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Question about Acoustic Strap Buttons and value impact

I recently received an email from Mike who wrote:

"I am looking for an HD-18JB from a collector perspective. I have found one however the owner had a neck strap button professionally installed on the side of the heel of the neck. I have no idea what affect that would have with regard to the value of that guitar based on that modification.  I am a beginning guitarist and a long time Parrot Head so I would like one for collection purposes."

Great question, Mike!  I actually contemplated this 13 years ago when I bought my Collings OM-3HE.

There are "proper" locations on a neck for installation of a strap button.  On guitars like a Martin acoustic with a solid mahogany neck, it is critical that the button be installed correctly.  "Professional" only means something if the "professional" properly installs it in the correct location in a craftsman-like manner.  Like in the image attached, Martin has these leather neck collars that loop around the neck at the base of the headstock just behind the nut.  Martin still subscribes to the traditional theory of strap being from the strap button at the butt end of the body to the headstock via string or their handy loop.    That said, Guitar companies like Collings out of Austin Texas have a schematic which attempts to instruct a luthier where a structurally acceptable location for such a button is on a solid one piece neck.  Installation of the strap button may in fact invalidate the warranty for the neck on a Martin, however the warranty is moot once the guitar is owned by the second owner anyway.

Above goes to the idea of whether it is an acceptable thing to do.  Sure, it is an acceptable practice at the discretion of the owner for the functionality, provided it is done properly.

As to value impact, that's a little more interesting debate.  On VINTAGE instruments, any modification such as this, which is other than original, will invariably have some negative impact on value as compared to a pristine Original condition alternative.

A Jimmy Buffet Martin, however is clearly not a vintage instrument - at least not yet.  I have handled two for a friend of mine and he has one more.  I have also played several other Martin Artist guitars like the Paul Simon, Tom Petty and Eric Clapton.  The HD-18JB  guitars are nice modern Martin D18s with herringbone and a couple Artist Model custom features like the headstock and Buffet signature inlays that appeal to certain players/collectors with an affinity to the artist more so than the guitar.  When you have a buyer that has such an affinity, they will tend to buy the instrument when they are so inclined in and around the going rate.  Since there are a limited number of the guitars out there, the luxury to pick and choose for something potentially harmless as a property installed Strap button is not likely to impact the value too greatly since these buyers are not truly collectors, but are more likely artist enthusiasts which tends to bring a bit more emotion into the investment equation.  This typically translates to a little more flexibility in the negotiations on price.

With all this said, these guitars remain rather pricey for being a glammed out Martin D18.  This is probably due in part, to the original cost new being so high. Most people who have had the financial resources to afford these guitars have not been forced to sell at a comparable D18 price, YET.

Parrot heads are many and strong, so there is likely to be a buyer out there at any given time, to buy the guitar at a reasonable premium to the alternative non-artist model.  Given the motivation of this buyer, I would not imagine the strap button would significantly impact the ability to sell or cause dramatic reduction in price.  You may run into someone like yourself who may be tentative as a result, but I would venture to say that as long as there is ebay and the internet, you could find another who doesn't care, just as easily.

Good luck.
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