Paul McCartney’s “Paul McCartney Woz Here!” Hofner bass and a ’62 Strat played by the Beatles are headed to the auction block – and big money bids are forecasted

Paul McCartney's 1960 Hofner bass and a 1962 Fender Stratocaster, played by the Beatles, is headed to auction
(Image credit: Gotta Have Rock Rock And Roll)

Some big auction news has just broke – Paul McCartney’s “Paul McCartney woz here” 1960 Höfner Violin bass guitar and a 1962 Fender Stratocaster that became a backstage favorite of the Beatles when touring with Chris Montez are going under the hammer. 

The cherry on top? Well, the King of rock ’n’ roll, Mr Elvis Presley, is represented, too, with his “Loving You” Gibson acoustic guitar also up for grabs.

You’ll need serious dough for all three lots. Macca’s Höfner 500/1 would strike us as the most sought-after instrument here. Could we be talking record money? Well, Gotta Have Rock And Roll, which is hosting the auction, estimates that it will take north of $300,000 to take this one home. The Strat? We’re talking an eye-watering $500,000 to $1 million. 

That would be something; this, remember was Montez’s electric guitar. It didn’t appear on any Beatles album. But given the market demand for ’62 Strats (astronomical), plus the celebrity kudos of the Montez ownership (considerable), and the force multiplier of it having been regularly played by John Lennon, George Harrison and reportedly McCartney (though as a southpaw he would have to have played it upside-down) this could make it the next million-dollar guitar.

Gotta Have Rock And Roll describes the Höfner 500/1 as a “Holy Grail” and they’ll get no argument here. And yet that’s exactly the term we would use for a slab-‘boarded ’62 Strat.

Elvis’s Gibson LG-1, estimated at $30,000 or thereabouts, looks a bargain in comparison, and fans of the King’s movie output will certainly think so after considering that it was used in the 1957 movie Loving You, Elvis’ first lead role, in which he plays young up-and-coming truck driver turned country star Deke Rivers alongside noir bombshell Lizabeth Scott (Too Late For Tears). 

There are better Elvis flicks. Director Hal Kanter might have been a comedy writer, but here he shows he has a strong stomach for schmaltz, too. 

Sadly, despite being lined up for the first musical number, when Elvis as Deke takes to the stage to rock the cowpokes with Let’s Have a Party at the Longhorn Community Fair, this small-bodied Gibson never made the final cut and was swapped out for a J-45 – the slope-shouldered dreadnought a better gear choice all things considered. 

And when it comes time for Elvis to perform the title track, Loving You, he has traded up for a Gibson SJ-200. If that's not a sign of upward mobility, nothing is.

The kicker in that scene is that he breaks a string on the J-45, while the LG-1 was fated like many of the King’s movie guitars – Paramount gifted him the guitar and it was duly taken home and well-loved. Provenance comes by way of Elvis’s old friend and “Memphis Mafia” cohort Charlie Hodge.

Back to the Beatles, and this 500/1 Violin Bass. Again, this was a gift, from McCartney to an unnamed music executive. McCartney did play this one, however, it is a right-handed model strung for a leftie. And he signed the top, “Paul McCartney waz here!” It comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by famed Fab Four authenticator Frank Caiazzo.

The Strat’s story is that it blew the Beatles’ mind. There weren’t many Fender Stratocasters in England at the time. This was cutting-edge gear, a little like being in 1990 and someone opening a guitar case and pulling out an Ibanez Universe.

The Beatles were on a UK tour in March 1963 with Montez and Tommy Roe. When the tour rolled through Liverpool, Montez suggested the Beatles close out their home town show. It was reportedly their first headlining slot on a major tour.

The Strat remained in Montez’s possession and comes with a letter of authenticity from Montez and Gotta Have Rock And Roll. For more information, head over to Gotta Have Rock And Roll.

Who knows, if the bidding gets out of hand, maybe that Strat will be up there with some recent big auctions, like Kurt Cobain’s 1993 Fender Mustang – aka the Sky Stang I – which sold at auction on Saturday (18 November) for more than $1.5 million. To think that the Mustang was made for student budgets…

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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.