One year since his death, Les Paul's guitars are still making a noise at auction

This week marks the year anniversary of the death of one of guitar music's true originals. Les Paul, aged 94 passed away last year, leaving behind a legacy that few in the music business can match.

It all started back in 1941 when Paul, in his mid twenties was carving out a profession as a backing musician for the like of Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby.

Frustrated at the limitations of the acoustic guitar, Les Paul decided to use a guitar he had been working on for many years, which was known affectionately as "the log."

In one interview, Paul recalls the first time he played the instrument live:

"I went into a nightclub and played it...Of course, everybody labeled me as a nut."

But nothing could be further from the truth, as Paul had effectively built the foundations of what we now call rock and roll, through the creation of the electric guitar.

Not only was this instrument pioneering  but also multi track recording, which allowed instruments and vocals to be recorded separately.

With his own musical career spanning decades of success, Les Paul has also been inducted into both the Grammy and Rock 'n' Roll hall of fame.

Steve Jones's Les Paul Guitar

However, for collectors, it is the legacy of his pioneering guitars that continue to provide the most lasting legacy of his work.

Today, his guitars are highly sought after by music enthusiasts and memorabilia collectors around the world.

In 2005, the famous 1959 Sunburst Gibson Les Paul, which many view as crucial to the creation of the popular rock 'n' roll form came up for auction at Christies.

It sold for a phenomenal £171,000 ($268,000) in what is still a world record price for a Les Paul guitar.

In the year since his death, Les Paul guitars have continued to make an impression at auction.

At an auction at Christies in June 2010, an early 1970s custom made Les Paul electric guitar came up for auction.

Once belonging to Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, the instrument had a pre auction estimated price of £10,000 ($14,730).

The rare piece sold for £16,250 ($24,310).

More recently still, there was the sale of a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Custom "black beauty" guitar at Heritage Auctions in July 2010.

Arguably one of the most sought after guitars on the collectibles market, the guitar was expected to sell for $47,000.

However, as in keeping with the memory of Les Paul, the instrument exceeded all expectations with a final sale price of $56,762.

the 1959 Les Paul "Black Beauty" Guitar

And these sales are only the beginning for memorabilia collectors.

October will see the auction of more than 50 guitars of differing types which were all signed by Les Paul, and originally given to some of the biggest names in the world of music.

With instruments originally intended for the likes of Madonna, Sting and Prince, collectors will now have a chance to bid for these autographed pieces later this year.

The guitars were part of a tradition Les Paul had , which saw his producer Ron Lovely give out over numerous guitars.

These guitars, while not Les Paul models, were purchased by Lovely on the road and signed by Les Paul.

However, as a rule, the guitars always had to given to the artist in person. If they could not receive the instrument, it was kept by Les Paul until a future meeting.

With many now in the possession of Lovely, the guitars are expected to fetch between £2,000 and £100,000 each.

It looks like the name of "Les Paul" will be remembered not only by fans of guitar music but also memorabilia collectors for some time to come.



Join our readers in 189 countries around the world - sign up for your free weekly Collectibles Newsletter today


Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£65,000
In stock