The greatest honor for an artist is, what? Winning awards? Or, is it being called a ‘cult personality’? Perspective plays a major role in answering this question hence, let’s leave it like that, unanswered. So why pose such a question? Well, in this article we will be covering the most expensive guitars in the world.
Every guitar on this list has a story. It has belonged to a cult personality who has won a lot of awards. Therein, one can very easily conclude that these guitars belonged to some of the greatest musicians of all time.
Determining the value of such guitars is a difficult job. Appraisals differ. In short, it depends a lot on conditional factors like the person’s, the year; whether it corresponds to when that particular artist was topping charts and a lot of things along those lines. That being said, let’s look at some of the most expensive guitars that have ever been sold:
Here are the top 10 Most Expensive Electric Guitars In The World in 2017-2018
10. Fender Stratocaster-Stevie Ray Vaughan ($623,500)
‘Number One’ or ‘First Wife’. The two names of this guitar, one of the most expensive electric guitars in the world. Stevie Ray Vaughan loved his guitars. No surprises there. This 1963 model, was his favourite Fender Stratocaster. He obtained it sometime in the 1970’s while at a trade show. However, gradually he began facing problems with the guitar. Parts needed to be replaced all too often for his linking and hence, during the latter stages of his career, his usage of this guitar drastically falls.
9. Gibson 1964 ES335- Eric Clapton ($847,500)
When Clapton used the Gibson, everybody wanted a Gibson. This guitar of his, the many of which he sold at a public auction, is one of the first electric guitars that he ever purchased. For those of you who are interested in details, it was his third electric guitar. He said that he purchased this guitar with his initial savings while playing with Yardbirds. In the late 1960’s, this was one of his main guitars and hence, at the auctions it proved to be one of the higher selling guitars.
8. Doug Irwin “Tiger”- Jerry Garcia ($957,500)
On this list, there are two of Jerry Garcia’s guitars. The ‘Tiger’ was his main guitar for approximately 10 years, between 1979-1989. Somewhere close to the top of the guitar, there’s a picture of a tiger and hence, originated the name of the guitar the ‘tiger’. Jerry used this as his main guitar for a long timer period and in fact, in his last public performance he is seen playing just this very guitar.
7. Fender Stratocaster ‘Blackie’- Eric Clapton ($959,500)
‘Blackie’. A simple name, a legendary guitar. Eric Clapton is a man who used both: Gibson and Fender guitars. He moved on to the Fender sometime in the early 1970’s. Before the ‘Blackie’, there was another Fender Stratocaster that was highly publicised and loved by him; that was known as ‘Brownie’. To construct this guitar, Clapton used not one but three different Fender guitars. He plucked out the best parts from three different guitars and made his version of a perfect guitar. Ie. ‘Blackie’.
6. 1964 Fender Stratocaster- Bob Dylan ($965,000)
Bob Dylan’s first public performance with this guitar was at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. So what? Well, it was this very performance of his, this three-set performance that put him on the map. From then on, people began considering him as a true piece of the Rock ‘n’ Roll jigsaw puzzle. Although it was for a short period of time, there still was a time when this was the most expensive guitar in the world.
5. Gibson 1959 Les Paul- Keith Richards ($1 million)
Out of all the 500 guitars that Keith Richards owns, none has been more valuable than the Gibson 1959 Les Paul upto date. He was one of the first big-time guitarist to choose a Gibson. Back when he used the guitar, Rolling Stones were not at their highest point. They were just getting there. With a little of history, in 2006 this guitar fetched a handsome fee of $1 million at an auction.
4. Washburn 22-Series ‘Hawk- Bob Marley (N/A)
The N/A has got you scratching your heads, right? Well, the funny thing is since the guitar is owned by the Jamaican Government, nobody knows how much they paid for it. According to certain appraisals, this custom made guitar owned by the legend himself, Bob Marley, is valued somewhere between $1.2-$2million. Of course the Jamaican Government classifies this as an ‘asset’, it is one of the seven guitars Bob Marley ever owned.
3. Doug Irwin “Wolf”- Jerry Garcia ($1.9 million)
In 2002, when the ‘Wolf’ was sold at a public auction it sold for more than $700,000. In 2017, when the same guitar was again but up at an auction it sold for nearly $1.9 million. The guitar was purchased by Brian Halligan, the Chief Executive of Hubspot. The ‘Wolf’ was an extension of Jerry Garcia’s arm for a good period of time, beginning from the year 1973. All the money with which the guitar was purchased went to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
2. 1968 Fender Stratocaster- Jimi Hendrix ($2 million)
Jimi Hendrix is the pinnacle. His contribution to both; music and guitar cannot be forgotten anytime soon. Fender, definitely cannot forget him any time soon either. During a time when every guitarist was using a Les Paul or something else, Jimi Hendrix made Fender big again. The 1968 Fender Stratocaster got all the media attention after his most memorable performance at Woodstock in the year 1969. Technically speaking, this is the most expensive electric guitar in the world today that has been used at a live performance. And guess who bought it? Another big name, Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.
1. Fender Stratocaster ‘Reach Out to Asia’ ($2.7 million)
Jimmy Page. Bryan Adams. Eric Clapton. David Gilmour. Mick Jagger. Liam Gallagher. Those are just 6 names. Bryan Adam’s, in order to raise some money for the disaster victims of the Tsunami tide that hit Asia in the year 2004, came up with an idea. And this was his idea. To auction a Fender Stratocaster with the autograph of some of the biggest names in the history of music. It worked. The $2.7 million is the most that’s ever been paid for a guitar. The then heir to the throne of Qatar played a very important role in this entire campaign set up by Bryan Adam’s and in fact, it was she who won the auction. This episode proves to be a beautiful example of how the socially influential people of the world can make a difference for the betterment of humanity as a whole.
Owning one of these guitars is equivalent to owning history. Each one of them played a role in the history of music and therefore, the price that each of them command is truly justified. Which one is the holy grail? That’s hard to tell.