Skip to main content

Neal Schon’s Don’t Stop Believin‘ 1977 Les Paul Deluxe sold for $250,000 in epic vintage guitar auction

Neal Schon
(Image credit: Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

If Neal Schon owes you 20 bucks, today might be a good day to drop the Journey six-stringer a text, because his huge, epic guitar auction closed on Saturday, bringing in well over a million dollars for the Les Pauls alone. 

The auction saw 112 of Schon's electric guitars go under the hammer, with the iconic 1977 Les Paul Deluxe that he used on Journey's 1981 breakout hit Don't Stop Believin' on selling for $250,000. 

That guitar is a piece of music history. Besides tracking one of rock's most enduring anthems, Schon believes that it is the first Les Paul to be fitted with a double-locking Floyd Rose vibrato, and the heavyweight 10lb-plus singlecut is now fitted with a Fernandes Sustainer at the neck position. 

1977 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Don't Stop Believin'

Neal Schon's 1977 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, as played on Don't Stop Believin' (Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

But pop cultural significance or not, the Believin' Les Paul only took bronze when all the bids were counted, with Schon's Grainger Burst 1959 Les Paul Standard selling for a mortgage-bothering $350,000, with another pristine '59 Burst selling for $300,000.

Perhaps the Grainger Burst's fame – it once being owned by Gary Grainger of Rod Stewart's band – attracted that extra price. Both, pictured below, are meticulous examples of 1959 Les Pauls.

Image 1 of 2

1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard Grainger Burst / Schon Burst

Neal Schon's 1959 Les Paul Standard Grainger 'Burst (Image credit: Heritage Auctions)
Image 2 of 2

Gibson 1959 Les Paul Standard Neal Schon

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

Other big-ticket Gibsons included a pair of '57 Les Pauls, fetching north of $250,000 between them, plus a '58 Gold Top that sold at $125,000 and a wine red triple-humbucker Custom that went for $112,500.

Schon's 1974 Guild F-50R jumbo acoustic guitar sold for $37,500, but if you are Journey fan, that has got to be worth a lot more. Like the Les Paul Deluxe, it is an instrument of huge cultural importance, with Schon writing recording the likes of Wheel In The Sky and Winds Of March on it. It was the guitar that Schon played when writing with vocalist Steve Perry for the first time, holed up in a hotel room. It's also one of Guild's finest models.

Image 1 of 2

1974 Guild F-50R owned by Neal Schon

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)
Image 2 of 2

1974 Guild F-50R owned by Neal Schon

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

The auction provided had an eye-watering array of vintage gear, with a 1959 ES-335 going for $137,500, and a 1960 model grabbing $100,000. As for Fender, well, if you had $112,500 to spare, you might have secured ownership of a 1951 Fender Telecaster in Butterscotch Blonde. The Fender Stratocasters proved more reasonable, with the pick of the litter arguably that 1964 Candy Apple Red model that sold for $30,000.

Hopefully, Schon has still got some guitars left in the vault. We'd imagine he does. Not only did some go unsold, such as his double-necked PRS Dragon, but he is an avid collector who admits he was running out of space. The question is: if those are the ones he is happy to part which, what else does he have at home?

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.