Want to Play Les Paul’s Electric Guitar? It’ll Cost You

The “Number One” guitar—the earliest model of the iconic Gibson Les Paul electric guitar —will go up for auction on October 13 at Christie’s in New York City.

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Paul was a Grammy Award-winning musician and a pioneering inventor responsible for several milestone developments of the modern music industry including multitrack recording and solid-body electric guitar. Most notable of these contributions is “Number One” which set the standard of electric guitar construction and spurred a rapid evolution from acoustic music. The artist’s dexterity was recognized when he made history as the only person to have been inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

This critical artifact of the earliest roots of rock and roll dates back to the early 1950s as acoustic guitars were fading from the scene. Paul joined forces with Gibson to produce a solid-body electric guitar that would change the landscape of modern music. Paul’s son, Gene is working through Christie’s to sell the heirloom. “I’d have to say, what’s the Wright brother’s first plane worth? What’s Thomas Edison’s first light bulb worth? The Paul guitar, the Les Paul Number One, was his crowning achievement,” Gene shared in a statement, reported by Reuters.

Played and endorsed by legends like Pete Townshend, Duane Allman, Paul McCartney, and Keith Richards, the original guitar is estimated to be worth between $100,000 and $150,000 according to Christie’s.

By the early ‘60s, the famed Gibson Les Paul electric guitar was an essential element to every band in the rock arena and beyond. According to Gene, the fact that the instrument could be turned up to its full volume, plugged into a 100-Watt amp stack amplifier, and create a distortion that, even at its highest level is still controllable, made it “the perfect rock and roll machine.”

Les Paul’s ‘Number One’ photographed at Christie’s in New York City | Photo Credit: Eleanor Jane

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