I get a lot of enquiries about valuations.. what IS a vintage tape recorder worth?
Well, there's no easy answer to that question. Firstly, there are many types of tape recorders. The most basic grouping would be domestic, semi-professional and professional. Each of these groups could then be divided into smaller groups, for instance mono or stereo, common or rare, valve or solid-state, tape deck only or complete with amplifiers & speakers, portable or non-portable etc. Then of course there are variables such as condition, aesthetic design, reputation and other extenuating circumstances. (For example a humble domestic mono 1961 Grundig in fair to good condition might only be worth $25 but if it once belonged to John Lennon it may be worth 100 times that amount!).
OK, here's my attempt to apply a tangible value on certain
types of tape recorders.
These types of recorders are not particularly sought after
(especially the mono ones), nor are they valuable unless rare and/or exotic,
in excellent condition and stereo. Valves (tubes) are more desirable than
transistors. Condition is everything and the inclusion of original accessories
such as microphone(s), owner's manual etc are also important. Here's a
very rough price guide, keeping in mind the variables we mentioned above:
Semi-professional recorders were often made by domestic
recorder manufacturers in an attempt to capture the upper end of the market
not met by their domestic products. They had better specifications than
their domestic counterparts, often with three motors and separate record/playback
heads and a more professional finish. Some manufacturers such as Brenell,
Ferrograph and Revox only made semi-professional level machines - other
companies like Akai and Tandberg predominantly made recorders of a higher
than average quality somewhere in between the domestic and semi-professional
Examples from sold items on eBay, March 2006
An Ampex model 600 (mono - all valve, mid 1950's) in clean & complete condition but not working fetched $290. This model, however, is considered to be a classic. Other Ampexes, in better working condition, not quite so old but still valve AND stereo, ranged from $75 - $200.
Here's a very rough price guide, keeping in mind the variables:
If you really want to know what your machines are worth I suggest you check eBay regularly and make sure you look at the 'completed' items to see what a particular make and model sold for (or didn't sell for!)