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The 100 most valuable guitars ever sold at auction

The 100 most valuable guitars ...
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The most expensive guitar in history sold for US$2,700,000 at a "Reach out to Asia" charity auction on 16 November, 2005. It was signed by a "who's who" of the world's greatest guitar exponents and rock stars including Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian May, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davis, Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood, Tony Iommi, Angus & Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, Def Leppard, and Bryan Adams.
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The most expensive guitar in history sold for US$2,700,000 at a "Reach out to Asia" charity auction on 16 November, 2005. It was signed by a "who's who" of the world's greatest guitar exponents and rock stars including Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian May, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davis, Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood, Tony Iommi, Angus & Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, Def Leppard, and Bryan Adams.
Used by Jimi Hendrix on stage at Woodstock, including Jimi's famous rendition of "The Star Spangled banner." Rumored to have been sold privately for US$2,000,000, but last time it appeared at auction (April 25, 1990 - Sotheby's), it fetched $325,000. This guitar can now be seen on display at the EMP museum.
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Used by Jimi Hendrix on stage at Woodstock, including Jimi's famous rendition of "The Star Spangled banner." Rumored to have been sold privately for US$2,000,000, but last time it appeared at auction (April 25, 1990 - Sotheby's), it fetched $325,000. This guitar can now be seen on display at the EMP museum.
"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. 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 "461 Ocean Boulevard," "Slowhand," "No Reason To Cry" and "Just One Night." It sold for $959,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
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"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. 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 "461 Ocean Boulevard," "Slowhand," "No Reason To Cry" and "Just One Night." It sold for $959,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
This 1964 Gibson ES-335 TDC hollow-body electric guitar was originally purchased by Clapton in 1964, and 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. It sold for $847,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
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This 1964 Gibson ES-335 TDC hollow-body electric guitar was originally purchased by Clapton in 1964, and 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. It sold for $847,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
This 1939 Martin OOO-42 was 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." It sold for $791,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
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This 1939 Martin OOO-42 was 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." It sold for $791,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
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This 1962 Rickenbacker 425 was 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). It sold for $657,000 at a Julien's auction on 17 May 17, 2014
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This 1962 Rickenbacker 425 was 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). It sold for $657,000 at a Julien's auction on 17 May 17, 2014
This Fender Stratocaster was given to blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan by his wife, Lenny, in 1980 as a 26th birthday present. It sold for $623,500 at a Christies auctioned on 24 June, 2004
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This Fender Stratocaster was given to blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan by his wife, Lenny, in 1980 as a 26th birthday present. It sold for $623,500 at a Christies auctioned on 24 June, 2004
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, and it was, according to Rolling Stone magazine, "one of the most notable events in music history." This is the 1964 Fender Stratocaster Dylan used during that performance. It sold for $965,000 at a Christies auction on 6 December, 2013
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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, and it was, according to Rolling Stone magazine, "one of the most notable events in music history." This is the 1964 Fender Stratocaster Dylan used during that performance. It sold for $965,000 at a Christies auction on 6 December, 2013
This 1964 Gibson SG was used by The Beatles between 1966 and 1969. George Harrison used it when recording and touring for the album "Revolver." It was used by Harrison in the "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" clips in 1966 and by John Lennon during the "White Album" sessions in 1969. Subsequently owned by Pete Ham of Badfinger and on display for many years at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio. It sold for $567,500 at a Christies auction on 17 December, 2004
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This 1964 Gibson SG was used by The Beatles between 1966 and 1969. George Harrison used it when recording and touring for the album "Revolver." It was used by Harrison in the "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" clips in 1966 and by John Lennon during the "White Album" sessions in 1969. Subsequently owned by Pete Ham of Badfinger and on display for many years at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio. It sold for $567,500 at a Christies auction on 17 December, 2004
One of the few guitars in this list not previously owned by a legendary guitar player, gaining its value through scarcity. Less than 50 were made because no-one wanted them in 1958 when the Gibson catalogue listed them at $247.50, the same price as a Les Paul Standard. The model was discontinued in the early sixties. It sold for $611,000 at a Skinner auction on 15 October, 2006
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One of the few guitars in this list not previously owned by a legendary guitar player, gaining its value through scarcity. Less than 50 were made because no-one wanted them in 1958 when the Gibson catalogue listed them at $247.50, the same price as a Les Paul Standard. The model was discontinued in the early sixties. It sold for $611,000 at a Skinner auction on 15 October, 2006
Screen clip from Cooper Owen Music Media Auctions showing Paul McCartney with the guitar that started him on the path to becoming the most successful recording artist of all-time. This Rex acoustic was the first guitar Paul McCartney ever held. It was also the guitar on which he learned his first chords. It sold for $615,203 (£330,000) at a Cooper Owen auction on 28 July, 2006
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Screen clip from Cooper Owen Music Media Auctions showing Paul McCartney with the guitar that started him on the path to becoming the most successful recording artist of all-time. This Rex acoustic was the first guitar Paul McCartney ever held. It was also the guitar on which he learned his first chords. It sold for $615,203 (£330,000) at a Cooper Owen auction on 28 July, 2006
This 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe was the companion guitar to actor Roy Rogers across 100 movies and a thousand recording sessions, from 1933 to his death in 1998. It sold for $554,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009
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This 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe was the companion guitar to actor Roy Rogers across 100 movies and a thousand recording sessions, from 1933 to his death in 1998. It sold for $554,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009
This 1964 Vox V251 Guitar Organ prototype proved equally as unpopular with the public as it did with both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (both received promotional instruments). While the Vox Guitar/Organ never became popular, it could well be seen as the fore-runner of the synthesizer. It sold for $305,000 at a Sothebys auctioned on 24 June, 2014
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This 1964 Vox V251 Guitar Organ prototype proved equally as unpopular with the public as it did with both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (both received promotional instruments). While the Vox Guitar/Organ never became popular, it could well be seen as the fore-runner of the synthesizer. It sold for $305,000 at a Sothebys auctioned on 24 June, 2014
Eric Clapton with his Blackie Stratocaster which sold for $959,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
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Eric Clapton with his Blackie Stratocaster which sold for $959,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
Jerry Garcia’s custom-made Doug Irwin "Wolf" sold for $789,500 at a Guernseys auctioned on 8 May, 2002
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Jerry Garcia’s custom-made Doug Irwin "Wolf" sold for $789,500 at a Guernseys auctioned on 8 May, 2002
Jerry Garcia’s Doug Irwin "Tiger," another custom guitar made by master luthier Doug Irwin. This was the primary guitar of Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia from 1979 to 1985. It was also the last guitar Garcia played publicly. It sold for $957,500 at a Guernseys auction on 8 May, 2002
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Jerry Garcia’s Doug Irwin "Tiger," another custom guitar made by master luthier Doug Irwin. This was the primary guitar of Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia from 1979 to 1985. It was also the last guitar Garcia played publicly. It sold for $957,500 at a Guernseys auction on 8 May, 2002
The Grateful Dead in concert in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday, August 3, 1994. Seen here is Jerry Garcia playing his "Rosebud" guitar, and Vince Welnick on keyboards
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The Grateful Dead in concert in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday, August 3, 1994. Seen here is Jerry Garcia playing his "Rosebud" guitar, and Vince Welnick on keyboards
Eric Clapton’s "Brownie" Fender Stratocaster. Purchased second-hand for $300 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. 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. It sold for $497,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 1999
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Eric Clapton’s "Brownie" Fender Stratocaster. Purchased second-hand for $300 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. 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. It sold for $497,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 1999
This 1963 Maton Mastersound MS500 was played by George Harrison during the summer of 1963 while his Gretsch Country Gentleman was being repaired. It was borrowed from Barratts Music Store in Manchester England. It sold for $485,000 at a Juliens auction on 15 May, 2015
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This 1963 Maton Mastersound MS500 was played by George Harrison during the summer of 1963 while his Gretsch Country Gentleman was being repaired. It was borrowed from Barratts Music Store in Manchester England. It sold for $485,000 at a Juliens auction on 15 May, 2015
This 1966 Red Fender Mustang was used by Hendrix on his 1966 album "Axis: Bold as Love" and his 1967 album "Electric Ladyland." It sold for $490,000 at a Juliens auction on 27 April, 2007
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This 1966 Red Fender Mustang was used by Hendrix on his 1966 album "Axis: Bold as Love" and his 1967 album "Electric Ladyland." It sold for $490,000 at a Juliens auction on 27 April, 2007
This 1963 Maton Mastersound MS500 was played by George Harrison during the summer of 1963 while his Gretsch Country Gentleman was being repaired. It was borrowed from Barratts Music Store in Manchester England. It sold for $485,000 at a Juliens auction on 15 May, 2015
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This 1963 Maton Mastersound MS500 was played by George Harrison during the summer of 1963 while his Gretsch Country Gentleman was being repaired. It was borrowed from Barratts Music Store in Manchester England. It sold for $485,000 at a Juliens auction on 15 May, 2015
This strat was ordered by Eric Clapton in 1996, at the time of the 50th anniversary of Fender. Clapton wanted something that could hang in a museum, so the company made him a custom Stratocaster plated with 23 carat gold. It sold for $455,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
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This strat was ordered by Eric Clapton in 1996, at the time of the 50th anniversary of Fender. Clapton wanted something that could hang in a museum, so the company made him a custom Stratocaster plated with 23 carat gold. It sold for $455,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
George Harrison was presented with this Rosewood Telecaster by Fender in December, 1968. He 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 "Abbey Road" album. It sold for $434,750 at a Juliens auction on September 13, 2003
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George Harrison was presented with this Rosewood Telecaster by Fender in December, 1968. He 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 "Abbey Road" album. It sold for $434,750 at a Juliens auction on September 13, 2003
This 1966 custom Vox Kensington guitar 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." It sold for $418,000 at a Juliens auction on 18 May, 2013
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This 1966 custom Vox Kensington guitar 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." It sold for $418,000 at a Juliens auction on 18 May, 2013
This 1964 Stratocaster was given by Jimi Hendrix to his brother Leon in 1968 in Seattle. According to Leon he told Jimi that he was going to start a band. Jimi asked him if he had a guitar. Leon said no and so Jimi gave him the 1964 Fender. Leon kept it for nearly 50 years and put it up for auction in 2015. It sold for $385,917 (£260,280) at a Ted Owen & Co auction on 1 April, 2015
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This 1964 Stratocaster was given by Jimi Hendrix to his brother Leon in 1968 in Seattle. According to Leon he told Jimi that he was going to start a band. Jimi asked him if he had a guitar. Leon said no and so Jimi gave him the 1964 Fender. Leon kept it for nearly 50 years and put it up for auction in 2015. It sold for $385,917 (£260,280) at a Ted Owen & Co auction on 1 April, 2015
This 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe is one of just 14 ever made, and fewer than 10 are still known to exist. It is regarded by many as the most beautiful, the most collectible and the most valuable guitar that Martin ever made and its sound is also beyond compare. It sold for $366,000 at a Guernseys auction on 3 April, 2014
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This 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe is one of just 14 ever made, and fewer than 10 are still known to exist. It is regarded by many as the most beautiful, the most collectible and the most valuable guitar that Martin ever made and its sound is also beyond compare. It sold for $366,000 at a Guernseys auction on 3 April, 2014
This 1949 Fender Broadcaster prototype was sold privately in 1994 for $375,000, believed to be the highest price ever paid for a guitar at the time. It was Leo Fender’s first prototype for the Fender Telecaster, the world's first commercial solid-body, single-cutaway electric guitar.
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This 1949 Fender Broadcaster prototype was sold privately in 1994 for $375,000, believed to be the highest price ever paid for a guitar at the time. It was Leo Fender’s first prototype for the Fender Telecaster, the world's first commercial solid-body, single-cutaway electric guitar.
There are no photos of John Lennon playing this instrument and he himself never mentioned owning a Senator. He did own a Hofner Club 40 in 1959, and there is at least one photo showing Lennon playing a Club 40 at The Casbah Club in Liverpool. This was at the time of The Quarrymen and, certainly Ken Brown of The Quarrymen did own a Senator. But did Lennon? It sold for $338,823 at a Christies auction on 1 July, 2009
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There are no photos of John Lennon playing this instrument and he himself never mentioned owning a Senator. He did own a Hofner Club 40 in 1959, and there is at least one photo showing Lennon playing a Club 40 at The Casbah Club in Liverpool. This was at the time of The Quarrymen and, certainly Ken Brown of The Quarrymen did own a Senator. But did Lennon? It sold for $338,823 at a Christies auction on 1 July, 2009
The original Les Paul. Once owned by Les Paul himself. It sold for $343,750 at a Guernsey's auction on 19 February, 2015
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The original Les Paul. Once owned by Les Paul himself. It sold for $343,750 at a Guernsey's auction on 19 February, 2015
At the time of it's sale, this Stratocaster was the most recent addition to Eric Clapton’s collection of Signature Stratocaster Custom guitars and his third painted by graffiti artist Crash. Clapton used this as his main stage guitar from the One Generation 4 Another Albert Hall concert on 15 March, 2004 until the concert the night before his famous Christies Crossroads auction on 24 June, 2004 where it fetched $321,100
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At the time of it's sale, this Stratocaster was the most recent addition to Eric Clapton’s collection of Signature Stratocaster Custom guitars and his third painted by graffiti artist Crash. Clapton used this as his main stage guitar from the One Generation 4 Another Albert Hall concert on 15 March, 2004 until the concert the night before his famous Christies Crossroads auction on 24 June, 2004 where it fetched $321,100
The best–known of Jerry Garcia’s three Travis Bean guitars, Garcia played this TB1000 during a number of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band’s most famous shows (Golden Gate Park Show in September, 1975 and the Orpheum Theater Shows in May and July of 1976) as well as the recording of the "Steal Your Face" and the "Terrapin Station" albums. It sold for $300,000 at a Bonhams auction on 8 May, 2007
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The best–known of Jerry Garcia’s three Travis Bean guitars, Garcia played this TB1000 during a number of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band’s most famous shows (Golden Gate Park Show in September, 1975 and the Orpheum Theater Shows in May and July of 1976) as well as the recording of the "Steal Your Face" and the "Terrapin Station" albums. It sold for $300,000 at a Bonhams auction on 8 May, 2007
This cream 1975 Les Paul guitar is only the third guitar, after his Explorer and Black Stratocaster, that U2's The Edge purchased. He bought in New York in 1982 and used it in the recording studio and on stage for more than 20 years. It sold for $298,000 at a Julien's auction on 27 April, 2007
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This cream 1975 Les Paul guitar is only the third guitar, after his Explorer and Black Stratocaster, that U2's The Edge purchased. He bought in New York in 1982 and used it in the recording studio and on stage for more than 20 years. It sold for $298,000 at a Julien's auction on 27 April, 2007
This is the 1966 Fender Stratocaster used by Hendrix at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival where he famously set his guitar on fire using lighter fluid. Fortunately, the guitar was switched for another just prior to the sacrificial burning. It sold for $288,493 (£180,000) at a Fame Bureau auction on 27 November, 2012
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This is the 1966 Fender Stratocaster used by Hendrix at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival where he famously set his guitar on fire using lighter fluid. Fortunately, the guitar was switched for another just prior to the sacrificial burning. It sold for $288,493 (£180,000) at a Fame Bureau auction on 27 November, 2012
The Bigsby Solid Body is, arguably, the first solid body electric guitar ever made. Paul Bigsby made approximately 23 electric guitars and most are accounted for. This 1949 Bigsby Solid Body is number 4 and sold for $266,000 at a Heritage auction on 21 April, 2012
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The Bigsby Solid Body is, arguably, the first solid body electric guitar ever made. Paul Bigsby made approximately 23 electric guitars and most are accounted for. This 1949 Bigsby Solid Body is number 4 and sold for $266,000 at a Heritage auction on 21 April, 2012
The Martin Dreadnought D–28 which was used by Merle Travis throughout most of his career. Country artist, Merle Travis, purchased the third Bigsby Birdseye Maple Solid Body Electric Guitar from Luthier, engineer and inventor Paul Bigsby in 1949 and was so impressed by the neck on the guitar that he asked Bigsby to replace the neck on his Brazilian Rosewood Martin Dreadnought D–28 with something similar. Travis used the resultant guitar throughout most of his career, also using it to compose such hits as one of the top selling songs and most-recorded songs of all time, Sixteen Tons, and Dark as a Dungeon. It sold for $264,000 at a Christies auctioned on 2 April, 2007
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The Martin Dreadnought D–28 which was used by Merle Travis throughout most of his career. Country artist, Merle Travis, purchased the third Bigsby Birdseye Maple Solid Body Electric Guitar from Luthier, engineer and inventor Paul Bigsby in 1949 and was so impressed by the neck on the guitar that he asked Bigsby to replace the neck on his Brazilian Rosewood Martin Dreadnought D–28 with something similar. Travis used the resultant guitar throughout most of his career, also using it to compose such hits as one of the top selling songs and most-recorded songs of all time, Sixteen Tons, and Dark as a Dungeon. It sold for $264,000 at a Christies auctioned on 2 April, 2007
The most expensive classical guitar ever sold at auction, this 1977 Juan Alvarez Classical was used by Eric Clapton in the promotional video for 'Tears in Heaven.' It was also used on MTV’s 1992 "Unplugged" when he played it on "Signe," "Tears in Heaven" and "The Circus Left Town" and in the very poignant interview with Sue Lawley of the BBC when he played "Tears In Heaven" publicly for the first time. It was also the guitar used by Clapton 18 hours a day during his period of grieving after the death of his son, and the guitar on which he wrote "Tears in Heaven." It sold for $253,900 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
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The most expensive classical guitar ever sold at auction, this 1977 Juan Alvarez Classical was used by Eric Clapton in the promotional video for 'Tears in Heaven.' It was also used on MTV’s 1992 "Unplugged" when he played it on "Signe," "Tears in Heaven" and "The Circus Left Town" and in the very poignant interview with Sue Lawley of the BBC when he played "Tears In Heaven" publicly for the first time. It was also the guitar used by Clapton 18 hours a day during his period of grieving after the death of his son, and the guitar on which he wrote "Tears in Heaven." It sold for $253,900 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
Dubbed by Clapton as "Ivan the Terrible" and used on the 1969 album "Blind Faith" this Anthony Zemaitis 12-string custom was subsequently loaned to George Harrison who used it in recording "My Sweet Lord." It sold for $253,900 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
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Dubbed by Clapton as "Ivan the Terrible" and used on the 1969 album "Blind Faith" this Anthony Zemaitis 12-string custom was subsequently loaned to George Harrison who used it in recording "My Sweet Lord." It sold for $253,900 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
This Travis Bean TB500 electric guitar was sold accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Steve Parish, the Grateful Dead's guitar tech and equipment manager from 1969 to 1995, which stated that this guitar was the third most played by Garcia, behind “Tiger” and “Wolf." It was Garcia's primary guitar beginning in 1976 through much of 1977 and was used occasionally beyond that. It sold for $243,200 at a Juliens auction on 6 December, 2013
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This Travis Bean TB500 electric guitar was sold accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Steve Parish, the Grateful Dead's guitar tech and equipment manager from 1969 to 1995, which stated that this guitar was the third most played by Garcia, behind “Tiger” and “Wolf." It was Garcia's primary guitar beginning in 1976 through much of 1977 and was used occasionally beyond that. It sold for $243,200 at a Juliens auction on 6 December, 2013
In 1958, Gibson began producing the Les Paul Standard model, which retained most of the features of the Goldtop, though the finish became a cherry-red version of the Sunburst finish long used on Gibson's flat-top and archtop acoustic and hollow electric guitars. Production ended in 1961, when Gibson redesigned it to feature a double cutaway body, subsequently becoming the Gibson SG. Around 1,700 instruments were made in the first series, and these are now highly valuable. Though it had no remarkable provenance, the pre-auction estimate of $225,000 to $250,000 for this guitar proved accurate. Production was resumed in 1968 due to public demand, and continues to this day. It sold for $237,000 at a Skinner auction on 3 May, 2009
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In 1958, Gibson began producing the Les Paul Standard model, which retained most of the features of the Goldtop, though the finish became a cherry-red version of the Sunburst finish long used on Gibson's flat-top and archtop acoustic and hollow electric guitars. Production ended in 1961, when Gibson redesigned it to feature a double cutaway body, subsequently becoming the Gibson SG. Around 1,700 instruments were made in the first series, and these are now highly valuable. Though it had no remarkable provenance, the pre-auction estimate of $225,000 to $250,000 for this guitar proved accurate. Production was resumed in 1968 due to public demand, and continues to this day. It sold for $237,000 at a Skinner auction on 3 May, 2009
Euphemistically called the "Nocaster" - the Fender with no name - after the legal spate with Gretsch. Initially, the guitar was called the Broadcaster, but Gretsch had a drum set called the "Broadkaster," with a name it had registered, so Fender simply removed the Broadcaster decals and shipped off the few remaining models. These guitars became known as the Nocaster which ultimately, in 1951, became the Telecaster. This specific guitar was presented to Les Paul by Leo Fender who has autographed it on the back of the headstock. This guitar sold for $225,000 at a Juliens auction on 8 June, 2012
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Euphemistically called the "Nocaster" - the Fender with no name - after the legal spate with Gretsch. Initially, the guitar was called the Broadcaster, but Gretsch had a drum set called the "Broadkaster," with a name it had registered, so Fender simply removed the Broadcaster decals and shipped off the few remaining models. These guitars became known as the Nocaster which ultimately, in 1951, became the Telecaster. This specific guitar was presented to Les Paul by Leo Fender who has autographed it on the back of the headstock. This guitar sold for $225,000 at a Juliens auction on 8 June, 2012
This series of guitars was a collaboration between Gretsch and U2's Bono and this particular guitar was used by Bono on U2’s 2005 "Vertigo Tour." The guitar has been auctioned twice, originally in April, 2007 where it achieved it's $225,000 price at a Juliens auction. Subsequently, in December 2011, the same guitar fetched somewhat less at $176,000 ($140,800 plus buyer's premium), also at a Juliens auction.
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This series of guitars was a collaboration between Gretsch and U2's Bono and this particular guitar was used by Bono on U2’s 2005 "Vertigo Tour." The guitar has been auctioned twice, originally in April, 2007 where it achieved it's $225,000 price at a Juliens auction. Subsequently, in December 2011, the same guitar fetched somewhat less at $176,000 ($140,800 plus buyer's premium), also at a Juliens auction.
This 2000 Fender Custom Stratocaster was played by Eric Clapton in the studio, and used as a back-up stage guitar during the "Reptile" tour of 2001. It was played on stage at least on a couple of occasions, one of which was for the song "Layla" in the last concert of the first leg of the US Tour at Madison Square Garden on 23rd June, 2001. It sold for $220,300 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
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This 2000 Fender Custom Stratocaster was played by Eric Clapton in the studio, and used as a back-up stage guitar during the "Reptile" tour of 2001. It was played on stage at least on a couple of occasions, one of which was for the song "Layla" in the last concert of the first leg of the US Tour at Madison Square Garden on 23rd June, 2001. It sold for $220,300 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
The Martin D-45 was manufactured in limited quantities from 1933 to 1942, and again since 1968. The first series of D-45s was made with sides and backs of Brazilian rosewood (now endangered and illegal to trade) and only 91 instruments were made. It sold for $219,225 at a Skinner auction on 6 November, 2011
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The Martin D-45 was manufactured in limited quantities from 1933 to 1942, and again since 1968. The first series of D-45s was made with sides and backs of Brazilian rosewood (now endangered and illegal to trade) and only 91 instruments were made. It sold for $219,225 at a Skinner auction on 6 November, 2011
The Hofner violin bass guitar is synonymous with Paul McCartney and he's been playing them continuously since purchasing his first in 1961 in Hamburg before The Beatles were famous. This particular guitar was built specifically for McCartney in 1964, and is one of three he has owned. The first was lost, the second (a 1963 model) he still plays, and this is the third. It sold for $204,800 at a Juliens auction on 6 December, 2013
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The Hofner violin bass guitar is synonymous with Paul McCartney and he's been playing them continuously since purchasing his first in 1961 in Hamburg before The Beatles were famous. This particular guitar was built specifically for McCartney in 1964, and is one of three he has owned. The first was lost, the second (a 1963 model) he still plays, and this is the third. It sold for $204,800 at a Juliens auction on 6 December, 2013
This 1982 Fender Telecaster was used by Bob Dylan in many live performances and LPs from the late 1980s through to 1992. It was sold as part of the Juliens auction benefiting Music Rising for $200,000 on 27 April, 2007
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This 1982 Fender Telecaster was used by Bob Dylan in many live performances and LPs from the late 1980s through to 1992. It was sold as part of the Juliens auction benefiting Music Rising for $200,000 on 27 April, 2007
This 1959 Left-handed Les Paul Standard sold for $194,500 at a Heritage auction on 27 October, 2012
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This 1959 Left-handed Les Paul Standard sold for $194,500 at a Heritage auction on 27 October, 2012
Sunburst Fender Stratocaster purchased by Hendrix at Manny's Musical Instruments in New York on 14 July, 1970, when he was recording in his new Electric Lady Studios. Hendrix passed away two months later but was known to have been working in his studio for 10 days of those two months on his posthumous album "The Cry of Love." The guitar has been restrung for left-handed play and is the guitar used by Hendrix at the opening party for Electric Lady Studios in August 1970. It sold for $187,500 at a Juliens auction on 24 June, 2010
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Sunburst Fender Stratocaster purchased by Hendrix at Manny's Musical Instruments in New York on 14 July, 1970, when he was recording in his new Electric Lady Studios. Hendrix passed away two months later but was known to have been working in his studio for 10 days of those two months on his posthumous album "The Cry of Love." The guitar has been restrung for left-handed play and is the guitar used by Hendrix at the opening party for Electric Lady Studios in August 1970. It sold for $187,500 at a Juliens auction on 24 June, 2010
The prototype 1969/70 Gibson Les Paul Recording model with the repaired headstock stamped "001" and "Original Gibson Prototype." The Bigsby has been customized to accommodate a "Paulverizer" which was included in the sale. This is likely the first Les Paul recording model ever made. This guitar, and Paulverizer are featured on pages 291 and 293 of Les Paul's autobiography. It sold for $187,500 at a Juliens auction on 8 June, 2012
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The prototype 1969/70 Gibson Les Paul Recording model with the repaired headstock stamped "001" and "Original Gibson Prototype." The Bigsby has been customized to accommodate a "Paulverizer" which was included in the sale. This is likely the first Les Paul recording model ever made. This guitar, and Paulverizer are featured on pages 291 and 293 of Les Paul's autobiography. It sold for $187,500 at a Juliens auction on 8 June, 2012
This 1996 Fender Stratocaster Master Built Production Sample served as one of Eric Clapton's main stage guitars between 1998-1999. It was used frequently on the Pilgrim World Tour throughout 1998 and as the main guitar during the Japanese leg of the tour in November/December 1999. This guitar also made appearances at a number of high-profile events including two at the White House in 1998 and 1999 as well as the Crossroads Benefit Concert at Madison Square Garden (which commemorated the 1999 Christie's auction) and at Sheryl Crow's Central Park In Blue concert in 1999. It sold for $186,700 on 24 June, 2004 at a Christies auction
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This 1996 Fender Stratocaster Master Built Production Sample served as one of Eric Clapton's main stage guitars between 1998-1999. It was used frequently on the Pilgrim World Tour throughout 1998 and as the main guitar during the Japanese leg of the tour in November/December 1999. This guitar also made appearances at a number of high-profile events including two at the White House in 1998 and 1999 as well as the Crossroads Benefit Concert at Madison Square Garden (which commemorated the 1999 Christie's auction) and at Sheryl Crow's Central Park In Blue concert in 1999. It sold for $186,700 on 24 June, 2004 at a Christies auction
Eric Clapton refers to this 1966 Martin Style 000-28 as "The Longworth," after Mike Longworth, a custom builder and the historian for C.F. Martin and Company. Clapton acquired it in Nashville in November 1970 while he was on his US Tour with the Dominos. He used the guitar for recording sessions at Criteria Studios in Miami in the spring of 1974, which produced the "461 Ocean Boulevard" album and made regular stage appearances until November 1995. It sold for $186,700 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
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Eric Clapton refers to this 1966 Martin Style 000-28 as "The Longworth," after Mike Longworth, a custom builder and the historian for C.F. Martin and Company. Clapton acquired it in Nashville in November 1970 while he was on his US Tour with the Dominos. He used the guitar for recording sessions at Criteria Studios in Miami in the spring of 1974, which produced the "461 Ocean Boulevard" album and made regular stage appearances until November 1995. It sold for $186,700 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
This is the first guitar that San Francisco luthier, Doug Irwin, made for Jerry Garcia, and it began their relationship of several decades which resulted in Garcia leaving his guitars to Irwin in his will. Around 1970, Garcia walked into a shop where Irwin was working, building guitars, was immediately attracted to the quality of his work, and bought this guitar on the spot. Simply known as "The Eagle" because of Irwin's eagle logo inlayed on the headstock, this instrument became the inspiration for all subsequent guitars that Irwin made for Garcia. Garcia was the last person to ever play this guitar. It sold for $186,000 at a Bonhams auction on 8 May, 2007
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This is the first guitar that San Francisco luthier, Doug Irwin, made for Jerry Garcia, and it began their relationship of several decades which resulted in Garcia leaving his guitars to Irwin in his will. Around 1970, Garcia walked into a shop where Irwin was working, building guitars, was immediately attracted to the quality of his work, and bought this guitar on the spot. Simply known as "The Eagle" because of Irwin's eagle logo inlayed on the headstock, this instrument became the inspiration for all subsequent guitars that Irwin made for Garcia. Garcia was the last person to ever play this guitar. It sold for $186,000 at a Bonhams auction on 8 May, 2007
This 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard sold for $182,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009
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This 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard sold for $182,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009
The original run of Gibson's Flying V saw just 98 instruments produced between 1958 and 1959 before production was cancelled due to lack of interest and its relatively high price for the time – $247.50 – the same price as a Les Paul Standard. This 1959 Gibson Flying V sold for $182,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009
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The original run of Gibson's Flying V saw just 98 instruments produced between 1958 and 1959 before production was cancelled due to lack of interest and its relatively high price for the time – $247.50 – the same price as a Les Paul Standard. This 1959 Gibson Flying V sold for $182,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009
The Quarrymen play St. Peter's Parish Fete in Woolton, Liverpool on 6 July 1957, the day John Lennon met Paul McCartney. From left to right: Griffiths, Hanton, Davis, Lennon, Shotton, Garry
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The Quarrymen play St. Peter's Parish Fete in Woolton, Liverpool on 6 July 1957, the day John Lennon met Paul McCartney. From left to right: Griffiths, Hanton, Davis, Lennon, Shotton, Garry
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The original Gibson Explorer, along with its sibling, the Flying V, remain two of the most radical guitars ever made, and both are shining examples of guitar design ahead of its time. The legend goes that the design was inspired by the tail fins of 1950’s Cadillacs and Chryslers. Unfortunately the original Explorer was not successful and was discontinued making it now both rare and very expensive. This 1958 Gibson Explorer sold for $153,277 (£95,200) at a Sothebys auction on 13 May, 2003
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The original Gibson Explorer, along with its sibling, the Flying V, remain two of the most radical guitars ever made, and both are shining examples of guitar design ahead of its time. The legend goes that the design was inspired by the tail fins of 1950’s Cadillacs and Chryslers. Unfortunately the original Explorer was not successful and was discontinued making it now both rare and very expensive. This 1958 Gibson Explorer sold for $153,277 (£95,200) at a Sothebys auction on 13 May, 2003
This is one of three early experimental 1940 Epiphone Zephyr models called the “Klunkers” by Les Paul, featured on pages 120 and 121 in his autobiography. It sold for $144,000 at a Juliens auction on 9 June, 2012
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This is one of three early experimental 1940 Epiphone Zephyr models called the “Klunkers” by Les Paul, featured on pages 120 and 121 in his autobiography. It sold for $144,000 at a Juliens auction on 9 June, 2012
The constant companion of one of the all-time greats, Country and Western pioneer Hank Williams, for the last six years of his tragically short life. This Martin D-18 was used to record all of the 35 singles which reached Top 10 on the Billboard Country and Western Best Sellers chart (including 11 No. 1 singles and five "million sellers") and to write such hits as "Your Cheatin Heart" and "Jambalaya." It sold for $134,500 at a Christies auction on 3 December, 2009
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The constant companion of one of the all-time greats, Country and Western pioneer Hank Williams, for the last six years of his tragically short life. This Martin D-18 was used to record all of the 35 singles which reached Top 10 on the Billboard Country and Western Best Sellers chart (including 11 No. 1 singles and five "million sellers") and to write such hits as "Your Cheatin Heart" and "Jambalaya." It sold for $134,500 at a Christies auction on 3 December, 2009
This ES295 was used in recording U2's "Desire" and can be seen in the video for this song. It was also used on the Joshua Tree album and subsequent U2 tours up to the Vertigo tour. He played with this instrument on such live numbers as "The Electrico Co." and "God's Country." It sold for $131,250 at a Juliens auction on 27 April, 2007
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This ES295 was used in recording U2's "Desire" and can be seen in the video for this song. It was also used on the Joshua Tree album and subsequent U2 tours up to the Vertigo tour. He played with this instrument on such live numbers as "The Electrico Co." and "God's Country." It sold for $131,250 at a Juliens auction on 27 April, 2007
Another of the approximately 1,700 Gibson Les Paul Standards created between 1958 and 1960, this 1960 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst sold for $134,500 at a Heritage auction on 20 April, 2013
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Another of the approximately 1,700 Gibson Les Paul Standards created between 1958 and 1960, this 1960 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst sold for $134,500 at a Heritage auction on 20 April, 2013
This was the first brand name guitar owned by the man who named, founded and initially led the Rolling Stones: Brian Jones. Purchased in 1962, Jones used this guitar almost exclusively until the autumn of 1963 when the Stones signed with Decca Records. It sold for $130,824 (£79,250) at a Christies auction on 1 July 2009
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This was the first brand name guitar owned by the man who named, founded and initially led the Rolling Stones: Brian Jones. Purchased in 1962, Jones used this guitar almost exclusively until the autumn of 1963 when the Stones signed with Decca Records. It sold for $130,824 (£79,250) at a Christies auction on 1 July 2009
Brian Jones playing this 1960 Harmony Stratotone on stage with the Rolling Stones' first line up at the Marquee Club, Oxford Street, London in 1963. They certainly look like a bunch of clean cut lads these days but their long hair at the time was quite outrageous
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Brian Jones playing this 1960 Harmony Stratotone on stage with the Rolling Stones' first line up at the Marquee Club, Oxford Street, London in 1963. They certainly look like a bunch of clean cut lads these days but their long hair at the time was quite outrageous
Yet another Gibson Les Paul Standard, this 1959 model sold for $127,000 on 16 October, 2005 at a Skinner auction
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Yet another Gibson Les Paul Standard, this 1959 model sold for $127,000 on 16 October, 2005 at a Skinner auction
This Hofner left-handed vintage bass was rented by Paul McCartney from Harris Hire in Beckenham, England, on numerous occasions between 1997 and 2013 . It sold for $125,000 at a Juliens auction on 17 May, 2014
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This Hofner left-handed vintage bass was rented by Paul McCartney from Harris Hire in Beckenham, England, on numerous occasions between 1997 and 2013 . It sold for $125,000 at a Juliens auction on 17 May, 2014
This Travis Bean TB500 guitar (this is number 11, number 12 is also on this list) was used extensively by Jerry Garcia on stage, in the studio and when jamming with his entourage, while with the Grateful Dead and The Jerry Garcia Band. Apparently the first time he saw this new hand made guitar he laughed, as the unusual custom aluminum neck was surprisingly different, however he quickly changed his mind when he played the guitar for the first time, thanks to it's pure tonal qualities. It sold for $124,052 (£75,700) at a Bonhams auction on 18 December, 2013
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This Travis Bean TB500 guitar (this is number 11, number 12 is also on this list) was used extensively by Jerry Garcia on stage, in the studio and when jamming with his entourage, while with the Grateful Dead and The Jerry Garcia Band. Apparently the first time he saw this new hand made guitar he laughed, as the unusual custom aluminum neck was surprisingly different, however he quickly changed his mind when he played the guitar for the first time, thanks to it's pure tonal qualities. It sold for $124,052 (£75,700) at a Bonhams auction on 18 December, 2013
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The promotional poster for the famous gig (no image available of the guitar)
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The promotional poster for the famous gig (no image available of the guitar)
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The 3/4 size guitar John Lennon was playing on that auspicious day when the world's most famous songwriting duo met. It "broke" in 1958 and was left in the care of Lennon’s Aunt Mimi, who, on his death, and after getting the guitar repaired, gave it to a disabled boy and when he died it was passed on to a disabled girl. The guitar was auctioned in 1999 with the proceeds going to safeguard her future. The guitar was auctioned bearing a brass plaque which Lennon's Aunt Mimi had mounted on the headstock with the advice she once gave to a young Lennon: "Remember, you'll never earn your living by it." It sold ion 14 September, 1999 at a Sotheby’s auction for $244,384 (£155,000)
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The 3/4 size guitar John Lennon was playing on that auspicious day when the world's most famous songwriting duo met. It "broke" in 1958 and was left in the care of Lennon’s Aunt Mimi, who, on his death, and after getting the guitar repaired, gave it to a disabled boy and when he died it was passed on to a disabled girl. The guitar was auctioned in 1999 with the proceeds going to safeguard her future. The guitar was auctioned bearing a brass plaque which Lennon's Aunt Mimi had mounted on the headstock with the advice she once gave to a young Lennon: "Remember, you'll never earn your living by it." It sold ion 14 September, 1999 at a Sotheby’s auction for $244,384 (£155,000)
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This black Gibson ES-345 prototype was given to B.B. King for his 80th birthday. It fetched $280,000 at auction in September, 2019
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This black Gibson ES-345 prototype was given to B.B. King for his 80th birthday. It fetched $280,000 at auction in September, 2019
This black Gibson ES-345 prototype was given to B.B. King for his 80th birthday. It fetched $280,000 at auction in September, 2019
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This black Gibson ES-345 prototype was given to B.B. King for his 80th birthday. It fetched $280,000 at auction in September, 2019
Fender Mustang guitar from Nirvana’s 1993 In Utero tour | Price: $340,000 | Auctioned: October 26, 2019 | Julien's Auctions
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Fender Mustang guitar from Nirvana’s 1993 In Utero tour | Price: $340,000 | Auctioned: October 26, 2019 | Julien's Auctions

Updated: September 7, 2019 | The rise of popular music in the last century can largely beattributed to the accessibility of music, with first recording and playbackdevices (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 ismore 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 | Dave Gilmour's 'Black Strat' | 1969/1983 Fender Stratocaster

Price: $3,975,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

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 The Dark Side of the Moon is the third most successful 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 | John Lennon's Gibson J-160E

Price: $2,902,000 (including buyers premium)

Auctioned: November 7, 2015

Julien's

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 it 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 | "Reach Out to Asia" Fender Stratocaster

The most expensive guitar in history sold for US$2,700,000 at a "Reach out to Asia" charity auction on 16 November, 2005. It was signed by a "who's who" of the world's greatest guitar exponents and rock stars including Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian May, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davis, Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood, Tony Iommi, Angus & Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, Def Leppard, and Bryan Adams.
The most expensive guitar in history sold for US$2,700,000 at a "Reach out to Asia" charity auction on 16 November, 2005. It was signed by a "who's who" of the world's greatest guitar exponents and rock stars including Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian May, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davis, Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood, Tony Iommi, Angus & Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, Def Leppard, and Bryan Adams.

Price: $2,700,000

Auctioned: November 16, 2005 for "Reach out to Asia"

Provenance: Signed by Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian May, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davis, Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood, Tony Iommi, Angus & Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, Def Leppard, and Bryan Adams.

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."

4 | Jerry Garcia's Doug Irwin "Wolf"

Jerry Garcia’s custom-made Doug Irwin "Wolf" sold for $789,500 at a Guernseys auctioned on 8 May, 2002
Jerry Garcia’s custom-made Doug Irwin "Wolf" sold for $789,500 at a Guernseys auctioned on 8 May, 2002

Price: $1,900,000

Auctioned: May 31, 2017

Guernseys

Jerry Garcia's first custom made guitar, made by Doug Irwin, who, at that time was working for Alembic in San Francisco. Irwin made Garcia's 'Eagle' guitar and Garcia was so impressed with it he asked 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 tobuild. 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, as Garcia's guitars zoomed past the previous world record figure for a guitar. The 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 Aficionado's How Jerry Garcia revolutionised the custom guitar industry, an interview with 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 the proceeds going to charity.

5 | 1954 Fender Stratocaster #0001

Price: $1,815,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

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 fourth 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 | Duane Allman's 1957 "Layla" Gibson Les Paul

The Goldtop 1957 Gibson Les Paul guitar which Duane Allman used to record "Layla" alongside Eric Clapton
The Goldtop 1957 Gibson Les Paul guitar which Duane Allman used to record "Layla" alongside Eric Clapton

Price: $1,250,000 (including buyer's premium)

Auctioned: August, 2019

Gottahaverockandroll.com

7 | John Lennon's Rickenbacker Model 1996

Price: $1,102,000 (including buyer's premium)

Auctioned: December 3, 2015

Julien's

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 | David Gilmour's 1969 C.F. Martin D-35

Price: $1,095,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

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 | Bob Dylan's "Newport Folk Festival" Stratocaster

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, and it was, according to Rolling Stone magazine, "one of the most notable events in music history." This is the 1964 Fender Stratocaster Dylan used during that performance. It sold for $965,000 at a Christies auction on 6 December, 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, and it was, according to Rolling Stone magazine, "one of the most notable events in music history." This is the 1964 Fender Stratocaster Dylan used during that performance. It sold for $965,000 at a Christies auction on 6 December, 2013

Price: $965,000

Auctioned: December 6, 2013

Christie's

Provenance: The Fender Stratocaster which Bob Dylan used in his infamous "electric" performance at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival

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 | Eric Clapton's "Blackie" Stratocaster Hybrid

"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. 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 "461 Ocean Boulevard," "Slowhand," "No Reason To Cry" and "Just One Night." It sold for $959,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 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. 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 "461 Ocean Boulevard," "Slowhand," "No Reason To Cry" and "Just One Night." It sold for $959,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004

Price: $959,500

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christie's

Provenance: 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.'

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 | Jerry Garcia's Doug Irwin "Tiger"

Jerry Garcia’s Doug Irwin "Tiger," another custom guitar made by master luthier Doug Irwin. This was the primary guitar of Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia from 1979 to 1985. It was also the last guitar Garcia played publicly. It sold for $957,500 at a Guernseys auction on 8 May, 2002
Jerry Garcia’s Doug Irwin "Tiger," another custom guitar made by master luthier Doug Irwin. This was the primary guitar of Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia from 1979 to 1985. It was also the last guitar Garcia played publicly. It sold for $957,500 at a Guernseys auction on 8 May, 2002

Price: $957,500

Auctioned: May 8, 2002

Guernseys

Provenance: A unique custom guitar made by master Luthier Doug Irwin and the primary guitar of Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia from 1979 to 1985. The last guitar Garcia played publicly.

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 | Prince's Blue Cloud guitar

Price: $850,000

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Julien's

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 | Eric Clapton's 1964 Gibson ES-335 TDC

This 1964 Gibson ES-335 TDC hollow-body electric guitar was originally purchased by Clapton in 1964, and 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. It sold for $847,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
This 1964 Gibson ES-335 TDC hollow-body electric guitar was originally purchased by Clapton in 1964, and 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. It sold for $847,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004

Price: $847,500

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christies

Provenance: Originally purchased by 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.

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 | Eric Clapton's 1939 Martin OOO-42

This 1939 Martin OOO-42 was 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." It sold for $791,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
This 1939 Martin OOO-42 was 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." It sold for $791,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004

Price: $791,500

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christies

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.'

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 | Lennon & Harrison 1962 Rickenbacker 425

This 1962 Rickenbacker 425 was 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). It sold for $657,000 at a Julien's auction on 17 May 17, 2014
This 1962 Rickenbacker 425 was 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). It sold for $657,000 at a Julien's auction on 17 May 17, 2014

Price: $742,000

Auctioned: May 17, 2014

Julien's

Provenance: 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).

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 | Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Lenny" Stratocaster

This Fender Stratocaster was given to blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan by his wife, Lenny, in 1980 as a 26th birthday present. It sold for $623,500 at a Christies auctioned on 24 June, 2004
This Fender Stratocaster was given to blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan by his wife, Lenny, in 1980 as a 26th birthday present. It sold for $623,500 at a Christies auctioned on 24 June, 2004

Price: $623,500

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christies

Provenance: Blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan received this instrument fromhis wife, Lenny, in 1980 as a 26th birthday present.

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 | Paul McCartney's first guitar - Rex acoustic

Screen clip from Cooper Owen Music Media Auctions showing Paul McCartney with the guitar that started him on the path to becoming the most successful recording artist of all-time. This Rex acoustic was the first guitar Paul McCartney ever held. It was also the guitar on which he learned his first chords. It sold for $615,203 (£330,000) at a Cooper Owen auction on 28 July, 2006
Screen clip from Cooper Owen Music Media Auctions showing Paul McCartney with the guitar that started him on the path to becoming the most successful recording artist of all-time. This Rex acoustic was the first guitar Paul McCartney ever held. It was also the guitar on which he learned his first chords. It sold for $615,203 (£330,000) at a Cooper Owen auction on 28 July, 2006

Price: $615,203 (£330,000)

Auctioned: July 28, 2006

Cooper Owen

Provenance: In a letter signed by Paul McCartney, he says 'This was the first guitar I ever held. It was also the guitar onwhich I learned my first chords.'

McCartney bought the guitar from a school mate, Ian James, whohe credits with teaching how to play the guitar, and, as Ian James put theguitar up for auction McCartney must have given it back to him at some stage inits life. It is the same guitar that he used to woo John Lennon with a fewof the chords that Ian James had taught him, and so gained entry into JohnLennon's band The Quarrymen in 1957.

The price that was paid at auction – £330,000, US$615,203 – 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 | 1984 Fender Stratocaster 57V

Price: $615,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

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, then Boys and Girls, Slave to Love and a rendition of John Lennon's Jealous Guy.

19 | 1958 Gibson Explorer

One of the few guitars in this list not previously owned by a legendary guitar player, gaining its value through scarcity. Less than 50 were made because no-one wanted them in 1958 when the Gibson catalogue listed them at $247.50, the same price as a Les Paul Standard. The model was discontinued in the early sixties. It sold for $611,000 at a Skinner auction on 15 October, 2006
One of the few guitars in this list not previously owned by a legendary guitar player, gaining its value through scarcity. Less than 50 were made because no-one wanted them in 1958 when the Gibson catalogue listed them at $247.50, the same price as a Les Paul Standard. The model was discontinued in the early sixties. It sold for $611,000 at a Skinner auction on 15 October, 2006

Price: $611,000

Auctioned: October 15, 2006

Skinner

Provenance: One of the few guitars in this list not previously owned bya legendary guitar player, gaining its value through scarcity. 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.

20 | ex-Dylan, Robbie Robertson 1965 Fender Telecaster

Price: $598,000

Auctioned: May 19, 2018

Julien's

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 being used by 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.

21 | Duane Allman's 1961/1962 Cherry Gibson SG

Duane Allman's 1961/1962 Cherry Gibson SG fetched $591,000 at Heritage Auctions on July 20, 2019, making it one of the 20 most valuable guitars ever sold
Duane Allman's 1961/1962 Cherry Gibson SG fetched $591,000 at Heritage Auctions on July 20, 2019, making it one of the 20 most valuable guitars ever sold

Price: $591,000
Auctioned: July, 2019

Heritage Auctions

22 | Lennon & Harrison 1964 Gibson SG

This 1964 Gibson SG was used by The Beatles between 1966 and 1969. George Harrison used it when recording and touring for the album "Revolver." It was used by Harrison in the "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" clips in 1966 and by John Lennon during the "White Album" sessions in 1969. Subsequently owned by Pete Ham of Badfinger and on display for many years at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio. It sold for $567,500 at a Christies auction on 17 December, 2004
This 1964 Gibson SG was used by The Beatles between 1966 and 1969. George Harrison used it when recording and touring for the album "Revolver." It was used by Harrison in the "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" clips in 1966 and by John Lennon during the "White Album" sessions in 1969. Subsequently owned by Pete Ham of Badfinger and on display for many years at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio. It sold for $567,500 at a Christies auction on 17 December, 2004

Price: $567,500

Auctioned: December 17, 2004

Christies

Provenance: This guitar was used by The Beatles between 1966 and 1969. George Harrisonused it when recording and touring for the album Revolver. It was used by Harrison in the 'Paperback Writer' and 'Rain' clips in 1966 and by John Lennon during the White Album sessions in 1969. Subsequently owned by Pete Ham of Badfinger and on display for many years at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio.

A 1964 Gibson SG Standard guitar, Serial No. 227666, translucent cherry finish, double cutaway solid body, Schaller machine heads, 22 fret fingerboard with mother-of-pearl inlays, Gibson logo inlayed to head, dual humbucker pickups, four rotary controls, selector switch, Gibson/Maestro Varitone wrap around tail piece and whammy bar, together with original hardshell case and six original Kluson tuners.

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. Together with additional related documents of the guitars subsequent owner, Pete Ham of Badfinger, to whom Harrison bestowed the guitar to in 1969. In 2002, the guitar was loaned to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland Ohio where it has been on display ever since.

23 | Jimi Hendrix "burned" 1965 Fender Stratocaster (Finsbury Astoria burning)

The promotional poster for the famous gig (no image available of the guitar)
The promotional poster for the famous gig (no image available of the guitar)

Price: $560,000

Auctioned: September 4, 2008

Fame Bureau

Provenance: The guitar which Jimi Hendrix set alight using lighter fluid on stage at London's Finsbury Astoria on March 31, 1967.

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 in 1967 in North London at the Finsbury Astoria. 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.

24 | Roy Rogers' 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe

This 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe was the companion guitar to actor Roy Rogers across 100 movies and a thousand recording sessions, from 1933 to his death in 1998. It sold for $554,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009
This 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe was the companion guitar to actor Roy Rogers across 100 movies and a thousand recording sessions, from 1933 to his death in 1998. It sold for $554,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009

Price: $554,500

Auctioned: April 3, 2009

Christies

Provenance: The companion guitar to actor Roy Rogers across 100 films and a thousand recording sessions, from 1933 to his death in 1998.

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.

00 | John Lennon's Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins

Price: $530,000+ (private sale - unconfirmed)

Provenance: 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 "Black Beauty," Les Paul's 1954 black Custom guitar, "Tiger," Jerry Garcia's main guitar from 1979 to 1989, and Bob Dylan's Fender Stratocaster, the "Dylan Goes Electric" guitar, 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.

25 | David Gilmour's 1971 C.F. Martin D12-35

Price: $531,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

From the auction description: ... this guitar has served as David Gilmour's chief 12-string studio acoustic for over forty years. Gilmour told us (Christie's):

"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."

26 | Eric Clapton's "Brownie" Fender Stratocaster

Eric Clapton’s "Brownie" Fender Stratocaster. Purchased second-hand for $300 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. 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. It sold for $497,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 1999
Eric Clapton’s "Brownie" Fender Stratocaster. Purchased second-hand for $300 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. 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. It sold for $497,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 1999

Price: $497,500

Auctioned: June 24, 1999

Christie's

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 (note that in this live concert video, Clapton is playing "Blackie").

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.

27 | George Harrison's first electric guitar | Hofner Club 40

Price: $526,000 (including buyers premium)

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Julien's

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."

28 | ex-Homer Haynes 1957 Fender Stratocaster

Price: $495,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christies

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.

29 | Jimi Hendrix 1966 Red Fender Mustang

This 1966 Red Fender Mustang was used by Hendrix on his 1966 album "Axis: Bold as Love" and his 1967 album "Electric Ladyland." It sold for $490,000 at a Juliens auction on 27 April, 2007
This 1966 Red Fender Mustang was used by Hendrix on his 1966 album "Axis: Bold as Love" and his 1967 album "Electric Ladyland." It sold for $490,000 at a Juliens auction on 27 April, 2007

Price: $490,000

Auctioned: April 27, 2007

Juliens

Provenance: This guitar was used by Hendrix on his 1966 album Axis: Bold as Love (If 6 Was 9) and his 1967 album Electric Ladyland (All Along The Watchtower).

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.

30 | George Harrison's 1963 Maton Mastersound MS500

This 1963 Maton Mastersound MS500 was played by George Harrison during the summer of 1963 while his Gretsch Country Gentleman was being repaired. It was borrowed from Barratts Music Store in Manchester England. It sold for $485,000 at a Juliens auction on 15 May, 2015
This 1963 Maton Mastersound MS500 was played by George Harrison during the summer of 1963 while his Gretsch Country Gentleman was being repaired. It was borrowed from Barratts Music Store in Manchester England. It sold for $485,000 at a Juliens auction on 15 May, 2015

Price: $485,000

Auctioned: May 15, 2015

Juliens

Provenance: George Harrison played this Australian-made guitar during the summer of 1963while his Gretsch Country Gentleman was being repaired and 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 £4,000 to £5,000 (or £8,000+ for one measuring 30 x 40 inches).

This guitar was again auctioned in 2018, fetching £347,200 ($452,357 including buyers' premium) at Gardiner Houlgate Auctions.

31 | Eric Clapton's Gold Leaf Fender Stratocaster

This strat was ordered by Eric Clapton in 1996, at the time of the 50th anniversary of Fender. Clapton wanted something that could hang in a museum, so the company made him a custom Stratocaster plated with 23 carat gold. It sold for $455,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
This strat was ordered by Eric Clapton in 1996, at the time of the 50th anniversary of Fender. Clapton wanted something that could hang in a museum, so the company made him a custom Stratocaster plated with 23 carat gold. It sold for $455,500 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004

Price: $455,500

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christies

Provenance: Thisguitar was ordered by Eric Clapton in 1996, around the 50th anniversary ofFender. Clapton wanted something that could hang in a museum, so the companymade him a custom fender plated with 23 carat gold.

Fenders' original Gold Leaf guitar was a custom order for Eric Clapton at the time of Fenders' 50th Anniversary in 1996. It was hand crated by Mark Kendrick and John Luis Campo, Fenders' 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.

32 | 1955 Gibson Les Paul Custom

Price: $447,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

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.

33 | 1958 Gretsch White Penguin

Price: $447,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

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."

34 | George Harrison's "Let it be" Rosewood Fender Telecaster

George Harrison was presented with this Rosewood Telecaster by Fender in December, 1968. He 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 "Abbey Road" album. It sold for $434,750 at a Juliens auction on September 13, 2003
George Harrison was presented with this Rosewood Telecaster by Fender in December, 1968. He 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 "Abbey Road" album. It sold for $434,750 at a Juliens auction on September 13, 2003

Price: $434,750

Auctioned: September 13, 2003

Julien's

Provenance: Presented by Fender with this Telecaster in December, 1968, George Harrison played it in the Beatles' last ever liveperformance 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 favorites 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.

35 | 1966 Fender Stratocaster

Price: $423,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

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.

36 | John Lennon & George Harrison 1966 custom Vox Kensington guitar

This 1966 custom Vox Kensington guitar 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." It sold for $418,000 at a Juliens auction on 18 May, 2013
This 1966 custom Vox Kensington guitar 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." It sold for $418,000 at a Juliens auction on 18 May, 2013

Price: $418,000

Auctioned: May 18, 2013

Julien's

Provenance: 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.

37 | Elvis Presley's 1969 Gibson Dove acoustic

Price: $410,800 including buyers premium

Auctioned: May 21, 2016

Julien's

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 Hawaiiconcert, 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.

38 | 1976 Ovation acoustic-electric Custom Legend

Price: $399,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

Purchased from Ovation Instruments in 1976, this Custom Legend became one of David Gilmour's longest serving instruments, carried on every Pink Floyd and solo tour since and famously used to write and record the original demo that became Comfortably Numb. If you are a guitar nutter, read Christie's lot essay on this guitar and you will be captivated.

39 | Bob Dylan's 1963 Martin D-2

Price: $396,500

Auctioned: November 11, 2017

An historic guitar used by American music icon Bob Dylan from the late 1960s, and played through his entire set at George Harrison's 1971 Concert for Bangladesh. Dylan's blazed through a mini-set which included "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall", "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry", "Blowin' in the Wind", "Mr. Tambourine Man", and "Just Like a Woman" with the help of George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Ringo Starr and other notable musicians. The guitar was also used during his entire "Rolling Thunder Revue" tour from October 30, 1975 to May 25, 1976, as well as countless other dates. In 1977, he sold the guitar to noted guitar-tech and musician (not to mention, Dylan's guitar repairman at the time!) Larry Cragg.

40 | Jimi Hendrix Fender 1964 Stratocaster

This 1964 Stratocaster was given by Jimi Hendrix to his brother Leon in 1968 in Seattle. According to Leon he told Jimi that he was going to start a band. Jimi asked him if he had a guitar. Leon said no and so Jimi gave him the 1964 Fender. Leon kept it for nearly 50 years and put it up for auction in 2015. It sold for $385,917 (£260,280) at a Ted Owen & Co auction on 1 April, 2015
This 1964 Stratocaster was given by Jimi Hendrix to his brother Leon in 1968 in Seattle. According to Leon he told Jimi that he was going to start a band. Jimi asked him if he had a guitar. Leon said no and so Jimi gave him the 1964 Fender. Leon kept it for nearly 50 years and put it up for auction in 2015. It sold for $385,917 (£260,280) at a Ted Owen & Co auction on 1 April, 2015

Price: $386,078 (£260,280)

Auctioned: April 1, 2015

Ted Owen & Co

Provenance: This 1964 Stratocaster was given by Jimi Hendrix to his brother Leon in 1968 in Seattle. According to Leon he told Jimi that he was going to start a band. Jimi asked him if he had a guitar. Leon said no and so Jimi gave him the 1964 Fender. Leon kept it for nearly 50 years and put it up for auction in 2015.

The official Ted Owen estimate on this guitar for the auction was £400,000 to £600,000 (US$600,000 to $900,000) but doubts were raised in the days prior to the auction about whether or not Jimi actually played it. Regardless, the resultant price was a disappointment. An unimpeachable provenance is key to a sound investment in this game.

The official auction description explains the history of the guitar but Hendrix traveled with several Stratocasters and ... if it is the real Jimi Hendrix Fender 1964 Stratocaster then this video shows him playing it. Judge for yourself.

00 | 1949Fender Broadcaster prototype

This 1949 Fender Broadcaster prototype was sold privately in 1994 for $375,000, believed to be the highest price ever paid for a guitar at the time. It was Leo Fender’s first prototype for the Fender Telecaster, the world's first commercial solid-body, single-cutaway electric guitar.
This 1949 Fender Broadcaster prototype was sold privately in 1994 for $375,000, believed to be the highest price ever paid for a guitar at the time. It was Leo Fender’s first prototype for the Fender Telecaster, the world's first commercial solid-body, single-cutaway electric guitar.

Price: $375,000 (private sale - unconfirmed)

Provenance: This guitar was sold privately in 1994 for $375,000, believed to be the highest price ever paid for a guitar at the time. It was Leo Fender's first prototype for the Fender Telecaster, the world's first commercial solid-body, single-cutaway electric guitar.

In 1949, LeoFender developed his first prototype of the Broadcaster, but it went under thename of Fender Esquire. The solid body was made in pine, with a single pick-up and around 50 were made, but none had a truss rod and a number were returnedwhen the neck warped. Later versions were made of solid ash and did have atruss rod.

A two-pickup version, maybe the firsttwo-pickup guitar ever made, wasdeveloped in June 1950 and was named the Broadcaster with the originalone-pickup version retaining the name Esquire.

At that time theGretsch company had been marketing a drum set under the name of "Broadkaster"and asked Fender to drop the name Broadcaster. It did, and the guitar was renamed the Telecaster. Fender did ship someBroadcasters with only the Fender decal, and no model name. They were called,euphemistically, the "Nocaster" and, now, are very sought-after collectorsitems in their own right. While theTelecaster has become one of Fender's more popular models it had its beginningsas the humble Esquire.

Since then the "humble" Esquire has gathered quite a following and later models have been usedby Bruce Springsteen on the Born To Run album, Luther Perkins on some of theearly Johnny Cash albums, Paul McCartney (using a right handed model strung tothe left, a la Jimi Hendrix) on the Sergeant Pepper sessions, Jeff Beck ofThe Yardbirds, Syd Barrett (the originalleader of Pink Floyd), and David Gilmore (who took Barrett's lead role in Pink Floyd).

41 | 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe

This 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe is one of just 14 ever made, and fewer than 10 are still known to exist. It is regarded by many as the most beautiful, the most collectible and the most valuable guitar that Martin ever made and its sound is also beyond compare. It sold for $366,000 at a Guernseys auction on 3 April, 2014
This 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe is one of just 14 ever made, and fewer than 10 are still known to exist. It is regarded by many as the most beautiful, the most collectible and the most valuable guitar that Martin ever made and its sound is also beyond compare. It sold for $366,000 at a Guernseys auction on 3 April, 2014

Price: $366,000

Auctioned: April 3, 2014

Guernseys

Provenance: Just 14 of these guitars were ever made, and fewer than 10 are still known to exist. It is regarded by many as the most beautiful, the most collectible and the most valuable guitar that Martin ever made and it's sound is also beyond compare.

In the late 1920s, the perfect storm for the creation of the Martin OM-45 Deluxe was about to develop. During that era every guitar manufacturer aspired to make the finest guitars imaginable. The market was booming. Innovation was rampant, and craftsmanship was outstanding. Then came the stock market crash of 1929 which catalyzed the Great Depression.

Martin, like all companies, was forced to lay off all but its most skilled craftsmen and guitars were produced in small numbers. The up-side, of course, was that the guitars that were manufactured were made by the finest guitar craftsmen that the world, possibly, has ever seen. Certainly, the Martin OM-45 stands testimony to that.

This example is exquisite and quite possibly the finest Martin OM-45 offered for sale in the last 30 years. The OM-45 Deluxe is still manufactured, and has a retail price of US$100,000.

42 | John Lennon's 1958 Hofner Senator

There are no photos of John Lennon playing this instrument and he himself never mentioned owning a Senator. He did own a Hofner Club 40 in 1959, and there is at least one photo showing Lennon playing a Club 40 at The Casbah Club in Liverpool. This was at the time of The Quarrymen and, certainly Ken Brown of The Quarrymen did own a Senator. But did Lennon? It sold for $338,823 at a Christies auction on 1 July, 2009
There are no photos of John Lennon playing this instrument and he himself never mentioned owning a Senator. He did own a Hofner Club 40 in 1959, and there is at least one photo showing Lennon playing a Club 40 at The Casbah Club in Liverpool. This was at the time of The Quarrymen and, certainly Ken Brown of The Quarrymen did own a Senator. But did Lennon? It sold for $338,823 at a Christies auction on 1 July, 2009

Price: $338,823

Auctioned: July 1, 2009

Christie's

Provenance: There are no photos of John Lennon playing this instrument and he himself never mentioned owning a Senator. He did own a Hofner Club 40 in 1959, and there is at least one photo showing Lennon playing a Club 40 at The Casbah Club in Liverpool. This was at the time of The Quarrymen and, certainly Ken Brown of The Quarrymen did own a Senator. But did Lennon?

The guitar's history was certainly hyped-up when in 1990 this Senator was displayed in the lobby at the home of AEI Music in Seattle. The promotional material claimed it to be the "Abbey Road Studio Guitar" and said it was used in the recordings of Love Me Do, From Me To You and This Boy. It is doubted that the Senator ever saw the insides of Abbey Road and it is well documented that the guitar Lennon used on the aforementioned songs was a Gibson J-160E.

Anyway…..the guitar was supposedly given by Lennon to Mel Evans, one of The Beatles roadies, whose widow Lil auctioned it in 1984 for £15,500 at Sothebys. She provided a letter from George Harrison, to her, with Harrison calling it "one of the first guitars of John's going back to Liverpool."

43 | 1954 Gibson Les Paul Custom "Black Beauty"

The original Les Paul. Once owned by Les Paul himself. It sold for $343,750 at a Guernsey's auction on 19 February, 2015
The original Les Paul. Once owned by Les Paul himself. It sold for $343,750 at a Guernsey's auction on 19 February, 2015

Price: $343,750

Auctioned: February 19, 2015

Guernsey's



Provenance: The original Les Paul. Once owned by Les Paul himself, many people regard this guitar as the most significant electric guitar ever made and some were expecting it to go as high as a million dollars at auction. The guitar was purchased by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay for $343,750 including the buyer's premium, with Irsay's Guitar Curator Christopher McKinney having been authorized by Irsay to bid up to $650,000 to secure the item.

Les Paul was unimpressed with the 1952 Gibson Gold top. Although iconic, he regarded it as having a number of design flaws. He demanded that if a guitar was to have his name on it, it had to be a better guitar than Gibson was making. He collaborated with Gibson's Ted McCarty and they came up with The Black Beauty. The custom Black Beauty left the Gibson factory in late December 1953 and was in Les's hands by early January.

He used it on all of his Listerine Shows and, being the innovator that he was, he began experimenting and modifying it almost immediately. Different knobs. Different pickups. Different stoptails. Different…..everything. In fact, in those mid fifties shows you could be forgiven for thinking he was playing a number of different Black Les Pauls.

44 | Kurt Cobain's left-handed Fender Mustang guitar from Nirvana’s 1993 In Utero tour

Fender Mustang guitar from Nirvana’s 1993 In Utero tour | Price: $340,000 | Auctioned: October 26, 2019 | Julien's Auctions
Fender Mustang guitar from Nirvana’s 1993 In Utero tour | Price: $340,000 | Auctioned: October 26, 2019 | Julien's Auctions

Price: $340,000

Auctioned: October 26, 2019

Julien's Auctions

This left-handed Fender Mustang was created for Cobain by Scott Zimmerman

45 | Jimi Hendrix "Woodstock Strat"

Used by Jimi Hendrix on stage at Woodstock, including Jimi's famous rendition of "The Star Spangled banner." Rumored to have been sold privately for US$2,000,000, but last time it appeared at auction (April 25, 1990 - Sotheby's), it fetched $325,000. This guitar can now be seen on display at the EMP museum.
Used by Jimi Hendrix on stage at Woodstock, including Jimi's famous rendition of "The Star Spangled banner." Rumored to have been sold privately for US$2,000,000, but last time it appeared at auction (April 25, 1990 - Sotheby's), it fetched $325,000. This guitar can now be seen on display at the EMP museum.

Price: rumoured to have been sold privately for $2,000,000, but last time it appeared at auction (way back in 1990), it fetched $325,000

Auctioned: April 25, 1990

Sotheby's

Provenance: Used by Jimi Hendrix on stage at Woodstock, and the instrument which was used in Jimi's famous rendition of 'The Star Spangled banner.'

This blonde, maple-necked 1968 Fender Stratocaster guitar didn't sell at auction and hence we cannot confirm the price, but it has been one of the most valuable guitars in the world for the last quarter century, primarily due to Jimi Hendrix' famous performance at the iconic Woodstock Festival in August, 1969.

It held that mantle from April 25, 1990 onward, having been sold for £198,000 ($325,000) when Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell sold the guitar at a Sotheby's auction. At that time, it became the world's most valuable guitar and broke its own record when Gabriele Ansaloni, who purchased it at the Sotheby's 1990 auction, sold it privately in 1993 for a sum reported to be between US$1.3 and $1.8 million.

It was subsequently sold for a reported US$2 million in 2008 to the Experience Music Project (a nonprofit museum, dedicated to contemporary popular culture and founded by Microsoft co-founder and noted philanthropist Paul Allen) which has subsequently morphed into the EMP Museum.

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 EMP museum.

46 | Eric Clapton 2004 Fender Stratocaster Master Built Crash Concept Model

At the time of it's sale, this Stratocaster was the most recent addition to Eric Clapton’s collection of Signature Stratocaster Custom guitars and his third painted by graffiti artist Crash. Clapton used this as his main stage guitar from the One Generation 4 Another Albert Hall concert on 15 March, 2004 until the concert the night before his famous Christies Crossroads auction on 24 June, 2004 where it fetched $321,100
At the time of it's sale, this Stratocaster was the most recent addition to Eric Clapton’s collection of Signature Stratocaster Custom guitars and his third painted by graffiti artist Crash. Clapton used this as his main stage guitar from the One Generation 4 Another Albert Hall concert on 15 March, 2004 until the concert the night before his famous Christies Crossroads auction on 24 June, 2004 where it fetched $321,100

Price: $321,100

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christies

At the time of its sale, this Stratocaster was the most recent addition toEric Clapton's collection of Signature Stratocaster Custom guitars and his third painted by graffitiartist 'Crash.' Clapton used this as his main stage guitar from the One Generation4 Another Albert Hall concert on March 15, 2004 until a concertthe night the night before his famous Christies Crossroads auction. The construction of this guitar was a collaboration between two master builders at Fender, Todd Krause and Mark Kendrick.

47 | George Harrison 1958 Futurama

Price: $317,349

Auctioned: June 12, 2019 (Bonhams)

This Futurama guitar was used by George Harrison during the Beatles' legendary Hamburg tours. Harrison bought the instrument at Hessy's music shop in Liverpool in November 1959 and used it during the Beatles' two lengthy club residencies in Hamburg in 1960 and 1961, and on numerous British gigs over an 18 month period. In 1964, George Harrison gave the guitar to Beat Instrumental Magazine to offer as a competition prize. The winner of the competition opted for a cash prize rather than the guitar, which remained with the magazine.

48 | Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Jimbo" 1951 Fender Broadcaster

Price: $310,000

Auctioned: May 21, 2018

Julien's

This is the 1951 Fender Broadcaster with which Stevie Ray Vaughan launched his career, being given the guitar by his older brother Jimmie, who had etched his nickname 'Jimbo" on the back. Vaughan used this guitar on his earliest known recording while still just 15 years old in 1969, and his first studio recording in 1970.

49 | Vox V251 Guitar Organ prototype (1964)

This 1964 Vox V251 Guitar Organ prototype proved equally as unpopular with the public as it did with both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (both received promotional instruments). While the Vox Guitar/Organ never became popular, it could well be seen as the fore-runner of the synthesizer. It sold for $305,000 at a Sothebys auctioned on 24 June, 2014
This 1964 Vox V251 Guitar Organ prototype proved equally as unpopular with the public as it did with both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (both received promotional instruments). While the Vox Guitar/Organ never became popular, it could well be seen as the fore-runner of the synthesizer. It sold for $305,000 at a Sothebys auctioned on 24 June, 2014

Price: $305,000

Auctioned: June 24, 2014

Sotheby's



Provenance: This guitar organ proved equally as unpopular with the public as it did with both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (both received promotional instruments). While the Vox Guitar/Organ never became popular, it could well be seen as the fore-runner of the synthesizer.

Essentially it was a Phantom guitar combined with a Vox Continental organ and could be played as either a guitar, an organ – or both. In the hope of getting an endorsement for the guitar/organ it was given to The Beatles in 1964 by Dick Denny of Vox, the inventor, and although Lennon and McCartney were "in awe of it," they found it too heavy (9 lb) and too difficult to play.

It was never played in the studio or live. Lennon gave it to Mal Evans, a roadie to whom The Beatles members gave a number of their guitars. Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones was also given a Vox Guitar/Organ to try, but it did not find favor with him either.

50 | Jerry Garcia's 1975 Travis Bean Custom

The best–known of Jerry Garcia’s three Travis Bean guitars, Garcia played this TB1000 during a number of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band’s most famous shows (Golden Gate Park Show in September, 1975 and the Orpheum Theater Shows in May and July of 1976) as well as the recording of the "Steal Your Face" and the "Terrapin Station" albums. It sold for $300,000 at a Bonhams auction on 8 May, 2007
The best–known of Jerry Garcia’s three Travis Bean guitars, Garcia played this TB1000 during a number of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band’s most famous shows (Golden Gate Park Show in September, 1975 and the Orpheum Theater Shows in May and July of 1976) as well as the recording of the "Steal Your Face" and the "Terrapin Station" albums. It sold for $300,000 at a Bonhams auction on 8 May, 2007

Price: $300,000

Auctioned: May 8, 2007

Bonhams

Provenance: The best-known of Jerry Garcia's three Travis Bean guitars, Garcia played this TB1000 during a number of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band's most famous shows (Golden Gate Park Show in September, 1975 and the Orpheum Theater Shows in May and July of 1976) as well as the recording of the 'Steal Your Face' and the 'Terrapin Station' albums.

Garcia's other two Travis Bean guitars were TB500s, whereas this is basically a TB1000. There were only 755 of the guitars made and this one is stamped "715." It's the same guitar he holds on the album covers of Don't Let Go and Grateful Dead: Live At The Cow Palace, New Years Eve, 1976 and was seen in many photos with Jerry Garcia.

51 | 1974 Jedson electric console steel guitar

Price: $300,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

Gilmour purchased a pair of Jedsons from Ivor Arbiter's Sound City in London in September, 1976, being this guitar and an otherwise identical red Jedson as a pair. They were both modified with Fender pick-ups swapped in and new electronics courtesy of luthier Roger Giffin, and the red Jedson became the performance guitar for The Great Gig In The Sky, while this guitar became the perfromance guitar for One Of These Days and Shine On You Crazy Diamond, tuned to an open G major - G, B, D, G, B, E.

52 | The Edge's 1975 Gibson Les Paul

This cream 1975 Les Paul guitar is only the third guitar, after his Explorer and Black Stratocaster, that U2's The Edge purchased. He bought in New York in 1982 and used it in the recording studio and on stage for more than 20 years. It sold for $298,000 at a Julien's auction on 27 April, 2007
This cream 1975 Les Paul guitar is only the third guitar, after his Explorer and Black Stratocaster, that U2's The Edge purchased. He bought in New York in 1982 and used it in the recording studio and on stage for more than 20 years. It sold for $298,000 at a Julien's auction on 27 April, 2007

Price: $298,000

Auctioned: April 27, 2007

Julien's

Provenance: This cream 1975 Les Paul guitar is only the third guitar, after his Explorer and Black Stratocaster, that U2's The Edge purchased. He bought in New York in 1982 and used it in the recording studio and on stage for more than 20 years. He donated the guitar for the Icons Of Music auction for the Music Rising Benefit, which he co-founded, to help musicians of the Gulf Coast region regain their livelihood after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The guitar was used to record U2's classic New Years Day as well as the Achtung Baby album. He used it extensively on stage and the wear on the back of the guitar bears testament that this guitar was very much a working guitar.

The Edge felt the absence of the Les Paul. After all, it had been with him for just over two decades, and so Gibson decided to make an exact replica for him. The guitar was sent by UPS to Dallas Shoo, The Edge's guitar technician. He knew nothing about it and in an interview about the guitar he said, "So I called Edge and said, 'Do you know anything about this?' And he was like, 'No. What are they doing sending it back to you?' Which wouldn't have made any sense: you wouldn't send a guitar like that by UPS; you'd hand deliver it. Edge didn't know what was happening. They made an exact replica. Gibson wanted Edge to have the guitar even though he'd auctioned it off. I still remember when he plugged it in for the first time and played it; he was like, 'This is it! It's the same guitar.' We couldn't believe it." It even has the same "2" decal on the back.

53 | Jimi Hendrix (Monterey) Fender Stratocaster

This is the 1966 Fender Stratocaster used by Hendrix at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival where he famously set his guitar on fire using lighter fluid. Fortunately, the guitar was switched for another just prior to the sacrificial burning. It sold for $288,493 (£180,000) at a Fame Bureau auction on 27 November, 2012
This is the 1966 Fender Stratocaster used by Hendrix at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival where he famously set his guitar on fire using lighter fluid. Fortunately, the guitar was switched for another just prior to the sacrificial burning. It sold for $288,493 (£180,000) at a Fame Bureau auction on 27 November, 2012

Price: $288,493 (£180,000)

Auctioned: November 27, 2012

Fame Bureau

Provenance: This is the 1966 Fender Stratocaster used by Hendrix at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival where he famously set his guitar on fire using lighter fluid. Fortunately, the guitar was switched for another for the sacrificial burning.

This 1966 Fender Stratocaster has a rosewood neck, but has often been confused with "Black Beauty." Black Beauty, undoubtedly Jimi Hendrix's favorite guitar, was a black 1968 Stratocaster with a maple neck.

The black and white Stratocaster was given to Hendrix' record company Anim Limited, where it fell into the hands of James "Tappy" Wright, a manager of the company. Tappy later sold it at auction.

54 | BB King’s black Gibson ES-345 prototype known as 'Lucille'

This black Gibson ES-345 prototype was given to B.B. King for his 80th birthday. It fetched $280,000 at auction in September, 2019
This black Gibson ES-345 prototype was given to B.B. King for his 80th birthday. It fetched $280,000 at auction in September, 2019

Price: $280,000

Auctioned: September, 2019

Julien's

55 | Prince's Yellow Cloud Guitar

Price: $280,000

Auctioned: May 18, 2018

Julien's

A Yellow Cloud guitar custom made and stage played by Prince. The guitar has black Love Symbols down the neck and a plaque on the back that reads "Property of PRN Music Corp." Serial number 16212. Accompanied by a signed letter of authenticity on Paisley Park Enterprises letterhead from Jenifer Carr, director of finance and operations, stating that the guitar has been used in rehearsals and performances all over the world.

56 | 1983/1989 Fender Stratocaster

Price: $275,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

On January 31, 1984, David Gilmour was invited to the CBS Fender UK warehouse to trial Fender's new reissue line, and among those he selected was this guitar, serial number V015052.

"I played through a lot of guitars and picked the best two",Gilmour recalled in an interview with I nternational Musician in August 1984.

Preferring not to take his valuable vintage instruments on the road, this Vintage White 57V Stratocaster became Gilmour's guitar of choice, used as the main guitar on his About Face Tour from March 31 to July 16, 1984 in support of his second solo album About Face and features heavily in the tour documentary Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, released on VHS in September 1984.

Gilmour continued to use the guitar for live performances throughout the mid-1980s, notably for an appearance on cult British television show including the first North American leg of Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour, from September 9 to December 10, 1987. By the time the second leg kicked off in Australia and New Zealand in January 1988, Gilmour had begun to use the Candy Apple Red Strat exclusively. The Cream #1 was thereafter carried as a spare.

57 | Les Paul 1951 Fender No-Caster

Euphemistically called the "Nocaster" - the Fender with no name - after the legal spate with Gretsch. Initially, the guitar was called the Broadcaster, but Gretsch had a drum set called the "Broadkaster," with a name it had registered, so Fender simply removed the Broadcaster decals and shipped off the few remaining models. These guitars became known as the Nocaster which ultimately, in 1951, became the Telecaster. This specific guitar was presented to Les Paul by Leo Fender who has autographed it on the back of the headstock. This guitar sold for $225,000 at a Juliens auction on 8 June, 2012
Euphemistically called the "Nocaster" - the Fender with no name - after the legal spate with Gretsch. Initially, the guitar was called the Broadcaster, but Gretsch had a drum set called the "Broadkaster," with a name it had registered, so Fender simply removed the Broadcaster decals and shipped off the few remaining models. These guitars became known as the Nocaster which ultimately, in 1951, became the Telecaster. This specific guitar was presented to Les Paul by Leo Fender who has autographed it on the back of the headstock. This guitar sold for $225,000 at a Juliens auction on 8 June, 2012

Price: $269,200

Auctioned: June 8, 2012

Julien's

We referred to the 'Nocaster' when discussing the '1949 Fender Broadcaster Prototype' earlier in this article. That guitar sold for $375,000. Euphemistically called the 'Nocaster' – the Fender with no name – after the legal spat with Gretsch. Initially, the guitar was called the 'Broadcaster' but Gretsch had a drum set called the 'Broadkaster' with a name it had registered, so Fender simply removed the 'Broadcaster' decals and shipped off the few remaining models. These guitars became known as the 'Nocaster' which ultimately, in 1951, became the

Telecaster. This specific guitar was presented to Les Paul by Leo Fender who has autographed it on the back of the headstock.

This video shows the actual auction of this guitar. Note that the final hammer price at auction is not the final price paid by the purchaser as a "buyer's premium" is traditionally added. This list is calculated using the total price paid by the purchaser, including premiums and commissions.

58 | 1949 Bigsby Solid Body

The Bigsby Solid Body is, arguably, the first solid body electric guitar ever made. Paul Bigsby made approximately 23 electric guitars and most are accounted for. This 1949 Bigsby Solid Body is number 4 and sold for $266,000 at a Heritage auction on 21 April, 2012
The Bigsby Solid Body is, arguably, the first solid body electric guitar ever made. Paul Bigsby made approximately 23 electric guitars and most are accounted for. This 1949 Bigsby Solid Body is number 4 and sold for $266,000 at a Heritage auction on 21 April, 2012

Price: $266,000

Auctioned: April 21, 2012

Heritage

Provenance: The Bigsby Solid Body is, arguably, the first solid body electric guitar ever made. Paul Bigsby made approximately 23 electric guitars and most are accounted for. This is number 4.

Very little is known about the history of this guitar and conflicting historical evidence prohibits speculation. What is known is that it is an original Bigsby built in 1949. Most of the early models were built for specific customers and while numbers 1, 2, 3 and 5 etc. have verifiable owner documentation, this model does not.

But of the creator of this guitar, Paul Bigsby (1899-1968), much is known. He was, essentially, a designer. Before working in music he was a motorcycle racer known as "P.A. Bigsby." He was also the foreman of Crocker Motorcycles, and designed components for motor bikes. The overhead-valve cylinder head for Crockers' first V-twin motorcycle was a Bigsby design.

However, it was his design of the of the first successful vibrato tailpiece – or "whammy bar" as it's often called – for the electric guitar where he really made his name. The Bigsby Vibrato was so successful that, to this day, his device is still in production and known simply as "a Bigsby."

59 | Martin/Bigsby Dreadnought D–28

The Martin Dreadnought D–28 which was used by Merle Travis throughout most of his career. Country artist, Merle Travis, purchased the third Bigsby Birdseye Maple Solid Body Electric Guitar from Luthier, engineer and inventor Paul Bigsby in 1949 and was so impressed by the neck on the guitar that he asked Bigsby to replace the neck on his Brazilian Rosewood Martin Dreadnought D–28 with something similar. Travis used the resultant guitar throughout most of his career, also using it to compose such hits as one of the top selling songs and most-recorded songs of all time, Sixteen Tons, and Dark as a Dungeon. It sold for $264,000 at a Christies auctioned on 2 April, 2007
The Martin Dreadnought D–28 which was used by Merle Travis throughout most of his career. Country artist, Merle Travis, purchased the third Bigsby Birdseye Maple Solid Body Electric Guitar from Luthier, engineer and inventor Paul Bigsby in 1949 and was so impressed by the neck on the guitar that he asked Bigsby to replace the neck on his Brazilian Rosewood Martin Dreadnought D–28 with something similar. Travis used the resultant guitar throughout most of his career, also using it to compose such hits as one of the top selling songs and most-recorded songs of all time, Sixteen Tons, and Dark as a Dungeon. It sold for $264,000 at a Christies auctioned on 2 April, 2007

Price: $264,000

Auctioned: April 2, 2007

Christie's

Provenance: The guitar which was used by Merle Travis throughout most of his career.

Country artist Merle Travis purchased the third Bigsby Birdseye Maple Solid Body Electric Guitar from luthier, engineer and inventor Paul Bigsby in 1949 and was so impressed by the neck on the guitar that he asked Bigsby to replace the neck on his Brazilian Rosewood Martin Dreadnought D-28 with something similar.

Travis used the resultant guitar throughout most of his career, also using it to compose such hits as one of the top selling songs and most-recorded songs of all time, Sixteen Tons, and Dark as a Dungeon. It was the first guitar re-necked by Bigsby and as with the quality of everything he touched in his illustrious career (including the famed Crocker motorcycle), it immediately created an insatiable demand. Country performers such as Hank Thompson, Lefty Frizell, Zeke Clements and a host of other celebrity performers approached Bigsby with re-necking requests.

60 | Jimi Hendrix' 1951 Epiphone FT 79 acoustic

Price: $258,853

Auctioned: December 15, 2016

Bonham's

Jimi Hendrix owned this guitar for almost three years and his girlfriend at the time, Kathy Etchingham, recalls the acoustic Epiphone "was used very, very heavily, continuously, all the time. Jimi had music coming out of every pore. One minute he'd be eating his breakfast, the next he'd say 'hey' and pick up the guitar and play the riffs in his head - only he could hear what he was hearing - and he would go through the words as well."

Manager Chas Chandler remarked that Jimi was so attached to his guitar that he would even take it to the bathroom with him. Kathy:"We shared the flat in Upper Berkeley Street with Chas and Lotta, but had our own bathroom. Ours was fully tiled and had no window but a beautiful echo, a good sound that Jimi liked so he would sit on the loo and play!' Hendrix had already moved from a basement flat in Montague Square following complaints about the noise and the acoustic Epiphone came into its own at Upper Berkeley Street where, Kathy remembers, "Jimi used it for almost everything he composed in this country, as he didn't use an amp until the move to Brook Street, and in any case Chas would never have allowed it in case we disturbed the neighbours because we'd upset them in Montagu Square and Chas didn't want to be chucked out of a second flat.' When working on a song 'Jimi would pick up and then play the acoustic, then pick up a Strat and play that unplugged, listening to it without an amp. He constantly played it to work out riffs and song arrangements including his own version of Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower"."
In March 1970, Jimi gave the Epiphone to Alan Parker, guitarist with Blue Mink, having been introduced to him by Kathy's friend, Blue Mink's singer Madeleine Bell. The guitar was subsequently used by Parker on numerous recordings and film soundtracks including those by Dusty Springfield, Walker Brothers, Blue Mink, Paul McCartney and on David Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs'.

61 | Eric Clapton 1977 Juan Alvarez Classical

The most expensive classical guitar ever sold at auction, this 1977 Juan Alvarez Classical was used by Eric Clapton in the promotional video for 'Tears in Heaven.' It was also used on MTV’s 1992 "Unplugged" when he played it on "Signe," "Tears in Heaven" and "The Circus Left Town" and in the very poignant interview with Sue Lawley of the BBC when he played "Tears In Heaven" publicly for the first time. It was also the guitar used by Clapton 18 hours a day during his period of grieving after the death of his son, and the guitar on which he wrote "Tears in Heaven." It sold for $253,900 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
The most expensive classical guitar ever sold at auction, this 1977 Juan Alvarez Classical was used by Eric Clapton in the promotional video for 'Tears in Heaven.' It was also used on MTV’s 1992 "Unplugged" when he played it on "Signe," "Tears in Heaven" and "The Circus Left Town" and in the very poignant interview with Sue Lawley of the BBC when he played "Tears In Heaven" publicly for the first time. It was also the guitar used by Clapton 18 hours a day during his period of grieving after the death of his son, and the guitar on which he wrote "Tears in Heaven." It sold for $253,900 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004

Price: $253,900

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christie's

Provenance: The most expensive classical guitar ever sold at auction, this guitar was used by Eric Clapton in the promotional video for 'Tears in Heaven'. It was also used on MTV's 1992 'Unplugged' when he played it on 'Signe,' 'Tears in Heaven' and 'The Circus Left Town' and in the very poignant interview with Sue Lawley of the BBC when he played 'Tears In Heaven' publicly for the first time. It was also the guitar used by Clapton 18 hours a day during his period of grieving after the death of his son, and the guitar on which he wrote 'Tears in Heaven.'

The auction notes (click the 'Lot Notes' tab) tell the full story of the purchase of this guitar in Clapton's words – worth a read. The guitar was made by Juan Alvarez at his workshop in downtown Madrid, and although made in Spain it is not a Spanish guitar, but a true Classical guitar and this interview with Juan Miguel Alvarez may shed some light on the differences.

There are two inscriptions on the guitar, both in black felt pen and both from Clapton. "For Giorgio and everyone at 'El Gadir' - my love Eric C. 96" in reference to fashion designer Giorgio Armani, and his home on the island of Pantelleria, off the coast of Italy. Clapton gifted the guitar to Armani who, in turn, donated the guitar to the landmark 2004 Crossroads charity auction. The second inscription reads, simply, "no more tears in heaven."

62 | 1969 Eric Clapton/Anthony Zemaitis 12-string

Dubbed by Clapton as "Ivan the Terrible" and used on the 1969 album "Blind Faith" this Anthony Zemaitis 12-string custom was subsequently loaned to George Harrison who used it in recording "My Sweet Lord." It sold for $253,900 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
Dubbed by Clapton as "Ivan the Terrible" and used on the 1969 album "Blind Faith" this Anthony Zemaitis 12-string custom was subsequently loaned to George Harrison who used it in recording "My Sweet Lord." It sold for $253,900 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004

Price: $253,900

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christie's

Provenance: Dubbed by Clapton as "Ivan the Terrible" and used on the 1969 album Blind Faith. Subsequently loaned to George Harrison who used it in recording My Sweet Lord. Dave Mason also borrowed Ivan on at least one occasion. Mason played it on stage with Clapton at the Dr. Spock Concert, at the Lyceum in London (14 June, 1970).

When Clapton met Tony Zemaitis in the mid-1960s, he asked Zemaitis to "make a 12-string for me, bigger than he'd ever done before and inlaid with silver. I wanted it to be incredibly ornate. I wanted to explore everything we could. The heart shape and the four-leaf clover on the headstock were my ideas. So he made this guitar. It probably took about a year."

Nicknamed "Ivan The Terrible," this 12-string guitar turned out to be, in Clapton's words, "Massive. It's reputed to be the biggest 12-string in the world. It's about the same dimensions as a mariachi bass."

In 1970, Zemaitis started experimenting with placing metal shields on the top of his guitars to eliminate microphonic noise generated by guitar pickups. His first metal top was bought by Tony McPhee of The Groundhogs, and the second by Ronnie Wood when he was with The Faces. The shiny surface of the guitar created great interest in the guitar world and when he got gun engraver Danny O'Brien to engrave the metal surfaces, a custom order guitar business for "the rich and famous" burgeoned.

Ironically, this guitar is not quite the original 12-string that Zemaitis made for Clapton. In Clapton's own words, "I was involved in a very, very, stormy relationship at the time [Alice Ormsby-Gore]. During one of our big rows, I took the guitar and I demolished it. I took it by the neck and I banged it against the wall until there was nothing left. Then about five years later I still had the neck, I took it back to Tony and [said to him] 'I've got to tell you a terrible story, forgive me ... I can't bear to be without it,' and I apologized and made all the excuses I could think of ... he was shocked ... but he understood ... so he built another body onto the neck. So this is Mark 2 – the first one was destroyed, but the neck is original ... but how he did that anyway [rebuilt that guitar]."

So this guitar is not 100 percent original. But the neck is. During his 39 years of production, Zemaitis had a policy of never making any two guitars the same, while at the same time limiting himself to the production of only 10 guitars a year to ensure the quality of each individual model.

63 | 1953 Gibson Les Paul

Price: $250,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

From the auction essay: This guitar was purchased in London in early 2006 as a spare for David Gilmour's On an Island Tour, which ran from March to August, 2006. Gilmour later used the guitar during a recording session for Bryan Ferry's Olympia album and Gilmour can be seen playing this guitar in the documentary film The Making of Olympia, which was released with the Deluxe and Collector's editions of the album. The guitar was again enlisted as a spare for Gilmour's Rattle That Lock Tour from September 2015 to September 2016.

64 | John Lennon's first guitar(1957 Gallotone 3/4 Champion Acoustic)

The 3/4 size guitar John Lennon was playing on that auspicious day when the world's most famous songwriting duo met. It "broke" in 1958 and was left in the care of Lennon’s Aunt Mimi, who, on his death, and after getting the guitar repaired, gave it to a disabled boy and when he died it was passed on to a disabled girl. The guitar was auctioned in 1999 with the proceeds going to safeguard her future. The guitar was auctioned bearing a brass plaque which Lennon's Aunt Mimi had mounted on the headstock with the advice she once gave to a young Lennon: "Remember, you'll never earn your living by it." It sold ion 14 September, 1999 at a Sotheby’s auction for $244,384 (£155,000)
The 3/4 size guitar John Lennon was playing on that auspicious day when the world's most famous songwriting duo met. It "broke" in 1958 and was left in the care of Lennon’s Aunt Mimi, who, on his death, and after getting the guitar repaired, gave it to a disabled boy and when he died it was passed on to a disabled girl. The guitar was auctioned in 1999 with the proceeds going to safeguard her future. The guitar was auctioned bearing a brass plaque which Lennon's Aunt Mimi had mounted on the headstock with the advice she once gave to a young Lennon: "Remember, you'll never earn your living by it." It sold ion 14 September, 1999 at a Sotheby’s auction for $244,384 (£155,000)

Price: $244,384 (£155,000)

Auctioned: September 14, 1999

Sotheby's

Provenance: John Lennon's very first guitar, purchased for £10 by mail order after his mother loaned him five pounds and ten shillings. Lennon played it with his first band 'The Black Jacks,' who became 'The Quarrymen.' It was the guitar that Lennon was using when the Quarrymen played the St. Peter's Parish Fete in Woolton, Liverpool on 6 July, 1957. McCartney showed up with his Rex guitar (also on this list) and "showed him (Lennon) a few chords he didn't know."

The 3/4 size guitar John Lennon was playing on that auspicious day when the world's most famous songwriting duo met. It "broke" in 1958 and was left in the care of Lennon's Aunt Mimi, who, on his death, and after getting the guitar repaired, gave it to a disabled boy and when he died it was passed on to a disabled girl. The guitar was auctioned in 1999 with the proceeds going to safeguard her future.

When authenticating the guitar prior to auction, Sotheby's called on Rod Davis, one of the original Quarrymen, who remembered that when the band played that famous fete, "John took the skin off the edge of his index finger while playing" and when Davis changed one of the strings on Lennon's guitar, he noticed a spot of blood inside. Davis recounted that story to Sotheby's and advised them to look inside for the spot. It was still there.

The guitar was auctioned bearing a brass plaque which Lennon's Aunt Mimi had mounted on the headstock with the advice she once gave to a young Lennon: "Remember, you'll never earn your living by it."

65 | 1986 Gibson J-200 Celebrity

Price: $243,750

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

The Gibson J-200 Celebrity was produced in a limited run of just 90 instruments to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Gibson Company in 1985. After trying the J-200 Celebrity of Dire Straits bassist John Illsley, Gilmour contacted Gibson this guitar was supplied directly by Gibson USA to David Gilmour in exchange for an endorsement agreement in November 1987. Gilmour liked the J-200 Celebrity so much that he set out to acquire a second example in 1994.

This J-200 Celebrity was used extensively during the recording sessions for Pink Floyd's 1994 album The Division Bell, and it was used extensively in the intervening years (see the lot essay for details) before its most significant public performance on July 2, 2005, when it was used in Wish You Were Here, broadcast live to an estimated 1.5 billion viewers across the world during the historic reunion of David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Richard Wright and Roger Waters in their classic-era Pink Floyd line up at Live 8 in London's Hyde Park on 2nd July 2005, their first performance together in 24 years.

66 | Jerry Garcia's Travis Bean TB500 electric guitar

This Travis Bean TB500 electric guitar was sold accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Steve Parish, the Grateful Dead's guitar tech and equipment manager from 1969 to 1995, which stated that this guitar was the third most played by Garcia, behind “Tiger” and “Wolf." It was Garcia's primary guitar beginning in 1976 through much of 1977 and was used occasionally beyond that. It sold for $243,200 at a Juliens auction on 6 December, 2013
This Travis Bean TB500 electric guitar was sold accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Steve Parish, the Grateful Dead's guitar tech and equipment manager from 1969 to 1995, which stated that this guitar was the third most played by Garcia, behind “Tiger” and “Wolf." It was Garcia's primary guitar beginning in 1976 through much of 1977 and was used occasionally beyond that. It sold for $243,200 at a Juliens auction on 6 December, 2013

Price: $243,200

Auctioned: December 6, 2013

Julien's

Provenance: This guitar was sold accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Steve Parish, the Grateful Dead's guitar tech and equipment manager from 1969 to 1995, which stated that this guitar was the third most played by Garcia, behind "Tiger" and "Wolf." It was Garcia's primary guitar beginning in 1976 through much of 1977 and was used occasionally beyond that.

Gerry Garcia owned two Travis Bean TB500 electric guitars – Numbers 11 and 12. This is number 12. This guitar was first seen on 13 December, 1976, at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California and it was played by Garcia at more than ninety shows in the late 70s. He recorded Terrapin Station with this TB500, along with his TB1000 mentioned earlier in this article.

It features an aluminum neck (a design pioneered by Bean), three single-coil pickups and Garcia's onboard effects loop. This guitar was the first to employ the onboard effects loop, which was later incorporated into all of Garcia's guitars.

Garcia was not a musician who owned a lot of guitars. Garcia said, in a 1978 interview with Guitar Player, "I'm the kind of player who generally plays one guitar at a time so I can learn its idiosyncrasies... the guitar that doesn't have idiosyncrasies is the one I like. No other production guitar is like that – they're all completely different. That level of consistency in the Beans means a lot to me. As far as I'm concerned, the Travis Bean is the finest production guitar on the market." But he was always looking for a guitar with something different. "I don't like any guitars that are available. I'm trying to have a guitar built."

67 | 1985 Gibson J-200 Celebrity

Price: $237,500

Auctioned: December 6, 2013

Christie's



This guitar was originally owned by John Illsley of Dire Straits, and when David Gilmour played this guitar while recording in a neighboring studio to Dire Straits at London's AIR Studios in September 1986, (thought to be for Bryan Ferry's seventh solo album Bête Noire), the encounter resulted in Gilmour contacting Gibson and acquiring his own J-200 Celebrity (the lot directly above this one) in November 1987.

When a second J-200 was required for The 1994 Division Bell Tour, and Gilmour purchased John Illsley's guitar. Illsley had used the J-200 on stage for performances of So Far Away on Dire Straits' On Every Street Tour from August 1991 to October 1992 in support of their sixth and final album On Every Street. Tuned to DADGAD, Gilmour played this guitar throughout The Division Bell Tour for performances of Poles Apart. Gilmour explained the unusual tuning in an interview with Guitar World magazine in September 1994: …I thought it was something new that I had invented. One day, I was on holiday in Greece and I had an acoustic guitar with me. I just decided to tune the bottom string down to D and continued to experiment until I arrived at that tuning. Then I mucked around a bit and "Poles Apart" fell out of it a few minutes later.

68 | 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard

In 1958, Gibson began producing the Les Paul Standard model, which retained most of the features of the Goldtop, though the finish became a cherry-red version of the Sunburst finish long used on Gibson's flat-top and archtop acoustic and hollow electric guitars. Production ended in 1961, when Gibson redesigned it to feature a double cutaway body, subsequently becoming the Gibson SG. Around 1,700 instruments were made in the first series, and these are now highly valuable. Though it had no remarkable provenance, the pre-auction estimate of $225,000 to $250,000 for this guitar proved accurate. Production was resumed in 1968 due to public demand, and continues to this day. It sold for $237,000 at a Skinner auction on 3 May, 2009
In 1958, Gibson began producing the Les Paul Standard model, which retained most of the features of the Goldtop, though the finish became a cherry-red version of the Sunburst finish long used on Gibson's flat-top and archtop acoustic and hollow electric guitars. Production ended in 1961, when Gibson redesigned it to feature a double cutaway body, subsequently becoming the Gibson SG. Around 1,700 instruments were made in the first series, and these are now highly valuable. Though it had no remarkable provenance, the pre-auction estimate of $225,000 to $250,000 for this guitar proved accurate. Production was resumed in 1968 due to public demand, and continues to this day. It sold for $237,000 at a Skinner auction on 3 May, 2009

Price: $237,000

Auctioned: May 3, 2009

Skinner

Provenance: In 1958, Gibson began producing the Les Paul Standard model, which retained most of the features of the Goldtop, though the finish became a cherry-red version of the Sunburst finish long used on Gibson's flat-top and archtop acoustic and hollow electric guitars. Production ended in 1961, when Gibson redesigned it to feature a double cutaway body, subsequently becoming the Gibson SG. Around 1,700 instruments were made in the first series, and these are now highly valuable. Though it had no remarkable provenance, the pre-auction estimate of $225,000 to $250,000 for this guitar proved accurate. Production was resumed in 1968 due to public demand, and continues to this day.

69 | Elvis' 1965 Gretsch Country Gentleman

Price: $234,375

Auctioned: February 8, 2008

Julien's

This is the guitar used by Elvis Presley in his triumphant return to the live performance on July 31, 1969, and the subsequent rejuvenation of his career. After years of films and soundtracks and TV specials, his comeback venue was the new International Hotel in Las Vegas (later to become the Las Vegas Hilton), and on opening night he did what he did best, mesmerising an audience of 2,200 that included Cary Grant, Fats Domino, Sammy Davis Jr. and Henry Mancini. He received a standing ovation before he sang a note, another after his closing number and a third followed his encore song, "Can't Help Falling in Love."

The next day, Colonel Tom Parker negotiated a five-year contract for two month-long residencies a year at $500,000 a month. Newsweek wrote, "there are several unbelievable things about Elvis, but the most incredible is his staying power in a world where meteoric careers fade like shooting stars." Rolling Stone wrote of Presley's performance, "supernatural, his own resurrection."

The guitar was sold with a letter of authenticity from Jonathon Taurog, son of Norman Taurog. Norman Taurog was the director of nine Elvis Presley films including "Blue Hawaii," "Girls! Girls! Girls!," and "It happened at the World's Fair." Norman Taurog was given the guitar by Presley.

70 | Johnny Winter's Custom White Lazer

Price: $225,000

Auctioned: February 28, 2016

Guernsey's

Johnny Winter once described this guitar thus: "it's really the closest thing I've found to sounding like a Strat and feeling like a Gibson. I like the sound of a strat, but just can't play one. It just doesn't feel right to me. If I pull the strings, I don't get as much out of it as I put into it. I can put the same effort into a Gibson and get back twice as much. With the Lazer I get both."

71 | 1982 Gibson Les Paul Prototype Recording Model

Price: $225,000

Auctioned: June 10, 2012

Julien's

Sold at one of the great guitar auction, the Les Paul Estate Auction, this guitar fetched the second highest price of the day behind the 1951 Fender No-Caster sold for $216,000 included equipment, memorabilia and instruments that spanned Paul's career

72 | Bono Gretsch Irish Falcon

This series of guitars was a collaboration between Gretsch and U2's Bono and this particular guitar was used by Bono on U2’s 2005 "Vertigo Tour." The guitar has been auctioned twice, originally in April, 2007 where it achieved it's $225,000 price at a Juliens auction. Subsequently, in December 2011, the same guitar fetched somewhat less at $176,000 ($140,800 plus buyer's premium), also at a Juliens auction.
This series of guitars was a collaboration between Gretsch and U2's Bono and this particular guitar was used by Bono on U2’s 2005 "Vertigo Tour." The guitar has been auctioned twice, originally in April, 2007 where it achieved it's $225,000 price at a Juliens auction. Subsequently, in December 2011, the same guitar fetched somewhat less at $176,000 ($140,800 plus buyer's premium), also at a Juliens auction.

Price: $225,000

Auctioned: April 27, 2007

Juliens

Provenance: This series of guitars was a collaboration between Gretsch and U2's Bono and this particular guitar was used on U2's 2005 'Vertigo Tour.'

The guitar has been auctioned twice, originally in April, 2007, where it achieved it's $225,000 price.

Subsequently, in December 2011, the same guitar fetched somewhat less at $176,000 ($140,800 plus buyer's premium). Bono chose the color "Everygreen" and designed the gold scratch plate that bears the inscription "The Goal Is Soul," in black letters. For those who want an identical guitar without a lazy quarter million price tag (or the provenance), the production Gretsch Bono Irish Falcon can be procured for a somewhat more modest $5000.

73 | 1962 George Harrison's Gretsch Chet Atkins Tennessean

Price: $224,000

Auctioned: December 3, 2015

Julien's

74 | Guitar by Jean-Baptiste Voboam, Paris 1699

Price: $221,790

Auctioned: 12 March, 2015

Gardiner Houlgate

75 | Eric Clapton 2000 Fender Custom Stratocaster

This 2000 Fender Custom Stratocaster was played by Eric Clapton in the studio, and used as a back-up stage guitar during the "Reptile" tour of 2001. It was played on stage at least on a couple of occasions, one of which was for the song "Layla" in the last concert of the first leg of the US Tour at Madison Square Garden on 23rd June, 2001. It sold for $220,300 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
This 2000 Fender Custom Stratocaster was played by Eric Clapton in the studio, and used as a back-up stage guitar during the "Reptile" tour of 2001. It was played on stage at least on a couple of occasions, one of which was for the song "Layla" in the last concert of the first leg of the US Tour at Madison Square Garden on 23rd June, 2001. It sold for $220,300 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004

Price: $220,300

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christie's

Provenance: This guitar was played by Eric Clapton in the studio, and used as a back-up stage guitar during the Reptile tour of 2001. It was played on stage at least on a couple of occasions, one of which was for the song Layla in the last concert of the first leg of the US Tour at Madison Square Garden on 23rd June, 2001.

According to Clapton, who is an automotive enthusiast, the Fender Custom Shop Strat was painted by Roy Brizio of Roy Brizio Street Rods in 2000 and "is the same color as Roy Brizio's hot rod that we were driving for Riding With The King." The 1932 Ford model B Roadster loaned to Clapton has since been repainted black but originally used the same Dupont Chromalusion "Flip Flop paint" which changes color depending on the angle it is viewed.

According to Fender Custom Shop's Lee Dickson, "Roy's hot rod was really brown, orangey and gold at the front, and the back went into peacock blues and dark blues – we chose the rear end of the car for the color."

76 | 1941 C.F. Martin D-45

The Martin D-45 was manufactured in limited quantities from 1933 to 1942, and again since 1968. The first series of D-45s was made with sides and backs of Brazilian rosewood (now endangered and illegal to trade) and only 91 instruments were made. It sold for $219,225 at a Skinner auction on 6 November, 2011
The Martin D-45 was manufactured in limited quantities from 1933 to 1942, and again since 1968. The first series of D-45s was made with sides and backs of Brazilian rosewood (now endangered and illegal to trade) and only 91 instruments were made. It sold for $219,225 at a Skinner auction on 6 November, 2011

Price: $219,225

Auctioned: November 6, 2011

Skinner

Provenance: The Martin D-45 was manufactured in limited quantities from 1933 to 1942, and again since 1968. The first series of D-45s was made with sides and backs of Brazilian rosewood (now endangered and illegal to trade) and only 91 instruments were made.

77 | David Gilmour 1984 Fender Stratocaster 57V

Price: $212,500

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christies

David Gilmour acquired this guitar direct from Fender in early 1984 and kept it for home and studio use. It was played by George Harrison at Gilmour's Guy Fawkes Night fireworks party on November 5, 1988. It was then used on Pink Floyd's 1994 The Division Bell Tour by Tim Renwick. After being fitted with three Kinman Hx single coil pickups, the black 57V was used by album co-producer and Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera during David Gilmour's On An Island Tour from March to August 2006. Manzanera again appeared with the 57V for a surprise performance by David Gilmour and his touring band at the DVD launch of Remember That Night at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on September 6, 2007. Eight years later, longtime Pink Floyd collaborator Jon Carin used this guitar while performing with David Gilmour during the first three legs of the Rattle That Lock Tourfrom September 2015 to April 2016, in support of Gilmour's fourth solo album Rattle That Lock.

78 | Eric Clapton 1954 Fender Stratocaster

Price: $211,500

Auctioned: June 24, 1999

Christies

79 | Paul McCartney's 1963 Hofner Violin Bass

The Hofner violin bass guitar is synonymous with Paul McCartney and he's been playing them continuously since purchasing his first in 1961 in Hamburg before The Beatles were famous. This particular guitar was built specifically for McCartney in 1964, and is one of three he has owned. The first was lost, the second (a 1963 model) he still plays, and this is the third. It sold for $204,800 at a Juliens auction on 6 December, 2013
The Hofner violin bass guitar is synonymous with Paul McCartney and he's been playing them continuously since purchasing his first in 1961 in Hamburg before The Beatles were famous. This particular guitar was built specifically for McCartney in 1964, and is one of three he has owned. The first was lost, the second (a 1963 model) he still plays, and this is the third. It sold for $204,800 at a Juliens auction on 6 December, 2013

Price: $204,800

Auctioned: December 6, 2013

Juliens

Provenance: The Hofner violin bass guitar is synonymous with Paul McCartney and he's been playing them continuously since purchasing his first in 1961 in Hamburg before The Beatles were famous. This particular guitar was built specifically for McCartney in 1964, and is one of three he has owned. The first was lost, the second (a 1963 model) he still plays, and this is the third.

80 | Byrds Roger McGuinn's custom 1966 Rickenbacker

Price: $202,909

Auctioned: April 20, 2006

CooperOwen

Guitar auctioned previously by Heritage Auctions on April 17, 2004 for $117,500.

81 | Bob Dylan's 1982 Fender Telecaster

This 1982 Fender Telecaster was used by Bob Dylan in many live performances and LPs from the late 1980s through to 1992. It was sold as part of the Juliens auction benefiting Music Rising for $200,000 on 27 April, 2007
This 1982 Fender Telecaster was used by Bob Dylan in many live performances and LPs from the late 1980s through to 1992. It was sold as part of the Juliens auction benefiting Music Rising for $200,000 on 27 April, 2007

Price: $200,000

Auctioned: April 27, 2007

Juliens

Provenance: Used by Bob Dylan in many live performances and LPs from the late 1980s through to 1992. Sold as part of the auction benefiting Music Rising.

82 | 1950 Les Paul Custom

Price: $200,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christies

David Gilmour purchased this guitar in December 1979 from Frank Lucido of California Guitar in Ventura, California, during a brief interlude between completing final recording and mixing sessions for The Wall at Producer's Workshop in Los Angeles in November 1979 and beginning rehearsals for the upcoming The Wall Tour in January 1980. Purchased to replace an identical guitar that had been stolen in 1976, Gilmour kept this guitar for studio use.
Gilmour told Christie's: A lot of the guitars, I have to say, I purchased because I saw someone using one and I thought "Oh I love that, I love the look of that," and I'm sure there was a Smokey Robinson and the Miracles 7in. cover which had him holding a black Gibson Les Paul with three pickups on it. Now this may be false memory, because memory gets a little unreliable these days, but that is my memory and I did want to get one of those, and in fact I did get one of those eventually. I think it got stolen, but I then did find another one which is the one we have now and is being sold.

83 |1950 Fender Broadcaster

Price: $200,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christies

Purchased in late 1979 by David Gilmour's longtime guitar technician Phil Taylor from Frank Lucido's California Guitar, Ventura, California, during the final recording and mixing sessions for Pink Floyd's 1979 album The Wall in Los Angeles, the guitar was subsequently sold to David Gilmour in 1983 and kept for studio use.

84 | 1964 Gibson Firebird V

Price: $200,000

Auctioned: October 2, 2016

Guernsey's

85 | Prince's last stage performance Collings Model 290 guitar

Price: $195,313

Auctioned: October 27, 2012

Julien's

86 | The Edge's 1976 Gibson Explorer

Price: $195,313

Auctioned: May 31, 2008

Julien's

87 | 1959 Left-handed Les Paul Standard

This 1959 Left-handed Les Paul Standard sold for $194,500 at a Heritage auction on 27 October, 2012
This 1959 Left-handed Les Paul Standard sold for $194,500 at a Heritage auction on 27 October, 2012

Price: $194,500

Auctioned: October 27, 2012

Heritage

88 | 1960 Gibson Les Paul

Price: $192,000

Auctioned: May 16, 2006

Christie's

89 | Ken (K.K.) Downing's 1967 Gibson Flying V

Price: $187,848

Auctioned: December 11, 2018

Bonhams

90 | Les Paul's 1940s Epiphone Zephyr

Price: $187,500

Auctioned: June 8, 2012

Julien's

91 | 1959 Gibson Korina Flying V

Price: $187,500

Auctioned March 30, 2017

J.Levine

92 | Jimi Hendrix 1970 Fender Stratocaster

Sunburst Fender Stratocaster purchased by Hendrix at Manny's Musical Instruments in New York on 14 July, 1970, when he was recording in his new Electric Lady Studios. Hendrix passed away two months later but was known to have been working in his studio for 10 days of those two months on his posthumous album "The Cry of Love." The guitar has been restrung for left-handed play and is the guitar used by Hendrix at the opening party for Electric Lady Studios in August 1970. It sold for $187,500 at a Juliens auction on 24 June, 2010
Sunburst Fender Stratocaster purchased by Hendrix at Manny's Musical Instruments in New York on 14 July, 1970, when he was recording in his new Electric Lady Studios. Hendrix passed away two months later but was known to have been working in his studio for 10 days of those two months on his posthumous album "The Cry of Love." The guitar has been restrung for left-handed play and is the guitar used by Hendrix at the opening party for Electric Lady Studios in August 1970. It sold for $187,500 at a Juliens auction on 24 June, 2010

Price: $187,500

Auctioned: June 24, 2010

Julien's

Provenance: Sunburst Fender Stratocaster purchased by Hendrix at Manny's Musical Instruments in New York on 14 July, 1970, when he was recording in his new Electric Lady Studios. Hendrix passed away two months later but was known to have been working in his studio for 10 days of those two months on his posthumous album 'The Cry of Love.' The guitar has been restrung for left-handed play and is the guitar used by Hendrix at the opening party for Electric Lady Studios in August 1970.

93 | 1969/1970 Gibson Les Paul Prototype Recording Model

The prototype 1969/70 Gibson Les Paul Recording model with the repaired headstock stamped "001" and "Original Gibson Prototype." The Bigsby has been customized to accommodate a "Paulverizer" which was included in the sale. This is likely the first Les Paul recording model ever made. This guitar, and Paulverizer are featured on pages 291 and 293 of Les Paul's autobiography. It sold for $187,500 at a Juliens auction on 8 June, 2012
The prototype 1969/70 Gibson Les Paul Recording model with the repaired headstock stamped "001" and "Original Gibson Prototype." The Bigsby has been customized to accommodate a "Paulverizer" which was included in the sale. This is likely the first Les Paul recording model ever made. This guitar, and Paulverizer are featured on pages 291 and 293 of Les Paul's autobiography. It sold for $187,500 at a Juliens auction on 8 June, 2012

Price: $187,500

Auctioned: June 8, 2012

Juliens

Provenance: The prototype Gibson Les Paul Recording model with the repaired headstock stamped "001" and "Original Gibson Prototype." The Bigsby has been customized to accommodate a "Paulverizer" which was included in the sale. This is likely the first Les Paul recording model ever made. This guitar, and Paulverizer are featured on pages 291 and 293 of Les Paul's autobiography.

94 | 1983/2004 Fender Stratocaster

Price: $187,500

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christies

David Gilmour of Pink Floyd acquired this guitar in early 1984, and it was one of two 57V Fender Stratocasters that were modified for use with the 1984 Roland GR-700 guitar synthesizer and specially wired to facilitate Gilmour's performance requirements. Fitted with EMG SA pickups, Gilmour selected this guitar for a short set as part of Bryan Ferry's band at the Live Aid Concert in London's Wembley Stadium on July 13, 1985. The guitar's newly installed 5 way pickup selector switch failed a minute into the first song and Gilmour can be seen switching to his Candy Apple Red 57V (sold for $615,000 above) in live footage of the show.

95 | Eric Clapton 1996 Fender Stratocaster Master Built Production Sample

This 1996 Fender Stratocaster Master Built Production Sample served as one of Eric Clapton's main stage guitars between 1998-1999. It was used frequently on the Pilgrim World Tour throughout 1998 and as the main guitar during the Japanese leg of the tour in November/December 1999. This guitar also made appearances at a number of high-profile events including two at the White House in 1998 and 1999 as well as the Crossroads Benefit Concert at Madison Square Garden (which commemorated the 1999 Christie's auction) and at Sheryl Crow's Central Park In Blue concert in 1999. It sold for $186,700 on 24 June, 2004 at a Christies auction
This 1996 Fender Stratocaster Master Built Production Sample served as one of Eric Clapton's main stage guitars between 1998-1999. It was used frequently on the Pilgrim World Tour throughout 1998 and as the main guitar during the Japanese leg of the tour in November/December 1999. This guitar also made appearances at a number of high-profile events including two at the White House in 1998 and 1999 as well as the Crossroads Benefit Concert at Madison Square Garden (which commemorated the 1999 Christie's auction) and at Sheryl Crow's Central Park In Blue concert in 1999. It sold for $186,700 on 24 June, 2004 at a Christies auction

Price: $186,700

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christies

Provenance: This guitar served as one of Eric Clapton's main stage guitars between 1998-1999. It was used frequently on the Pilgrim World Tour throughout 1998 and as the main guitar during the Japanese leg of the tour in November/December 1999. This guitar also made appearances at a number of high-profile events including two at the White House in 1998 and 1999 as well as the 'Crossroads Benefit Concert' at Madison Square Garden (which commemorated the 1999 Christie's auction) and at Sheryl Crow's 'Central Park In Blue' concert in 1999.

96 | Eric Clapton 1966 Martin Style 000-28 Conversion

Eric Clapton refers to this 1966 Martin Style 000-28 as "The Longworth," after Mike Longworth, a custom builder and the historian for C.F. Martin and Company. Clapton acquired it in Nashville in November 1970 while he was on his US Tour with the Dominos. He used the guitar for recording sessions at Criteria Studios in Miami in the spring of 1974, which produced the "461 Ocean Boulevard" album and made regular stage appearances until November 1995. It sold for $186,700 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004
Eric Clapton refers to this 1966 Martin Style 000-28 as "The Longworth," after Mike Longworth, a custom builder and the historian for C.F. Martin and Company. Clapton acquired it in Nashville in November 1970 while he was on his US Tour with the Dominos. He used the guitar for recording sessions at Criteria Studios in Miami in the spring of 1974, which produced the "461 Ocean Boulevard" album and made regular stage appearances until November 1995. It sold for $186,700 at a Christies auction on 24 June, 2004

Price: $186,700

Auctioned: June 24, 2004

Christies

Provenance: Eric Clapton refers to this guitar as 'The Longworth,' after Mike Longworth, a custom builder and the historian for C.F. Martin and Company. Clapton acquired it in Nashville in November 1970 while he was on his US Tour with the Dominos. He used the guitar for recording sessions at Criteria Studios in Miami in the spring of 1974, which produced the '461 Ocean Boulevard' album and made regular stage appearances until November 1995.

97 | Jerry Garcia Custom by Doug Irwin

This is the first guitar that San Francisco luthier, Doug Irwin, made for Jerry Garcia, and it began their relationship of several decades which resulted in Garcia leaving his guitars to Irwin in his will. Around 1970, Garcia walked into a shop where Irwin was working, building guitars, was immediately attracted to the quality of his work, and bought this guitar on the spot. Simply known as "The Eagle" because of Irwin's eagle logo inlayed on the headstock, this instrument became the inspiration for all subsequent guitars that Irwin made for Garcia. Garcia was the last person to ever play this guitar. It sold for $186,000 at a Bonhams auction on 8 May, 2007
This is the first guitar that San Francisco luthier, Doug Irwin, made for Jerry Garcia, and it began their relationship of several decades which resulted in Garcia leaving his guitars to Irwin in his will. Around 1970, Garcia walked into a shop where Irwin was working, building guitars, was immediately attracted to the quality of his work, and bought this guitar on the spot. Simply known as "The Eagle" because of Irwin's eagle logo inlayed on the headstock, this instrument became the inspiration for all subsequent guitars that Irwin made for Garcia. Garcia was the last person to ever play this guitar. It sold for $186,000 at a Bonhams auction on 8 May, 2007

Price: $186,000

Auctioned: May 8, 2007

Bonhams

Provenance: This is the first guitar that San Francisco luthier Doug Irwin made for Jerry Garcia, and it began their relationship of several decades which resulted in Garcia leaving his guitars to Irwin in his will. Around 1970, Garcia walked into a shop where Irwin was working, building guitars, was immediately attracted to the quality of his work, and bought this guitar on the spot. Simply known as "The Eagle" because of Irwin's eagle logo inlayed on the headstock, this instrument became the inspiration for all subsequent guitars that Irwin made for Garcia. Garcia was the last person to ever play this guitar.

98 | 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard

This 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard sold for $182,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009
This 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard sold for $182,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009

Price: $182,500

Auctioned: April 3, 2009

Christies

Provenance: Another Les Paul Standard.

98 | 1959 Gibson Flying V

The original run of Gibson's Flying V saw just 98 instruments produced between 1958 and 1959 before production was cancelled due to lack of interest and its relatively high price for the time – $247.50 – the same price as a Les Paul Standard. This 1959 Gibson Flying V sold for $182,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009
The original run of Gibson's Flying V saw just 98 instruments produced between 1958 and 1959 before production was cancelled due to lack of interest and its relatively high price for the time – $247.50 – the same price as a Les Paul Standard. This 1959 Gibson Flying V sold for $182,500 at a Christies auction on 3 April, 2009

Price: $182,500

Auctioned: April 3, 2009

Christies

Provenance: The original run of Gibson's Flying V saw just 98 instruments produced between 1958 and 1959 before production was cancelled due to lack of interest and it's relatively high price for the time – $247.50 – the same price as a Les Paul Standard.

Blues-rock guitarist Lonnie Mack was one of the first high profile artists to use the Gibson Flying V, as was Blues legend Albert King. According to Gibson, actor Steven Seagal now owns King's original Flying V along with two others. Other high profile owners of either original or re-issued Flying Vs included The Kinks' Dave Davies (who paid just $60 for it) and Jimi Hendrix who owned three. According to Vintage Guitar magazine, the going price for an original Flying V is now more than $200,000 though this is the highest priced original we have found that sold at auction.

100 | 1988 Gibson Les Paul Custom

Price: $181,250

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

This guitar was presented to David Gilmour by guitar legend Les Paul in appreciation of his guest performance at the Les Paul Tribute Concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York, on 18th August 1988, in between shows with Pink Floyd on the third North American leg of the A Momentary Lapse of Reason Tour. Gilmour performed a soulful blues solo, later returning to the stage for a guitar jam with a star-studded cast of musicians including Waylon Jennings, B.B. King, Steve Miller, Eddie Van Halen and Les Paul. Meeting B.B. King for the first time that evening, Gilmour recalls that after King heard him play, he approached him with the plaudit Hey, boy, are you sure you wasn't born in Mississippi? The full show was released on VHS in 1988 as Les Paul & Friends: He Changed the Music. Gilmour kept the guitar for studio use.

101 | 1948 Hermann Hauser Senior Classical

Price: $180,000

Auctioned May 16, 2006

Christie's

96 | Elvis Presley's 1942 Martin D-18

No Image available

Price: $180,000

Auctioned: October 5, 1995

Christies

Provenance: The guitar Elvis Presley used exclusively between 1954 and 1956, including his 'Sun Sessions' recordings produced by Sam Phillips and his first major concerts. It is the only Elvis guitar not owned by Graceland and the guitar on which Elvis recorded most of his early hits, including 'That's All Right' and Blue Moon of Kentucky.' The guitar was sold in 1956 to a neighbor of Elvis' who owned it for 35 years until the auction. Lots more info here.

102 | 1957 Gretsch Chet Atkins 6121

Price: $175,000

Auctioned: June 20, 2019

Christie's

103 | Julie Andrews signed guitar from The Sound of Music

Price: $172,200

Auctioned: June 19, 2011

104 | 1960 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst

Price: $169,400

Auctioned: June 19, 2011

Profiles in History

105 | Bono played & signed Gretsch Irish Falcon

Price: $165,000

Auctioned: December 3, 2011

Please note: This listing is a work in progress and will be continually updated and enhanced over time. 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.

14 comments
wilbo64
Not that it matters much but from '58 to'95 I owned an Epiphon, '68 Vox 12, '72 Strat, '70 SG,& OTHERS I cannot remember!
JESchwaikert
With all due respect to Mr. Hanlon, Hendrix did burn more than 2 Fender Strats: The one mentioned here @ Finsbury Astoria The hand painted one @ Monterey Pop A sunburst model @ Miami Pop that was given to and later restored and used by Frank Zappa.
IrvingClodowsky
I doubt that the Strat being played by Clapton in the picture at the top of the page is the guitar known as Blackie. The guitar looks brand new. Blackie has a visibly well worn fingerboard and a "cigarette burn" area on the headstock near the 6th string tuner.
JBB
The black Hendrix Flying V, custom made by Gibson for Jimi with arrowhead inlays. The guitar is at the Vault, Hard Rock Cafe London,;-)
Sage-Advice
#1 on your list, including ANY other guitars for charity auctions, should not be included, as the goal there is not about true valuation of the guitar, but as a tax write-off because the proceeds go to charity. It's a false and fabricated selling price having little to do with the guitar itself. I've been to plenty of such black-tie gala auctions in ballrooms and snobby venues all throughout Bel-Air and Beverly Hills. I hate the events. You see ludicrous, astronomical fetching prices because some D-Bag that has never even held a guitar in his life bids the thing up to $2.7 Million so he can look like a hero, get a few photo-ops, all with the goal to take it out of his penance paid to the IRS each year. He'll do it the next year with a Salvador Dali print signed by the master that's actually not worth much more than $2,500 at most - a litho that's 1-of-200. In some cases, the guitars are not even worth more than a few hundred dollars, often being Fender Squires or MIM/MIJ Strats. Yeah, they're signed - big deal. _I-I_
videobug
That proves there's a lot of stupid wealthy peoples in this world, that don't know what to do with their money. Imagine how many hungry peoples who would have been able to eat a decent meal with that kind of money in their hands..... Really stupid!
JBB
More on the Hendrix Flying V, according to one source the guitar is insured for 4 million pounds..
Matthew Giles
With respect to the line: "While some may dispute that Eric Clapton is the best guitar player of all-time,..." : One of the chief people who dispute that is Eric Clapton himself. He says that BB King is the best there ever was.
Mark Robinson
With respect to the line: "While some may dispute that Eric Clapton is the best guitar player of all-time,..." Clapton seems to be humble that way; I read where he said he hates his own voice, but IMO, he can more than carry a tune, and that nasal quality is perfect for the blues and again, IMO, second only to Gregg Allman in his prime. I also read where Clapton hates to listen to his live "Crossroads"; he said he never understood why it became popular. He's right; it is a very rough cut, plenty of mistakes, so I can see why a master would think that. I also recall reading years ago about Monterey. I don't remember which artist was backstage arguing with Pete Townsend about which would go on first. Hendrix, laid back as usual, didn't get involved in the dispute. Instead, he is reported to have said something along the lines that he didn't care when he went on, but when he did, he would do something like this. He plugged in his Strat, got up on a chair, and started wailing away. When he stopped, the argument resumed, only now they were arguing about who would have the displeasure of trying to follow Hendrix. They were all great. Me, I just can't help wondering what Hendrix and SRV would be doing today if only...
DennisPostcardBook
MISSING FROM THE LIST: A 1957 Gibson Les Paul Custom Left Handed guitar (one of only 283 produced) was sold at auction on 3/31/2007 at Eldred's Auction House in East Dennis on Cape Cod; at $220,000.00. You can Google their website and search their archive of back auctions to verify and see several photos in the event this link to it does not work: http://www.eldreds.com/sales/detail.php?itemID=106203