Music lovers around the world might be inclined to argue that music is priceless; after all, how is it possible to put an objective price tag on art? Though romantic, this idea is pretty incompatible with the multi-billion-dollar global music industry that exists – and thrives – in the world today. From streaming accounts to expensive audio gear, melophiles everywhere can easily invest in ways to enhance their music experience – and that includes the instruments that create it in the first place.
The guitar is one of the most iconic musical instruments in existence, lending genres like rock, jazz, and country their signature sounds. The guitar’s one-of-a-kind impact on music as we know it is undeniable, and one of the ways that’s celebrated is through the creation of beautiful, bold, and extremely expensive custom models. From resurrected classics to facades inspired by popular TV shows, the world of custom guitars is dynamic and exciting. To learn more about some of its most jaw-dropping creations, keep on reading.
Kicking off our list is the spectacular Trussart Steelcaster, an instrument that combines modern design innovation with vintage appeal for an overall effect that is truly special. With a body crafted from hollow steel and capped off with unique metal adornments, the Steelcaster’s purposefully distressed exterior emphasizes, rather than taking away from, its sleek, cutting-edge design. Weighing between 7 and 8 pounds and eligible for various customizations, this stunning piece retails for $5,191.
Zemaitis “MF500 BLBK Black”
Featuring the detailed artistry and game-changing designed pioneered by Tony Zemaitis since 1955, the Zemaitis MF500 BLBK Black guitar is immediately eye-catching due to its intricate engravings. A beacon of artistic skill, this model features world-renowned Zemaitis metal custom-engraved by the guitar maker’s expert engravers – all of whom are taught using the same technique pioneered by Danny O’Brien, the master engraver who was also considered Tony Zemaitis’s right-hand man. A testament to the extraordinary detail and skill that define the Zemaitis legacy, this guitar retails for a cool $6,972.
Martin D-28 John Lennon 75th
If the guitar is one of the most enduring symbols of rock and roll, then a guitar inspired by a member of the Beatles deserves its own honorary place in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. One of the most iconic guitars on the market, the Martin D-28 guitar was created to celebrate John Lennon’s 75th birthday. Featuring a stunningly beautiful classic design, this guitar is made unique by its mother-of-pearl engravings and Lennon-inspired design inlays (not to mention the fact that only 75 were made to begin with). To own this extraordinary piece of musical history, all you’d have to do is part with $11,999.
Gibson Les Paul Custom Ebony 1969
One of the most iconic instruments in the history of rock n’ roll, the Gibson Les Paul Custom guitar has certainly made its mark in the musical world. Originally produced between 1953 and 1960, the Les Paul Custom was reintroduced to the market in 1968 with a few upgrades. These included a longer neck tennon, steeper headstock, and differently cut control cavity than the original model. Featuring a mahogany body and maple top, the Les Paul custom has been a testament to the classic beauty, incredible skill, and mysterious sense of danger that characterize the genre of rock n’ roll itself. Prices range from $6,515 (used) to $13,5000 (new).
Gretsch G6120 Derby Racer Heavy Relic ‘Hammerhead’
If you’re drawn to guitars with a bit more camp and personality, take a look at the Gretsch G6120 “Hammerhead” model. As its nickname might indicate, this instrument features a cartoon of a hammerhead shark (along with a bright blue background, pearl inlays, maple neck, and rosewood fretboard – to name only a few of its jaw-dropping features). Retailing for $15,999, this eye-catching guitar has a huge personality – and a matching price tag.
Martin D. Homeward “Sailor Jerry” Guitar
Do you find yourself drawn to the iconic American traditional style of art? If the sailor-style tattoo artistry of the 1940s and 50s is up your alley, then you’ll be really drawn to the beautiful Martin D. Homeward “Sailor Jerry” Guitar. Featuring – you guessed it – a distinctive homage to the American traditional style, this unique guitar features stunning replicas on the world-renowned Sailor Jerry rum bottles that share its name. Created with a combination of Stika spruce and Koa wood, this $19,999 acoustic guitar is a beautiful medley of a timeless classic design and unique, rule-breaking artistry.
Fender Jimmy Page Dragon Telecaster
For this model, we’re taking a trip (far) away from classic design and acoustic sound. Instead, we’re visiting the $25,000 Fender Jimmy Page Dragon Telecaster. This stunning pale wood electric guitar features an eye-catching splash of vibrant color in the shape of a dragon, and its headstock is signed by Jimmy Page – who hand-painted the instrument – himself. Not to worry, though: falling in love with this guitar doesn’t have to mean shelling out over $20,000: Fender’s custom shop has released identical recreations that, though not hand-painted by page or adorned with his signature, can be purchased for a much more attainable price tag of $2,499.
Fender “Game of Thrones” Line
What do we say to the god of death? Not today. You may, however, purchase one of Fender’s extraordinary Game of Thrones themed guitars today – or any day, for that matter. Whether you were cheering for Tyrion or Cersei, Daenerys or Sansa, John or the Night King (hey – we won’t judge), you can find a stunning model in Fender’s line to fit your fancy. Maybe it’s the House Stark Telecaster ($25,000), featuring the grayscale color scheme and direwolf design that are characteristic of Winterfell. Or, perhaps, you’ll find yourself drawn to the Lannister lion, surrounded by its house colors of red and gold on a beautiful Jaguar ($30,000). Not to be outdone, House Targaryen has a Stratocaster of its own ($35,000), featuring a sinister dragonscale design that’s sure to fire up any situation.
Ritter Instruments Princess Isabella The Red Dragon
Speaking of dragons: we have to mention the extraordinary Ritter Instruments Princess Isabella “The Red Dragon” guitar. Featuring a jaw-dropping red and gold dragon motif inspired by East Asian art, this guitar is encrusted with 3.4 carats of diamonds and rubies (oh, and if that’s not enough, it’s also foiled with gold). Designed for the smooth sounds of jazz, this guitar does everything but fade into the background – and that starts with a $56,000 price taf that’s not to be ignored.
Martin D-45S Authentic 1936
Here’s an exercise: close your eyes and picture the quintessential acoustic guitar. Whether you’re a longtime music lover or just now venturing into this dynamic world, chances are that the instrument you pictured was (whether you realized it or not) inspired by the Martin D-45S 1936 Acoustic. With hand-engraved knobs, gold tuners, and built out of Brazilian rosewood and Adirondack spruce, the 1936 D-45S ($59,999) is as visually iconic in the music world as it is sonically. This model isn’t just an exceptional visual replica of the classic guitars that gave rise to so many genres and styles of music; it is engineered to produce the distinct, unmistakable “old school” sound that serves as the foundation for so much of the music we’ve gotten to know and love.
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been a music lover for years or are just now coming to understand the look and sound of a great guitar: anyone can appreciate the appeal of a well-made and beautifully designed custom guitar. These are some of the most iconic, creatively designed, and coveted custom models in the world – and one of the biggest perks of the music world is that there are always more to come.