The Bernie Marsden Collection is now officially available via ATB Guitars and their store on Reverb, and it includes some of the most collectible vintage electric guitars in the former Whitesnake guitarist's collection.
These guitars should be familiar to anyone who has a Marsden’s Tales Of Tone And Volume on their coffeetable – and if you don’t, ATB Guitars are throwing a copy of the book in with each guitar in the collection.
Of course, there is one notable exception. When the news broke that the Bernie Marsden was having a clear out via Cheltenham-based vintage guitar dealers ATB Guitars, there was a bit of ‘Will he?/Won’t he’ when it came to the question of the Beast, his ’59 Les Paul Standard that has become the stuff of legend.
Popular opinion was against it, and upon careful reflection, and “some constructive conversations” with his family, Marsden decided to keep ahold of the guitar. But there are still some exquisite pieces on sale, some for serious collectors with deep pockets, others more attainable and perhaps a good way to lay the foundations on your very own Nerdville.
At the lower end of the price scale, priced £4,500, there is Marsden’s 1979 Ibanez Artist Twin Neck, a stunning double-neck that’s ideal for Stairway with its six and 12-string configurations, and unquestionably a heavyweight build that demands the thickest guitar strap you can find.
Some of the cheaper items have already sold, such as his 1967 Gibson Melody Maker and 1957 ES-125 three-quarter sized arch-top. But any roots player looking for some old mojo would do well to checkout the cutaway ES-125 from ’58, its single P-90 at the neck all you need. It would certainly work well as a jazz guitar, too.
At the top end of the scale, you are spoiled for choice, but his 1952 Gibson Les Paul Gold Top takes some beating.
It is in such great condition, with all the wear and tear in all the right places, that it sells itself at £32,500, but the fact that Les Paul signed the pickguard, scratching his name into it with a nail, just adds to the value.
“I really bought it because I wanted to have a first-run Gibson solid guitar,” said Marsden, and you can watch him talk a little bit more about the guitar in the video below.
Other highlights include a 1952 Gibson ES-295, which is a stunning gold finished archtop with a wrap-over trapeze tailpiece that will make the sustain sing.
“It’s a cool guitar and it is of the period,” said Marsden, speaking with MusicRadar in 2014. ”I love the stencilling on it and stuff like that. It’s also a very nice guitar to play. A lot of people probably think, ‘Well, what do you do with that?’ But if you plug it into a small amp, it really is a very, very good sound. It’s not built for big amps though, not really.”
There is 1964 Gibson ES-345 TDSV that was used during the recording sessions for Whitesnake’s 1978 debut album, Trouble.
If you don’t have that in your collection let ATB clue you in on how this one sounds: “The sound is authoritative without being too heavy in the lower midrange. The bridge pickup barks when encouraged whilst the neck pickup is all kinds of smooth without losing definition.”
Elsewhere, there is a ’63 Firebird I, a 1966 Gibson EDS 1275 that ATB originally sold to Marsden and that was reportedly owned by Martin Barre of Jethro Tull, and while the collection is mostly electric there is a 1940 Martin 00-17 acoustic guitar that was used on Marsden’s 2014 solo album Shine.
But if money is no object, Marsden’s 1961 Fender Telecaster Custom in three-colour sunburst takes the cake. Speaking to MusicRadar in 2014, he admitted he didn't play Fenders that often but this one has some special memories attached to it.
“I’ve probably had that for 15 years,” he said. “I’ve only ever used it once. I used it at Bob Harris’ birthday party. Robert Plant was singing and I was playing the guitar. I don’t think I’ve used it since. But it’s a lovely guitar.”
In other Reverb-related news, the retail giant has teamed up with Gibson and so that any purchase made through the Gibson UK Demo Shop or Gibson European Demo Shop will ship with a free Maestro Comet chorus pedal. Click through the links to browse the range.