep it a hobby! LOL

    It’s fun to think about being the next big guitar brand though. :)
  16. fattboyzz

    fattboyzz Squier-holic

    Nov 29, 2017
    Newnan ,Ga.
    That's the exact point
  17. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Squier-Axpert

    Dec 12, 2009
    Swanton Ohio
    Bottom line is all in the name..Ordinary people like you and me would be lucky to break even on modified/upgraded guitars..
  18. Eddie

    Eddie Dr. Squier

    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    This is totally true. I read an article of some idiot spending $30K on his Civic. In the end, it's still a Civic ... now worth less than before he modded it.
  19. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Feb 10, 2010
    The Honda Civic. I can relate with a slightly different angle. When I used to repair and restore a lot of Vespas back about 10 years ago, someone would ask to help get it running. So let’s say they paid $800 for an old ratty bike that didn’t run. I’d take a look, well, safety first. You need tires, tubes, rims. You need a couple bulbs replaced. And a few cables. I’ll clean the carb, rinse out the gas tank, new plug. Parts and everything costs $250. Wow! It fires up and runs.

    The cash outlay was $800+$250=$1050. What’s it worth? $800. They try and tell me it’s worth $1200 at least because they got all this stuff and had it fixed. I tell them ok. If they find a buyer, great, but they never could. They may get a little more, not much and not the $250 they put into it. Break even at best.

    Oddly, things like cleaning up the frets and doing a setup, they are necessary, but they don’t add a value. You may add a set of hot pickups you like, but they may not necessarily be the pickups *I* like. You fixed a pot? Well ok. Good. Here’s the same guitar for less and the pot works too. Maybe they fixed that pot too or maybe they didn’t. But YOU fixing the pot only brings it up to the value it should be. Not add above.
  20. DrBeGood

    DrBeGood Squier-holic

    Dec 9, 2014
    Sutton QC, CANADA
    Some idiot ? There must be thousand of idiots doing just that :confused:
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