10 Famous Guitars


Les Paul's personal 1954 custom "Black Beauty" is the guitar that every other make and model Gibson Les Paul guitar was based off of. Youtube screenshot

It was the late 1920s in Waukesha, Wisconsin and a 13-year-old guitar prodigy was making a little income from playing his guitar at a local drive-in restaurant. Frustrated that people sitting in their cars couldn't properly hear his excellent sound, the young guitarist stuck an old phonograph needle on his Sears Roebuck acoustic guitar and wired it to a radio speaker [source: Ladd].

It was the beginning of a lifelong love-affair with inventing and perfecting electric guitars. The guitarist was Les Paul and over the following decades, that name would be attached to many of the most legendary guitars in the history of popular music. So pervasive was his influence and so iconic his status that collectors have fought over his personal guitars for years.

In 2015, a particularly special Les Paul guitar called the "Black Beauty" came up for auction. Some dubbed the instrument the "Grail" of electric guitars, since it was known to be Les Paul's main axe, which he continuously modified until it became industry standard. Some even consider it a kind of Ur-guitar, from which all Les Pauls are descended.

Whether this is true or not, the "Black Beauty" sold for a whopping $335,500, testament to the value many people place on the work of the great innovator.

Not all guitars — or guitar players — have the same weight as Les Paul, but many 20th-century guitar gods and goddesses still become attached to and even name their favorite axes. Following are 10 famous guitars and their owners listed in alphabetical order.

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