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A 1970 Gibson Les Paul Custom – gifted by Eric Clapton to Gregg Allman – is headed to the auction block

A 1970 Gibson Les Paul, once owned by Eric Clapton and Gregg Allman
(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

A 1970 Gibson Les Paul Custom that was gifted by Eric Clapton to Gregg Allman is up for auction.

Put up for sale by Heritage Auctions (opens in new tab), the guitar was custom-ordered by Clapton from Gibson between late 1969 and early 1970. Clapton subsequently gifted the electric guitar to Gregg Allman in December 1971, shortly after the death of his brother, Duane.

A decade or so later, the Allman Brothers frontman would gift the guitar – via her mother – to Kendra Presswood, who held onto it for 40 years.

Presswood and her mother were Allman's neighbors on Anna Maria Island, Florida in the late '70s and early '80s. Allman, Dan Toler and David “Frankie” Toler – the latter two of whom were also members of the Allman Brothers Band for a time – were frequent guests of the Presswood household.

Gregg Allman plays a 1970 Gibson Les Paul gifted to him by Eric Clapton

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

“They hung around a lot, so we knew them pretty well,” Presswood says (opens in new tab). “And one time, Gregg came over and played this guitar – then left it. Mom thought it was an accident. He told her, ‘I left it there for you as a gift.’ Of course, she had no use for it, because she played no instruments.”

Kendra, however, was attempting to learn guitar at the time, and was soon gifted the Les Paul by her mother. “Unfortunately,” Kendra says, “I realized when I was fairly young I had no natural talent, so there was no point in continuing to play the guitar.”

Presswood, who had learned of the guitar's origins via her mother, kept the Les Paul for decades for sentimental reasons, but recently sent it to Tyler Roe – the owner of Idlewild Guitars & Teaching Studios in Savannah, Georgia – for further examination and research. Using its serial number, Roe confirmed that the Les Paul had indeed been custom-ordered by Clapton. 

Photos show that Allman used the guitar extensively onstage – both with his solo band and the Allman Brothers Band – from 1971-1976.

Said (opens in new tab) to be in "good" working condition, with moderately worn frets, the Les Paul Custom features a three-piece maple top and three-piece neck. According to Roe, the only mod Clapton made after it was delivered was to remove its factory pickup covers, but Allman went on to replace the nut and the original 500K pots with 300K pots. 

Documents pertaining to the 1970 Gibson Les Paul Eric Clapton gifted to Gregg Allman

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

Presswood says that the Les Paul "has been sitting in a case in my house, and someone might as well enjoy it. I still have the sentimental value, sure; believe me, it was hard to ship it off. But it just sits here, and it wants to be played.”

The guitar is accompanied by a signed, notarized letter and a hard case.

Bidding for the 1970 Gibson Les Paul Custom is set to run until April 2. The opening bid currently sits at $20,000.

For more info on the guitar, visit Heritage Auctions (opens in new tab).

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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player (opens in new tab). Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder (opens in new tab) and Unrecorded (opens in new tab). Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.