Buying Vintage Equipment?

From what I understand, a vintage set is about the only way to get real Kaya, shell and slate for less than 1.000 US dollars.

I generally prefer old stuff anyway for the heritage/history and eBay has quite a few vintage sets from Asia that seem cool.

Does anyone have experience buying vintage equipment for regular use? Is it such a big deal to have genuine Kaya, shell and slate vs. cheaper options like Yunzi, glass or melamine stones and Shin Kaya/spruce or bamboo boards?

At this point, I’m still a raw beginner and in no particular hurry to drop mega coin on an expensive set that I don’t deserve. Just exploring future options so that when the time comes I can buy one nice set for life.


It you are a beginner, I feel there is no reason to rush out and buy a kaya board or slate and shell stones. But of course, it is your decision. My advice is think about if for at least a year before you make a purchase over $500.

Everybody has their own aesthetics. I personally love the look and feel of yunzi stones, so they suit me just fine. The only thing I would steer clear of is a bamboo board. In my experience, bamboo tends to fade/warp/crack and will not last you for many years.


I dont know how shell and slate stones feel as ive never played with a set. I dont imagine it makes a huge difference over high quality glass stones. I would stay clear of plastic stones though, because they lack weight and feel unpleasant.

As for the board, i think that there are options equal to kaya, but cheaper. Anyway, before spending that kind of money, you should make certain, that you have ample opportunities to use the board at home, since taking it anywhere is quite a hassle.
For example: I started out with a wooden board (nowhere near the quality you are thinking of aquiring :slight_smile:), but the one i use most by far is a simple leatherette mat, since i play elsewhere more than at home.

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Yellow Mountain Imports
Melamine Double Convex Stones, 7.5 Millimeters (Size 28)
4.0 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews | 6 answered questions
Price: $16.99

I think these stones on Amazon are fabulous, perfect size and shape and form. Big fan of melamine (aka plastic) stones here as they do not break like stone or glass, are less expensive when lost on the floor (where stones do tend to go), feel great in the hand (nothing cheap feeling about them to me), and store wonderfully in a plastic sandwich storage container. The single convex version of this for a couple bucks less are nice, too, especially for teaching as they can be used right-side up or upside-down to indicate base pattern versus your moves on that base.

I bought a nice vintage goban (Japanese, real Kaya, four legs, circa 1920) from an eBay seller from out west (Utah? Oregon?) named SailerKing. He lists amazing ones, like now for $750, but every now and again (an auction ended a few days ago) something very similar for about $150-$250 plus shipping. He did a nice job shipping my Goban, has good feedback, and although I do not know him personally, I’d buy from him again.

Having said that, and owning stones made of agate, onyx, Yunzi, shell…I prefer the Melamine ones, to be frank.

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Interesting, I heard just the opposite :confused: that bamboo is much more durable than cheap wood and looks good even after many years and does not scratch easily… I wanted to buy one for myself, so you say not to do that? Have you had bamboo yourself?

Adam, I have not owned bamboo, but I’ve been scared off from all the reviews online (including on Amazon, as I recall) of the boards splitting and breaking. The bamboo is strong, it’s the dozens of joints that are glued to form straight, thin, bamboo into a go board that are the “weak link”. Plus, they just look “busy” to me, visually, and like all boards, get darker over time when they are plenty dark to begin with. But, I’ve not owned one, I’m just chiming in with what I have read. I’ll watch to see if anyone has a different long-term experience with bamboo. :-))


Yes I have owned one before and it started cracking and splitting at the joints after one year.