Paul Bigsby's last guitar could fetch $400,000 at Heritage

Nathan Parke

Nathan Parke

2015-10-16 08:34:12

The last electric guitar ever built by pioneering instrument maker Paul Bigsby will be offered for sale at Heritage later this month.

The 1956 Bigsby natural solid body electric guitar will be amongst the highlights of the Heritage Vintage Guitars & Musical Instruments Signature Auction in Beverly Hills on Saturday October 24.

During the 1940s Bigsby built a series of steel and electric guitars for country musicians, which are believed to have influenced Leo fender's famous Telecaster guitars. He also famously invented the tremolo arm, which has appeared on electric guitars ever since and changed the sound of rock and roll forever.

The guitar sold at Heritage had been built for the renowned Louisiana guitarist Luke Charpentier, Jr., who collaborated with Bigsby to produce his last and perhaps finest instrument. Paul even signed the guitar with a red dot above the "i" in Bigsby, to signify a stop sign – the end of his guitar-making career.

“It’s no overstatement that this is one of the most important vintage musical instruments in the world,” said Isaiah Evans, Operations Manager of Vintage Guitars at Heritage Auctions.

“It’s impeccably provenanced and represents a true period in the development of the electric guitar as a cultural object and a cultural milestone. What’s perhaps even more amazing is that the instrument has survived in all original condition."

The guitar will be offered along with all the original correspondence between Bigsby and Charpentier, including handwritten letters, cancelled checks and railroad delivery receipts, and is expected to sell for $400,000+.

The sale will also feature the 1963 Fender Telecaster guitar played by Mike Bloomfield at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, as part of Bob Dylan's now-legendary 'electric' backing band. Described as "the guitar that killed folk", Bloomfield's guitar from the iconic performance is expected to sell for $60,000+.

Further highlights include several instruments owned by the celebrated guitarist Danny Gatton, such as a 1953 Fender Telecaster Blonde guitar estimated at $100,000+; a 1961 Gibson Les Paul Custom Black guitar valued at $65,000+; and a 1991 Fender Telecaster Prototype Copper guitar priced at $25,000+.

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