Stevie Ray Vaughan swapped his Strat for this Guild 12-string acoustic in his virtuosic MTV Unplugged performance – now it’s up for auction

Stevie Ray Vaughan MTV Unplugged Guild 12-string auction
(Image credit: David Redfern/Redferns / Heritage Auctions)

Stevie Ray Vaughan is renowned as much for his excoriating electric tone as his formidable playing. However, in 1990 the Strat-toting blues icon sat down for an MTV Unplugged show and blew audiences away using a Guild 12-string acoustic guitar.

The instrument in question, a 1969 Guild F-412, is now going under the hammer via Heritage Auctions, and at the time of writing has a current leading bid of $57,500.

Stevie Ray Vaughan MTV Unplugged Guild 12-string auction

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

Vaughan’s MTV Unplugged performance carried some renown for its blend of furious pace and virtuosic control – a display that was perhaps motivated by the fact that the next guitarist up was Joe Satriani.

According to the auctioneers, the Guild Vaughan used was not owned by the guitarist but was sourced from New York gear rental and rehearsal room SIR – a facility that was often used by MTV Unplugged performers ahead of their shows.

If anything, the knowledge that Vaughan’s breathless 10-minute slot – recorded shortly before he had to catch a plane – was performed on a borrowed 12-string makes it all the more remarkable. 

Watch him tear through Rude Mood, Pride and Joy and Testify and you'll agree that it doesn’t look or sound like it’s his first outing with the instrument.

Given its tenure at SIR, it’s likely the Guild was used by many other players of note. Though it’s impossible to clarify the full list, one other big name confirmed to be associated with the guitar is John Sebastian of The Lovin’ Spoonful. 

We know this because Sebastian has provided an amusing handwritten letter of authenticity that has been included in the auction lot.

“This 1969 Guild F-412 sounds this way because it belonged to Studio Instrument Rentals [SIR],” reads the note, “where it played for any player needing a 12-string in New York City for 50 years. It's huge, loud, and scares cats. Pretty much what this model is famous for.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan MTV Unplugged Guild 12-string auction

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

The auction world seems to be bubbling over with celebrity six-strings at the moment, but if you have a spare $80,000 you might like the look of this stage-smashed Fender Stratocaster signed by Kurt Cobain.

For more information on the SIR 1969 Guild F-412, head to Heritage Auctions.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for GuitarWorld.com. Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.