Guitars come in all shapes and sizes, and more importantly, the cost can vary incredibly. Well, the guitars we’ll be addressing today are not your average priced guitars. We’re also pretty certain you won’t find these at your local music or pawn shop. (And by the way, if you were to find one in the latter, do not under any circumstance leave there without it!) The guitars we’re taking a look at are some of the most expensive guitars in the world, and true pieces of musical history. Now we know there are many expensive guitars out there, but we’ve chosen our favorites, the cream of the crop if you will. So, that being said, here’s our pick of ten of the most expensive guitars of all time.
Eric Clapton’s Gibson 1964 ES335 TDC
Sticking with Eric Clapton, the guitarist primarily played this Gibson during his time with the Yardbirds back in 1964. That being said, he also used this very guitar during in a couple of key moments whilst in the band Cream. He played it during the last Cream show in November of 1968 and used it to cut the guitar tracks on the song “Badge,” cut in December of the same year. Like Clapton’s other guitar Blackie, he generously auctioned it in 2004 to benefit his charity Crossroads, finally selling at a very nice $847,500.
Jerry Garcia’s “Tiger”
Jerry Garcia’s Doug Irwin custom guitar was his go-to guitar from 1979-1989, it was also the time when the Grateful Dead became a household name and gained some serious popularity. The guitar got its name from the artwork behind its concave bridge. Tiger was the last guitar Jerry Garcia ever played in public making it a serious collector’s piece. So much so, that when Tiger was auctioned in 2002 it was sold for $957,500.
Eric Clapton’s “Blackie”
Clapton purchased six guitars and gave one each to Pete Townshend of the Who, George Harrison of the Beatles, and singer/ keyboard player Steve Winwood. Clapton then decided to cobble together the best parts of the remaining three and created Blackie, his famous black Fender Strat. The guitar was used and seen in countless live appearances and studio sessions until Clapton retired Blackie in 1985. As with Clapton’s other guitars we discussed earlier, he sold it at auction in 2004 to benefit Crossroads, the guitarist’s recovery center for a whopping $959,000
Bob Dylan’s 1964 Fender Stratocaster
This is the very Strat that Bob Dylan played at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, marking his transition to electric instruments and in doing so incurred the wrath and disgust of folk purists throughout the world. Because it was Dylan’s crossover guitar from acoustic to electric, it earned its place as one of the most legendary guitars of all time. What makes this axe even more interesting is that the guitar was practically new, in fact, it was only a year or so old when it made its legendary debut. That being said it still brought in a cool $965,000.
Keith Richards’ 1959 Les Paul Standard
When it comes to guitars, the 1959 Les Paul standard is pretty much the “holy grail.” When you factor in the fact that there’s not that many of them around, doubled with the knowledge that it was owned by someone like Keith Richards, you’re for sure going to pay six figures for one of these beauties. Keith played this Gibson Les Paul during the groundbreaking Rolling Stones performance on the Ed Sullivan Show, that performance was a huge moment in the history of Rock and Roll. So much so that when the guitar went up for auction in 2003 it sold for $1 million.
Bob Marley’s Washburn 22-Series Hawk
Unlike a lot of big-name guitarist’s reggae legend Bob Marley’s collection was small in comparison, he in fact only owned seven. One of Marley’s seven was his 22 fret, double cutaway Washburn. Here’s where this gets interesting. Marley gave this very guitar as a gift to his guitar tech, Gary Clausen, and the guitar’s whereabouts today are secret. But, the Jamaican government, which declared Marley’s guitar a national treasure, is rumored to have purchased it and paid somewhere in the region of $1.2-2 million. WOW…
Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf”
This is Jerry Garcia’s second guitar to make the most expensive guitar list. Again, built by Doug Irwin, “Wolf” was named for its distinctive artwork. First time at auction it sold for the same amount as his other guitar Tiger, selling for $789,500. But in 2017 “Wolf” came up for auction again, this time around it was a different story bringing in a whopping $1.9 million dollars. The story doesn’t end there though, the money raised at the auction went to fund the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and other extremists throughout the U.S.
Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 Fender Stratocaster
Hendrix’s ’68 Strat is basically a stock, right-handed Fender with an Olympic white finish, and when you look at it it’s nothing spectacular.However, even if you’re not a guitar player, there is every chance you would know what it looks like due to its legendary appearance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. With the guitar slung upside down and his now-legendary early-morning rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” Hendrix turned this stock Fender Strat into a must have for all guitar collectors. So, who had the money to buy such a huge piece of rock n roll history? Word has it that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, purchased the guitar in 1998 for an estimated $2 million.
Peter Green/Gary Moore’s 1959 Les Paul
This 1959 Les Paul has a serious lineage. It was initially owned by Fleetwood Mac founder and guitarist Peter Green and later ended up in the hands of one of the greatest rock guitarists ever, Gary Moore. So, where is it now? Metallica-guitarist Kirk Hammet purchased it in 2014 for a reported sum of 2 million dollars. Expensive, hell yeah, but let’s face it, for a guitar with this kind of history, it’s a darn good investment and will only increase in value over the years.
Fender “Reach Out To Asia” Stratocaster
The most expensive guitar in the world is the Fender “Reach Out To Asia” Stratocaster. Rumor has it that it cost Fender between $15,000-25,000 to create, and was the result of the Reach Out to Asia project, conceived by Canadian rocker Bryan Adams. Adams created the organization to raise funds for victims of the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean. And it raised a fortune. The guitar was signed by 19 artists, that included some of the greatest guitar players of all time including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, and Tony Iommi. At auction, the guitar sold for a staggering $2.7 million at auction—making it the most expensive guitar ever sold to date.
So there you have it, investments come in all shapes and sizes and these beauties just happen to be in the shape of a guitar.