The Top 5... Most Important Guitars

As we reported last December, legendary guitarist Eric Clapton announced he would be selling more than 150 items from his personal collection of guitars and musical equipment for charity - that auction takes place today.

The sale - to be held at Bonhams, New York - includes over 70 six-strings and amplifiers played by the original guitar hero, who was once famously called 'God' by a reverent graffiti artist in London. 

In honour of one of the greatest blues-rock guitarists of all time, we at Paul Fraser Collectibles thought we would review our Top 5 most important guitars.  Plug in and enjoy . . .

5.            The 1949 Fender Broadcaster Prototype

This is arguably one of the most important guitars ever produced.  The Broadcaster Prototype was the first solid body guitar designed and created by legendary guitar craftsman, Leo Fender.

Although it wasn't the first solid body guitar, it was the blueprint for Fender's long line of innovative and incredibly popular Telecaster and Stratocaster models.  These guitars dominated the rock and pop scene for decades, used by icons like Hendrix, Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Keith Richards.

The prototype was sold in 1994 to a private collector for $375,000 - a record for a guitar at the time.

4.            The Beatles' 1964 Gibson SG

This remarkable instrument was used by John Lennon and George Harrison during what is commonly regarded at the Beatles' most fertile creative period - 1966 to 1969. 

Harrison used the guitar to record and tour the band's revolutionary album 'Revolver', while Lennon played it during sessions for the sprawling masterpiece 'The Beatles', commonly referred to as the 'White Album'.

The guitar was gifted to Peter Ham - guitarist in the Beatles' protégé group Badfinger.  After his tragic suicide in 1975, the guitar lay hidden away for 27 years.  In 2005, it was sold to an anonymous buyer for $575,000.


'Blackie' - Clapton's signature guitar throughout the 70s

3.            Eric Clapton's 'Blackie' Stratocaster

One of the most famous and iconic guitars in existence, 'Blackie' was custom-built by Clapton out of the parts of three other Strats he bought for $100 each in Texas.  He originally bought six vintage models of Fender's flagship axe, created between 1956 and 1957.

He presented three to friends George Harrison, Pete Townsend and Steve Winwood, and used the best components of the remaining three to construct 'Blackie', named for its dark finish.

It was first played in 1973, and used by Clapton until 1985.  19 years later, it was sold at Christie's for a then record price of $959,500, benefiting the Crossroads Centre for drug and alcohol rehabilitation - founded by Clapton.

2.            Jimi Hendrix's 1968 'Woodstock' Stratocaster

Almost as iconic as the man himself, this white Strat was played by Hendrix at the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair - regarded as a climactic moment in 1960s popular music and one of the most significant musical events in the last 50 years.

Hendrix used this guitar for his powerful and memorable rendition of the 'Star-Spangled Banner'.  After Hendrix's death, it was adopted by his drummer Mitch Mitchell.  After re-emerging in 1990, it was sold at Sotheby's for $198,000.

However, it is now owned by Microsoft co-founder and Hendrix obsessive Paul Allen, who allegedly paid $1.3m for it in 1998.  It is now displayed at the Experience Music Project in Seattle, owned and founded by Allen.

1.            The 'Reach out to Asia' Stratocaster

No list would be complete without the most expensive guitar in the world - and, in the grand scheme of things, one of the most poignant and beneficial ones too.

This white Strat was signed by legends including Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Brian May, Jimmy Page, Pete Townsend, Tony Iommi and many more.  The cause?  A charity founded to benefit victims of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.

It was purchased by the Qatari Royal Family for $1m, and then later sold for $2.7m - also donated to the charity.  In total, the guitar has made $3.7m for this very worthwhile cause and is undoubtedly the most expensive guitar in the world.


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