The most popular musical instrument in the world is the guitar. They come in all shapes, sizes, and their price range can fluctuate drastically. How drastically? You could buy a used guitar for 20 dollars. Oddly enough, you could also buy another used guitar for two million dollars.
What determines such a wide price fluctuation? Well, there is craftsmanship, materials used, location and expertise of the workers involved, etc. But when it comes to guitars with exorbitant prices, the instrument's history comes into play. And it becomes the most important factor in determining how much money people (very rich people, that is) will pay for it.
Who owned this guitar? What was recorded with it? What concerts were played with it? Where has it been? These questions become even more important than the wood used, type of electronics, and even model. The following list will surely prove it. Without further due, here are the eight most expensive guitars in the world.
Kurt Cobain’s Martin - $ 6,010,000
Nirvana single-handedly changed popular music in the early nineties. So much so that the epicenter of music moved from Los Angeles to Seattle, capital of Grunge. Kurt Cobain, leader and songwriter of the group, died in 1994 at the young age of 27. In 1993 Nirvana performed a legendary MTV Unplugged, right before Cobain's tragic death. The guitar used in that iconic concert was a Martin D-18E acoustic. It sold at a recent auction for over six million dollars.
David Gilmour's Black Strat - $ 3,975,000
Yes, you read that right. Almost four million dollars. This guitar was recently sold at a climate change charity. It is a 1969 Fender Stratocaster that belonged to Pink Floyd's guitarist David Gilmour. This guitar was used to record legendary albums such as The Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall. Those three albums had a massive impact on music and culture in general. So you could say that this guitar represents a piece of the history of modern music. It set the record for the most expensive guitar ever sold.
Reach out to Asia Stratocaster - $ 2,700,000
This is the only guitar on this list that was not used by any influential guitarist. It was also never used on an iconic recording. Still, it commanded a very high price at an auction. How did this happen? To help raise money for the relief efforts of the 2004 Tsunami that devasted Asian countries, this signed Fender Stratocaster was sold at auction. It was signed by Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Ronnie Wood, Brian May, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Mark Knopfler, Pete Townshend, Tony Iommi, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, members of Def Leppard, Bryan Adams, Liam Gallagher, and Paul McCartney. That's a good chunk of the world's most influential artists of the past 50 years. Perhaps they did not play this particular guitar, but they sure put their hands (and signature) on it.
John Lennon's Gibson J-160 E Acoustic - $ 2,410,000
Regarded by many as the greatest songwriter ever, John Lennon played several guitars through his career. This 1962 J -160 E Acoustic is said to be involved in the making of immortal songs like "I Saw Her Standing There" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand". This guitar was sold to a bidder for $ 2,410,000, making it one of the most expensive ever. Before it reached this staggering price point, this Gibson guitar was lost after a 1963 Beatles concert. It was only until 2014 that the then-owner discovered whom did it belong to by reading an article. John Lennon allegedly paid 161 Pounds for this guitar when he first bought it. That's quite the price increase.
Jimi Hendrix' Stratocaster -$ 2,000,000
Jimi Hendrix set a before and after for the electric guitar. He is as iconic as is gets and had a massive impact on all the musicians on this list. His influence cannot be overstated. And this is the 1968 Fender Stratocaster that he used at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. It was purchased by Paul Allen of Microsoft. It is currently is exhibited at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seatle (Hendrix's hometown). The guitar used by the most influential guitarist ever at the most famous festival ever? Yes. Hence the two million dollars.
Peter Green and Gary Moore's Les Paul - $ 2,000,000
The 1959 Gibson Les Paul has become one of the most expensive guitars today. It is heralded as having a perfect balance of construction, woods used, and vintage electronics and flavor. A 1959 Gibson Les Paul can be worth $ 350,000 today, and a few rich collectors are happy to pay this price. However, when a guitar model that is already desirable and expensive has a history involving a couple of guitar gods, then its price can skyrocket. And that is the case with this guitar. And if you are wondering who is willing to pay two million dollars for a guitar, in this case, we do have a name that you might recognize: Kirk Hammet. The legendary Metallica guitarist purchased this 1959 Les Paul from a music store. Its previous owners? None other than Peter Green and then Gary Moore.
Jerry Garcia's Wolf - $ 1,900,000
The iconic guitarist and singer from The Grateful Dead ordered a customized guitar from luthier Doug Irvin in the early seventies. What he got was a guitar named "The Wolf". Besides having an unusual look, it also sports an engraved drawing of a caricature wolf on it. It is the most unorthodox guitar of this list, but that did not stop it from becoming one of the most expensive ever sold. Garcia used for years and it's unique look became attached to the musicians' image. It reached a price of 1.9 million dollars in an auction in 2017.
Bob Marley's Washburn - $ 1,200,000
Legendary Reggae musician Bob Marley is said to have owned only seven guitars ever. This one is a Washburn Hawk, and it was used by Marley in numerous concerts and recordings. At one point, Marley decided to gift it to his guitar technician. It was later bought by the Jamaican government and placed in a museum.
Wrapping it up...
Price is usually determined by quality. However, when it comes to ultra-expensive guitars, an exception comes into play. That is because the price is then determined by the history of the guitar, rather than its quality. After all, touching the lives of millions of listeners around the world and having an immense influence has a value that cannot be quantified. Or maybe it can. Until next time...