It’s no secret that many guitar-playing legends were born after picking up their first guitar. These musicians learned how to make unique chords and rhythmic sounds. The most loved guitarists are revered by millions. Consequently, most highly-valued guitars were owned by music icons. The famous guitars on this list fetched top dollar at their auctions. Keep reading to see how much collectors shelled out for some of the world’s most sought-after guitars. How many of these guitars do you recognize from photos and performances? We’ve got a particular Fender Stratocaster valued at over $2 million, the fate of Jimi Hendrix’s red Fender Mustang, and lots more!
The Most Expensive Guitar Ever Sold Helped People in Need
In 2004, the Reach Out to Asia telethon raised money for World Vision. The funds were slated to help victims of the Indian Ocean earthquake.
A white Fender Stratocaster was signed by numerous musical greats. Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, and Sting are included. Bryan Adams signed and helped arrange the auction. First, the royal family of Qatar bought it for a cool $1 million. To increase the guitar’s charity value, the Royals donated it back. During the second sale, this guitar sold for a whopping $2.7 million. Its total value was $3.7 million. What’s the second most expensive guitar ever sold? Keep reading.
The Wolf That Kept The Grateful Dead Trucking Along
The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia was a legend in his own time. He inspired millions of diehard Deadheads. Garcia often entertained fans while playing his beloved Wolf guitar, custom-made by Doug Irwin. Created in 1973, the Wolf is nicknamed after a sticker. Garcia placed a fun wolf sticker on the bottom section of its body. Garcia plays this guitar in the famous concert film The Grateful Dead Movie.
Irwin regained ownership of Wolf after Garcia’s death. Wolf was one of two Garcia guitars he sold at auction. Originally sold for $789,500, software executive Brian Halligan bought Wolf for $1.9 million.
Bob Dylan Went Electric and Blew People’s Minds
Bob Dylan became famous during the thriving early 1960s folk music scene. Folk musicians and fans appreciated the authentic sound of a strummed acoustic guitar. Most folk musicians shunned electric guitars. Yet, Dylan was open to trying new things, including playing electric guitars. His new electrified sound debuted at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.
While playing his 1964 Fender Stratocaster, the audience boos, and cheers. You can see this historic performance in documentaries featuring Dylan. Incredibly, Dylan left this guitar on a plane piloted by Victor Quinto. After its re-discovery, it sold for an impressive $965,000. He used the mad scientist method to create a new guitar. Keep reading.
He Created This “Frankenstein” Guitar in the Early ’70s
Every guitar player has a favorite guitar or two, including Eric Clapton. His absolute favorite was a guitar he created from the parts of other guitars. Clapton named his creation Blackie. Because of his fame, this guitar is among the most expensive ever sold.
“I feel that guitar has become a part of me…” Clapton said about Blackie in a 1985 interview. Like a mad scientist, Clapton assembled it from scratch. This black and white guitar uses parts from three vintage Fender Stratocasters. Clapton played Blackie while jamming with musical greats. Notes from Blackie mingled with guitar notes from Carlos Santana and Muddy Waters. The famous hybrid sold for $959,000.
Dedicated Deadheads Recognize This Classic Guitar
Fans loved following the Grateful Dead around the country back in the day. Countless fans witnessed Jerry Garcia playing his Tiger guitar with his band. He played this custom-made Doug Irwin guitar quite often. In fact, this unique guitar is the last one Garcia played in public. That poignant fact makes it more special for guitar collectors.
This stunning guitar has cool curves and angles. Like the Wolf, there’s a white tiger sticker on the bottom. Because of Garcia’s huge popularity with music fans, this guitar was highly valued. Collectors eagerly placed their bids, and the winner paid $957,500 for Tiger.
This Beauty Helped Clapton Say Goodbye
Eric Clapton owned many guitars in his early career. The Red 1964 Gibson ES-335 TDC was one of the standouts. Purchased in 1964, this guitar was played during his early band days. Clapton’s skill as a guitarist helped make the Yardbirds and Cream household names. Clapton let his Yardbird bandmate, Chris Dreja, play this Gibson during many performances.
Clapton favored Les Paul Gibsons but played his ES-335 for Cream’s farewell tour. You can hear its sound on songs from the band’s Goodbye album. A collector jumped at the chance to own this beauty. This piece of Clapton history sold for $847,500.
Two Beatles Played This Sleek Black and White Guitar
The Beatles earned their status as one of the greatest rock bands of all time. The Fab Four were also extremely talented musicians. Guitarists John, Paul, and George owned numerous guitars that they sometimes shared. George Harrison purchased a Rickenbacker guitar for his own use. This guitar is now known as the Lennon and Harrison 1962 Rickenbacker 425. He made the purchase while visiting his sister Louise in America. At that time, George was able to walk around Vernon, Illinois unrecognized.
Lennon was observed playing this Rickenbacker at a backstage show in 1963. Selling price: $657,000. This next guitar was a gift from the heart. Keep reading.
This Guitar Was a Sweet Birthday Gift
Blues and rock legend Stevie Ray Vaughan was strapped for cash. Vaughan couldn’t afford to purchase a cool Stratocaster guitar he wanted. The pawn shop was asking $350 for the brown guitar. Vaughan was forced to walk away disappointed. Luckily, he was married to a wonderful woman named Lenny.
She convinced some of Vaughan’s friends to chip in $50 each for a birthday gift. Lenny bought her husband’s dream guitar and surprised him at a nightclub performance. He named it after her and added his custom SRV signature. The collector who paid $623,500 for Lenny also got a bonus signature. On Lenny’s back is an authentic Mickey Mantle signature.
This Guitar Helped Inspire the Birth of The Beatles
It’s hard to imagine now, but Paul McCartney was once a guitar beginner. His first guitar was a Rex acoustic model. His friend Ian taught him a few chords and he practiced often. As a young teen, McCartney wanted to join a band. First, he had to get good enough at this guitar playing thing.
McCartney auditioned for John Lennon’s band The Quarrymen using his trusty Rex. The guitar lessons paid off because he was good enough to make the cut. The rest is rock n’ roll history. McCartney’s Rex starter guitar was snapped up by a collector for $615,203.
This Rejected Guitar Is Now a Hot Collector’s Item
Guitar makers have such high hopes for each new guitar model. In 1958, Gibson released the snazzy new Explorer model. The company probably expected it to be a big hit. Instead, it turned out to be a big ol’ flop. Fortunately, the company only produced 38 originals, so its losses were minimal.
In an unexpected twist, this guitar has become a hot collector’s item. Rockers such as Dave Grohl and James Hetfield are admirers. This new interest has skyrocketed the value of this once unwanted guitar. One of these rare guitars was auctioned in 2006. The final auction price was $611,000. Another guitar shared by Lennon and Harrison. Keep reading.
George and John Strummed Its Polished Cherry Body
This guitar’s gorgeous translucent cherry wood finish immediately stands out. The 1964 Gibson SG has baroque appeal. The design harkens back to the early days of rock music. George Harrison and John Lennon shared their affection for it.
You’ll hear the sweet sounds of this guitar whenever you listen to popular Beatles tunes. George plays it on Revolver album songs such as “Paperback Writer.” This 22 fret guitar has a wrap around whammy bar. It also features six tuners and Mother-of-Pearl inlays. Having one Beatle play this guitar is worth the $567,500 auction price. John Lennon playing it on White Album sessions adds historical value.
Burning This Guitar Made It (and Him) Famous
Fans who came to see Jimi Hendrix perform live at Finsbury Astoria were lucky. The London crowd was in for a special live entertainment treat. It was the last day of March in 1967. Hendrix was about to do something that would wow the crowd.
As his band jammed to their song “Fire,” Hendrix laid his guitar down on stage. In a flash, the 1965 Fender Stratocaster was on fire. This is the first time he did this mesmerizing stunt. Fortunately, his press officer saved the guitar’s charred remains. Years later, his nephew got a tidy sum of $560,000 for it. Guess how much one singing cowboy’s guitar sold for? Keep reading.
This Rare Guitar Was Loved by a Singing Cowboy
There was a time when singing cowboys were all the rage. For 1930s movie fans, the affable actor/singer Roy Rogers was their ultimate favorite. Dubbed “The King of Cowboys,” Rogers enjoyed huge success. Rogers entertained fans in movies, on the radio and on television. Fans saw Rogers as a clean-cut hero who always saved the day. He often sang about his escapades while strumming his Martin OM-45 guitar.
Owning a Roy Rogers acoustic guitar is a big deal. That’s why his deluxe model guitar sold for a rip-roaring $554,500. Not too shabby for a guitar originally purchased at a pawn shop for $30.
Top Musician Finds a Great Workhorse Guitar
Eric Clapton has owned numerous fine guitars over his decades-long career. One guitar holds a special place in his heart. He named this Fender Stratocaster Brownie, and he played it on famous hits. Brownie served Clapton’s musical abilities well as a backup guitar for Blackie. It’s Brownie’s beautiful notes you hear on the beloved hit song, Layla. That highly-regarded masterpiece features Clapton and Duane Allman, another great rock guitarist.
A collector bought the original Brownie for $497,500. Fender produced 100 replicas of this guitar, and they went for $15,000 each. Then there’s Jimi’s boldest guitar. Keep reading.
Bold Red Guitar for Two Bold Albums
The 1960s were a time of musical experimentation and innovation. Jimi Hendrix epitomizes the free-spirited musical creativity of that era. Hendrix owned many guitars, but only a few survive at top value. The rare status attached to these gems helps them fetch high auction prices. His 1966 Red Fender Mustang stands out among other guitars for its bold appearance.
The guitar’s red body has a splash of white on the front. The neck is made of light and dark woods. You can hear this guitar on his Axis: Bold as Love and Electric Ladyland albums. The new owner paid $490,000 for it.
Upstart Musician Borrowed This Guitar Before Things Got Crazy
Before Beatlemania hit, The Beatles were simply another hard-working band. George Harrison and the other lads landed a four concert gig. Harrison’s guitar was being repaired and he needed a backup. Money being tight, he popped into Barratts Music Store looking for options. He decided to borrow a 1963 Maton Mastersound MS500.
Harrison played this guitar during the band’s Jersey Islands concert dates. He liked this guitar enough to keep it a couple of months. He returned it to the store. While Harrison never owned this guitar, it has lots of sentimental value. It sold for a hefty $485,000. Should this guitar be in a museum? Keep reading.
So Beautiful It Belongs in a Museum
Guitar makers jump at the chance to create custom guitars for rock stars. Eric Clapton told Fender he wanted a custom guitar. He asked them to design one that would look great in a museum. Clapton’s request happened to coincide with Fender’s 50th anniversary. The guitar maker was more than happy to take on this challenge.
Guitar crafters John Luis Campo and Mark Kendrick co-created the Gold Leaf Fender Stratocaster. This stunning guitar has a body covered in 23-karat yellow gold plating. Clapton played this guitar at the 1997 Music for Montserrat concert. He also played it during other 1997 concert dates. A collector bought this one-of-a-kind Fender for $455,500.
This Guitar Sounds Great on the Ground or Rooftop
Fender chose a holiday month to present George Harrison with a gift. In December of 1968, Harrison received a handsome Fender Rosewood Telecaster. Master guitar maker Philip Kubicki spent hours sanding its body to perfection. The subtle finish gives it a distinguished look.
Fender flew this guitar to England and a courier hand-delivered it. Harrison used it for Get Back and Abbey Road recording sessions. Fans of the Let It Be movie may recognize this guitar. The Beatles filmed a one-time only rooftop concert at their Apple Studios headquarters. Harrison plays this guitar during the group’s last live concert for fans. A collector paid $434,750 to own it.
This Historical Guitar Has a Touch of Magic
Amazingly, there’s a third top-selling Lennon and Harrison guitar. In 1967, guitar maker Vox Kensington gave the Beatles a custom-made guitar. The upper body has a distinctive scroll design. The curvaceous lower body includes a fretboard made of rosewood. The single f-hole is also a nice touch.
At the time, the Beatles were composing and recording Magical Mystery Tour. Harrison used this guitar for practice. Lennon liked it enough to play it on the “Hello Goodbye” track. Lennon gifted the guitar to “Magic Alex” Mardas on his 25th birthday. Madras sold it for $210,347. It doubled in value, selling again for a cool $418,000. Jimi gave this next one to his brother. Keep reading.
Guitar Hero Gifts His Brother This Fine-Looking Fender
Leon Hendrix is five years younger than his famous brother, Jimi. Leon watched his brother’s rise to fame, witnessing the fruits of pure talent. Lots of young guys in 1968 dreamed of being a famous rock guitarist. Leon too had intentions of starting his own band. He asked big brother Jimi if he could spare a guitar. Jimi obliged by giving him a 1964 Fender Stratocaster.
Leon didn’t get around to starting a band until middle-age. Almost 50 years passed before he decided to sell his gift. The $385,917 final sale amount was considered low. Unfortunately, there wasn’t definitive proof that Jimi played it. Regardless, this Fender represents timeless brotherly love.
These guitars may be the most expensive in the world, but what about the guitars take shaped rock and roll history? The following iconic axes are almost as important as an extra band member and lent their unique sound and look to some of rock’s most talented icons.
Kurt Cobain’s Fender Jaguar
Nirvana completely changed modern rock music, so it’s not surprising that Kurt Cobain’s guitar is also an icon. In fact, one of his guitars was a hot-ticket item in Frances Bean Cobain’s divorce. The late star’s 1959 Martin D-18E, which he played in Nirvana’s iconic 1993 MTV Unplugged performance, was awarded to Frances’ ex-husband (a controversial move if you ask a music enthusiast.)
Though Cobain’s unplugged acoustic was undeniably worth a pretty penny, the artist was best known for his Fender Jag-Stang. This guitar, which Cobain designed himself by cutting together Polaroid photos, was a combination of the brand’s renowned Mustang and Jaguar. After Cobain’s passing, the baby blue model was given to R.E.M.’s Peter Buck. He played it in the video for the band’s single “What’s the Frequency Kenneth?”
Rick Nielsen’s Five-Neck Hamer
Leave it to Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen to master the most ridiculous of all custom guitars. The Five-Neck Hamer is the rat king of the guitar world (if you’re unfamiliar with rat kings – don’t look it up). Nielsen is a true showman who had enough cash to blow on three custom five necks — the equivalent of 15 guitars – thanks to Cheap Trick’s success. The original, which had a smooth orange finish, was built in 1981 and currently lives on the wall of Nielsen’s restaurant, but it’s hard to ignore the checkboard model as the epitome of ’80s absurdity.
“The original concept was to have a six-neck that spun like a roulette wheel, so that I could play one neck and then rotate to the next, but then I decided to go with something more conservative—five necks in a row,” said Nielsen.
Randy Rhoads’ Polka Dot V
We’re not saying the Polka Dot V is the most iconic guitar of all time, but it may just be the most iconic guitar of all time. Rhoads was known for playing flying Vs. He had both the Jackson Rhoads “Concorde” and the Karl Sandoval “Polka Dot V,” and it’s impossible to say which is the most famous.
As far as iconic guitars go, Rhoads ended up recording Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” with the Polka Dot V. Because of its contribution to heavy metal history, this one might take the cake (or the bat head, depending on which you think would make a better snack.)
Prince was always known for his unique style. The master of funk and soul created a custom guitar, dubbed the “Cloud,” to suit his unique style — it was marked by an extended curved edge. The original model of the guitar was crafted by Andy Beech, a local Minneapolis luthier, and later reproduced by the iconic guitar brand Schechter. Prince played the ax throughout the ’80s and ’90s, including in his famed Purple Rain movie.
In 2017, one of Prince’s custom “Cloud” guitars sold for a whopping $700,000. It’s the highest price that has ever been paid for one of the singer’s guitars and the auction house originally thought it’d go for around $70,000. Apparently, it was a little more iconic than they originally thought.
Prince’s Love Symbol Guitar
In the mid-’90s, Prince changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol. This power move came after he found a contractual loophole that would get him out of his deal with Warner Bros. Amidst the rebranding, Prince adopted a brand new guitar.
Much like the Cloud, Prince’s Symbol guitar was crafted by Andy Beech. Beech designed 31 guitars for the pop icon, but the Love Symbol guitar was estimated to bring in nearly $1 million at auction. Throughout the ’90s, the artist had various models of the Love Symbol guitar including a shimmery gold version and one in his signature purple.
Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstrat
Eddie Van Halen strived for the sound of a Gibson with the sleek body of a Fender Strat, but such a thing didn’t exist on the market. Instead, he built his Frankenstrat himself. Van Halen purchased the Strat body for $50 – a major discount because it had a knot in the wood. He then modified the pickup routing to fit a Gibson PAF humbucking bridge pickup.
For those of us who aren’t guitar enthusiasts and don’t know much about the nuances in sound, the signature paint job is the Frankenstrat’s standout feature. It’s got a Jackson Pollack-inspired spattering of red, white and black.
Bo Diddley’s Twang Machine
Guitars are usually marked by their curves (which undeniably mimic the beauty of the female form), but not Bo Diddley’s. Bo is largely credited with taking the blues of yesteryear and transforming it into modern day rock and roll. His syncopated use of rhythm was dubbed the Bo Diddley Beat. Needless to say, his collection of guitars was also legendary.
Diddley was passionate about custom-made guitars and his cigar-box shaped “Twang Machine” was perhaps the most famous. The guitar was crafted by Diddley himself after he suffered from a stage accident that left him with an injured groin.
Jimi Hendrix’s Monterey Fender Strat
To this day, the Fender Stratocaster remains one of the brand’s most popular models. A huge chunk of its icon status can be attributed to Jimi Hendrix, who famously shredded on the guitar at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 – but that’s not all he did. His performance was fire, literally.
The famed guitarist was closing out his set with “Wild Thing” when he knelt next to his Strat and lit it on fire. There’s nothing quite like DIY pyrotechnics to get the crowd pumped. The moment (and the guitar) went down in rock and roll history.
Brian May’s Red Special
Obviously, the guitar that helped pen Queen’s epic hit “Bohemian Rhapsody” deserves a spot in rock and roll infamy. Queen guitarist Brian May’s Red Special is a homemade guitar that managed to leave its hometown and become world-renowned – a feat for something that isn’t a Gibson or Fender.
May built the guitar from scratch with his dad. He used an old oak table and part of a weathered fireplace mantle to create the body and neck. The guitar has been kicking around for more than 54 years. It was restored in 1998 and again in 2005 and is still May’s main ax to this day.
Gene Simmons’ Axe Bass
Kiss was known for their wild stage costumes and general debauchery – but what’s a costume without a sick guitar? Gene Simmons’ Axe Bass was a strong stage perspective, and something he stuck with throughout his career. The Axe was a rather brilliant tongue-in-cheek interpretation of a slang term for a guitar (even though you know Simmons’ tongue hardly ever stays in his mouth).
Simmons’ original Axe Bass was crafted by luthier Steve Carr and licensed to Cara Guitars. This means you’re able to buy the famous Axe on the company’s website. All you need is about $5,000. Iconic guitars aren’t cheap!
Jimmy Page’s Double Neck Gibson
There are few guitar licks as iconic as the one in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Even today, you can pretty much hear the riff echoing throughout every guitar shop in America (much to the disdain of overworked Guitar Center employees.) With every iconic song comes an iconic guitar, and Jimmy Page’s double-neck Gibson EDS-1275 does not disappoint.
The double neck guitar allowed Page to simultaneously use a 12-string and 6-string guitar (one neck was on the top and the other was on the bottom.) It allowed this real-life guitar hero to effortlessly switch back and forth, which helped form the song’s epic sound.
George Harrison’s Rickenbacker
George Harrison may be well known for playing a Gretsch, but the former Beatles’ 1963 Rickenbacker 12-string is his most famous guitar. Back in the ’60s, Rickenbacker already had more than 30 years of history. They gifted Harrison the 12-string for the group’s very first U.S. tour – but its icon status was all happenstance.
In many ways, Harrison’s Rickenbacker is a symbol of the British invasion, which changed modern rock music, but he didn’t pick the guitar himself. Harrison was sick in bed at the Plaza hotel when his bandmates were shown various Rickenbacker models. Lennon passed on the 12-string and gave it to Harrison instead, who completely fell in love.
Paul McCartney’s Hofner Bass
If there’s one image of the Beatles that will forever be cemented in rock and roll history, it’s Paul McCartney holding his iconic violin-shaped Hofner bass over his head like a sword during their Shea Stadium performance. It was later dubbed “the Beatle Bass,” but McCartney didn’t always play this iconic instrument.
In the early ’60s, McCartney played a Rosetti 7 bass upside down in order to convert it into a left-handed instrument. It looked undeniably awkward. He encountered the violin-shaped bass while the band were apprentices in Hamburg, Germany and fell in love with the symmetrical look. McCartney claimed the symmetrical body made playing left-handed look “less daft.” He wasn’t wrong.
Neil Young’s Old Black
Throughout his career, Neil Young has been nominated for a whopping 26 Grammy awards. His singles like “Harvest Moon,” a 1994 banger, are still played on the radio today. Young’s guitar is almost as iconic as his music because he’s stuck with it throughout his entire decades-long career. Old Black, as it’s been affectionately dubbed, has been with the singer-songwriter for nearly 50 years since he won it in a trade with Jim Messina from Buffalo Springfield.
Young has played Old Black on almost every album since Everybody Knows This Is No Where was recorded in 1969. Through repairs and modifications, this 1953 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop was built to last.
St. Vincent’s Sterling Music Man
As one of the few female guitarists to gain worldwide-fame, St. Vincent’s Ernie Ball Music Man will go down in history. The unique guitar uses a couple of different woods for its signature look and sound – African mahogany, maple, and rosewood or ebony (for the fretboard.) It’s complete with three Dimarzio mini-humbuckers (which help craft St. Vincent’s fuzzy brand of indie rock) and custom inlays.
Ernie Ball currently touts the singer’s signature model as the “Shape of the Revolution.” Perhaps this revolution involves a world where instrument companies champion female talent, even if Jack White used the instrument during a recent performance on SNL.
B.B. King’s Lucille
B.B. King’s iconic Gibson wasn’t always a valuable guitar. In fact, it was worth just $30 when he got it. In 1949, King was hanging around a dancehall when a fire was started by two men who were fighting over a woman. The famed blues musician pulled the cheap guitar from the burning wreckage and named it after the woman who sparked the argument. Her name was Lucille.
King names each of his guitars – a variety of Gibsons and Telecasters – but in the ’80s, this became his signature model. Gibson became manufacturing the “Lucille” as a combination between their hollow and solid body ES-355.
Tony Iommi’s Old Boy
Iommi’s Old Boy was crafted in 1975 by luthier John Diggins. He used the ax to slay Black Sabbath’s “Heaven and Hell,” as well as a number of their most famous LPs. This guitar may be his most famous, but it’s not his most used.
The Old Boy – a Jaydee Custom SG – isn’t even Tony Iommi’s main guitar. He opts to use a Gibson SG “Monkey” for his main rig, but the crosses on the fretboard and the faded black and red paint make this an iconic relic of hard rock history. When you think of Iommi, you think of him slaying the cross-clad frets.
Angus Young’s Jaydee SG
There’s a reason SGs are one of the most iconic guitars of all time. Yeah, they’re versatile, but man do they rip. As the weapon of choice for a bevy of rockers – from Tony Iommi to AC/DC’s Angus Young – this is undeniably Gibson’s most popular model.
Like Iommi, Angus Young preferred his custom Jaydee Custom SG to his Gibson SG Standard. Can you really blame him? The lightning bolts on the fretboard will go down in history as one of the greatest lessons in rock and roll branding. Today, when you think of Young, you think of two things: a schoolboy uniform and a lightning-bolt fretboard SG.
Jerry Garcia’s Tiger
Jerry Garcia’s “Tiger” wasn’t just his guitar of choice – it was the ax he played on his very last concert. The guitar, which Garcia played for more than 10 years, was built by Sonoma-based luthier Doug Irwin, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Garcia’s guitar was heavy. The body, which was comprised of several layers of laminated wood, weighed over 13 pounds.
This guitar almost missed out on its iconic status. If it wasn’t for the fact that Garcia’s second rig, an Irwin-crafted ax called Rosebud, was in major need for repairs during the summer of 1995, Garcia wouldn’t have played the Tiger for his last gig.
Keith Richards’ Micawber
The Rolling Stones undeniably shaped modern rock and roll with hits like “Brown Sugar” and “Honkey Tonk Women.” Without riff-master Keith Richards’ famed guitar, almost none of it would be possible.
Richards’ Micawber was actually a birthday gift from Eric Clapton. The guitarist received the ax on his 27th birthday before beginning work on Exile on Main Street. The 1950s-era Telecaster had the sixth string removed and was tuned to open G which helped craft the Stones’ signature sound. To make things even more unique, Richards flipped the humbucker pickup backward, which gave it some extra bite.