The guitar, one of the oldest musical devices known to man, has thrived and flourished in popularity, remaining one of the most sought-after instruments for musicians and collectors. All the guitars that have made our list are not any ordinary guitars the local band plays in their gigs at the downtown pub. World-renowned rock geniuses have strummed these guitars’ strings, making these instruments so high in value most people would not believe the prices people are willing to pay to have them for their own. Here’s a list of the most expensive guitars in the history of the world.
10 How A Fender Strat Had Asia’s Back
Back in 2004, a devastating tsunami slammed a handful of Asian countries, many of which are already the poorest in the world. To help the disaster-stricken countries recuperate and rebuild, there was an auction held to raise money for charities aiding the victims.
At the auction, several rock legends including Eric Clapton, Sting, Paul McCartney, signed the Fender Strat, skyrocketing the worth of this guitar. The autographed guitar appreciated to a near $3 million! All funds were donated to Reach Out to Asia, a project that brought relief to those devastated by the tsunami. This is the most expensive guitar ever sold.
9 Jimi Hendrix’s Fender Strat
As the second most expensive guitar sold, this guitar was sold for around $2 million dollars to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. In 1966, Jimi Hendrix was a household name and anything he touched turned to gold. From 1968 to 1970, the year Jimi Hendrix passed, this Fender Strat appreciated to an insane value over the course of just two years.
He was only known by the general public for about four years, but in that short time, he left an indelible mark. Jimi Hendrix is iconic for entertaining large crowds at Woodstock in 1969 while playing this flashy white guitar.
8 Bob Marley’s Washburn
In a case of reggae heard ’round the world, Bob Marley’s songs “One Love/People Get Ready,” “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Jamming,” attached a hefty price tag to the Washburn guitar he was known to play.
Bob Marley, the musician who enlightened the world about the reggae music of Jamaica and Rastafarianism, an Abrahamic religion started in Jamaica, actually gave the Washburn to a guitar tech, who personalized the guitar and tailored it to Marley’s vision. The unique quality of this instrument and the sheer amount of fame attached to it makes this guitar’s value somewhere around $1.2 million.
7 Eric Clapton’s Blackie Stratocaster
Most of us would be crying “Tears in Heaven” if we had to drop the value of this guitar on anything. Making it the fourth most expensive guitar on the list, the Blackie Stratocaster is worth $959,000, making it just under $1 million.
This guitar’s creation is special in that it was derived from three separate vintage guitars. Clapton brought the three guitars to a shop in Texas, where they deconstructed each guitar to make the fourth most expensive guitar in human history. Named the second-best guitarist (second to Jimi Hendrix), Clapton’s choice to blend the best of many guitars was right on.
6 Eric Clapton’s 1964 Gibson
Like Eric Clapton’s Blackie Stratocaster, the cherry red 1964 Gibson was sold for a value just shy of $1 million. The cost is estimated to be around $80,000, but, because of whose hands strummed its strings, the guitar was sold at an auction for a whopping $847,500!
Eric Clapton mostly used this guitar when he played alongside other bands such as Blind Faith and Yardbirds. Clapton’s use of the guitar is believed to have been a big influence on the instrument of choice for many looking to take up playing guitar and helped the industry in the sixties.
5 Eric Clapton’s 1939 CF Martin
Another one of Eric Clapton’s guitars have made our list and comes in as the world’s sixth most expensive guitar sold. This guitar’s backstory may have connections to Eric Clapton’s comeback as an artist following the death of his son, who tragically fell almost fifty stories.
Clapton’s fame as a guitarist rose substantially after this guitar made its debut on MTV Unplugged in January 1992 and was used to play along to Clapton’s song “Tears in Heaven” and a slow version of “Layla.” Made of lovely Brazilian rosewood, sound hold wear showed that this love Martin was played a lot. The guitar sold for $791,500.
4 Stevie Ray Vaugahn’s Fender Strat
Influenced by other greats such as B.B. King, Otis Rush, Chuck Berry, and Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaugahn loved jazz, blues and rock and roll. The Fender Strat sold for over half a million dollars. Stevie Ray Vaughan, with his unique style and iconic rasp, brought the blues back from the dead and took the rock world by storm, greatly increasing the worth of the guitar.
Valued at $623,500, Vaughan’s guitar was gifted to him by his wife in the early eighties. The guitar was sold at an auction back in 2004, around 14 years after his death in a tragic helicopter accident.
3 George Harrison And John Lennon’s Gibson
Played by two rock legends, George Harrison and John Lennon, this guitar was used by the famous rock band The Beatles for songs like “Taxman,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Eleanor Rigby.”
The Gibson was bought by Brian Epstein, The Beatles manager and its first known use was in September 1962, while recording portions of the Abbey Road album and new drummer Ringo Starr has just joined the group. The fact that anyone of the Beatles may have picked up and used this guitar certainly adds to its sentimental value. This guitar was sold at an auction for a grand total of $570,000.
2 Eric Clapton’s Gold Leaf Strat
This eye-catching guitar was a result of Clapton agreeing to Fender’s inquiry as to whether he would be interested in working together to create a special guitar to celebrate the 50th anniversary Fender guitars. Working with Clapton, Mark Kendrick, Fender’s senior master builder created the stunning gold-leaf guitar.
The gold exterior is aesthetically-pleasing and, because of Clapton’s long-standing rock career, this guitar shined at the auction it was sold at. Clapton used this guitar twice while it was still in his possession in 1997 and 2001 for the Legends tour and One More Car, One More Rider tour. The Gold Leaf Strat was sold for $455,000.
1 Eric Clapton’s Brownie Stratocaster
Last, but not least, this guitar ranks 10 on our list. For the Clapton enthusiasts, they might hear the opening riff to the song “Layla” when they see the sunburst Brownie Strat. This guitar was played in the studio when Clapton was recording the song “Layla.” This guitar was sold for $450,000 to Paul Allen, who is the head of a music project with Seattle roots. A great number of Clapton’s guitars have been auctioned off over the years to benefit Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Centre Foundation that funds a residential rehabilitation drug and alcohol site that he established in 1997.