Is this the world’s most expensive guitar string? An Epiphone string Paul McCartney used to record the Beatles’ Rubber Soul is expected to fetch over $5,000 at auction

Paul McCartney's Guitar String
(Image credit: Getty Images / Special Auction Services)

An Epiphone acoustic guitar string that was used by Paul McCartney during the Beatles’ recording sessions for Rubber Soul has gone up for auction and is expected to fetch more than $5,000.

The string is being auctioned by Special Auction Services in Newbury, England, and it is a guitar string of some historic significance. If the musicologist and venerable Beatles biographer Walter Everett is correct, we can assume that it was most likely to have been used on Michelle, on which McCartney lays down his Epiphone Texan acoustic.

There are no details as to the string’s gauge. The COA and documentation of its provenance only explain how the string got passed down from McCartney to its present owner. The string belonged to the vendor’s late cousin, David Cardey, a paid-up member of the Beatles fan club member who won it in a competition. 

Paul McCartney's Guitar String

(Image credit: Special Auction Services)

Cardey received a letter on February 14 1966 from Johnny Dean, editor of the long-running Beatles Book fanzine, informing him that he had won, including a guinea (pre-decimalization, this would have been just over £1) and a tantalizing promise – “I will be sending you a piece of Beatle equipment within the next few days”.

You can imagine what Cardey was anticipating. McCartney’s 1963 Hofner 500/1 bass guitar? George Harrison’s 1965 Rickenbacker 360-12? John Lennon’s Gibson J-160E? Maybe even a guitar capo. A few days later, Cardey had his answer: a guitar string. Not that he was bothered.

Beatlemania is not to be underestimated. It was in his possession for 45 years, and whether it is worth over $5,000 or not, there’s something priceless about having that sort of thing.

But still... Five thousand dollars, maybe more, for one used string!? And here we are at the end of the month collecting spare change from the back of the sofa to buy a set of Elixirs. Anyway, you don’t see strings once used by a Beatle everyday. You can check out the auction at Special Auction Services.

McCartney’s string is not the only guitar accessory to attract an eye-watering fee at auction. In July, a plectrum signed and played by Kurt Cobain sold at auction for $14,000

The buyer, Shaun Ertischek, a Nirvana superfan and collector of alt-rock and grunge ephemera, told GW he was delighted with the collectible guitar pick, given that it was most likely used during the Nevermind demo sessions at Butch Vig’s Smart Studios.

“I knew this piece was special when I saw it come up at auction,” Eritschek said. “I often try to get my hands on guitar picks during live concerts, but there is usually no way to authenticate them because they are so generic. How can anyone prove that a particular pick was used by a musician? This pick, however, was signed by Kurt on one side and he drew on the other side. His personality comes through in this little doodle.”

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.