Creek Don't Rise

Orpheum Tenor Value?
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Author:  paulrace [ Fri Nov 01, 2019 7:34 am ]
Post subject:  Orpheum Tenor Value?

Hi!!! I've been doing so much research online trying to find out more about the Orpheum No. 1 4-String Tenor Guitar that my late mother passed down to me recently. While the guitars seem to be rare and extremely vintage, there is very little information about how much it is worth in terms of dollar value - my local guitar shop is offering me $400 for it but I honestly feel like that is miles below what I could get for it, especially if I find a collector. I just wanted to see if you had any views on what this guitar could be worth and if you know any channels I could explore to sell it (or of course, if YOU yourself are interested in it!) I can send pictures and videos too! Hope to hear from you!


I can't use a tenor guitar - sorry - and I don't know anyone in the market right now, but if you could send me photos, including closeups of various parts of the thing, I might be able to offer some guidance in terms of when it was possibly made, etc.

Unfortunately the Orpheum brand name changed hands any number of times, and some Orpheum instruments were made by discount guitar lines like Kay and Harmony. If yours is earlier than those days it could have been owned by the company that originated the name. That should technically be worth more, but it would have to be playable - there's no discernible collector's market for Orpheum, due to the brand being used by 2nd-tier companies in later years. And also, there aren't very many tenor guitar players these days. You're fortunate to live where there are a lot of musicians, so you would certainly have better luck than I would in Springfield OH.

A player would have to get his or her hands on the thing to decide whether it was worth a huge investment. Under the circumstances, your music store might be making you a good offer. Let's say they generally pay 60% of list price for their merchandise. A $400 offer means that they think they could sell it for, say $650, but in the meantime, they have to clean it up and provide a place where people can come in and try it out. If you tried to sell it for $650, you'd have to go to a lot of effort to get folks' attention.

Hope that makes sense. If you can wait a while to get a better idea, go to and search for vintage tenor guitars. Ignore the Gibson and Martin, and pay attention to what the better-condition Kays and Harmonies sell for - I see very few exceeding $500. Your mother's guitar may be a much better instrument than those, but if you put a "watch" on the guitars that seem to be similar, and see what they actually sell for, you'll begin to get a good idea.

In the meantime, of course, I'll take a look at your photos and see if there's any other information I can offer you. Or put is on your local Craigs' list for a higher price and see if you get any bites.

In the meantime, have you seen my article on Tenor guitars? It might fill in some background foryou. ... guitar.htm

Also, this site might be helpful:

Best of luck,

Paul Race

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