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An axe to die for – guitars at auction this December

Drummers, I’m sorry to say this, but in the grand scheme of things…nobody cares.

You’re instrument may be the glue that holds a band together, but when it comes to fan favourites, you’re last on the list.

I guess you all ready knew that; it’s an old adage that’s been bandied around since man first began hitting things with sticks.

Bassists, likewise. In the eyes of the adoring crowds, you are the drummer’s girlfriend, or a failed guitarist. Unless you have virtuosic slap-bass skills, you can take your place in that dark area at the back of the stage.

I’m sorry to bring you these truths. Even Paul McCartney – writer of some of the best-known bass lines in history – didn’t want to be a bassist.

Regardless of talent, we all know that it’s the guitarist that’s the coolest member of almost any band – next to the singer, that is. If you happen to do both, you’ve reached the pinnacle of performing prowess.

Its why guitars, signed or not, are some of the most sought after instruments by collectors. Everyone remembers Hendrix’s white Stratocaster, but can you remember the bass that Noel Redding was playing beside him at Woodstock? Thought not.

The double-necked Gibson played by Jimmy Page is something of rock legend, but Jon Paul Jones’ bass? Not a clue.

In December, the auction world will be hit with an influx of guitars played by the top axe-wielding heroes.

The most important of these is the Fender Stratocaster that Bob Dylan controversially played at Newport Folk Festival in 1965.

Dylan's use of an electric guitar caused outrage among folk purists

Dylan’s use of an electric guitar caused outrage among folk purists

The guitar is undoubtedly one of the most important pieces of music memorabilia, marking a pivotal moment in the career of perhaps the most celebrated songwriter of all time.

Also selling is Van Halen’s Frankenstrat, a custom made 1982 Kramer that was used throughout the 1982-1983 Diver Down Tour, and bears the scars of 1980s rock n’ roll excess to prove it. Instantly recognisable to anyone that plays, the Frankenstrat is nothing less than an icon.

The original Frankenstrat was handmade by Van Halen himself from two different guitars

The original Frankenstrat was handmade by Van Halen himself from two different guitars

With Deadheads still as dedicated to the California psych-rockers as ever, two almost identical guitars from the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia will appear at Bonhams and Julien’s Auctions just days apart from each other.

The guitar features a sticker that read, "There is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert".

The guitar features a sticker that read, “There is Nothing Like a Grateful Dead Concert”.

Garcia’s guitars are legendary, and there are no shortage of them to keep collectors interested. The two best-known examples, nicknamed Tiger and Wolf, sold for $957,500 and $789,500 respectively in 2002.

Comparatively, Ginger Baker’s drum kit, a fantastic piece from one of the top-rated and best loved drummers of all time, is valued at just $24,166-32,222 in the Bonhams auction. Sorry drummers, its nothing personal.

Elvis played the acoustic live on stage in Denver

Elvis played the acoustic live on stage in Denver

Completing the line-up of axes at auction this December is Elvis’ limited edition NBN acoustic guitar, which is selling for more than $50,000 at Heritage auctions.

Yet it looks like I spoke to soon on the bassist’s behalf…

One of Paul McCartney’s trademark Hofner basses is  also coming to auction with an estimate of $150,000-200,000; far more than most I’ve listed already.

The violin-shaped Hofner bass is McCartney's trademark instrument, yet there's no proof he ever played this example

The violin-shaped Hofner bass is McCartney’s trademark instrument, yet there’s no proof he ever played this example

But don’t get your hopes up just yet bassists, you’ve a lot of catching up to do before you can compete with a Beatle! On the plus side, whether drummer or bassist you are likely to be less egotistical and likely to live for longer than your limelight-loving guitarist – at least you can take comfort in that.

See our music memorabilia for sale, and take a look at our top five electric guitars at auction list.

Joe

PS, if any readers fancy buying me one of the these for Christmas, in thanks for my fascinating posts, I’ll take the Dylan Strat or Elvis Acoustic! Thanks!

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About paulfrasercollectibles

Expert opinion, news, views and interviews allowing you to collect and invest with confidence.

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