“When the debris was removed, these 10 guitars were the only items that remained, making them some of the most valuable and unique pieces of history.”

“When the debris was removed, these 10 guitars were the only items that remained, making them some of the most valuable and unique pieces of history.”

Prince: Symbol

Prince was a source of both elation and dread for a guitar maker – his extraordinary talent was matched only by his tendency to fling guitars around for stage hands to catch during his awe-inspiring 2004 tribute to George Harrison. The “Cloud” model used in Purple Rain, crafted by Dave Rusan, is just as effortlessly alluring as the man who played it, featuring a beautiful spiral design around the jack and a horn protruding from the body, culminating in its own spiral. But perhaps the most iconic guitar of all is the one crafted by Andy Beech in the shape of Prince’s signature squiggle. Playing Purple Rain on this guitar, in the midst of a rainstorm, transformed the 2007 Super Bowl into a mythical Arthurian setting, with the guitar serving as Prince’s sword or, as some interpreted it, his phallus.

Neil Young’s personalized 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, known as “Old Black.”

In 1968, Young exchanged guitars with Buffalo Springfield bassist Jim Messina and has stuck with that instrument ever since. It’s easy to see why punks resonated with Young and vice versa – there’s a straightforwardness and authenticity to his commitment to one instrument, with the black lacquer gradually wearing away from endless Cortez the Killer solos. While Old Black has undergone significant modifications, such as the addition of a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece, it assists Young in achieving those bending and groaning notes.

Neil Young holding Old Black.View image in fullscreen

Billy Gibbons owns a 1959 Gibson Les Paul guitar, also known as “Pearly Gates.”

One of the enduring love stories in rock music is between the ZZ Top guitarist and a guitar he acquired in 1968. He had loaned his car to an aspiring actor traveling from Houston to Hollywood, who landed a role in a movie: “We believed that the car had some sort of divine connection, so we named it Pearly Gates,” he recalled. The car was eventually sold, and the money – now blessed with good fortune – ended up in Gibbons’ hands, allowing him to purchase a 1959 Les Paul from a rancher. “Inside the guitar case was a love letter, which we still have, from the original owner’s girlfriend,” Gibbons recounted. “She wrote, ‘I admire your talent. Let’s meet later. You might like what I can offer.’ This guitar has been responsible for some of the most powerful rock riffs.”

Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin performing in 1975.View image in fullscreen

Jimmy Page is known for playing a Gibson EDS-1275 with two necks.

The guitarist of Led Zeppelin also used a 1959 Les Paul, which was purchased from Joe Walsh of the Eagles, after Page expressed a desire for a guitar with more power. But even more impressive was his Gibson EDS-1275, with a top neck of 12 strings and a lower neck of six strings, perfect for achieving the ultimate in confident and over-the-top rock star antics. This allowed him to play Stairway to Heaven, which was originally recorded on a Fender Telecaster and a Fender electric 12-string, as well as an acoustic guitar, without having to switch instruments during live performances.

Gibson L-30, also known as Lucille, was used by the legendary musician BB King.

The famous blues musician became closely associated with the Gibson ES-355, an incredibly curvy guitar that showcased his powerful and piercing sound on stage ZZ. However, it was a Gibson L-30 acoustic guitar that played a crucial role in the origin story of his rise to fame. King was performing in a dance hall in Twist, Arkansas, when a fire broke out due to a fight between two men over a woman named Lucille. The fire was caused by a barrel of fuel that the men had knocked over while heating the building. Despite the danger, King bravely went back into the fire to save his guitar. From then on, all of his guitars were named Lucille, and in 1980, Gibson released a special edition ES-355 in honor of this iconic name.

Joni Mitchell in 1969.View image in fullscreen

Joni Mitchell’s guitar is a 1956 Martin D-28.

Heard on classics such as Blue and For the Roses, this was Mitchell’s first acoustic guitar, and her most loved. She acquired it from a US marine stationed in Fort Bragg, who had taken it with him to Vietnam, where it was caught up in an explosion. “When they cleared the wreckage, all that survived was this guitar,” Mitchell later recalled. “I don’t know whether the explosion did something to the modules in the wood, but that guitar was a troyper, man.” Having survived that, it suffered at the hands of an airline luggage handler. Mitchell said of her next guitar: “I carry it on board with me, because I won’t take a chance on it. I won’t let it go into the hold and get mushed like my beloved.”


Bo Diddley’s signature guitar is the Gretsch G6138 Bo.

Diddley, frustrated by guitars hindering his ability to move freely on stage, took matters into his own hands and began designing his own instruments. One of his most notable creations is the Jupiter Thunderbird, a trapezoid-shaped guitar designed to prevent any accidental entanglements with wandering knees. Its unique appearance resembles a 1950s spaceship or a relaxed rockstar with one shoulder dropped. Another one of Diddley’s innovations is the fur-covered guitar featured on the cover of his album Bo Diddley Is a Lover. However, his most iconic instrument is the red rectangular guitar, reminiscent of the ones he made using cigar boxes and parts from Victrola turntables. Originally custom-built by Gretsch in 1958, a modern version can be purchased for $2,700.

Elizabeth Cotten: Martin Auditorium Orchestra #000-18

This acoustic guitar, once belonging to Cotten, is now housed in the National Museum of American History. Despite its unassuming appearance, it played a significant role in shaping folk and blues music. As a left-handed player who could not afford to replace the strings on her brother’s banjo, Cotten learned to play the guitar upside down and carried this unique style over from the banjo. She used her fingers to play basslines and her thumbs for melodies, resulting in what writer Daphne A Brooks refers to as “the sound of a Black girl’s life”.

Willie Nelson with “Trigger”.

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Willie Nelson’s guitar, the Martin N-20, is also known as “Trigger”.

In 1969, a intoxicated individual accidentally stepped on Nelson’s guitar. Surprisingly, this incident turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the new guitar became one of the most iconic and cherished instruments in the history of music. The guitar was named Trigger, after the horse ridden by famous cowboy actor Roy Rogers. Nelson even referred to it as his own horse. Over time, Trigger has become worn and well-loved, like a beloved book that has been read countless times. There is a noticeable hole above the bridge, alongside the traditional soundhole, and the frets have become wavy from the pressure of many fingers playing over the years.

Kirk Hammett owns a 1979 Flying V Gibson guitar.

In 1958, Gibson designed the Flying V, which had a charming, futuristic appearance similar to Atomic Age and Googie styles. In the late 70s, Kirk Hammett from Metallica transformed its image, evoking the image of a powerful weapon being thrown through stormy skies by a Norse deity seeking revenge. Its sleek design leaves the fretboard exposed, making it perfect for playing devilish riffs, and hence, it became a popular choice among various thrash metal musicians.

Source: theguardian.com