Guess what the most expensive classical guitars ever sold? I will introduce you to the most valuable instruments

Musical Instruments

This post is also available in: 日本語 (Japanese)

Classical guitars are generally less expensive than violins. However, some guitars have fetched very high prices. Here are some of the most expensive classical guitars ever sold, as far as I could find out.

Classical guitars with over 20 million yen (≒153,000 dollars)

Many classical guitars are sold at high prices.

For example, a search for the most expensive classical guitar on J-Guitar, a guitar information website for sale, yielded an Aguado Guitar worth 6.6 million yen (≒50,000 dollars) at the time of writing.

Source: J-Guitar

This is the one that is generally sold and the price is published. In reality, there are more expensive guitars out there.

Some of them have been traded for over 20 million yen. If you love musical instruments, you will be irresistible.

Top 6 most expensive classical guitars ever sold

Here are the 6 most expensive classical guitars ever sold.

I’m only introducing what I’ve found on the internet, so there may be more. There could be more expensive instruments in private transactions that are not recorded.

If you have any information, please let me know here.

All of the guitars introduced below have been traded overseas. For simplicity, calculations are based on 130 yen to 1 dollar.

No.1: 23.4 million yen (Hermann Hauser I, made in 1948, 180,000 dollars)

The most expensive guitar ever sold was a 1948 Hermann Hauser I, which sold for 23.4 million yen (180,000 dollars).

Source: Christie’s

It was offered at Christie’s, one of the world’s two largest auction houses, in May 2006. And it sold for 180,000 dollars against an expected winning bid of 50,000 to 60,000 dollars.

This Hermann Hauser I guitar was won by a man called John Harris. He donated about 40 historic instruments, including this guitar, to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). If you become a student here, you will be able to play them.

I am so jealous of it…

No.2: 21.8 million yen (Antonio de Torres SE122, made in 1888, 168,000 dollars)

In second place is the guitar of Antonio de Torres, who laid the foundations for the modern classical guitar.

Source: Brompton’s

It is the SE122, made by Antonio de Torres in 1888. It was sold for 21.8 million yen (168,000 dollars) at a musical instrument auction called Brompton in October 2014.

Expected winning bids ranged from 148,000 to $230,000 dollars. It can be said that the bid was made at a relatively low price.

And you can see a performance with this instrument on YouTube:

No.3: 20.41 million yen (Antonio de Torres FE17, made in 1864, 157,000 dollars)

In third place, as in second place, is Antonio de Torres guitar, the 1864 FE17.

It was sold at the famous auction house Christie’sfor 20.41 million yen (157,000 dollars) in December 2007:

Source: Christie’s

This is a guitar originally owned by Tárrega. It still has the scars from Tárrega smoking while playing.

This FE17 is has been copied by a relatively large number of manufacturers. Jun Nakano from Japan, Dominik Wurth from Germany, and Milestones from Chinese manufacturer, are typical examples.

No.4: 19.83 million yen (Hermann Hauser I, made in 1940, 153,000 dollars)

In fourth place is again the instrument of Hermann Hauser I.

It was sold at the auction house Christie’sfor 19.83 million yen (153,000 dollars) in October 2011:

Source: Christie’s

I don’t have much information about it. But it appears to be in very good condition from the photos.

I’m a little happy that its design is similar to my Hauser III. Prices are completely different though…

No.5: 17.49 million yen (Hermann Hauser I, made in 1939, 135,000 dollars)

In fifth place is again the instrument of Hermann Hauser I. It was sold at the auction house Christie’s for 17.49 million yen (135,000 dollars) in April 2009:

Source: Christie’s

This appears to be an instrument previously owned by Segovia and others.

By the way, I was surprised to see so many classical guitars at the Christie’s auction.

No.6: 15.93 million yen (Robert Bouchet, made in 1964, 123,000 dollars)

In sixth place is the instrument of Robert Bouchet.It was sold at the auction house Christie’s for 15.93 million yen (123,000 dollars) in October 2009.

Source: Christie’s

Unfortunately, there are no photos of the instrument and no detailed information. But it could be this guitar, which is uploaded on YouTube:

Are guitars not-for-sale more expensive?

The 6 classical guitars listed above are only those that were actually sold. Some not-for-sale guitars have a higher value.

For example, I have no idea how much a Hermann Hauser guitar used by Segovia in the Metropolitan Museum of Art would cost.

Source: THE MET

The valuable classical guitars in Japan introduced in the following book “GUITAR COLLECTION IN JAPAN” are also likely to be quite expensive:

By the way, I actually read this book. I can look at it forever.

Acoustic guitar maximum amount is about 800 million yen (≒6.2 million dollars), violin about 2.1 billion yen (≒16.2 million dollars)

The classical guitars mentioned above is out of the reach of ordinary people. But the prices of acoustic guitars and violins are outrageous.

The most expensive acoustic guitar ever sold was a Martin D-18E. It was used by Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain when he appeared on MTV Unplugged in 1993. It was sold for 780 million yen (6.01 million dollars) in 2020.

And the most expensive violin ever traded is a Stradivarius called Lady Blunt. It was sold for 2.1 billion yen (15.9 million dollars) in 2011.

Compared to these expensive instruments, classical guitars are pretty cheap, right?

Higher prices do not necessarily mean better sound

However, these expensive instruments do not always produce good sounds.

Prices of the instruments are often inflated due to the historical value or the added value of “used by famous people”. So there may be other good instruments to play.

However, it is human nature to want to play it once.

I wonder if there is a place where I can play such historical instruments, even if I have to pay for them.