Acoustic Guitar Auctions
Vintage, Collectible, Contemporary

FAQs about Selling at Auction

Unlike a guitar hanging on the wall of a shop waiting for someone to find it, an auction guitar is part of an exciting and entertaining event.
Whether you are new to auctions or you are a seasoned seller, you may have questions about how to include your guitar in our next event.

How do you establish an initial value for my instrument?
You provide us with as much detail as possible about your instrument by filling out this form. You upload as many as five photographs of the instrument if available. Photos do not need to be professional grade; you can take them with your phone.
Our appraisers have many decades of experience in buying, selling, designing, building, playing, and evaluating guitars. They use their accumulated knowledge, along with published records and contacts in the guitar making community, to establish an initial value.

How do you establish the estimated value which is seen by potential buyers?
You ship the instrument to us so that we can (a) glean any information you were unable to provide initially; and (b) inspect the instrument to determine its true condition and identify any repairs or adjustments needed to maximize its selling price.

How do you set the minimum bid for my instrument?
We generally set the minimum at 50% of the estimated value. This discourages bids from tire-kickers while encouraging genuine buyers to begin the bidding process.

What is a reserve price and how is it set?
The reserve price is the price below which you will not sell the instrument. The reserve cannot be more than the published estimate and is generally lower than the estimate. You tell us that amount. We do not publish the reserve price. During the actual bidding period we do inform potential buyers if and when the reserve price has been reached. Again, this encourages potential buyers to enter higher bids.

Why do I need to ship my instrument to you?
Having your instrument in hand is the only way we can verify the information you initially provide to us and establish its true condition.

How do I ship my instrument to you?
If you live within a reasonable distance of our offices in Richmond, California, you can make arrangements with us to deliver your instrument in person. If not, you should use a reliable common carrier such as UPS, Fedex, or DHL and be sure to require a signature upon delivery.

Should I include the case?
If you are selling the instrument with the case, you should ship it in the case. We cannot be responsible for returning your case. If you are selling the instrument without the case, we strongly advise you to purchase an inexpensive case for shipping purposes only.

How do I pack the instrument safely?
Make sure you have a suitable shipping box. Your local guitar shop or musical instrument store very likely can provide a box. If not, you may have a packaging store or packaging supply store nearby. Once you’ve located the box, follow the steps in Acoustic Guitar’s handy guide.

How do I insure my instrument for its real value during shipping?
Shipping companies like UPS and Fedex have limits on insurance that are likely to be lower than your instrument’s value. Before shipping, check with your insurance agent or provider to see if your current policy includes protection while in transit. If not, ask your agent to recommend a suitable provider. There are many companies offering one-time shipping insurance.

What if my instrument needs repairs or set-up?
Once we inspect your instrument we will notify you of any repairs or set-up work we believe can maximize the selling price of the instrument, along with an estimate of the costs of having that work performed. If you authorize this work, we will arrange for the work and we will advance payment for it on your behalf. After the sale, we will deduct the cost from the net proceeds which are sent to you. In the event the instrument does not sell, we will invoice you for the repair costs, which must be paid before the instrument is returned to you.
If you decide not to perform the work, we will include a Condition Report in our published descriptions of the instrument which itemizes the work needed to optimize the instrument’s playability.

How much do you charge to sell my instrument?
Our commission is calculated by applying decreasing commission rates to increasing segments of value. Here are the rates and some examples of how we calculate the commission.

AmountCommission Rate
Up to $5,00020%
$5,001 to $10,00015%
$10,001 to $25,00010%
Over $25,0005%

Example 1: Selling price of $3,000
$3,000 x 20% = $600
Total commission = $600
Your net = $2,400, minus any repair costs

Example 2: Selling price of $7,500
$5,000 x 20% = $1,000
$2,500 x 15% = $375
Total commission = $1,375 (18% net commission)
Your net = $6,125, minus any repair costs

Example 3: Selling price of $11,000
$5,000 x 20% = $1,000
$5,000 x 15% = $750
$1,000 x 10% = $100
Total commission = $1,850 (17% net commission)
Your net = $9,150, minus any repair costs

How do I get paid?
When the buyer pays us, we pay you. We issue checks every Monday against payments received the previous week.

What happens if my instrument doesn’t reach its reserve price?
The consignment agreement gives us the right to try to sell your instrument privately for 30 days after the auction ends. If we fail to sell it in that period, you can choose to (a) leave the instrument with us and continue looking for a buyer for a mutually agreed-upon period; (b) leave the instrument with us for our next auction; or (c) ask us to return the instrument.

Who pays to ship my instrument back to me?
We pay for both shipping and insurance when returning your unsold instrument.

What if I have more questions you haven’t answered here?
Please email auctions@stringletter.com.

Keep in Touch

Stay informed about our auction calendar and noteworthy instruments coming up for sale. Plus, tips and advice about the auction process!

Terms for Sellers

Here is our Consignment Agreement. You will be required to sign a copy of this document before your guitar is included in our auction.

This Consignment Agreement (this "Agreement") is made effective as of DATE between NAME OF CONSIGNOR (“Consignor”), of [MAILING ADDRESS OF CONSIGNOR], and STRING LETTER PUBLISHING, INC. of 941 Marina Way South, Suite E, Richmond, California 94804 (“Seller”). The parties agree as follows:

I. RIGHT TO SELL. Consignor owns the Property listed in Appendix A of this Agreement (“Property”). In accordance with this Agreement, Consignor grants Seller an exclusive right to sell the Property under the terms of this Agreement. Consignor agrees to deliver to Seller, on consignment, the Property. All terms of sale shall be determined by Seller.
II. PROCEEDS OF SALES. Seller will pay to Consignor the sales proceeds of the Property less certain costs described in Appendix B of this Agreement.
III. RECORDS. Seller shall keep accurate records regarding the Property that are sold. Consignor shall have the right to inspect such records from time to time after providing reasonable notice of such intent to Seller.
IV. TITLE TO MERCHANDISE. Consigned merchandise shall remain the property of Consignor until sold.
V. LOSS AND INSURANCE. Seller shall be responsible for all shortages, loss, or damage, while the merchandise is under the control of Seller. Seller shall maintain insurance in adequate amounts to pay for replacement of the merchandise in the event of such shortages, loss, or damage.
VI. PAYROLL TAXES. Seller shall be exclusively liable for, and shall indemnify Consignor against such liability for, all employee payroll taxes and insurance arising out of wages payable to persons employed by Seller in connection with the performance of this Agreement.
VII. DEFAULTS. If Seller fails to abide by the obligations of this Agreement, including the obligation to remit the consignment payment to Consignor when due, Consignor shall have the option to cancel this Agreement by providing 60 days' written notice to Seller. Seller shall have the option of preventing the termination of this Agreement by taking corrective action that cures the default, if such corrective action is taken prior to the end of the time period stated in the previous sentence, and if there are no other defaults during such time period.
VIII. DISPUTE RESOLUTION. The parties will attempt to resolve any dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement through friendly negotiations amongst the parties. If the matter is not resolved by negotiation, the parties will resolve the dispute using the below Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure.
Any controversies or disputes arising out of or relating to this Agreement will be submitted to mediation in accordance with any statutory rules of mediation. If mediation does not successfully resolve the dispute, the parties may proceed to seek an alternative form of resolution in accordance with any other rights and remedies afforded to them by law.
IX. TRANSFER OF RIGHTS. This Agreement shall be binding on any successors of the parties. Neither party shall have the right to assign its interests in this Agreement unless the prior written consent of the other party is obtained.
X. TERMINATION. This Agreement may be terminated by either party by providing 60 days' written notice to the other party.
XI. ENTIRE AGREEMENT. This Agreement contains the entire agreement of the parties with respect to the subject matter of this Agreement and there are no other promises or conditions in any other agreement, whether oral or written. This Agreement supersedes any prior written or oral agreements between the parties with respect to the subject matter of this agreement.
XII. AMENDMENT. This Agreement may be modified or amended if the amendment is made in writing and is signed by both parties.
XIII. SEVERABILITY. If any provision of this Agreement shall be held to be invalid or unenforceable for any reason, the remaining provisions shall continue to be valid and enforceable. If a court finds that any provision of this Agreement is invalid or unenforceable, but that by limiting such provision it would become valid or enforceable, then such provision shall be deemed to be written, construed, and enforced as so limited.
XIV. WAIVER OF CONTRACTUAL RIGHT. The failure of either party to enforce any provision of this Agreement shall not be construed as a waiver or limitation of that party's right to subsequently enforce and compel strict compliance with every provision of this Agreement.
XV. APPLICABLE LAW. This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the State of California.
XVI. SIGNATORIES. This Agreement shall be signed by Consignor and on behalf of Seller by an officer of the Seller. This Agreement is effective as of the date first written above.


APPENDIX A: DESCRIPTION OF PROPERTY (TO BE DETERMINED)
Maker
Model
Serial Number
Year Built
Condition
Reserve Price

APPENDIX B: CONDITIONS OF CONSIGNMENT
These Conditions tell the Consignor on the front page of this Agreement (“you” or “your”) the conditions on which you appoint String Letter Publishing Inc. (“we”, “us” or “our”) to offer and sell the property identified on the front page of this Agreement (the “Property”).
1.1) You appoint us as your agent, on an exclusive basis, to offer and sell the Property in accordance with the conditions below.
1.2) You will deliver and consign to us the Property (which we may subdivide into one or more “Lots”) for the sole purpose of our acting as your agent in accordance with clause 1.1, where we contract to sell the Property on your behalf.
1.3) We intend to offer the Property for sale at public Internet auctions (“Auctions”) and we will choose the venue, day, time, and place of such Auction and related viewings and the conditions of sale, including descriptions of the Property.
1.4) We will sell your Property to the highest bidder at our Auction although you acknowledge that we do not guarantee that any Lot will be sold. We are also entitled to bid and purchase a Lot for our own account.
1.5) We may, in our sole discretion, permit your Property to be made available to bidders with a “Buy Now” option, the price of which option shall be confirmed by written agreement between us.
1.6) We are not responsible for cases and other accessories delivered with any Lot unless specified in this Agreement.
1.7) You agree that we may, for a reasonable charge to you, make small repairs to the Property, such as small gluings, truss rod adjustment, fret polishing, and the like. We will provide a written estimate of such charges, subject to your approval, in advance of performing the work, and will advance payment for the work on your behalf, said payment to be deducted from settlement of your account. You also agree that we may, at no charge to you, perform other minor services such as string replacement.
1.8) We may withdraw any Lot prior to final sale for reasonable cause. With our approval, you may also withdraw any Lot for reasonable cause prior to the start of the viewings and, in such event, you will pay us 25% of the average of the high and low pre-sale estimates for such Lot.
1.9) If we have not sold any Lot at our intended Auction, we may, during a period of time after such Auction (not to exceed 30 days), make a private sale of the Lot; or, unless and until you request in writing the return of the unsold Lot within a period of 90 days after such Auction, we may continue to offer the Lot for sale at any subsequent Auction.
1.10) We may sell any Lot at a price below the reserve price, if any, that is set out for that Lot on the front page of this Agreement, provided that we must in such event pay you the same amount which you would have been entitled to receive from us had such Lot been sold at its reserve price.
1.11) No ownership rights in any Lot are being transferred to us pursuant to this Agreement; ownership rights remain vested in you until sold as contemplated by this Agreement.
1.12) You will not bid, or instruct somebody else to bid on your behalf, on any Lot you consigned to us.
1.13) If and only if a Lot is sold, you will pay us a seller’s commission equal to 20% of the first $5,000 USD of the sale proceeds for that Lot, plus 15% of the next $5,000 USD, plus 10% of the next $15,000 USD, plus 5% of any sales proceeds in excess of $25,000 USD, subject to a minimum commission on each Lot of $100 USD. This seller’s commission shall be deducted from our payment to you, as will any repair costs paid on your behalf pursuant to paragraph 1.7 above.
1.14) We are responsible for return shipping of unsold property and agree to pay all charges for this transport. Insurance will be purchased at our expense. In no event will we be liable for property damaged or lost in transit.
1.15) You represent that as of the date of this Agreement and through to and including the date of sale by us of each Lot:

  • You are the uncontested, sole, and exclusive direct and beneficial owner of such Lot, free and clear of all liens, encumbrances and other third party rights (including without limitation those of governments or governmental or administrative agencies);
  • You have the right to enter into this Agreement and give us possession of such Lot, and upon sale by us pursuant to this Agreement, good title and right to possession will pass to the purchaser, free of all liens, encumbrances and other third party rights;
  • Your and all other acquisitions, imports, and exports of such Lot (other than temporary imports and exports by us for viewing purposes) have been in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including without limitation with respect to the making of required administrative notifications and the payment of required customs duties and value added or other taxes;
  • You have informed us of all information of which you have been made aware regarding the provenance, authenticity, attribution, or condition of such Lot, or any part thereof (and without limitation, you have delivered to us all original certificates of authenticity and condition reports regarding such Lot of which you are aware);
  • All of your descriptions of such Lot and statements of provenance, condition, authenticity or attribution, whether such descriptions are set forth on the front of this Agreement or are made elsewhere by you orally or in writing, are true and complete.
1.16) You grant to us a security interest in and lien upon each Lot and all proceeds with respect to each Lot to secure your performance of your obligations under this Agreement.
1.17) We are not liable for any errors or omissions with respect to any Auction, or in any catalogue or other descriptions of a Lot, other than resulting from our gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Calendar

Here are some important deadlines to make note of for upcoming events.

February 2022 Auction June 2022 Auction October 2022 Auction
Request a valuation by… 8/6/2021 11/19/2021 3/25/2022
Consign your instrument by… 10/14/2021 1/27/2022 6/2/2022
Bidding opens on… 2/17/2022 6/2/2022 10/6/2022
Bidding closes on… 2/27/2022 6/12/2022 10/16/2022
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