Jack White’s Third Man Records has announced a new online auction, which will see the organization sell-off numerous curios from the guitarist’s haul.
The most eye-catching items for guitar players include a Framus 5/59 Sorella Archtop that featured on the White Stripes’s White Blood Cells promo shots and the Ernie Ball Music Man St. Vincent signature guitar that was played extensively on his 2018 Boarding House Reach tour.
Unlike a lot of ‘celebrity’ auctions, the Third Man sale benefits from the direct provenance of White’s ownership and the fact that the organization has an in-house archivist, Ben Blackwell, who is tasked with keeping tabs on all of the weird and wonderful gear (guitar-based or not) that enters its Nashville premises.
Indeed, Blackwell himself features in the Framus’ history, as he notes it was him that put it out of action for a while around 2001, after catching it on a door jamb.
“I put a decent crack into the thing,” writes Blackwell. “I’d goofed, big time. Jack looked at me and said, ‘Well, guess who’s not getting paid for this weekend?’”
The guitar was repaired and just as well, as it held some meaning for White. The songwriter reportedly picked it up on The White Stripes’ first international tour dates in 2000 from a shop in Auckland, New Zealand.
“Jack had his eyes on the guitar, but with the asking price of eight-hundred New Zealand dollars, he left the store without pulling the trigger,” says Blackwell.
“John Baker, promoter of the tour (and soon-to-become long-time White Stripes tour manager) said ‘The New Zealand dollar is really weak right now. You should go and offer him $600 for that guitar.’
“With nothing to lose, Jack did just that and walked out the happy owner of this beautiful, redburst Framus Sorella model guitar with removable pickguard outfitted with pickups for electrification.”
The hollow-body German-built electric guitar is thought to date to the ’60s and featured most notably in the We’re Going To Be Friends video, as well as on the iconic red and white promo shots in the White Stripes’ White Blood Cells era.
Also in the sale is White’s Ernie Ball Music Man St Vincent signature model, which he used throughout his 2018 Boarding House Reach tour and was refinished in a custom blue, with a stripped neck, in keeping with the tour’s blue-obsessed aesthetic. White used the instrument in his Saturday Night Live appearance on April 14, 2018 to perform Connected By Love.
“The St. Vincent guitar looks great and sounds great,” White told Guitar World in 2018. “She gave me that guitar. She sent it to me as a present. That was really kind of her. I put these blue aluminum Lace sensor pickups on it, and an interrupter switch so I can turn the whole guitar on and off and get the kind of effects that I try to accomplish. And I put a black neck on it.”
The final notable guitar-y lot is a Sears Silvertone guitar amp that formerly belonged to Mick Collins of the Gories – a Detroit garage rock group that White much admired.
It’s a lovely-looking solid-state head with a built-in reverb and tremolo circuits, two channels (with dual inputs) and independent two-band EQs – though, it must be noted it comes with a warning.
“[It’s] a quintessential piece of important Detroit rock and roll history,” notes Blackwell. “Sold as-is, we honestly can’t remember if it works or not. IT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM!!”
Elsewhere, the extensive and varied sale includes an iconic swirl-headed Ludwig drum kit from the White Stripes’ Hardest Button To Button video, an 1970s electric car, arcade machines, White’s 2013 Tesla vehicle, furniture and, perhaps most weirdly, a cast iron autopsy table from the mid-20th Century.
“I remember when this one showed up at Third Man about a decade ago,” comments Blackwell. “We’d heard murmurs that it came from Oak Ridge, Tennessee. That’s where a bunch of top secret US government shit went down, specifically enriching the uranium used in the Little Boy atomic bomb. You know, lighthearted stuff.
“As the rumor went, a lot of people autopsied on this table showed signs of radiation exposure. I think it’s probably like 99% bullshit, but I don’t even know how we’d fact check that… [But there’s a] super-small chance that it’s irradiated and possibly haunted by the ghosts of long-deceased Manhattan Project scientists. No big deal.”
Jack White has always had very unique tastes, but we’ll, er, probably stick to the guitars on this one, thanks very much…
Head to auction site, Everything But The House for the full Third Man Garage Sale collection.