If you have the love of vintage guitars, and a lot of cash to burn, then these five guitars might be just the ones you need. But remember Joe’s sage advice: even extremely valuable vintage guitars are meant to be played:

1. 1958 – 1959 Gibson Explorer “Korina”

The Gibson Explorer made its debut in 1958. It was a radically re-imagined guitar, designed to represent the dawn of the “space age”. It was science fiction meets guitar rock, and was released the same year as the Flying V, another avant-garde design from Gibson. Commercially, the Explorer was a failure, and Gibson stopped manufacturing the beleaguered product in 1963. My my my, how things have changed. Today, the Gibson Explorers produced between 1958 – 1960 have become some of the most sought after and expensive collectible guitars on the market.

1958 Gibson Explorer

2. 1958 – 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard

The holy grail of guitar collecting. Like the Gibson Explorer, the Les Paul Standard, with its maple top and sunburst finish, was not initially a hit. However, the release of the legendary John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton changed all that, thanks to the man who would become known throughout the music world as “god”. Its cache increased further when American blues rocker Michael Bloomfield began playing one. Other Les Paul players include Duane Allman, Paul Kossoff, Jeff Beck, and Joe Bonamassa. Though Gibson manufactured Les Pauls since 1952, it’s the models from 1958 – 1960 when the sunburst finish was introduced that are most coveted.

1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard sunburst

3. 1958 – 1959 Gibson Flying V

Like the Explorer, the Flying V was introduced in 1958 as a futuristic, space-age guitar. Also like The Explorer, it was initially unpopular and unsuccessful. Only 98 of these babies were made. Blues rocker Lonnie Mack and blues guitarist Albert King were early adopters of the modernistic guitar and helped to build their legacy over time. As more musicians used the axe in the late 1960’s, there was pressure upon Gibson to re-launch the eye-catching model. They did so in 1967, but it’s the originals from the 1950’s that are most desired by collectors.

1958 Gibson Flying V

4.1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

This one’s gold, Jerry, gold! 1957 saw significant changes to the Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. Rather than P-90 pickups, Gibson now used Humbuckers that were designed by Seth Lover. Goldtops are all coveted, but due to the modifications the 1957 ones are especially prized. These amazing guitars tend to be valued between $65,000 and $110,000. Maybe not as loved as the ‘bursts, but still pretty exquisite and very worthy of your vintage guitar collection.

1957 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop

5. 1950 – 1951 Fender Broadcaster

The first and only Fender represented on our list here, but that’s doesn’t make it less cool. The Broadcaster, which would later come to be called the Telecaster, was the first guitar of its kind produced on a mass scale. The design was simple but elegant, easy to manufacture or to repair. The guitar included 2 single-coil pickups and a truss rod in the neck. It’s been priced around $40,000 – $90,000. Models from 1951 without the Broacaster name due to a trademark claim have been called “Nocasters”. Its iconic blonde and black color have made collector’s salivate for many years.


– Brian M. Reiser,
Joe Bonamassa Official Blog

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