Not a modern Stradivarius – but it’s sure priced like one!


I have to admit, I boggled when I saw this auction posted on MeWe (courtesy of novelist and friend Michael Z. Williamson).


CURRENT BID: $200,000(4 bids)
ESTIMATE: $200,000 – $300,000
STARTING: $50,000

There’s more at the link.

I’m not a musician, just a music lover:  but for the life of me, I can’t understand why someone would pay so vast a sum for a guitar that just happens to have been played by a skilled and well-known musician.  If the instrument itself had some particular value (like, for example, a very rare Stradivarius violin, or an instrument used on a particularly famous occasion and therefore having historical importance), I could understand the price.  However, this one, while customized for Lifeson, is basically a standard unit like thousands of others, with only a few special features to distinguish it.  Anyone could have built a guitar just like it, and still can by retrofitting others from the same production line.  I just don’t get it.  (On the other hand, I also don’t get people who pay a premium for a house that’s been lived in by a famous person, or the car that they drove, or the clothes that they wore.  I mean – a pair of shoes worn [and signed] by actor Michael Douglas while he played the role of Liberace sold for over $1,500.  Are you kidding me?  That price for used shoes???)

Clearly, I’m out of touch with the consumer society . . . for which my wife is doubtless very thankful!



  1. There are a lot of people in this country who have a lot of money. Look at the price of collector cars and guns. That money may represent an original investment of $1500 in Apple stock 20 years ago, so the value of the money is not as if the bidder has worked overtime on two jobs to scrape up the cash. The investor class has done very well, though that may be changing with the current administration.

  2. What do you think BB Kings "Lucille" is worth? Or similar Clapton guitar?

    200k for Lifesons? I'm Rush fan since 2112( the album) but not 200k level. Maybe 50k for that one from me.

  3. "…Are you kidding me? That price for used shoes???)"
    At the current rate of inflation, that'll be the price for a cheap pair of sneakers tomarrow.

  4. You haven't really hit the most bizarre category of overpriced guitars: they make reissues. That's a just-produced version of a popular guitar. A new Gibson Les Paul may cost $2500. A new Gibson reissue of a 1958 Les Paul will be double to triple that.

    The most expensive ones are the ones that are supposed to be copies of a Famous Dude's guitar, and the ones called "aged" come complete from the factory with the finish already scuffed up or scraped off to bare wood to simulate being mishandled while on tour.

    No need to worry about scratching the finish on your new guitar. You can pay them a few thousand to scratch it up for you.

  5. The collectibles market has really picked up recently, historical items from the Civil War, Revolution, space flown items, certain books are categories I've followed and seen crazy prices in. There are other categories as well.
    Along with the stock and housing markets, this says to me we're in a bubble.

  6. You never thought about having something with a connection to someone else? Just one degree removed? Like what if you knew that a particular Torah scroll was held and read from by Jesus Himself while He was on earth? What would it be worth to you to just stand there and hold in your hands something He held in His hands?

    That's what it is for a lot of people and folks they admire. I think it's a bit like that animist faith you talked about in Africa. Myself? I have a very old quill and inkwell on my desk that was used by my grandparents. Probably worth less than nothing on the market, but for me and the connection to my family, it's priceless.

  7. For whatever reason (probably my browsing history), I've seen multiple recommendations for videos, articles, etc. about the Elmer Keith #5 Colt. Apparently it has fetched close to (or over, depending on which auction) $100,000. Wow. Now I wouldn't mind owning it, even though I'd never spend $100 large on anything short of a house, but in reality I'd much rather spend a more modest sum on an exact replica, built to the same level of quality, that I can actually take out and shoot on occasion.

    When I see mint condition antique cars, as another example, at the auction, I know it's just one collector rolling it off a transportation truck and selling it to another collector who rolls it onto another transportation truck. The car sits in air-conditioned storage and is never, ever, not even once, started up or driven. Who'd risk a quarter-million dollar Hemi Cuda in Houston traffic? So yeah, I'd rather have a beater I can drive and enjoy, not an art piece.


  8. I think the perceived value in this — to the bidders — is a blend of both the physical artifact and the "NFT" that is so casually mentioned at the end of the description. There's more detail in the linked ad:

    "A 360° digital representation of the 1976 "Whitey" Gibson ES 355TD Custom Electric Guitar, this exclusive NFT (Non Fungible Token) is a 1 of 1 Edition and includes the physical guitar. The item is brought to life in an even more personal way through Alex Lifeson's exclusive audio narration, which is minted as part of this NFT. An NFT is a unique and non interchangeable unit of data stored on the blockchain. The winner of this item will share in the exclusivity of Rush history as the sole owner of the NFT."

    Some are convinced that NFT's can be an 'investment' as a security — a tradable financial asset; I'm not convinced that they'll have long-term impact except as failed speculative investments that will be a subsection in encyclopedia articles on ponzi schemes and bubbles.

  9. SiGraybeard, I used to think the same as you – until I played a one of those reliced guitars.
    They often sound fantastic and play well due to being made with better woods, better pickups, and better craftsman building the guitars. I recently acquired a Murphy Lab ‘57 Les Paul Custom, yes 3x the price you mentioned for new, after picking one up in the store and loving the sound and feel of the guitar. Thankfully I had some guitar equity to trade in. Took it to a gig that night – it sounded fantastic and practically played itself (I had spent many hours on a ‘75 LPC until 1978 when I switched to other guitars.)
    Also, banging up a guitar has been known to make them sound better. I have a ‘94 Tele that just never sounded right until my strap came loose one night the guitar fell and hit my mic stand. It took a little chunk out of the body, and it’s sounded better ever since. 🙂
    I recall a Stephen Stills interview in Guitar Player long ago, where one of his favorite Martin guitars had been in Vietnam – the only item in a soldier’s tent that had survived a hand grenade explosion. It must’ve been in its case, but still would’ve received quite a shock.

  10. When SHTF, as it is already doing, anything "luxurious" or "valuable" that doesn't function to prolong or defend one's life will be worthless. The prices we see today for such "collectibles" are in the last, frenzied spiral of the bubble. In the Weimar Republic, formerly rich people sold their priceless antique furniture and art for food.

    I do not look forward to the day when I can buy a Lowden for half a pig's worth of meat.But if it comes, I'll make that deal.

  11. "A Fender Shop Custom Shop Stratocaster, which was owned and played by electric guitar legend Eric Clapton during his 2014 World Tour and 2015 Slowhand at 70 show at the iconic Royal Albert Hall, has been sold at auction for $220,308.May 18, 2021"

    Clapton sells his and other rock and roll guitarist axes to raise money for drug treatment. He's been doing it for quite awhile.

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