When it comes to guitar auctions, artist relationships prevail. The world’s most expensive guitars have been polished and battered up, but their rock star lineage makes them more valuable. The following list of the 8 most expensive guitars of rockstars sold at auctions is sufficient evidence to substantiate this theory. Their cumulative sale price of these pricey guitars is over millions, which is sufficient to purchase almost 122,000 Squier Bullet Stratocasters or a full year’s worth of Suhr guitars.
8 Bob Dylan’s 1964 Fender Stratocaster – $965,000
Dylan went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, carrying this 1964 Stratocaster, which he later left on a private plane. It remained in the possession of Vic Quinto’s family for about 50 years. The Three-Tone Sunburst is largely devoid of blemishes and discoloration, as depicted in the auction catalog photographs. This Stratocaster was a fine example of a pre-CBS model, even before considering its history.
7 David Gilmour’s Martin D-35 – $1 Million
In 2003, David Gilmour stated on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs that he would want his Martin D-35 if he were lost at sea. He stated that this was the nicest guitar he owned and the guitar was his constant companion. It was utilized on every Pink Floyd album from 1973’s Dark Side of the Moon through 1995’s The Final Cut, with the exception of Wish You Were Here, when it was featured most heavily. Gilmour auctioned off the 1969 D-35 to benefit the charity ClimateEarth, proving that it was not wholly needed.
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6 Duane Allman’s 1957 Gibson Les Paul – $1.2 Million
Guitar enthusiasts may be astonished to learn that the most costly Les Paul is not a Burst, but rather this 1957 Goldtop. Before Duane traded it for a sunburst model, it was featured on the first two Allman Brothers albums and Derek & the Dominos’ Layla and Other Love Songs. Allman insisted on maintaining the pickups, thus the humbuckers from the Burst are now installed in this guitar. Former owner Scot Lamar frequently lent it out, thus it has been on stage with Billy Gibbons, Kirk Hammett, and Derek Trucks, among others.
5 David Gilmour’s 1954 Fender Stratocaster – $1.8 Million
This guitar would have been collectible regardless of its association with Pink Floyd. Its serial number, 0001, makes it confusingly not the first Strat (that was #0100), but one of the first pre-production Strats distributed to Fender endorsees. Prior to being held by Gilmour, the guitar was owned by country star Rex Gallion, and then by Seymour Duncan. The fact that it was also used to capture rhythm portions on Another Brick in the Wall reminiscent of Nile Rodgers was merely a bonus.
4 Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf” – $1.9 Million
The “Wolf” was the luthier Doug Irwin’s one-of-a-kind masterpiece for the Grateful Dead musician. It is the only guitar on display that was not produced by a major manufacturer. Irwin designed an instrument with a novel shape, hardware, and controls using laminated maple and purpleheart, an extraordinarily rigid South American hardwood. A clever plate system would allow pickup systems to be interchanged, and two outputs allowed Garcia to run his effects loop independently and switch it from the instrument. The “Wolf” was the centerpiece of a Grateful Dead auction that collected $1.9 million for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights charity.
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3 John Lennon’s Gibson J160E – $2.4 Million
Gibson’s brilliant decision to install a pickup in a basic acoustic guitar gave rock ‘n’ rollers just what they needed to be recognized. John Lennon used this guitar to compose hits such as “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and to record the majority of acoustic passages on popular band Beatles’ songs from 1962 to 1963. The acoustic guitar was included on the Beatles’ first US number one, Love Me Do, but was stolen in 1963 during a Christmas show. Lennon replaced it and the Beatles continued to use J-160Es for the remainder of their career.
2 Reach Out to Asia Fender Stratocaster – $2.7 Million
The Reach Out to Asia Strat, which was never held by a superstar, was auctioned to benefit victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Brian May, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davies, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Liam Gallagher, Tony Iommi, Angus and Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney, Ronnie Wood, Ritchie Blackmore, Def Leppard, Sting, and Bryan Adams all signed the guitar.
1 Kurt Cobain’s Martin D-18E – $6 Million
There wasn’t much to do in the summer of 2020 besides play guitar and participate in online auctions, which may explain why Kurt’s guitar broke every record. The D-18E was used for Nirvana’s legendary MTV Unplugged performance, which included a spine-tingling cover of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World. This legendary instrument is irrevocably identified with Kurt Cobain because of the fact that the concert was broadcast and universally praised. Peter Freedman, the owner of Rode Microphones, had a bruised wallet following the auction.
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Sources: Guitar World, GAK, LEFTYFRETZ
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