Jimi Hendrix's longest-owned guitar is heading to auction. Estimated to sell for between £80,000 and £120,000 (US$100,000 to $150,000), the 1951 Epiphone was owned by Hendrix longer than any other guitar he used in his tragically short career. It will almost certainly move into our top 60 most valuable guitar list if it meets reserve.
Jimi Hendrix is one of the greatest guitar players of all-time, and our comprehensive list of the 60 most valuable guitars ever sold at auction validates this statement: four of Hendrix's guitars appear in the top 25 and another two (for a total of six) appear inside the top 60. Only Eric Clapton has more guitars on the list, and Hendrix has more on the list than John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Les Paul, "The Edge" and Jerry Garcia. What's more, the Fender Stratocaster on which Jimi played the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock is rumoured to have been sold privately for $2,000,000, making it the second most valuable guitar in history.
The guitar set to go under the hammer at Bonhams' London Entertainment Memorabilia auction on 15 December is a 1951 Epiphone acoustic with sunburst finish, and was owned by Hendrix for almost three years, longer than any other guitar he used in his tragically short career.
Hendrix (pictured above with the guitar) paid $25 for the second-hand Epiphone during his 1967 American tour (which included the Monterey Pop Festival) and it became his tool of choice for off-stage work as his British girlfriend Kathy Etchingham recalls: "Jimi used it for almost everything he composed in this country ... he constantly played it to work out riffs and song arrangements including his own version of Dylan's All Along The Watchtower."
Etchingham remembers the guitar was "used very, very heavily, continuously, all the time," at their Upper Berkeley Street flat because his prior use of a guitar with an amplifier had caused them to be evicted following complaints from residents about the noise.
In 1970, Hendrix gave the guitar to Blue Mink guitarist Alan Parker, and it was subsequently used by Parker on numerous recordings for Blue Mink as well as Dusty Springfield, The Walker Brothers, Paul McCartney and on David Bowie's Diamond Dogs album. Hence the stencilling on the battered guitar case of "A. Parker."
The guitar, if it reaches reserve price, will almost certainly give Hendrix a seventh guitar in the top 60 guitars of all time, adding to those already on the list: the 1965 Fender Stratocaster he famously burned on stage at the Finsbury Astoria ($560,000), a 1966 Red Fender Mustang ($490,000), a 1964 Fender Stratocaster ($385,917/£260,280), a 1970 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst ($187,500), the 1966 Fender Stratocaster used at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival ($288,493/£180,000) and the "Woodstock Strat" that is believed to have sold privately for $2,000,000, but appears on the list because it originally sold at auction in 1990 when it was sold by Sotheby's for $325,000.
Major artists with more than one entry in this list are also, not co-incidentally, the leading proponents of the electric guitar. Guitars formerly owned and played by Jimi Hendrix, the three guitar-playing Beatles (John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney), Les Paul, "The Edge" and Jerry Garcia have all commanded stratospheric prices more than once.
Prince's Cloud Guitar
The Bonhams auction on 16 December will also include another guitar with the potential to move into our list, with the instantly recognizable custom-made Schecter Cloud Guitar used by Prince in four 1993 tours (Act I & II, Prince and the New Power Generation Tours).
Prince used a number of Cloud guitars during his career, his first purchased in 1983, and he used numerous examples of different colors to match the theatrical themes of his concert performances, sometimes respraying existing guitars. The image above shows Prince with this guitar from the Act II program, a copy of which is included in this sale with the New Power Generation band members' autographs on the back.
The guitar is estimated to sell for between £25,000 and £30,000 ($30,000 to $40,000) and was won in an MTV competition in 1993. It is described as "a double cutaway maple body with extended scrolling horn, 22 fret fingerboard decorated with Roman numerals, with the number 4 engraved on the headstock, an EMG humbucker and 5A single coil pick ups, tone and volume controls, selector switch with an accompanying black hardshell case with midnight-blue plush lining."