A Gibson ’59 Les Paul featuring a serial number one-digit away from Jeff Beck’s 'burst is due to go up for auction later this month.
Somerset auction house, Dore & Rees are handling the sale of the guitar, which is part of its Guitars That Made History lot. The collection is presented for sale by the estate of James Llewellyn Morgan, guitarist for the George Hacher Band and Stan Webb’s Chicken Shack.
Morgan also ran a studio, playing host to the likes of Arthur Brown (Fire), Pretty Things, Peter Perrett and The Only Ones, UK Subs, Glen Matlock, Wilko Johnson among many others.
Referred to by Dore & Rees specialist Marc Allum as the ‘Morgan ’59’, the Les Paul (serial number 9 1865) was bought by Morgan around 1972/73, and remained in his ownership for over 50 years until the time of his passing in 2021. “Everybody can chase a dream but how often do you get the chance to live one?” says Allum, who is also a featured expert on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.
Morgan reportedly paid £450 for the Holy Grail-year Les Paul, which would equate to about £5250 by today’s standards. A solid investment given that a true vintage ’59 will certainly fetch six figures, with Journey guitarist Neal Schon selling his ’59 last year for $350,000.
Meanwhile Peter Green’s Greeny ’59 Les Paul (also owned by Gary Moore) went on sale with an asking price of $2million (although current owner Kirk Hammett claims to have paid less than half of that in 2014). Gibson Brand President, Cesar Gueikian and Hammett recently discovered that their '59 Les Pauls have consecutive serial numbers.
The 'Morgan '59' features the original bridge and tailpiece - reversed and strung as a wraparound - as well as the original PAF humbuckers. The machineheads have been replaced, and during inspection Allum determined that the guitar was likely once fitted with a Bigsby vibrato prior to Morgan's ownership.
Also featured in the auction is Morgan’s collection of dream guitars including a 1952 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, a 1956 Gibson Les paul Junior, and 1961 Gibson SG Junior. There’s some strong Fender representation too, with 1960 and 1964 Fender Stratocasters and a 1963 Salmon Pink Fender Precision Bass.
As well as this, the 80-lot catalogue includes vintage effects from Colorsound, Electro Harmonix, Maestro; a number of guitar and bass amps from Marshall and MarkBass, plus synths and recording equipment from Morgan’s studio.
The Guitars That Made History Auction will be held on 16 March at 10:30am. Dore & Rees holding viewings on the 14, complete with demos from Peter-Jack Rainbird. For more information, check out the auction's page on Dore & Rees' website.