Rare 1960s Gibson Guitar Sells for Over $180,000 to Joe Bonamassa

1960s Gibson guitar
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1960s Gibson guitar
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Photo Credit: Alison Clarke / CC by 2.0

After spending 25 years inside a British cupboard, a rare 1960s guitar has sold to an American musician for more than $180,000. Before having it appraised, the instrument’s former owner believed it was worth less than $10,000.

The guitar’s owner, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that her father had initially purchased the Gibson Les Paul Standard in 1967 for less than $100, inspired to learn to play after seeing Eric Clapton in London. He had since stopped playing, and the guitar gathered dust for 25 years in the family’s closet in Cheltenham, a town in Gloucestershire, England.

The woman had done some research herself but wanted to have the Gibson guitar appraised by a guitar enthusiast and brought it to ATB Guitars’ owner Mike Long.

“She’d been given the guitar to look after while he (her father) moved, and she was looking into adding to to her household insurance,” Long explained. “She wasn’t sure how much to value it and did a quick google search of the make and model and figured it’d be worth about £5,000. She decided that before she submitted the insurance application she would just get someone who knows what they’re doing to give a proper appraisal.”

“A couple of weeks later she came in and I had a look at it; I could pretty much recognize what it was,” Long continued. “We delved into it, did our due diligence and went back to her. I sort of said to her, I’ve got a bit of bad news that it is filthy unplayable, which it is. You couldn’t tune it up properly, and it was generally in quite a bad condition. Then I explained that the good news though was that when it was playable again it’d be worth about £175,000. It was certainly a bit of shock. She stood there in total stunned silence for a minute and her face just dropped in disbelief.”

Long agreed to restore and sell the guitar, saying it was the most valuable guitar he imagined he would ever have in his shop. However, he was surprised when award-winning American blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa contacted him. Bonamassa was playing the Royal Albert Hall in London when he heard about the guitar. He had his team contact Long to purchase it, even before its restoration.

“Joe was touring Europe at the moment and got in touch, so we brought it along to the Royal Albert Hall,” said Long. “He had a look at it, and we negotiated a payout for between £150,000 and £200,000. He’s going to take it to his studio in Nashville to be restored and plans to bring it touring with him in the future.”

As for the guitar’s previous owner, Long says she’s “very pleased with the outcome.”

“She’s even got some tickets to see Joe perform lined up,” Long added. “Possibly where he might even play the guitar.”