The 100 most valuable guitars ever sold at auction
Updated: February 21, 2020 | The rise of popular music in the last century can largely be attributed to the accessibility of music, with first recording and playback devices (records, tapes, CDs), the proliferation of mass media (radio and television), then the unstoppable momentum of the MP3 file format and widespread distribution and consumption of music via the Internet. Now that everyone has an audio player in their phone and everyone has a phone, music is more influential than ever.
Nothing catalyses the reliving of a moment in one's life quite as vividly as a musical track. Popular music and technology has helped each and every one of us to construct our own individual soundtrack for our lives, and store it on our person.
The electric guitar is the foremost musical instrument of the last 50 years, so it's not surprising that guitars that have played a lead role in significant musical happenings sell particularly well at auction.
Like collectible cars, it has only been in recent times that vintage guitars have become very valuable at auction and are now viable alternative asset classes for investment.
The following list of the most valuable guitars sold at auction has been compiled in the same way we have compiled our other "most valuable" lists (such as the most valuable cars, most valuable motorcycles and most valuable movie cars), in that we only count those sold at auction which can hence be verified as sold at a certain price by a reputable source (the auction house). Private sales don't count because there is no publicly available record of the transaction (and word-of-mouth tends to exaggerate a price).
We've also used the same valuation methodology as previous lists (the auction price listed includes the buyer's premium to reflect the total price paid by the purchaser) and we've converted all prices into American dollars at the prevailing exchange rates on the day of the auction, ordering the list based on the price in American dollars, mainly because America is the heart of the collectibles industry, and we once before found that using more than one currency is problematic due to fluctuating exchange rates.
Guitars as an investment
It's fair to say that guitars are not yet as robust an asset class as traditional stocks and bonds. When the availability of liquidity dried up in the mid-1980s, the price of guitars took the best part of a decade to recover, then it stalled again with the dotcom bust, and it is only recently on a roll after the 2008 financial crisis. Though it must also be said that when the market is rolling, wisely investing in guitars offers far greater returns than anything you'll get in the stock market. Our musical heritage is again a driving factor, and the new wave of money brought by the rise of the Internet has created a new class of investor with a different set of tastes and values.
It's not every vintage guitar that appreciates rapidly in value though. As Gibson itself states on its website, "The vintage and limited edition guitar growth in market value is often quoted at about 15 percent per year on average, but these are generally limited to instruments built during the 1950s and 1960s."
1 | $3,975,000 | 1969/1983 Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: Dave Gilmour's 'Black Strat', many Pink Floyd albums & live performances
Auctioned by Christie’s, 2019
The Black Strat was Gilmour's primary performance and recording guitar on every Pink Floyd album from 1970 to 1983 plus all four of his solo albums. It is the primary guitar used on The Dark Side of the Moon (1973), Wish You Were Here (1975), Animals (1977) and The Wall (1979). It was also the guitar played in the famous Gilmour guitar solos in Shine on You Crazy Diamond and Comfortably Numb.
This is the feature guitar on two landmark albums - The Dark Side of the Moon is the third most successful (top selling) album of all-time and The Wall is the second most successful double album in history. This guitar has been heard by billions of people for half a century.
2 | $2,902,000 | 1962 Gibson J-160E
Provenance: Lennon/McCartney songwriting, The Beatles, “She Loves You”, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “Please, Please, Me”, “All My Loving" and “From Me to You”
Auctioned by Julien’s, 2015
This is the guitar John Lennon used in his initial songwriting collaborations with Paul McCartney, the pair both going on individually and together to become the most successful songwriters of all time. On this guitar, the duo wrote such classic songs as She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand, Please, Please, Me, All My Loving and From Me to You, and those songs and many more of The Beatles' early hits were recorded with it too.
3 | $2,700,000 | 2005 Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: "Reach Out to Asia" charity auction - signed by Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian May, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davies, Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood, Tony Iommi, Angus & Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, Def Leppard, and Bryan Adams
Auctioned by "Reach out to Asia" Charity Auction, 2005
This guitar was sold at an auction co-ordinated by Canadian singer-songwriter Bryan Adams, in Doha, Qatar on November 16, 2005, to raise funds for the tsunami charity, Reach out to Asia. The guitar was signed by a "who's who" of the world's greatest guitar exponents and rock stars and was initially purchased by Qatar's royal family for US$1 million and then donated back to the Reach out to Asia Program, bringing in US$2.7 million at auction, and hence ultimately generating a total of US$3.7 million. The guitar auction was conducted by Sotheby's Henry Wyndham, who said from the podium, "I have auctioned many items for charity in my life but never have I witnessed the levels we achieved tonight. This will stay in my memory for a very long time indeed."
XX | $2,000,000 | 1959 Les Paul Standard
Provenance: Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Gary Moore, Thin Lizzy, Kirk Hammett, Metallica
Private sale - unconfirmed
If this guitar could talk, it would have a tale to tell. Its early history is unknown, with it being purchased second-hand by Peter Green prior to him joining John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers to replace Eric Clapton in 1967. After 12 months with Mayall, Green and friend Mick Fleetwood began Fleetwood Mac, and this guitar can be heard on Fleetwood Mac’s initial hits such as "Albatross", "Black Magic Woman", "Oh Well", "The Green Manalishi" and "Man of the World."
In 1970, Green loaned the guitar to a promising but unknown young guitar player named Gary Moore, eventually selling him the guitar for $300, the same price that Moore had received for selling his Gibson SG, his main guitar at that time. Moore went on to become one of the world’s most respected guitar players, and used this guitar for 30 years, from his 1973 debut album Grinding Stone, during several stints in Thin Lizzy, and with Colosseum II from 1975 to 1978. The guitar can also be heard on “Parisienne Walkways” and "Out in the Fields" and his best-selling album Still Got the Blues in 1990. In 2006, Moore sold the guitar for a price rumoured to be between $750,000 and $1.2 million, passing through the hands of several collectors before being purchased in 2014 by Kirk Hammett of Metallica. Hammett has given the guitar yet another life, often using it to play Metallica’s cover of “Whiskey in the Jar” in concert. The traditional Irish folk song was popularized by Thin Lizzy with the lead being played with the same guitar, decades later. The tone of this guitar, believed to be due to one of the pick-ups being reversed during its original construction, has attracted three of the world’s most acclaimed guitar players and has kept it in the public spotlight for six decades.
XX (49) | $2,000,000 | 1968 White Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Woodstock, "The Star Spangled Banner", Newport Pop Festival, Isle of Fehmarn
Private sale - unconfirmed
This blonde, maple-necked 1968 Fender Stratocaster guitar has been one of the most valuable guitars in the world for the last quarter century, primarily due to Jimi Hendrix' famous performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Woodstock Festival in August, 1969.
The guitar last traded publicly at auction in April, 1990, when Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell entrusted the guitar to Sotheby's and it sold for £198,000 ($325,000), to become the world's most valuable guitar. Even though it sold for that price 30 years ago, it still holds 49th place on this list, based on that sale.
It was subsequently sold for a reported US$2.0 million in 2008 to the Experience Music Project (a non-profit museum, dedicated to contemporary popular culture and founded by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul Allen) which subsequently morphed into the EMP Museum, and is now the Museum of Pop Culture.
Interestingly, by comparison to the cars and motorcycles which populate our top 250 most valuable listings, and are restored to as-new perfection, this guitar bears the markings of Hendrix' provenance. It reportedly still has the stains on the back from Hendrix' colorful shirts, the nut has been reversed to accommodate the upside-down stringing and there are burns on the neck from Hendrix lodging cigarettes between the neck and strings and letting them burn down while he was playing it. This guitar can now be seen on display at the Museum of Pop Culture.
4 | $1,900,000 | 1973 Doug Irwin Custom
Provenance: Jerry Garcia's "Wolf", Jerry Garcia Band, Grateful Dead
Auctioned by Guernseys, 2017
"Eagle" was Jerry Garcia's first custom guitar, and Garcia was so impressed with it he asked master luthier Doug Irwin to make another, but with Stratocaster pick-ups. The result was the 'Wolf', delivered to Garcia in 1973, and played for six years. It cost him $1,500, a princely sum in those days for a guitar. At the same time he commissioned another guitar from Irwin, one with which he gave Irwin complete free rein to build. It took six years to complete this second guitar which became known as 'Tiger' – see below in this listing. Garcia's Wolf guitar suffered some damage during a European tour in 1976 and was returned to Irwin for repairs. It was at this time that Irwin replaced the Wolf sticker that Garcia had stuck onto the guitar, with wood inlays. Garcia willed, on his death in 1995, both Wolf and Tiger to Doug Irwin.
After Irwin settled a lawsuit against the Grateful Dead in November 2001 ("The Dead" had claimed ownership of the instruments), Irwin put them up for sale in a Guernseys auction of Grateful Dead memorabilia at Manhattan's Studio 54 on May 8, 2002. The standing-room-only crowd cheered every bid and Wolf sold for $798,500, well surpassing the then world record of $497,500, set in 1999 by Eric Clapton's Fender Stratocaster "Brownie." Some worthwhile reading on this subject includes Guitar Player's How Jerry Garcia revolutionised the custom guitar industry, an article about Wolf by Doug Irwin, and a wonderful link on Jerry Garcia's Guitars in detail. In 2017, philanthropist Daniel Pritzker, who purchased the guitar in 2002, put Wolf up for auction with Guernseys and Wolf moved back to the top of the pack (albeit in third place at that time, rather than its previous chart-topping number one place), with the $1.9 million proceeds going to charity.
5 | $1,815,000 | 1954 Fender Stratocaster #0001
Provenance: Dave Gilmour, Pink Floyd, "Another Brick in the Wall"
Auctioned by Christie's, 2019
It isn't the first Stratocaster. That had serial number #0100 and was last sold by Dave Gruhn of Gruhn Guitars in 2014 for $250,000. This guitar, despite having serial number #0001 and Dave Gilmour in its provenance, still surprised by fetching the fifth-highest price in history. The guitar was clearly built as a showcase piece with its white body, maple neck, three-way pick up selector and gold hardware. Gilmour purchased it from guitar technician Phil Taylor, who had bought it from Seymour Duncan. Gilmour used it to play Marooned, Coming Back to Life and Sorrow in the 2004 Strat Pack at Wembley Arena in honor of the Stratocaster's 50th anniversary.
6 | $1,250,000 | 1957 Gibson Les Paul
Provenance: Duane Allman, Allman Brothers Band, Derek and the Dominoes, "Layla", Layla Sessions, and albums "The Allman Brothers Band" and "Idlewild South"
Auctioned by Gottahaverockandroll.com, 2019
Duane Allman (November 20, 1946 – October 29, 1971) died in a motorcycle accident at just 24 years of age, yet despite leaving us before his time, is generally regarded as one of the best guitar players of all time.
In 2003, he was ranked second to Jimi Hendrix in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time, with a subsequent Rolling Stone listing compiled by a different panel ranking him in ninth place in 2011.
Until 2019, Allman's guitars were noticeably absent from this listing, but two separate auctions inside a week saw his 1961/1962 Cherry Gibson SG fetch US$591,000, and a few days later, this 1957 Goldtop Gibson Les Paul Guitar fetched $1.25 million.
The 1957 Goldtop Gibson Les Paul was Allman's main guitar during the first two years of the Allman Brothers Band, and is the guitar which Allman used alongside Eric Clapton in recording Layla. Allman also used the guitar throughout the recording sessions with Derek and the Dominos in August 1970 for the studio album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970).
The Goldtop was used on the Allman Brothers self-titled debut album released in 1969, as well as Idlewild South released in 1970. The albums featured the original versions of "Whipping Post," "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed," "Midnight Rider," "Revival" and other classics. The guitar can clearly be seen in the "Loan Me A Dime" studio sessions.
The guitar has been on display at the Allman Brothers Band Museum at the Big House in Macon, Georgia, and has also been played by Billy Gibbons, Kirk Hammett, Charlie Starr, Vince Gill, Derek Trucks and many more.
Just a few weeks after the "Layla" sessions, Allman traded the guitar for a cherry sunburst. On September 16, 1970, the Allmans played a show in Duane and Gregg Allman's hometown of Daytona, Florida. Duane, fresh off recording "Layla" was, as usual, playing this '57 Goldtop. The opening band was a local group called the Stone Balloon, whose guitarist, Rick Stine, was playing a 1959 cherry sunburst Les Paul.
While making "Layla", Allman had fallen in love with Clapton's cherry sunburst Les Paul. Wanting one of his own, Allman offered to swap guitars with Stine. When Stine hesitated, Allman upped the stakes, throwing in $200 and one of his regular Marshall 50 heads. Stine agreed and the deal was finalized. It’s the same Cherry Sunburst that sold for $591,000 a few days prior to the sale of this guitar.
7 | $1,102,000 | 1964 Rose-Morris Rickenbacker Model 1996
Provenance: John Lennon, The Beatles
Auctioned by Julien's, 2015
This guitar was originally given to John Lennon by Rose-Morris, the official UK importer of Rickenbacker, when his 1964 Rickenbacker 325 was damaged during a Christmas performance. Lennon played this guitar for the remaining 1964 Christmas shows, and in 1968, Lennon gifted the guitar to Ringo Starr.
In 1968, when tensions were rising among the Beatles, Starr, briefly left his bandmates who were recording The Beatles aka the "White Album". When he returned, fresh with new material he had written, Lennon gave him the Rickenbacker. According to Beatles authority Andy Babiuk, Lennon thought the guitar would fit Starr well and wanted to encourage Starr to write more songs.
8 | $1,095,000 | 1969 C.F. Martin D-35
Provenance: Dave Gilmour, Pink Floyd albums
Auctioned by Christie's, 2019
This 1969 C.F. Martin D-35 was purchased by Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour from a musician was selling his guitar on the street outside Manny's Music in New York in 1971 and has been Gilmour's primary studio acoustic guitar since 1971. When asked by Sue Lawley on the BBC Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs what his luxury 'desert island' item would be, Gilmour responded: "Well to me it's not a luxury, it's an essential. I need to take my guitar with me, my acoustic Martin D-35 guitar, because life is impossible without a guitar."
It was purchased from a musician was selling his guitar on the street outside Manny's Music in New York in 1971. When asked by Guitar Player magazine in 2003 which of his guitars had the most songs attached to it, Gilmour replied,"I guess it would be my Martin D-35. I used it on Wish You Were Here, and I've been using it ever since."The D-35 can be heard on Welcome To The Machine, as well as the title track of Wish You Were Here, the tribute to former band member Syd Barrett. In The Story of Wish You Were Here, Gilmour reflected on his fondness for the song "because of its resonance and the emotional weight it carries, it is one of our best songs."
9 | $965,000 | 1964 Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: Bob Dylan's guitar used in his infamous "electric" performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival guitar
Auctioned by Christie's, 2013
When Bob Dylan took to the stage at the Newport Folk Festival on July 25, 1965, the three-song set the 24-year-old poet-singer-prodigy performed made news around the world. It was the first time Dylan had performed with an electric backing band, (made up of Mike Bloomfield and some members of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band) and it was, according to Rolling Stone magazine, "one of the most notable events in music history." It has been referred to as "the most written-about performance in the history of rock & roll," as it catalyzed a seismic shift in the direction of popular music.
This is the 1964 Fender Stratocaster Dylan used during that performance and it made headlines in 2012 when it was submitted to the PBS television program History Detectives for authentication, going on to be auctioned by Christies in New York on 6 December, 2013 and becoming the most expensive stage-used guitar to sell at auction.
The guitar was also used by Dylan at his first appearance with future members of The Band at Forest Hills, New York in the weeks after Newport, and during the 1965 recording sessions for his album Bringing It All Back Home.
The full auction description is worth a read for the back story, which included full-on fisticuffs between Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman, and festival board member (and staunch traditionalist) Alan Lomax and the comments of American folk legend and political activist Pete Seeger, "if I'd had an axe I'd cut the cable."
Four days after the festival, Dylan recorded the scathing Positively 4th Street in response to the folk fans who could not accept his growth, a song which went on to become one of his signature works.
10 | $959,500 | Fender Stratocaster Hybrid
Provenance: Eric Clapton's "Blackie", Layla, Derek & the Dominoes, Used both on stage and in the studio from the early seventies to the mid eighties by Eric Clapton. Blackie shared the stage with Carlos Santana, Freddy King, The Band, Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters to name a few. Clapton recorded numerous albums on Blackie, including '61 Ocean Boulevard,' 'Slowhandowhand,' 'No Reason To Cry' and 'Just One Night.'
Auctioned by Christie's, 2004
Blackie is a hybrid made up from the best bits of several vintage stratocasters. The legend goes that one day Clapton wandered into a a guitar shop in Texas, buying six vintage Fender Stratocasters for $100 each. He gave one each to George Harrison (The Beatles), Pete Townshend (The Who), and Stevie Winwood (Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith) and constructed Blackie from the other three.
Clapton auctioned Blackie to raise money for his Crossroads Rehabilitation Center. Clapton was a heroin addict for many years and once he emerged at the end of the ordeal, he subsequently devoted a significant proportion of his wealth and influence to help the similarly addicted.
Blackie is special in many ways. Clapton told Dan Forte in a 1985 interview published in Guitar Player: "I feel that that guitar has become part of me. I get offered guitars and endorsements come along every now and then. [A guitar maker] tried to get me interested in a fairly revolutionary guitar. I tried it, and liked it, and played it on stage – liked it a lot. But while I was doing that, I was thinking 'Well, Blackie is back there. If I get into this guitar too deeply, it's tricky, because then I won't be able to go back to Blackie. And what will happen to that?' This all happens in my head while I'm actually playing [laughs]. I can be miles away thinking about this stuff, and suddenly I shut down and say, 'This is enough. No more. Nice new guitar. Sorry. You're very nice, but...' That's when I drag the old one back on, and suddenly it's just like jumping into a warm pool of water."
Clapton first played the guitar on stage at the Rainbow Theatre, Finsbury Park, London on 13 January, 1973 at the concert organised by Pete Townshend and others to encourage Clapton's recovery from addiction.
11 | $957,500 | 1979 Doug Irwin "Tiger" Custom
Provenance: the primary guitar of Jerry Garcia from 1979 to 1985. The last guitar Garcia played publicly. Jerry Garcia Band, Grateful Dead
Auctioned by Guernseys, 2002
One of popular music's original "wild men," Jerry Garcia was the lead guitarist, lead singer and songwriter for the Grateful Dead for its entire 30 year performing career, which included an amazing 2,300 concerts, despite battling diabetes, cocaine addiction and heroin addiction. The Grateful Dead was ranked 57th in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Artist's of all-time, while Garcia was ranked 46th in Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of all-time, and his principal guitars were unique, having been crafted by Doug Irwin and Travis Bean.
Though Irwin built five guitars for Garcia, two guitars in particular were used for the majority of his work, being Tiger (his main guitar from 1979 to 1989) and Rosebud (his main guitar from 1990 to 1995). Due to a problem with Rosebud during the final Grateful Dead concert (July 9, 1995) before Garcia's death on August 9, 1995, Tiger was the last guitar Garcia played publicly. No doubt Deadheads already know of this wonderful resource on the Dead's instruments, but if you are a fan, you'll be delighted.
12 | $850,000 | 1984 Andy Beech Blue Cloud guitar
Auctioned by Julien's, 2004
This Prince stage-used blue Cloud guitar was originally donated by Prince to an auction in 1994 to benefit Los Angeles Earthquake Relief. The guitar was used by Prince in the very late 1980s and early 1990s on stage, in the studio, and for publicity photoshoots. The guitar was sold accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Cloud guitar luthier Andy Beech stating that he made this guitar for Prince.
13 | $847,500 | 1964 Gibson ES-335 TDC
Provenance: Originally purchased by Eric Clapton in 1964, this hollow-body electric guitar was used throughout his career, playing a role in the music of the Yardbirds, Cream, Blind Faith, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and his post-addiction solo career, becoming one of Slowhand's principal stage-used guitars during the nineties.
Auctioned by Christies, 2004
Fellow Yardbird Chris Dreja was photographed playing Clapton's 335 more often than Clapton in this early stage of Clapton's career. With Cream, Clapton was more frequently pictured with various Gibson Les Pauls, and the famous psychedelic Gibson SG, but he appears to have started using this ES-335 alongside a Gibson Firebird I during Cream's farewell tour in 1968. In December 1968, Clapton played this guitar on Badge and other tracks from the Goodbye album.
Clapton used this guitar extensively with Blind Faith in recording sessions and on stage during the Scandinavian and US Tours that followed. An inside cover photo of No Reason To Cry suggests that this ES-335 was present at the Shangri La Studio sessions in the spring of 1976. Clapton said in a 1989 interview that this guitar was also used on his 1989 rendition of Ray Charles' Hard Times released on the Journeyman album. According to Lee Dickson, this guitar was taken to practically all of Clapton's recording sessions from 1979 to 2004.
It returned to the stage as one of the key guitars used on the Nothing But Blues Tour when Clapton played on it the Freddy King numbers Someday After A While, I'm Tore Down and Have You Ever Loved A Woman. Clapton can be seen playing this guitar at Filmore West on the 8th and 9th of November, 1994, in the footage of a documentary film of the Nothing But Blues Tour, directed by Martin Scorsese.
It remained as a stage guitar, largely reserved for Freddy King numbers, until the summer of 1996. Again, it was captured in concert footage that year when Clapton used it on various TV shows, most notably the VH-1 Duets program with Dr. John at Roseland, New York on the 9th May, 1996. It was used at the Prince's Trust concert in London's Hyde Park on the 29th June, 1996, subsequently released on video as Eric Clapton – Live in Hyde Park, where it features on the cover.
Estimated to sell for between $60,000 and $80,000, the guitar smashed estimates to sell for $847,500 at the famous Crossroads Guitar Auction held by Christies on 24 June 2004 at the Rockefeller Plaza in New York.
14 | $791,500 | 1939 Martin OOO-42
Provenance: The main instrument used in Eric Clapton's 'MTV Unplugged' appearance, one of the pivotal moments in his career. Clapton is pictured playing this guitar on the CD cover of the multi-million seller Unplugged album, and it was used to play the acoustic version of 'Layla', 'Before You Accuse Me' and 'Old Love', as well as early versions of 'My Father's Eyes' and 'Lonely Stranger.'
Auctioned by Christies, 2004
This guitar first appeared on stage at the first of the Blues only seasons at the Royal Albert Hall in February/March 1993, used in the opening acoustic segments of the show for pre-war Blues covers such as Alabama Women, How Long Blues and Four Until Late. It went on to serve as Clapton's main stage acoustic guitar between 1993 and 1995, mostly used in the opening acoustic segments of the Blues concerts for numbers such as Malted Milk.
When Martin was developing its first Eric Clapton signature model 000-42EC, Eric Clapton requested that the construction of that guitar should be based on the structure of this guitar. A Martin publicity photograph at the time shows Clapton holding this guitar in one hand, and the new signature model in the other.
Although Clapton Signature Martin guitars with built-in pickups began to be used for larger concert venues from 1996 onward, this guitar remained as the main stage acoustic guitar through the 1997 Far Eastern Tour and the first leg of the Pilgrim US Tour in 1998.
15 | $657,000 | 1962 Rickenbacker 425
Provenance: John Lennon, George Harrison, The Beatles. Used during the Beatles' live performances of 'Twist And Shout', 'I'll Get You' and 'She Loves You' on the British pop TV show, Ready Steady Go!, the recording on October 17, 1963 of the band's fifth single, 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' and reverse side of the single, 'This Boy'. Also used during the October 1963 tour of Sweden and subsequently has been on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland), John Lennon Museum (Japan), Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix) and the Grammy Museum's Beatles Exhibition (New York).
Auctioned by Julien's, 2014
This 1962 Rickenbacker 425, serial number BH 439, was purchased by George Harrison in September 1963 at Red Fenton's Music Store in Mount Vernon, Illinois, while on a two-week visit to see his sister, Louise. Beatlemania was just beginning and Harrison met a few other young musicians during his stay and told them about his interest in buying a Rickenbacker. Harrison looked at Fenton's selection and chose the guitar he liked, but it wasn't available in his preferred black (to match Lennon's black Rickenbacker).
The guitar was refinished in black and on his return to the United Kingdom, he used it during The Beatles' first appearance on the television program Ready Steady Go! on October 4, 1963, and on the program Thank Your Lucky Stars in December 1963.
Harrison used the guitar during the Beatles' October 1963 week-long tour of Sweden, the first overseas gig for the band since their early days in Hamburg. He interchangeably used his Country Gentleman and the 425. Harrison was photographed with the guitar extensively on this tour, and the entire band was photographed posing with the guitar as well. This is purported to be the only known photograph in existence of all four Beatles holding a single guitar.
Harrison played this guitar as The Beatles recorded I Want to Hold Your Hand at Abbey Road Studios. This song, The Beatles' fifth single, gave the band its break in the US market. The same session produced the recording of This Boy.
John Lennon also played the guitar backstage at a performance in Glasgow, Scotland, on October 5, 1963. A photograph published in an August 1964 Beat Monthly magazine shows Lennon with this guitar.
In the late 1960s or early 1970s, Harrison gave the guitar to George Peckham, who had a long association with Apple and especially George Harrison in multiple roles, including cutting engineer at Apple. Peckham had borrowed a guitar from Harrison for his appearance on Top of the Pops, as a rhythm guitarist in the band The Fourmost. When he went to return the guitar, Harrison gave it to him, saying that it was a "great rhythm player."
Prior to Packham receiving the guitar it was modified from its original state with an additional pick up added. Peckham kept the guitar in the condition he received it with no further modifications. The guitar case sold with the guitar was given to Peckham by Slade band member Noddy Holder, as Peckham was carrying it around without a case. Holder said he couldn't bear to see a Beatles guitar carried around without a case.
George Harrison's 1962 Rickenbacker 425 guitar eventually sold for $742,000 (including buyer's premium) during fast and furious bidding from at the Julien's auction at Hard Rock Café New York on Saturday, May 17, 2014
16 | $623,500 | 1963/1964 Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: Blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan received this instrument from his wife, Lenny, in 1980 as a 26th birthday present.
Auctioned by Christies, 2004
Stevie Ray Vaughan first saw "Lenny" in an Austin, Texas, pawn shop. He loved it but didn't have the $350 that was on the price tag. His first wife, who he named the guitar after, did a "whip-round" and got some of Vaughan's friends to put in $50 each and bought the guitar for Vaughan's birthday. They presented to him on October 3, 1980, at Steamboat Springs – a nightclub he often played at.
He replaced the neck with the mid-'50s-style maple neck given to him by Billy Gibbons. He kept the tremolo arm, pickups and frets in their original condition, but added his signature and the SRV initials, which were a trademark of the majority of Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitars, on the neck plate and pick guard.
The guitar has Mickey Mantle's autograph on the back of the body. Mantle signed it on April 10, 1985, when Vaughan was invited to play the national anthem at the Houston Astros season opener at the Houston Astrodome.
Stevie recorded with this guitar on many of his love songs, including Riviera Paradise, and of course Lenny, and it was used on stage whenever he played Riviera Paradise live.
Stevie Ray Vaughan died in a helicopter crash in 1990.
The guitar was put up for auction at the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival on June 24, 2004 and it was sold to Guitar Center for $623,500.
All of Stevie Ray Vaughan's personal guitars are held by the Stevie Ray Vaughan Estate. This is the only known one to ever have been released.
17 | $615,203 | 1950s Rex acoustic
Provenance: Paul McCartney's first guitar. In a letter signed by Paul McCartney, he says, “This was the first guitar I ever held. It was also the guitar on which I learned my first chords.”
Auctioned by Cooper Owen, 2006
McCartney bought the guitar from a school mate, Ian James, who he credits with teaching how to play the guitar, and, as Ian James put the guitar up for auction, McCartney must have given it back to him at some stage in its life. It is the same guitar that he used to woo John Lennon with a few of the chords that Ian James had taught him, and so gained entry into John Lennon's band The Quarrymen in 1957.
The £330,000 (US$615,203) final sale price was three times the pre-auction valuation and was bought by Craig Jackson, the owner of elite American Collectible car auction house, Barrett-Jackson.
18 | $615,000 | 1984 Fender Stratocaster 57V
Provenance: replaced "Black Strat" as Dave Gilmour's principal guitar for twenty years
Auctioned by Christie's, 2019
Acquired in 1984, this Candy Apple Red 57V Stratocaster became Gilmour's primary studio recording and performance guitar from 1988 to 2005. In a 1985 interview with John Stix for Guitar for the Practicing Musician, Gilmour enthused, "the new Fender Vintage Series guitar I bought is probably as good as any Fender I own, old or new."
Gilmour played it on Paul McCartney's Give My Regards to Broad Street album and it did the guitar solo on “No More Lonely Nights”. It made its first stage appearance at the Live Aid concert in 1985 when Gilmour's sunburst 57V Stratocaster (sold for $187,500 further down this list) failed during the first song of a set with Bryan Ferry on vocals, and Gilmour on guitar. He hot swapped to this guitar for the remainder of “Sensation”, “Boys and Girls”, “Slave to Love” and a rendition of John Lennon's “Jealous Guy”.
19 | $611,000 | 1958 Gibson Explorer
Provenance: no provenance of note, just a fine specimen of a landmark guitar produced in very limited quantities (less than 50)
Auctioned by Skinner, 2006
This is one of the few guitars in this list not previously owned by a legendary guitar player, gaining its value through scarcity and desirability. Less than 50 were made because no-one wanted them in 1958 when the Gibson catalog listed them at $247.50, the same price as a Les Paul Standard.
The model was discontinued in the early sixties, being referred to by Gibson historian Walter Carter as, "a commercial disaster", though it were reissued again in the 1970s when the radical styling was better received. Then, the fortunes of the re-issued Explorer rose somewhat when 17-year-old David Howell Evans went into Manny's Music store in NYC in 1976, looking to buy a Gibson Les Paul or a Rickenbacker, but settling instead on a Gibson Explorer."
“It just spoke to me. I knew that using this guitar could get an odd reaction as no-one was playing them back then", said Evans. "It's an odd-looking thing. But it sounded just right for me, it had 'my sound' in it," adding, "and it was only $450.”
Evans added an E-H Memory Man pedal, and his newly-formed band suddenly had "that sound." Evans (we now know him as The Edge) and his band (U2) released “Out Of Control” on their first EP soon after.
The Explorer has endured in U2's music and followed the band into the heads of music lovers worldwide. Only 38 of the original series are known to still exist and the list of people who now own them is a who's who of collectors and serious musicians.
Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick has two 1958 Explorers and in Guitar Aficianado he wrote: "I bought the cleaner of the two Explorers in the late Seventies for $4,000 ... that may seem like the deal of the century, ... but at the time I bought this Explorer, Sixties Strats were worth only about $750, and Bursts were going for $2,000. Under the circumstances, that was a hell of a lot of money to spend on a single guitar."
Numerous other big names have since used either the original or re-issued Explorer to great effect, including the late Gary Moore, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Brendon Small (Dethklok) and his alter-ego Skwisgaar Skwigelf, James Hatfield (Metallica), Allen Collins (Lynyrd Skynyrd) and Matthias Jabs (Scorpions). This Explorer was purchased as a gift in 1963 at the original list price of $247.50, and was virtually untouched until it was sold on October 15, 2006 for $611,000 at Skinner Auctions in Boston.
eq20 | $598,000 | 1966 Red Fender Mustang
Provenance: Jimi Hendrix, “Axis: Bold as Love” (1966), “If 6 Was 9” and “Electric Ladyland”, “All along the watchtower”
Auctioned by Juliens, 2007
With few exceptions, Hendrix played right-handed guitars that were turned upside down and restrung for left-hand playing. This had an important effect on the sound of his guitar; because of the slant of the bridge pickup, his lowest string had a brighter sound while his highest string had a darker sound, which was the opposite of the Stratocaster's intended design.
eq20 | $598,000 | 1965 Fender Telecaster
Provenance: Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, The Band
Auctioned by Julien's, 2018
This 1965 Fender Telecaster has been around, and has kept some fine company along the way. It is often referred to as Bob Dylan's guitar, but if it's possible, this guitar's curriculum vitae includes Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Levon Helm, and Robbie Robertson from The Band. Robertson used it to record “Across the Great Divide”, “Up on Cripple Creek”, and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Robertson also played this guitar at some of the legendary musical events of our time, including the Isle of Wight, Woodstock, Festival Express, and at Watkins Glen during a concert which set a Guinness World Record for attendance.
eq 20 | $598,000 | 1963 Maton Mastersound MS500
Provenance: George Harrison, The Beatles
Auctioned by Juliens, 2015
George Harrison played this Australian-made guitar during the summer of 1963 while his Gretsch Country Gentleman was being repaired, though he never actually owned it. The guitar was borrowed from Barratts Music Store in Manchester England and he liked it so much he kept it for July and August 1963 when Beatlemania was taking off in England. One of those gigs was a four concert date on the Jersey Islands in the English Channel and the band's payment for those four concerts was £1,000 (approx. $1,600). The incongruity of it: today a Beatles concert poster from The Channel Islands concerts, in decent condition, could now bring £5,000 or more.This guitar was again auctioned in 2018, fetching £347,200 ($452,357 including buyers' premium) at Gardiner Houlgate Auctions.
23 | $591,000 | 1961/1962 Cherry Gibson SG
Provenance: Duanne Allman, Allman Brothers Band
Auctioned by Heritage Auctions, 2019
24 | $567,500 | 1964 Gibson SG
Provenance: John Lennon, George Harrison, The Beatles
Auctioned by Christies, 2004
Played by George Harrison from 1966 through 1969 during various Beatles appearances and recording sessions which include the last official United Kingdom concert at the NME Poll Winners Concert and during the Revolver recording session. It was also used by Harrison in two Beatles films used to promote Paperback Writer and Rain in 1966 and later played by John Lennon during the White Album sessions in 1969.Also present is a 39 page custom binder which includes excellent documentation, featuring several reproduction images of Harrison playing the guitar with The Beatles as well as documentation from the book Beatles Gear: All the Fab Four's Instruments, from Stage to Studio (Andy Babiuk) and two letters verifying the guitar's authenticity
The guitar was sold with documents of the guitars subsequent owner, Pete Ham of Badfinger, to whom Harrison bestowed the guitar in 1969. In 2002, the guitar was loaned to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio where it was on display until the 2004 auction.
25 | $560,000 | 1965 Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: Jimi Hendrix "burned" guitar
Auctioned by Fame Bureau, 2008
Provenance: The guitar which Jimi Hendrix set alight using lighter fluid on stage at London's Finsbury Astoria on March 31, 1967.
Jimi Hendrix became known for burning his guitars, though in fact, he only ever burned two guitars, and this 1965 Fender Stratocaster was the first guitar that Jimi sacrificed at the Finsbury Astoria in North London in 1967. Tony Garland, a press officer for Hendrix, cleared up the remains of the guitar and stored it in his parents garage in Hove. And there it sat for nearly 40 years until 2007 when Garland's nephew unearthed it.
The American collector who bought the guitar, Daniel Boucher, said: "I thought I'd have to pay a little bit more for it, actually ... it changed music, he raised the bar so high you couldn't get over it. Obviously it is an investment, it couldn't not be an investment for that amount of money, but I bought it because I like it. "The actual price this guitar sold for was reported at the time by newspapers as having sold for £280,000 (which calculates to US$495,269 based on the exchange rate on the day of the sale), though Fame Bureau reports on its web page that it sold for "in excess of $560,000" which would include the traditional buyer's premium (newspapers often ignore this aspect in reporting the price). Hence we've listed the guitar at $560,000. The book Jimi Hendrix Gear reported claims that the guitar might not be the original due to inconsistencies between the guitar in videos and images of that performance and the guitar which sold.
26 | $554,500 | 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe
Provenance: The companion guitar to actor Roy Rogers across 100 films and a thousand recording sessions, from 1933 to his death in 1998.
Auctioned by Christies, 2009
In the 1930s, gripped by the "great depression," America needed heroes. Heroes are larger than life and heroes give hope. It got two. Roy Rogers, "The King Of The Cowboys," and his Martin OM-45 Deluxe guitar.
Rogers was, for those of you who do remember, one of the most influential performers in American history. The official Christies video for the guitar is really worth watching as it tells the story of a very successful and respected musician who fell into acting and became one of the most prolific and loved actors of all-time with over 100 movies to his credit.
The Roy Rogers Show show ran for nine years on radio before becoming a smash hit on television from 1951 through 1957.
If there is a "royalty" among guitars then, surely, the OM-45 Deluxe is it. There were only 15 made, all in 1930, and this example was the first. The pearl inlayed floral pick guard, the pearl inlayed bridge and the gold plated tuners with pearl buttons, resembling more of a banjo tuner than a traditional guitar tuner, are among the features that differentiate, even in today's models, the OM-45 Deluxe from the standard OM-45.
It was shipped in 1930, by Frank Henry Martin, to a San Francisco retail store. Retail cost- $225. By 1933 it was in the possession of one Leonard Franklin Slye, later to be known as Roy Rogers, when he bought it for $30 – from a pawn shop. He used it for most of his recording and film work. It remained with him until his death in 1998.
It has hence been subjected to hundreds of minutes of exposure alongside the matinee idol. The Roy Rogers owned OM (Orchestra Model)-45 Deluxe is considered among many collectors as the rarest and most coveted Gibson guitar ever made.
27 | $531,000 | 1971 C.F. Martin D12-35
Provenance: David Gilmour, Pink Floyd. This guitar served as David Gilmour's chief 12-string studio acoustic for over forty years.
Auctioned by Christie's, 2019
Dave Gilmour: "It wasn't my first 12-string. I had a 12-string when I was a teenager and some of those instruments, you know, what happened to them is murky. I didn't have the funds to just buy another one, so they would often just be sold in order to buy something else, but I did have a 12-string. I always loved the 12-string, I used to listen to Lead Belly a lot, who was a great 12-string player, and there was another guy called Erik Darling who played a 12-string and I learnt some of his stuff. He was an American folk singing guy and he had an album that I was very, very fond of back in those days. He then joined, or formed, a little trio called the Rooftop Singers and had a big hit called “Walk Right In”, featuring a 12-string. So I always wanted to get another 12-string and I knew a guy who had a Martin 12-string and he wanted to get rid of it. I liked it, I bought it. It gave me “Wish You Were Here”, which was very generous of it."
Playing around with his new guitar at London's Abbey Road Studios during the making of Pink Floyd's 1975 album Wish You Were Here between January and July 1975, Gilmour hit upon the notes that would become the enduring title track to the album. When asked by Paul Rappaport in September 2011 how he made the music for “Wish You Were Here”, Gilmour explained: "I had recently bought a Martin 12 string from someone I knew and I was strumming it in the control room at No.3 at Abbey Road and that just started coming out, that riff …I started mildly obsessing with this riff that was slowly developing and, again, people's ears – Roger's [Waters] ears – pricked up."
Reflecting on the final recording, Gilmour continued, "every time I listen to the actual original recording I think God I should have really done that a little bit better, but the idea was that it was like a guitar playing on the radio and someone in their room at home …listening to it and joining in, so the other guitar was kind of supposed to be a kid at home joining in with the guitar he's listening to on the radio, and therefore it wasn't supposed to be too slick… and it wasn't."
XX | $530,000 | Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins
Provenance: John Lennon, The Beatles, "Paperback Writer"
Private sale - unconfirmed
This Gretsch 6120 was used by John Lennon during the recording of the Beatles 'Paperback Writer.' The guitar was purchased by guitar collector and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay in March 2015 by negotiation after the guitar failed to meet it's reserve price at auction.
This Gretsch 6120 was given by John Lennon to his cousin, David Birch, in 1967 and when Birch took it to a Tracks auction in November 2014, it failed to reach its $600,000 reserve. Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts, already the owner of some 175 guitars, including Les Paul's 1954 black Custom guitar "Black Beauty", Jerry Garcia's "Tiger" and Bob Dylan's "Dylan Goes Electric" Fender Stratocaster, negotiated a private sale with Birch, in March 2015 for $530,000. Hence the lack of an official number on the list – this is a list of auction results only.
28 | $526,000 | 1958 Hofner Club 40
Provenance: George Harrison's first electric guitar
Auctioned by Julien's, 2019
In the very early days of The Beatles, when they performed around Liverpool as The Quarrymen, the group had been transitioning from a skiffle band using acoustic instruments to a rock and roll band using electric instruments and John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison all made the switch to electric guitar.
Lennon and Harrison were the first, purchasing near identical Hofner Club 40 models. Lennon later recalled in an early 1960s interview: " … both George and I saw a Hofner Club 40 and we both thought it was the end." Lennon got his at Hessy's Music Shop in Liverpool on August 28, 1959, when his Aunt Mimi put £17 down as a deposit on Lennon's first electric guitar.Harrison traded his big Hofner President model acoustic archtop jazz guitar with aftermarket pickups installed for a Hofner Club 40, his first electric guitar.
Harrison later remembered of his first Hofner acoustic Jazz guitar, "I got what they call a cello-style, f-hole, single-cutaway called a Hofner, which is like the German version of a Gibson. I got a pickup and stuck it on." Harrison continued, "I soon got fed up with it and did a straight swap for a Club 40. I thought it was the most fantastic guitar ever." Harrison said he swapped his Hofner President with a member of The Swinging Blue Jeans to acquire his Club 40.
Ray Ennis of that band remembers the trade: "The Club 40 that George got was originally mine," Ennis confirmed. "We had our residency on Tuesdays at the Cavern, and I remember we did the swap there. I swapped it for his acoustic Hofner, which was sunburst, with f-holes. I haven't got it now – because at the time, who thought The Beatles would be so famous? In those early days we used to get fed up with guitars very quickly, so we'd swap and change a lot."
29 | $524,075 | 1955 Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: Jerry Garcia's "Alligator", Grateful Dead
Auctioned by Bonhams, 2019
Jerry Garcia played “Alligator” in numerous live performances, notably on the Grateful Dead's 1972 European tour. Highlights from that tour were released on the live triple album Europe 72. The Grateful Dead also released some of their finest studio albums during this period, including Working Man's Dead and American Beauty.
Alligator was given to Garcia in 1970 by music legend Graham Nash. Nash headed pioneer British pop group The Hollies from 1962 until 1968 when he moved to America to form the definitive supergroup, Crosby, Stills & Nash. Nash gave the guitar to Garcia in appreciation of Garcia's guitar work on Nash's solo album Songs For Beginners, where Garcia played pedal steel guitar on “I Used to Be a King” and “Man in the Mirror”.
30 | $511,600 | 1966 custom Vox Kensington guitar
Provenance: John Lennon, George Harrison, The Beatles
Auctioned by Julien's, 2013
This guitar has a special place in Beatles history, having been played by both John Lennon and George Harrison. It was custom-made in 1966 and presented to the group in 1967 while they were working on the Magical Mystery Tour album. Harrison only practiced “I Am The Walrus” on this guitar, but Lennon used it while recording the video of “Hello, Goodbye.”
Lennon gave the guitar to his pal "Magic Alex" Mardas, who the Beatles had hired to design the Apple Studio in Savile Row, on Mardas' 25th birthday. Lennon even attached a plaque to the back of the guitar declaring his friendship. Magic Alex was one of Lennon's closest friends from 1966 to 1969, with John standing as best man at his wedding in May 1968.
Mardas sold the guitar at a Christies auction in 2004 for £117,250 ($210,347) and it again went to auction in 2013 when it brought in considerably more than its pre-sale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. The guitar features a scroll design, a hollow body, a single f-hole and a 24-fret rosewood fret board with rectangular inlays.
31 | $497,500 | 1956 Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: Eric Clapton's "Brownie", from Cream until Derek & The Dominoes
Auctioned by Christie's, 1999
Provenance: Purchased for $300 second-hand by Clapton, this guitar played many of those famous chords and riffs from his Cream days in 1967, all the way through to being back-up for Blackie, until Derek and the Dominoes. This was the guitar on which Layla was recorded
Bought by Eric Clapton in 1967, when touring with Cream, as a "working guitar" – one that could take the knocks and the bangs of being played, hard, every night on tour. He bought it second hand for $300. Clapton believed that the more use that was shown in the neck of a guitar the better it played and he bought many of his guitars at pawn shops and second hand shops for that very reason.
In 1969, while playing at the Blind Faith concert in Hyde Park, he removed Brownies' neck and attached it to a Fender Custom Telecaster. He used Brownie on his debut album, Clapton, considered by many to be his best album ever, extensively during the early 70s, and when playing with Derek and the Dominos and on the album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
Brownie was used by Clapton in the recording of Layla on August 26, 1970, with the chemistry between Duane Allman's 1957 Gibson Les Paul and the haunting Strat providing one of the most famous guitar interplays of all-time.
Brownie became Clapton's back-up guitar after he sourced and fell in love with "Blackie" (above in this list).
In 2013, Fender Custom Shop created a limited edition (100 only) tribute replica of this guitar which is featured in the above video. The Brownie replica sold for $15,000.
32 | $495,000 | 1957 Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: Homer Haynes, Dave Gilmour, Pink Floyd
Auctioned by Christies, 2019
According to George Gruhn of Gruhn Guitars, this guitar was custom made for country and jazz guitarist Henry D. "Homer" Haynes. As well as working as a session musician, Haynes was half of a successful duo named Homer and Jethro. Following Haynes' death in 1971, the instrument found its way into the possession of the California guitar dealer Frank Lucido, who included the rare guitar in a Stratocaster exhibition where it received a "best in show" blue ribbon award. In September 1979, Lucido sold the instrument to Gilmour's guitar technician, Phil Taylor, who sold it to Gilmour in 1983. It was then used in the promotion Gilmour's 1984 solo album About Face, with a shot of Gilmour with the guitar featured in the official program for the tour.
33 | $455,500 | 1996 50th Anniversary Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: Master Built Eric Clapton Signature Model owned and played by Clapton 1997-2004
Auctioned by Christie's, 2004
Fender's original Gold Leaf guitar was a custom order for Eric Clapton at the time of Fender's 50th Anniversary in 1996. It was hand crated by Mark Kendrick and John Luis Campo, Fender's Master Builders and plated with 23 carat gold. Clapton used the guitar in 1997 during his Far-Eastern tour, at the European Legends jazz concerts and at the 1997 Music For Montserrat concert in the Royal Albert Hall.
34 | $452,357 | 1963 Maton Mastersound MS-500
Provenance: George Harrison, The Beatles, The Beatles last performance at The Cavern Club
Auctioned by Gardiner Houlgate, 2018
In the summer of 1963, George Harrison’s Gretsch Country Gentleman was experiencing problems and was taken to Barratts in Manchester to be repaired. Whilst repairs were made, shop owner Brian Higham gave the Maton to Neil Aspinall for Harrison to use. The Country Gent was quickly repaired and Higham returned it the same evening. It is thought that this was on 3rd July, when The Beatles appeared at The Playhouse Theatre in Manchester. Harrison liked the Maton and Higham agreed to let him keep it for while. Photographic evidence confirms that Harrison played the Maton in concert on the 8th-13th July at The Winter Gardens in Margate, 2nd August at The Grafton Rooms in Liverpool, 3rd August at a photo call at The Cavern Club in Liverpool (significantly, The Beatles last performance at The Cavern Club) and 6th-10th August at Candie Gardens, Guernsey.
eq 35 | $447,000 | 1955 Gibson Les Paul Custom
Provenance: used in guitar solo on "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" from "The Wall" (1979)
Auctioned by Christie's, 2019
David Gilmour purchased this 1955 "All Gold" Les Paul from Dave DeForrest at Guitar Trader, Red Bank, New Jersey in 1978. Gilmour used it for the famous guitar solo on Pink Floyd's hit single "Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)" from their 1979 album The Wall which became Pink Floyd's first number one single in both the UK and US.
The guitar also contributed to the recording of "Another Brick In The Wall (Part 3)" and in the live shows in support of the album. Gilmour later used this Les Paul during recording of the song Round and Around on Pink Floyd's 1987 album A Momentary Lapse of Reason and for his solos on "Poles Apart" and "A Great Day For Freedom" on 1994's The Division Bell, with the solo in the latter almost two minutes long. The guitar next appeared on stage at an evening of Beatles music at Cowdray Park in West Sussex on 21st June 2002 in aid of the White Lotus School, Ladakh and the Tibet House Fund. Gilmour played the first of his two sets on the Goldtop alongside Genesis' Mike Rutherford on bass and Bob Geldof on lead vocals for a medley of early Beatles numbers including "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", "She Loves You", "Please Please Me", and "Love Me Do". Gilmour also used the 1955 Les Paul during the early recording sessions for what would become his 2006 solo album On An Island.
eq 35 | $447,000 | 1958 Gretsch White Penguin
Provenance: David Gilmour's Gretsch White Penguin
Auctioned by Christie's, 2019
The Gretsch White Penguin is a solid-body Falcon and one of the rarest and most collectable American vintage guitars with a total output of around 50 guitars. David Gilmour had wanted a Gretsch White Penguin for some time, and this guitar was purchased for Gilmour's collection in July 1980 and kept for home and studio use.
Gilmour told Christie's, "at some point I heard there was a sister or brother guitar to the White Falcon and set around to find one of those. It's a lovely instrument with something all of its own. These guitars can be so similar, same make, but they sing out in a different way. I've played it a lot, it's a lovely, lovely thing."
37 | $434,750 | 1968 Rosewood Fender Telecaster
Provenance: George Harrison, The Beatles, "Let It Be" and Apple Rooftop Performance!
Auctioned by Julien's, 2003
Presented by Fender with this Telecaster in December, 1968, George Harrison played it in the Beatles' last ever live performance on top of the Apple building in London, in the 1970 Beatles movie 'Let It Be' and on various parts of the 'AbbeyRoad' album.
The first Rosewood Telecaster was made by sandwiching thin layers of maple wood between a solid rosewood top and back. As one of the two makers, Philip Kubicki, recalls, "I spent hours sanding the bodies to perfection." It was then covered with a special satin polyurethane finish. Then, the historians say, Harrison's guitar was flown to England (in its own seat) accompanied by a courier, and hand-delivered to the Apple offices in December 1968.
The guitar was one of George's favourites and he used it on the Get Back sessions, the final roof-top performance on January 30 1969 and a final performance on the following day at the Apple Studios. It was soon after this that The Beatles disbanded.
Harrison gave the guitar to Delaney Bramlett, who had taught Harrison to play slide guitar, and who invited Harrison to join his group for some shows in England and Denmark. Bramlett has said that during the tour, he and Harrison would often switch guitars during the shows, but he loved that Rosewood Telecaster and would play it whenever he could.
There was a lot of speculation among collectors, historians and Beatles fans as to where the guitar was and Bramlett said that Harrison had joked with him that he should sell it before someone killed him for it. In 1998 Bramlett put the guitar up for auction, but the $200,000 reserve price was not met. In 2003 it was again offered at auction, two years after George Harrisons' death. It was bought, on behalf of Olivia Harrison, by the actor Ed Begley, and so returned home.
38 | $423,000 | 1966 Fender Stratocaster
Provenance: Pink Floyd "Pop Deux Festival de St. Tropez", 1970 plus many big live concerts
Auctioned by Christie's, 2019
Gilmour told Christie's,"I loved Fender Stratocasters, I loved Hank Marvin playing the Fender Stratocaster… The Stratocaster was my boyhood dream guitar and sometimes it's hard to wean yourself off that sort of thing.
Gilmour purchased this guitar in a second-hand shop in England in summer 1970. With a similar rosewood neck to his first white Strat, the guitar had been hand painted in white over its original white finish. It was first used publicly at the Pop Deux Festival de St. Tropez in 1970. Gilmour can be seen playing the guitar in footage of both the sound check and full concert, recorded for French television show Pop Deux. Video of the event was included in the CD/DVD/Blu-ray package The Early Years 1970 Devi/ation, released in March 2017. It was also played to an audience of 500,000 at the Fête de L'Humanité, Bois de Vincennes in Paris, on September 12, 1970.
Gilmour personally stripped the guitar back to its natural wood finish at his flat on London's Old Brompton Road in the early 1970s, after which it was fitted with Dawson Stereophonic pickups in 1976 and kept for studio use. Gilmour particularly liked the sound of the middle pickup on this guitar.
39 | $418,000 | 1993 Fender Mustang Custom
Provenance: Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, 1993 In Utero tour
Auctioned by Julien's, 2019
This left-handed Fender Mustang was created for Cobain by Scott Zimmerman
40 | $410,800 | 1969 Gibson Dove acoustic
Provenance: Elvis Presley
Auctioned by Julien's, 2016
In 1969, Vernon Presley went to Guitar City, near Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, to purchase a guitar as a gift for his son. Vernon requested several custom adjustments to personalize the guitar for Elvis, including changing the finish of the guitar to ebony, reported to be chosen to represent Elvis' recently earned black belt in karate, and the stunning acanthus script inlay of "Elvis Presley" on the fingerboard. The inlay was created by Randy Wood at Gruhn Guitars of Nashville, and the ebony finish was applied at Guitar City. Crowning the guitar and recognizing Elvis' achievement was the application of the Kenpo Karate decal on the body of the guitar.
The guitar appears to have been completed and gifted to Elvis in 1971. Presley began using the guitar that year and is photographed performing with it often between 1971 and 1973, including, most famously, during Presley's televised and broadcasted Aloha From Hawaii concert, noted as the first televised program to be beamed around the world by satellite.
The story ends in generosity when, in 1975, at a concert in Asheville, North Carolina, Presley gave the guitar to audience member Mike Harris. It was Presley's last show of a three-night tour. Presley was in the middle of the song "See See Rider" when Presley gave the guitar to a shocked Harris. Accounts vary as to what Presley said to Harris, from the prophetic "You keep the guitar. I gave it to you for a reason. Someday it will help you out." To the humble, "Hold on to that. Hopefully, it'll be valuable one day." The 21-year-old Harris sat with the guitar for the rest of the concert and then received a police escort out of the building.
Please note: This listing is a work in progress and will be continually updated and enhanced over time. It is currently being updated and will be published again as a top 100 during March, 2020. If anyone has knowledge of a guitar which should be included in this list, please use the comments section to alert us so we can offer our readership the most accurate, informative and comprehensive listing possible.