What is the most expensive musical instrument

The most expensive musical instruments in the world

Expensive Nostalgia: What Would You Pay For John Lennon's Guitar?

To hold the instrument of your idol in your hands or even to own it - this is a dream for many, but only a few can make it come true. Because although most of these guitars, pianos and Co. were often very affordable to buy, their legendary owners have increased their value immensely. These are the most prominent examples:

Elvis Presley's guitar for $ 270,000

The "King of Rock’n’Roll" and his guitar - a 1969 Custom Gibson Ebony Dove.

This year Elvis Presley, the King of Rock’n’Roll, would have turned 81. One almost wonders whether his myth has subsided a bit after all these years, because at least the auction of his 1969 Custom Gibson Ebony Dove brought in a mere 270,000 US dollars: it was expected to be 50,000 dollars more.

The instrument was seen in numerous appearances in the early 1970s, as well as in the film "Elvis on Tour":

Elvis Presley’s gold-leaf piano for $ 600,000

Last year Elvis ‘Flügel brought in significantly more at a" Rock’n’Roll auction "held by Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills. His wife Priscilla once had the instrument plated with gold leaf on the occasion of his birthday. The price: $ 600,000.

This magnificent grand piano belongs to a real “King”!

Eric Clapton’s guitar "Blackie" for $ 950,000

The instrument, which Eric Clapton has accompanied for 15 years, went under the hammer in 2004 - and the proceeds went to a clinic for drug addicts. Because Clapton also had to struggle with addiction at the beginning of his career. On the model, assembled from three different 1956 and 1957 Fender Stratcoaster guitars, Clapton played some of his most famous riffs, such as that of "Cocaine", or the solo in "Lay down Sally".

John Lennon's piano for $ 2.1 million

No other instrument was as popular as that of Beatles legend John Lennon: Pop singer George Michael spent 2.1 million dollars in 2000 on his piano, a Steinway Model Z., on which Lennon had composed his hit "Imagine". After recording an album in the studio, he returned it to the Beatles Museum in Liverpool, from which he had bought it.

The white grand piano, which can be seen in many of Lennon's pictures, was not used until later, but is so strongly associated with the song that piano manufacturer Steinway even brought out a limited "Imagine" edition.

On the left is the piano on which Lennon composed “Imagine”, which recently went under the hammer. The white grand piano, also from Steinway, was then used for studio recordings.

John Lennon's guitar for $ 2.4 million

The star among the prominent instruments, however, is clearly John Lennon's guitar. At the same auction in Beverly Hills at which Elvis ’golden piano went under the hammer, the instrument, believed to have been lost for 50 years, reached a record sum of 2.4 million US dollars in November 2015, although the estimated price was just 600,000 dollars. However, the buyer wanted to remain anonymous.

The managing director describes the J-160E Gibson as one of Lennon's favorite guitars, which Lennon bought in 1962 for 161 British pounds (approx. 210 euros), and hits like “Love Me Do”, “She Loves You”, “I want to Hold Your Hand ”,“ All My Loving ”and“ This Boy ”.

Lennon's long-lost guitar was clearly recognized as his instrument by an expert based on the wood grain.

Expensive rarities: who is bidding the most for a Stradivarius?

Those who cannot afford to bid for the instruments from John Lennon and Co. can at least usually buy the same model. It is different with instruments whose builders have blessed the time several centuries ago and took the secret of how your famous instruments are built with them to the grave.

Other models are custom-made that are only available once in the world: these instruments repeatedly fetch prices in the millions.

The most expensive violins in the world: the top 9

It goes without saying that it is the instruments made by the Italian master violin maker Stradivari that achieve the highest prices in the world. But those of his contemporary Guarneri del Gesù also top the list of the most expensive violins:

  • 9th place: The Molitor Stradivarius: $ 2.9 million
  • 8th place: The Ex-Ries Stradivari:$ 3.8 million
  • 7th place: The Dolphin Stradvari: $ 4.4 million
  • 6th place: The Ex-Szigeti Stradivarius: $ 4.7 million
  • 5th place: The La Pucelle Stradivarius: $ 4.7 million
  • 4th place: The Lord Wilton Guerneri del Gesù: $ 4.7 million
  • 3rd place: The exCarrodus Guarneri del Gesù: $ 5.6 million
  • 2nd place: The Ex-Kochanski Guarneri del Gesù:$ 7.9 million
  • 1st place: The Lady Blunt Stradivarius: $ 12.6 million

The "Lady Bunt": This violin is worth $ 12.6 million.


Who was Stradivarius and what makes his instruments so valuable?
Antonio Giacomo Stradivari, born around 1644, was an Italian master violin maker who, like his colleague Guaeneri del Gesù, worked in Cremona. He is considered by many to be the best violin maker in history. Of the more than 1100 instruments that he built in his life (he was over 80 years old), around 620 violins, 12 violas, 63 cellos and 5 guitars have survived. Since around 1800 his instruments have become more and more popular and keep setting incredible records on the market.

This is how the painter Edgar Bundy introduced you to the violin maker at work in 1893.

Numerous different theories have been put forward to explain the sound properties of Stradivarius instruments: from the "Little Ice Age" (16th-18th centuries), which is said to have changed the structure of the wood at that time, to mold that attacked the wood and so its sound properties should have been positively influenced, everything is included.

Why the sound of a Stradivarius, which is described as “very lively” or “flickering”, is perceived as particularly pleasant can be explained by the fact that it can be classified in the 2,000 to 4,000 Hertz range, which is the most sensitive of the human ear is. A tone played softly on a Stradivarius can be heard in every corner of a concert hall.

The violinist Ursula Bagdasarjanz with a Stradivarius.

However, playing one of these violins for musicians often has a lot to do with prestige, because modern violins can also come close to the sound quality of a Stradivarius. In a blind experiment, many violin virtuosos opted for a newer model and could not clearly distinguish it from an original Stradivarius.

If you want to find out more about Stradivarius and his life, have a look here.

Most expensive cello in the world: approx. 8 million US dollars (real value unknown)

The most expensive cello in the world also comes from Stradivari: “Mara” is valued at 8 million dollars and is owned by cellist Christian Polterá, even if it is not his.

Incidentally, famous and valuable instruments have their own passport, the “Musical Instrument Passport”, which identifies the instrument as the original with photos and details of its exact dimensions. For musicians who are allowed to play this instrument, this is usually the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. At the same time, they are also under great pressure when they play an instrument that is usually more famous than they are.

The most expensive instrument of all time: a Stradivarius viola for $ 45 million

The most valuable instrument in the world was to be auctioned off by auction houses Sotheby’s and Ingles & Hayday in 2014 - for the proud price of 45 million US dollars. However, no buyer has yet found the only existing viola "MC Donald" found from the master builder's “golden phase”, in which his best instruments are said to have been created. It had previously belonged to Peter Schidlof, co-founder of the London Amadeus Quartet, who bought it in 1964 for "only" $ 81,000.

Expensive materials: These instruments are pure luxury

Not everyone is interested in the sound of instruments: some people care more about their appearance. And what exudes more luxury and exclusivity than diamonds? Take: an ordinary instrument, cover it with all kinds of gold and sparkling gemstones and voilà: the exclusive luxury product is ready! It remains to be seen whether this has anything to do with music, but these instruments are always expensive:

Expensive Trumpet: A white gold and diamond coated vuvuzela for around $ 15,000

Who does not remember those noisy horns that were the last hit at the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa? The Austrian goldsmith Klemens Pointner made what is definitely the most expensive vuvuzela in the world by decorating the fan horn, which can be had in the country for just under 3 euros, with white gold and diamonds - for a gift from a South African company to its business partner. Did he take the noble piece with him to the football stadium?

We even have the right sheet music for vuvuzela players, with Ivo Kouwenhoven's “Spirit of the Vuvuzela” for vuvuzela and wind orchestra.

A guitar made of diamonds: 2 million

What works with a vuvuzela is of course even more possible with a guitar! At the Musikmesse in Frankfurt 2015, guitar manufacturer Gibson presented the "Eden of Coronet", which consists of around one and a half kilos of white gold and is set with 483 diamonds. The instrument is worth two million dollars.

Expensive constructions: do you know what an organ is worth?

One instrument that is probably the most elaborate to manufacture and therefore easily brings it to several million without prominent previous owners, splendid materials or refinements over several centuries is the organ: because it has to adapt to the spatial conditions and at the same time acoustically and optically make something.

Ideally, the sound of the organ is balanced and transparent at every point in the room. Therefore, the acquisition of an organ is a major project, the realization of which takes several years and in which various bodies are involved, from investors to organ builders to the organist who will later play the instrument. Depending on the size and complexity of the construction, organs cost between 60,000 and three million euros.

The cathedral organs of Münster and Trier - these impressive instruments are not bargains!

The organ of the Elbphilharmonie for 2 million euros (2.18 million US dollars)

One of the most expensive organs currently under construction is that of the Elbphilharmonie. Since the Philharmonie itself is an expensive large-scale project, the builders are of course not satisfied with an inexpensive organ either - which in a prestigious project of the century would also mean savings in the wrong place.

The Hamburgers do not have to bear the costs themselves, because the Hamburg entrepreneur Peter Möhrle has donated a generous 2 million euros for it. Here organ builder Phillip Klais talks about the Elbphilharmonie project:

How much money would your dream instrument be worth to you? Fortunately, the music itself is completely free, and the scores for it are in our shop guaranteed affordable for every budget!



Photo credits:

Cover picture: © gettyimages / suteishi, picture 1: Collage Elvis Presley: © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / CC-0, © Pappenheim / CC-0; Image 3: © Cliff (Flickr: Country Music Hall of Fame) / CC-0; Image 4: © Chris Hakkens / CC-0; Image 5: Collage piano John Lennon: © Dave Fey from St. Louis / CC-0, © Apple Records / CC-0; Image 6: John Lennon guitar collage: © Roy Kerwood / CC-0, Lauren Gerson / CC-0; Image 7: © Violachick68 / CC-0; Image 8: © Edgar Bundy / W CC-0; Image 9: © Ursula Bagdasarjanz / CC-0; Image 10: Stradivari collage: © iStock / greeneyedlens, © Frédéric-Désiré Hillemache / CC-0; Image 11: Collage organ: © Cmcmcm1 / CC-0, Image 2: © FZohren / CC-0