For a guitar player, the instrument is a very personal thing. For a fan it is a way to connect to your favorite musicians and have a piece of the history and the music that you can touch. Like any other collectable, a famous guitar can be extremely valuable, and with the prices that have been paid for the “axes of the superstars”, there is no doubt that classic rock has fans around the world. Apparently some fans have very deep pockets – check out this list of amazing guitars and the prices they can bring.
10. 1949 Fender Broadcaster prototype: $375,000
This guitar was the Leo Fender’s first prototype for the most popular guitar ever made (known as Fender Telecaster then). This particular model become a milestone of the world’s most successful electric guitar company. It was sold to a private collector in 1994 for $375,000, the highest price ever paid for a guitar at that time.
9. Eric Clapton’s Gold Leaf Stratocaster: $455,550
The guitar was ordered by Eric Clapton in 1996. It was around the 50th anniversary of Fender. and to commemorate this occasion, Clapton wanted something that was so special it could hang in Louvre museum. The company answer with a custom fender plated with 23k gold, which became the company’s first signature guitar. It was sold in Christie’s auction in 1997 for a record setting price of $455,000.
8. George and John’s 1964 Gibson SG: $570,000
This guitar was used by the Beatles between 1966 and 1969. George Harrison used it when recording and touring for the album “Revolver”. John Lennon used the same guitar during the sessions of the “Beatles White” album. It was given to George Peter Ham, from the rock band Badfinger. After his death it was undiscovered until 2002. It was sold to an anonymous bidder at auction in 2004 for $570,000.
7. “Lenny” – Stevie Ray Vaughan’s 1965 Fender Composite Stratocaster: $623,500
Legiondary blues guitarist, Stevie Ray Vaughan, received this strat from his wife, Lenny, in 1980 as a 26th birthday present, and named it after her. This was probably his most favored guitar, and he used it a lot until his death in 1990. In 2004 the guitar was given to raise money for charity by the estate. The guitar sold for $ 623,500 at auction to benefit the Crossroads Centre in Antigua.
6. Eric Clapton’s C.F. Martin & Co., circa 1939: $791,500
This accoustic, owned by Eric Clapton, is a true piece of Americana, made by CF Martin, one of the premier brands of golden age acoustic guitars. It was sold for charity to raise money for the Crossroads Rehabilitation Center.
5. Eric Clapton’s 1964 Gibson ES0335 TDC: $847,500
This is the guitar that was used by Eric Clapton during 1964, when he was just bursting on to the music scene, but just rarely played after that. It reached $847,500 when auctioned, the highest price ever paid for a Gibson in auction.
4. Blackie – Stratocaster hybrid: $959,500
Because of the influence of other Guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, in 1970 Eric Clapton switch from Gibson to Stratocaster guitar. Clapton bought six vintage strats from guitar shop in Texas for a hundred dollar each. He gave 3 for George Harrison, Pete Townshend and Steve Winwood. Then he use the remaining three that he named Blackie. Clapton’s blackie was first played in January 1973 and continues to be played until 1985 when he is retired because of neck problems. Blackie sold at auction in 2004 and become one of the most expensive guitar for $959,000.
3. Bob Marley’s Custom Washburn 22 series Hawk: Estimated value $1.2 to 2 million
This guitar is classified as national asset by the government of Jamaica. This guitar is one of the only seven guitars of the Reggae icon’s life. On November 21st, 1971, after a gig in Vancouver, Marley gave the guitar to a guitar technician Gary Carlsen with the words, “Take it as you will understand later”. Amazingly, Carlsen took this guitar for a gift for a better world. He then founded the Charity “Different Journeys, One Destination”, and offered the guitar as a prize in the lottery.
2. Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 Stratocaster: Estimated value $2 million
Ripping out Purple Haze and a version of the Star Spangled Banner that had never been heard before, Jimi Hendrix played this famous guitar at Woodstock in 1969. The strat was cared for by the Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell after Hendrix died until 1990. It then resurfaced in 1990 at the opening of the new Fender Artist Centre complete with cigarette burns on the headstock, and Trademark Jimi reverse stringing, and fetched $198,000 at Southeby’s. It is rumored that Paul Allen from Microsoft paid two million dollars for this guitar in 1998.
1. Reach out to Asia Fender Stratocaster: $2.7 million
This guitar sold in an auction held in Qatar in 2005 to raise fund for Reach Out to Asia, a Charity formed to help the tsunami victims. It was coordinated by Bryan Adams and was signed by an amazing group of rock stars, including Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, 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 himself.
The winner of the auction was Her Highness Sheihka Miyyassah Al Thani. This is the heir to the thrown of Qatar. The guitar went for $2.8 million with all proceeds going to charity to provide relief for the tsunami victims.