Please note that the view point here is of the writer and not necessarily that of the club or it's members.
What is something worth? What should something be worth? How long is a
piece of string? Three questions with no real answer, yet everyone will
try to give you one. Before we go on, let us first go back to when a piece
of equipment is new. Take the Yamaha DX7 for example, it was launched onto
the market in 1983 costing £1300 (allowing for inflation that equates
to about £2000 of todays money). The £1300 was not based solely
upon the manufacturing cost, but on recovering development costs and more
importantly here, based upon what the instrument could sell for based on
supply and demand. The DX7 was different to anything else, it's unique
sounds (everything else affordable was analogue) made it extremely
desirable. The cost of production was low, and Yamaha priced the DX7 to
sell to the mass market, in other words it was priced as high as the mass
market buying public would tolerate. When a product is more desirable than
another (or appears to be) it can command a higher price. This is the
complicated area of gauging the desirability of a product, in the case of
the DX7, Yamaha got it right, because they did sell a few! Today however,
FM synthesis and DX7's are not popular. Supply is high (there are
thousands of DX7's around) and demand is low, so the selling price is
quite low (less than 25% of it's original value).
If we take a second example, say a Roland System 700 Modular synth, this dates back 20 years and has gone through the undesirable phase and has now re-entered the extremely desirable phase, supply and demand in this case is perhaps the absolute extreme. There are probably only about 10 of these instruments in the entire UK, and just about all analogue synth fans would probably want one. Costing around £8,500 in the 1970's, allowing for inflation that equates to over £20,000 by todays money. A System 700 will sell today for around £10,000 - £12,000, this seems a lot of money (actually, it is a lot of money!), but compared to the inflation indexed cost, it doesn't seem so drastic (around half it's original new price). The problem with values, lies in the fact that things become undesirable (not worth as much) before the desirable phase comes back (prices rising), and it is the lower priced phase that is remembered (i.e. how many times have you heard "I remember when you could buy a Memorymoog for £400", you certainly could at one point, but that value slump overshadows the fact it cost over £3300 when new - so £1500 for one is not really that high - it is still less than half it's new price).
Let us now look at what price something should be. If offered a Roland TB303 for £700, to most this is too a high price (it's new price about 14 years ago was £179). The point here is, if you do not buy it at that price someone else will. This is back to the supply and demand situation, in the case of the TB303 demand has exceeded supply, and that makes the price go up. So, is £700 for a TB303 a rip off? The answer to that is no. The fact you may find it difficult to except that this is what they sell for at present is your opinion, and someone with a different opinion will pay that price for it (I am staying neutral in this discussion!). Demand of a product is heavily dictated by fashion and trends, most analogue synths are fashionable nowadays and therefore command a higher price than they did several years ago, but most instruments sell today for less than half their original price (TB303 excepted). A few examples to illustrate this to those disbelievers out there:-
|Today's price £||Original new price £|
|Roland Jupiter 8||£1000-£1500||£4000|
|Oberheim Matrix 12||£2500-£3000||£6000|
|Sequential Prophet V||£800-£1200||£3200|
|Korg Poly 6||£250-£350||£1200|
|Roland Juno 60||£275-£400||£1200|
Maybe it is the mainly uninteresting new instruments nowadays that has increased the demand in the older synths, or perhaps it was the introduction of MIDI that generated the non MIDI analogue slump (more likely), but one thing is for sure, we are unlikely to ever see vintage synths so low priced as we have seen them in the past.
If anyone feels analogue synths are valued too high, voice your opinion.
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