Julien's Auctions has announced that George Harrison's first electric guitar—a Hofner Club 40 which has been privately held for over 50 years—will be heading to the auction block on May 19. It will be joined by Eric Clapton's Yardbirds-era Epiphone Granada and the 1965 Fender Telecaster that Bob Dylan played during his infamous "electric" tour.
Harrison played the small blonde with black body binding single–cutaway hollow body instrument in the early days of The Beatles when they performed around Liverpool, England as The Quarrymen. The group had been transitioning from skiffle—played primarily with acoustic instruments—to rock and roll—played primarily with electric instruments—during that time.
John Lennon and George Harrison were the first to acquire electric guitars, which were nearly identical Hofner Club 40 models. Harrison traded his big Hofner President model acoustic archtop jazz guitar for the Hofner Club 40. He played the guitar with Lennon, Paul McCartney, Pete Best and Ken Brown, who were band members at the time, at The Casbah Coffee Club, a teenager’s social club in Hayman’s Green, West Derby.
In 1965, Harrison was asked to donate his guitar to a band competition that would help promote The Beatles’ 1966 German tour. The guitar was autographed with the Beatles’ names by their road manager, Neil Aspinall, and was won by the German band Faces. Frank Dostal, the band's singer and guitarist, owned the guitar until he passed away in 2017. His widow, Mary Dostal—who was a member of the Liverpool girl group The Liverbirds—offered the guitar at Julien’s Auctions. The guitar is estimated to sell between $200,000–$300,000.
"Most of the actual instruments that The Beatles used they still own but there are a few instruments still out there," said Andy Babiuk, author of Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition, in a press release. "One of them is George Harrison’s very first electric guitar, the Hofner Club 40."
"George Harrison considered the Hofner as one of his favorite guitars [as it] was the third guitar he ever owned," Babiuk continued. "It is one of the most historically important guitars as it marks the chapter in music history when The Beatles transitioned to a rock and roll band playing electric guitars."
Also hitting the auction block on May 19 is Eric Clapton's 1963 Epiphone Granada model E444T guitar. The guitar—which Clapton played toward the end of his tenure with The Yardbirds—is expected to fetch between $80,000–$100,000.
You can find out more about the auction over at juliensauctions.com. A portion of the proceeds will go to the American Indian College Fund.