On February 27, New York City-based Guernsey’s auction house will conduct an auction of some of the rarest guitars in history, including instruments played by and signed by some of the biggest names in rock and jazz. Presented from several private collections, the Guitar Auction includes 20 pieces from jazz guitarist George Benson and rare guitars and mandolins from the Henry Lowenstein Collection.
1. EDDIE VAN HALEN’S CUSTOM 1982 CHARVEL GUITAR
Charvel electric guitars were popular among 1980s rock gods, and Van Halen's Eddie Van Halen became known for playing ones that were made specifically for him by the company. The striped design of this piece has become iconic and has since been replicated, but this specific guitar, which Van Halen gave to Entertainment Tonight, has the original bill of sale to prove its provenance.
2. MARTIN BELLEZZA BIANCA PROTOTYPE FOR ERIC CLAPTON
The third of four prototypes built for Eric Clapton in 2004, this piece has a maker’s label inside signed by the musician, C.F. Martin IV (CEO of the company), Dick Boak, and designer Hiroshi Fujiwara.
3. TONY MOTTOLA’S GIBSON CUSTOM SUPER 400 CES 7-STRING
This is one of only two seven-string Super 400s ever made, according to Guernsey's, and the only one that has 24 frets. Built in 1952, it is a rare piece in its own right, but the fact that it was made by Gibson for Mottola definitely adds to the coolness of this guitar.
4. GUITAR PLAYED BY RINGO STARR
From the hands of one of The Beatles, straight to your collection ... if you want it badly enough.
5. D’ANGELICO NEW YORKER
Named after the famed New Yorker Hotel, this D’Angelico (and every D’Angelico) was made by hand with quality woods and in limited quantities.
6. GUITAR PLAYED BY STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, the late—and legendary—guitarist is often cited as one of the greatest of all time. Fans of his music, or of rock music in general, will jump at the chance to own an instrument that his hands worked their magic on.
7. 1910-1920 ENRIQUE GARCIA GUITAR
One of the older items in the auction, this guitar is believed to be the handiwork of Spanish luthier Enrique Garcia who, in 1893, won first prize for one of his instruments at the Chicago World’s Fair and later set up shop in Barcelona.
8. 1970 RICKENBACKER MODEL 331LS “LIGHTSHOW” GUITAR
As the name suggests, this guitar is definitely a spectacle piece. It features colored lamps beneath a translucent top, which has wavy psychedelic patterns that would have fit in nicely on stage in the 1970s, or even today in the right hands.
9. IN COLD BLOOD GUITARS
This lot features two guitars: one was played by Robert Blake in the Oscar-nominated 1967 film based on Truman Capote's novel, In Cold Blood, and the other is the actual instrument that was owned by Perry Smith, the real-life murderer that Blake portrayed in the film.
10. IBANEZ GEORGE BENSON GB15 TEAM J CRAFT GUITAR
From George Benson’s personal collection, Guernsey’s says that this particular guitar is a “very high-end” version of the GB15 guitar that was made in Japan only in 2006. They believe that it was sponge-painted in gold so that it could “stand out on stage.” Mission accomplished.
All images via Guernsey's