John Lennon's 'Paperback Writer' Guitar Going to Auction

The Beatle's Gretsch 6120 from 1966 estimated to bring in $1 million bids

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John Lennon
John Lennon Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

John Lennon's Gretsch 6120 guitar, the instrument the rock legend used when recording the Beatles' 1966 classic "Paperback Writer," will hit the auction block next month. TracksAuction, which will conduct the sale of the Grestch, calls it "the most significant of John's guitars to come onto the market in the last 30 years." Bids for Lennon's Gretsch 6120 are estimated to hit between $650,000 and $1 million. Online bidding will begin November 14th, and the Gretsch will go to the highest bidder on November 23rd.

In November 1967, Lennon gifted the guitar to his cousin David Birch. As the story goes, Birch was starting his own band and, upon a visit to Lennon's Weybridge home, he asked his older cousin from the Beatles if he had a spare six-string he could use. "I was just cheeky enough to ask John for one of his spare guitars," Birch said in a statement. "I had my eye on a blue Fender Stratocaster that was lying in the studio but John suggested the Gretsch and gave it to me as we were talking." Birch held on to the guitar ever since.

The Gretsch is an important part of Beatles history as photos exist of Lennon using that exact guitar during the April 14th, 1966 recording sessions at Abbey Road Studios for "Paperback Writer." The photos were taken by Beatles Monthly Book photographer Leslie Boyce. "When these images of the wood grain are compared to the wood grain on the headstock of the actual guitar the two can be seen to match up identically," TracksAuctions writes. "Wood grain is exactly the same as a fingerprint in that no two examples are identical."

In June, a collection of Lennon manuscripts sold for $2.9 million, more than double the expected selling price, so $1 million for a Lennon-played guitar might be a low estimate. For the Beatles fans who can't afford to shell out a seven-digit sum, Lennon's catalog has arrived on Spotify, allowing listeners to stream the musician's eight solo albums and three compilations.

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