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3 Acoustic Guitars That Were Sold at Astronomical Prices

Guest Blog

Some guitars gain notoriety because of the price at which they were sold. Even the best top-tier acoustic guitars would seem like a bargain compared to some very special acoustic models sold at auction. Yep, today we’re taking a look at three acoustic guitars that are distinguished for their provenance, history, famous owners, their estimated value and the price the new owners paid for just to have them in their collection.

1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe, sold for $554,500

C.F. Martin & Co. is one of the oldest guitar manufacturers in the United States. Martin has been building quality instruments since 1833 and is popular for its steel-string acoustic guitars. Martin guitars are definitely some of the world’s finest - and most expensive.

One of its guitars has gained renown for being sold at a Christie’s auction at a staggering price of $554,500 in 2009. This is more than twice its estimated price, which was set at $150,000-$250,000.

The guitar that we’re talking about is the OM-45 Deluxe that was built in 1930. Apart from the fact that it’s a really old guitar, it’s also one of only 14 that were ever made that year. Many regard this model as the company’s most beautiful, most valuable and definitely most collectible.

The original owner of this particular Martin OM-45 Deluxe was American singer and actor Roy Rogers, dubbed as the “King of the Cowboys.”

Roy Rogers

Another OM-45 Deluxe was sold for $366,000 at a Guernsey’s auction in 2014.


1939 Martin OOO-42, sold for $791,500

When a guitar has been in the hands of one Eric Clapton, you can be pretty sure its value has multiplied a thousandfold.

The combination of the year the guitar was manufactured and the reputation of the person who played it is what makes a particular 1939 Martin OOO-42 one of the most valuable acoustics in the world.

Clapton used this guitar in his historic MTV Unplugged appearance. This was also the guitar he used to play the early versions of hits such as ‘Lonely Stranger’ and My Father’s Eyes,’ as well as the acoustic version of the song with one of the best intro riffs ever, ‘Layla.’ This guitar also served as Clapton’s main stage acoustic during the Far Eastern Tour in 1997 and the first leg of the 1998 Pilgrim US Tour.

The guitar sold for $791,500 at a Christie’s auction in 2004.


1962 Gibson J-160E Acoustic-Electric, sold for $2.41 million

On Sept. 10, 1962, a fellow named Brian entered a Liverpool instrument shop called Rushworth’s Music House. He bought two nearly identical 1962 Gibson J-160E acoustic-electric guitars, which cost £161.05 (about $450 then) each. He then gave these to two young men named John and George.

In 2015, John’s 1962 Gibson J-160E sold for a record-breaking $2.41 million in a Julien’s auction. It sold for three times its estimated price of $800,000.

What makes this guitar so special? Well, it was used to compose the songs “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “She Loves You,” “All My Loving” and “I Saw Her Standing There.”

That’s right, this guitar belonged to John Lennon. It was purchased for him by Brian Epstein, who managed their little band called The Beatles. Interestingly, Lennon was only able to use it for a short period. A roadie accidentally left it behind at a concert venue in 1963.

Lennon’s guitar eventually found its way to a pawnshop and through a couple of different hands until the last owner learned what the guitar really was: the lost John Lennon guitar. He then realized that he couldn’t keep the guitar - it had become “too big” for him, so off to auction it went.

The proceeds of the sale were split between the seller and Yoko Ono, Lennon’s widow, who donated her share to the Spirit Foundation.

As a side note, another Lennon acoustic - his very first guitar - also fetched a high price at a Sotheby's auction in 1999. It sold for $244,384.

And what about George’s guitar? George, of course, is George Harrison. His 1962 Gibson J160-E is still owned by his estate, and we don’t suppose it will be auctioned off anytime soon.

(Special thanks for this Guest Blog goes to knowyourinstrument.com)


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