The Elvis Presley Hagstrom Viking II guitar from his Comeback Special is up for sale

There are few electric guitars with such an iconic connection to The King as the Hagstrom Viking II he used to open his legendary '68 Comeback Special with, and now it's going up for auction.

Elvis Presley performed with the guitar during the opening medley of Trouble / Guitar Man and later, Blue Suede Shoes, for NBC televised performance that marked his return to live music after several years focussing on music. 


(Image credit: GWS Auctions)

Bids are now open on the cherry-red semi-hollow electric at Kruse GWS Auctions’ Artifacts of Hollywood & Music auction, with the hammer coming down on 27 March. So far the guitar has an opening bid of $25,000 – it isn't us, in case you're wondering. 

But despite performing with it during such an iconic performance, the guitar didn't actually belong to Elvis… 

GWS's listing is as follows and explains its provenance:

"Elvis Presley 1968 Comeback Special Hagstrom V-2 Guitar (Exhibited in Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum W/Extensive Documentation) - This incredibly important artifact has not been offered for auction since the 1990s and is one of the most historically significant and iconic instruments of all time. This incredible piece of rock n' roll history is the red Hagstrom Viking II show guitar that was played by Elvis Presley in what was perhaps one of the most iconic performances by the superstar on national television to date, the 1968 Comeback Special… Elvis Presley played this guitar in several segments of the show, and is pictured with it on the cover of the RCA album, From Elvis in Memphis. 

"This guitar belonged to Al Casey, a wonderful musician in his own right, who performed in the backing band during the special. According to the accompanying letter from Casey, he was asked to let Elvis use the guitar by the producers, as they thought it would look beautiful on camera and with the set. Elvis used the guitar for the opening segment as well as during one of the live 'stand-up' segments. 


(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

"The guitar comes with a notarised letter of authenticity from Al Casey, a second letter of authenticity from Casey, a notarised statement from Hal Blaine who was the drummer on the '68 Comeback Special and a letter from legendary producer Bones Howe, who was the music producer on the special. The lot will also include several photographs of Elvis during the filming of the special, including three negatives, and various loan paperwork from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, at which this guitar was exhibited as part of an Elvis Presley exhibit. This stunning piece of history has not been offered to the public for over 25 years, and is truly a must have for any serious Elvis Presley collection."


(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The specs for the guitar aren't stated but we know Viking II models from the same era featured a maple top and neck with a laminated maple body, rosewood fretboard and a lyre tailpiece.

More info at GWS Auctions

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar. I've currently set aside any pipe dreams of getting anywhere with my own songs and I am enjoying playing covers in function bands.