The owner of Nicholas Lee Guitars in Lewes says he has sold a Rickenbacker electric guitar for $7.5 million, what would be a world-record price. But that claim has been met with skepticism from professionals in the field.
"This is really a forgotten piece of history. This is the guitar that sent guitars from the Wright Brothers into jet turbines, this is the foundation for every other electric guitar ever made." Stated Nicholas Lee.
When told professionals in the guitar community nationally highly questioned the value of the instrument, explaining that a Rickenbacker would typically go for $3,000 to $5,000, rather than $7.5 million, Lee said he will introduce the buyer at a private meeting in Washington, D.C., at month's end.
He couldn't explain why the buyer couldn't verify the sale price now. But Lee insisted the buyer will pay him 10 annual installments of $687,500.
Experts have a range of opinions on the historic significance and market value of Lee's Rickenbacker, known as a Ken Roberts model. Some say it holds a unique place in the world of music while others consider it mediocre. All, however, question the $7.5 million price tag.
Dan Orkin of Reverb.com, a popular marketplace and resource for new and vintage gear based in Chicago, says the guitar fits into a unique place in history.
"What makes this guitar special is that it is what most people consider the first modern electric guitar," Orkin said. "There's a lot of debate about which was truly the first one of course."
Electric guitars like this, the Spanish style, "really took off with jazz and a lot of the big band music of the time," Orkin said.
Orkin noted that this guitar holds specific historical relevancy not only as, arguably, the first modern electric guitar, but as a collaboration between some of the pioneers of the guitar industry.