A guitar said to have been a prototype for Gibson Les Paul guitars is scheduled to be auctioned on February 19 and the bids are expected to be high. However, several news reports about the upcoming auction raise questions about the guitar’s true role in history and its value.
The electric guitar, known as the Black Beauty, was played and owned by Les Paul, the legendary guitarist and inventor. In the 1950s, Paul gave input to Gibson Guitar as the company developed and refined models of the Gibson Les Paul. Paul died in 2009.
Bids for the Black Beauty are reportedly expected to hit the seven figures range, surpassing high dollar sales in recent years of guitars that had been owned by Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia which sold for just under $1 million each.
The scheduled auction in New York City has stirred up a heated debate among vintage guitar experts about whether or not Black Beauty had a major role in the early development of Les Paul models, according to the Washington Post.
The February cover story for Guitar Player is about the Black Beauty guitar – and the article is at the center of the debate. The magazine is available free for Cobb library cardholders in the Zinio digital downloadable magazine collection.
Various models of the Gibson Les Paul have been instruments of choice for many guitarists. Iconic musicians known for playing Gibson Les Pauls during their careers include Jimmy Page, Keith Richards, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa, Dave Grohl, Pete Townshend, Bonnie Raitt, Slash, Al Di Meola, Jeff Beck, Sheryl Crow and Duane Allman.