There's no doubt that the guitar world holds many rock icons in high regard, and would give just about anything to own part of their history. Case and point, last year, Kurt Cobain's acoustic guitar from Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance set a record at auction, selling for more than $6 million. Before that, it was Cobain, again, with his blue Fender Mustang from the Smells like Teen Spirit music video that netted $4.6 million.

While there are many iconic people who played these guitars that make the exceptionally valuable, you can't overlook the types of guitars, and the companies that made them so well, that rock legends chose them to play. For instance, Gibson, which was at one time located in Kalamazoo, was the preferred guitar brand for a number of legends. And now, those guitars are among the most expensive in the world, including one that doesn't even have a rock star tied to it!

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Rock and Roll Legends' and their Gibsons

Of the 22 most expensive guitars in the world, 7 of them are Gibsons, and likely all initially made and manufactured right here in Kalamazoo. Eric Clapton boasts the most on this list, starting wit his 1964 Gibson ES-335, which sold for nearly $850,000. While he often chose Martins for his acoustics, Clapton's electric models go for much higher amounts for obvious reasons.

For example, his custom painted "The Fool" Gibson SG from 1964 sold for $1.27 million in 2023. The guitar itself came off the line with a standard finish, but it's the artwork by a Dutch art collective that not only gave it it's name, but also it's value.

But it wasn't just Americans who loved Gibson. Keith Richards made his debut with the Rolling Stones on the Ed Sullivan Show playing a 1959 Les Paul, which has recently sold for $1 million. And honestly, that's a bargain, considering any standard 1959 Les Paul would still sell for somewhere in the six-figure range.

Keith Richards Les Paul
CBS,Getty Images

And even one of the biggest rock bands of all time, the Beatles, liked to play on the Michigan-Made Gibson model. John Lennon's Gibson J-160E Acoustic-Electric guitar sold for $2.4 million in 2015. Somehow it ended up in a pawn shop in San Diego in 1967, and was later authenticated.

Gibson made HUGE strides to be one of the best guitar companies in the world, and still, to this day, provide quality products, even if they aren't made in Kalamazoo anymore.

But there's one guitar that Gibson made that had NO affiliation with any rock star, and still made the most expensive list.

Gibson's True Most Expensive Guitar

In 1958, Gibson created an Explorer made from a wood know as "korina," and was sold for $1.1 million in London at Denmark Street Guitars.

Gibson Most Expensive Guitar

It was "the ultimate guitar," and only 10 were ever made. Collectors claim that some of "rock's biggest names" own the guitars to this day, but nobody openly has been seen playing them. Though, if you wanna try and look cool, Epiphone makes a replica that can be bought for around $600.

Which one of the most expensive guitars is your favorite, and was it a Gibson?

22 Most Expensive Guitars of All Time

Here are the 22 most expensive guitars of all time ever sold at auction. Indeed, these axes are the cream of the crop when it comes to expensive rock star guitars.

Gallery Credit: Philip Trapp

The Guitars Used by the Most Legendary Guitarists

These are the guitars used by guitar legends.

Gallery Credit: Lauryn Schaffner

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