1. Reach out to Asia Fender Stratocaster
Price $3.7 millionThis guitar was sold at auction in Qatar in 2005, to raise funds for Reach out to Asia, a charity set up to help tsunami victims. Co-ordinated by Bryan Adams, it is signed by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Brian May, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davis, Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood, Tony Iommi, Angus & Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, Def Leppard, and Bryan Adams himself. It was initially by the Qatari Royal family for $1 million and then donated back to the charity, after which it was sold again for a price of $2.7 million, meaning that this guitar has generated a total of $3.7 million dollars for charity.
2. Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 Stratocaster
Estimated Price $2 millionHendrix played this guitar at Woodstock in 1969.From 1970 until 1990 it was in the possession of his drummer Mitch Mitchell, before surfacing in 1990 at the opening of the new Fender Artist Centre complete with cigarette burns on the headstock, and Jimi’s trademark upside down stringing. It sold at Sotheby’s in the same year for $198,000. Rumour has it that Paul Allen (Bill Gates’ right hand man at Microsoft) paid 2 million dollars for this guitar in 1998. There no telling what it could be worth now.
3. Bob Marley’s Custom made Washburn 22 series Hawk
estimated Price $1.2 to 2 million
Classified as a national treasure by the Jamaican government, this guitar is one of only 7 guitars that the reggae icon owned in his lifetime. On the 21st of November, 1971, after a gig in Vancouver, Marley gave the guitar to his guitar tech Gary Carlsen with the words, “Take it because you’ll understand later”. Admirably, Carlsen took this as a sign that he should use the gift he had been given to better the world in some way, and so he set up the charity “Different Journeys, One Destination”, offering the guitar as a prize in a lottery
4. Blackie – Stratocaster hybrid
In 1970, due to the influence of Jimi Hendrix among others, Eric Clapton decided to make the switch from Gibson guitars to Stratocasters. Clapton bought 6 vintage Strats from a guitar shop in Texas for a hundred dollars each. He gave three away (to George Harrison, Pete Townshend and Steve Winwood) and then assembled the best parts of the remaining three (c. 1956 and 1957) into a single strat, which he christened ‘Blackie’ due to its dark finish. Clapton played Blackie for the first time in January 1973, and continued to do so until it was retired in 1985 due to neck issues. A tribute model was made by Fender to Clapton’s exact specifications.
5. Eric Clapton’s 1964 Gibson ES0335 TDC
Price $847,500This guitar was used by Clapton primarily during 1964, but only rarely after that. It fetched the highest price ever paid for a Gibson when auctioned.
6. Eric Clapton’s C.F. Martin & Co., circa 1939
Another one of Clapton’s guitars makes the top ten. The reason for this is that he is one of the few renowned guitarists who does actually sell their guitars – usually to raise money for the Crossroads Rehabilitation Centre. There are definitely guitars out there (belonging to Jimmy Page, Van Halen and so on) that could fetch more if they were sold, but they haven’t been put up for sale as yet. This guitar was used by Clapton primarily during 1964, but only rarely after that. It fetched the highest price ever paid for a Gibson when auctioned.
7. “Lenny” – Stevie Ray Vaughan’s 1965 Fender Composite Stratocaster
The great blues guitarist received Lenny from his wife in 1980 as a 26th birthday present, and named it after her. It was one of his favourite guitars, and he used it extensively until his untimely death in 1990. The SRV stickers on the body of this guitar were a trademark of the majority of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitars, a habit he picked up from brother Jimmie who started this trend before him. In 2004 this became the first and only one of his guitars that has ever been released for sale by his estate, to raise money for charity.
It raised $623,500 at auction to benefit the Crossroads Centre in Antigua.
8. George and John’s 1964 Gibson SG
This guitar was used by The Beatles between 1966 and 1969. George Harrison used it while recording and touring the album Revolver, while John Lennon used it during sessions for the White album. It was given away by George to Peter Ham, of the rock band Badfinger, and after his death lay undiscovered until 2002. It was sold to an anonymous bidder at auction in 2004, for a staggering $570,000.
9. Eric Clapton’s Gold Leaf Stratocaster
10. 1949 Fender Broadcaster prototype
Leo Fender’s first solid body prototype became the template for one of the most popular guitars ever built (later dubbed the Fender Telecaster – sound familiar?). Although Les Paul was quicker off the mark in making the first solid body guitar, this particular model was key to the fortunes of the worlds most successful electric guitar companies, and as such is of great historical importance. Sold to a private collector in 1994, for $375,000, the highest price ever paid for a guitar at the time.