Worth Every Penny: Eddie Van Halen’s Guitar Sold For Millions

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A guitar legend needs a legendary guitar. Eddie Van Halen was no exception to this rule.

When the iconic guitar seen in the “Hot For Teacher” went on auction, Sotheby’s predicted that it would be sold for between two and three million dollars. Clearly, they underestimated the fanaticism of Van Halen fans.

Eddie Van Halen’s custom made Kramer electric guitar fetched a towering $3,932,000, blowing the auction house’s highest estimate out of the water by close to a million bucks.

Van Halen’s Kramer CO176 was constructed by Paul Unkert. According to Sotheby’s, it served as one of the guitarist’s primary instruments for the band’s touring cycle between 1983 and 1984. 

Specifications on the guitar include a single Seymour Duncan humbucker, a 22-fret maple neck attached with bolts, a Floyd Rose bridge and one volume knob.

In approximately 1990, the guitar was gifted to Gregg Emerson, Van Halen’s retiring drum technician. It was handed town to Emerson’s nephew, who sold it to Neil’s Music in Huntington Beach, California, before finding its way back to the previous owner before auction.

The sale of the six-string makes it fourth on the list of the most expensive guitars ever sold at auction, knocking Reach Out to Asia’s Fender Stratocaster that sold at $2.7 million back to fifth place, and behind David Gilmour’s third place Black Stratocaster by a paltry $43,000.

Occupying the two top spots at auction are two guitars previously owned by grunge hero Kurt Cobain. In second place, his Mustang seen in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video sold for $4,550,000. The top spot unsurprisingly goes to Cobain’s Martin D-18E from Nirvana’s Mtv Unplugged concert, which fetched a colossal $6,010,000.

The guitar has since been shipped to its buyer. Included in the package was a letter of authenticity from Paul Unkert, an Eddie Van Halen signed photo, the original case, and the iconic straight jacket and white gloves worn by the band in the “Hot For Teacher” video.


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