Auction shows instruments are in tune with collectors' wants

A mix of more than 500 instruments ranging from banjos to ukuleles bring $1 million at auction.
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By Susan Sliwicki

Gibson Sunburst Archtop electric guitar

This 1957 Gibson Sunburst Archtop electric guitar sold for $16,132.50 at a Heritage Auction Galleries event.

A 1957 Gibson Sunburst Archtop electric guitar drew top honors at Heritage Auction Galleries’ July Signature Guitars and Instruments Auction.

The VG-condition guitar, complete with its original PAF pickups and hard case, brought $16,132.50, including the buyer’s premium. It was one of 527 lots sold for a two-day auction total of a little more than $1 million.

Despite a large cigarette burn on its head stock, a 1956 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst solid-body electric guitar in fair condition took second-place honors at $15,535. The guitar’s body and neck were dated August 1956, and its pots dated to late 1955.

Coming in third was an unmodified 1958 Fender Precision Sunburst electric bass guitar in VG condition, complete with its original hard case, mute and bridge cover, that sold for $12,547.50.

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Rounding out the Top 10 lots were:

• A 1965 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst solid-body electric guitar. All original with no modification or routing. VG condition; $11,950.

• A 1963 Rickenbacker 4001 Fireglo electric bass guitar. In addition to belt buckle wear to the finish on the back, the guitar’s pots were changed with 1990s-era parts. Fair condition; $11,352.50.

• 1962 Fender Jazz Bass Sunburst electric bass guitar. No changes or modifications, but moderate weather checking overall and moderate to light fret wear. Good condition; $10,755.

• An all-original 1961 Gibson SG Les Paul cherry solid-body electric guitar. Finish has faded to an orangeish color. Minor weatherchecking. VG condition; $10,157.50.

• 1957 Gibson Les Paul Special TV yellow solid-body electric guitar. Minimal weather checking and play wear. No changed parts or modifications. VG condition; $9858.75.

• 1957 Martin D-28 natural acoustic guitar. Brazilian rosewood back and sides and original maple bridge plate. All original finish. Minor nicks, scratches and checking. VG condition; $9,858.75.

• 1930 Gibson HG-24 Sunburst acoustic guitar. Very rare model. Brazilian rosewood back and sides. Scarring around bridge footprint from former large bridge, assorted cracks. Preauction estimate was $6,000 and up. G condition; $9,560.

While electric and acoustic guitars comprised 80 percent of the auction lots, there were a few other instruments featured, including resonator guitars, lap steel guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles; amps, PAs and effects gear and one saxophone. Top lots in these other categories were:

• A bright, clean, VG-condition 1960s Selmer Mark VI brass alto saxophone. Despite some minor nicks and scratches and repair to a pad cover bracket, it brought $5,975.

• A 1926 Gibson Style 5 walnut satin tenor banjo in Excellent condition. The instrument has a bright, clean, original finish and features satin-finish, gold-plated and engraved metal parts. $4,481.25.

• A VG-condition 1930s Weissenborn 3 natural lap-steel guitar made of koa wood and still with its original finish. $3,883.75.

• A VG-condition 1951 Gibson F-12 Sunburst mandolin with a re-glued peghead scroll. $2,629.

• A high-end, 1930s Martin Style 3 natural ukulele in VG condition. Minor nicks and scratches, but the instrument is uncracked and it has a bright, original finish. Rare, deluxe original hard case included; $2,151.

• A 1927-34 National Style 2½ nickel-plated resonator guitar. Bright clean plating, very minor dents. Medium to heavy pick scratching in diamond pattern sound hole in treble side. Mismatched tuners. VG; $1,912.

• A good-condition Vox V1143 Beatle amplifier head and 4 X 12 cabinet. Clean, solid-state version with original foot switch and original silver Bulldog speakers. The lot was from the estate of Doug Fieger, who was lead singer of The Knack. Good: $2,748.50.

Three autographed instruments were featured in the auction. A 2002 Fender Stratocaster Stevie Ray Vaughan model Sunburst solid-body electric guitar in nearly unplayed condition and signed by his brother, guitarist Jimmie Vaughan of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, sold for $1,105.75. A good-condition, all-original 1979 Gibson Flying V natural mahogany solid-body electric guitar signed on the pickguard by Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash brought $3,346. And a well-used, 1969 Fender Jazz electric bass guitar signed on front by Grammy winner Victor L. Wooten brought $1,553.50. The guitar’s body was stripped and refinished natural; its neck has severe dings and missing finish, and the tuners have been replaced. Poor condition: $1,553.50.

Heritage has entertainment-related auctions planned. For more information, visit