Have you ever considered exactly how much the world’s most expensive guitars actually cost? Whether it’s your axe or your baby, every guitar owner will know how precious their instrument is. To the penny.
The simple fact is that guitars are not cheap, at least not if you want to be strumming a decent piece of kit.
Buying off-brand can knock a few digits down but for a decent imitation you’re still looking at a fairly big price tag (we won’t go into the added costs of buying all the accessories – leads, amplifiers, picks, bags, straps …. or the cost of changing the hardware if you decide EMG pickups just don’t cut it anymore).
Yet, while the average Joe Strummer is likely to spend a small fortune on their kit the real Joe Strummer could have spent considerably more. Many of the most expensive guitars in the world have been owned by the rich and famous – not that you’d always know by the way they throw them about on stage.
So, before you start complaining about the rising cost of Stratocasters let’s take a look at some of the most expensive guitars ever made. Chances are you won’t be able to afford them but we can all dream…
The World’s Most Expensive Guitars:
1949 Broadcaster prototype – AKA the Telecaster
It will surprise no one that the first guitar on our list comes from top guitar makers Fender. This brand has built a strong reputation for producing top quality guitars used by everyone from bedroom amateurs to small time musicians and big time stars.
Fender is probably best known for producing two iconic guitar body styles: the Stratocaster and the Telecaster. The latter is definitely the meatier of the two options and features a fixed bridge with dual single coil pickups – one in the neck, one at the bridge.
Simple and understated, the Telecaster has been a Fender staple since it was first introduced in 1951 but its 1949 older sibling once achieved a massive $375,000 purchase fee.
This was when it took the form of the Fender Broadcaster prototype: a template which Leo Fender’s first attempt at what would later be the Telecaster.
1964 Gibson SG – owned by George Harrison and John Lennon
Think of the Beatles and you’ll think of many things. Mostly hit songs. What you might not think of immediately is an SG – a guitar which is now more commonly associated with heavier bands and guitarists such as Black Sabbath’s Tommi Iommi and ACDC’s Angus.
Yet, despite the shock, a 1964 Gibson SG was used by bandmates Harrison and Lennon between 1966 and 1969. Harrison used its great tone when recording Revolver while Lennon had a go on the old beast with sessions for the White album.
So how is it one of the most expensive in the world? Well, before it’s use it probably wasn’t but afterwards it sold for a massive $570,000.
Oh, and for those of you who are wondering the name “SG” stands for “solid guitar”. It was an evolution of the original Les Paul guitar (created by, yes, Les Paul) but couldn’t feature the great man’s name.
1939 CF Martin & Co acoustic – owned by Eric Clapton
One of the most famous guitarists around, it’s no big news that a Clapton guitar sold for a high sum. This particular model, from circa 1939, sold for a massive $791,500 as a way to raise money for the guitarist’s Crossroads Rehabilitation Centre.
This isn’t the only time a Clapton guitar has sold for a big sum though. There are plenty of other incidences including the sale of his 19645 Gibson Es0335 which achieved an even bigger $847,500!
This guitar was a favourite of Clapton’s in 1964 but fell out of favour afterwards; thus prompting the sale.
Perhaps this is why he sung about how hisguitar gently weeps…
1968 Statocaster – owned by Jimi Hendrix
With an estimated – yes, ESTIMATED, price of $2 million this has to be one of, if not THE, most expensive guitar around.
Owned by Jimi Hendrix, this strat was claimed to have been scooped up for the tidy sum by Microsoft’s Paul Allen in 1998. It was the same guitar that Hendrix used at the famous 1969 Woodstock adding value upon value.
Handled by what are often considered the greatest hands to ever touch a guitar, Hednrix’s Strat certainly tops our list of most expensive guitars with a cost that far exceeds even the most top level guitar today.
You may not be able to afford any of these beauties from above but you can probably get your own Stratocaster, Telecaster or SG for a few hundred (or thousand) pounds. Who knows, you may just be the next Hendrix and be able to sell it for more than ten times its value in years to come!