John Lennon "Paperback Writer" Guitar Fails to Sell at Auction

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When John Lennon's Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins guitar went up for auction this month, it was expected to fetch as much as $1 million. After all, it's the guitar Lennon played on the Beatles' 1966 hit "Paperback Writer." There was even photographic evidence to support the claim.

Furthermore, the guitar was being auctioned online by Lennon's cousin David Birch, who has owned the guitar since Lennon gave it to him in November 1967.

When the auction ended on November 23, it failed to reach its £400,000 reserve, falling short at £380,000.

It's now hoped that the guitar can be sold privately, according to, the online house that managed the auction.

Lennon's 6120, serial number 53940, is of early Sixties vintage and features an orange finish and gold-plated hardware, except for its aluminum Bigsby. Photographs show him playing it for the recording of "Paperback Writer," on April 13 and 14, 1966. It's not known if he used the guitar for other recordings.

Birch said he came to own the Gretsch after asking Lennon if he could borrow a guitar to start a group of his own.

“I was just cheeky enough to ask John for one of his spare guitars,” Birch says. “I had my eye on a blue Fender Stratocaster lying in the studio, but John suggested the Gretsch and gave it to me.”

The guitar is one of the most significant Lennon guitars to come on the market in the past 30 years.