Neal Schon's Don’t Stop Believin’ guitar goes up for auction

Neal Schon with a Les Paul in 1981
Neal Schon with that Les Paul (perhaps) in 1981 (Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Neal Schon is to auction 112 guitars from his personal collection, including the Gibson Les Paul used to record Journey's 1981 album Escape and the hit single Don't Stop Believin'.

“These are guitars I’ve been collecting for a very long time," says Schon, who owns 800 guitars, "and it’s time to let go of some of my collection to make room for new arrivals."

Most famous is the Don't Stop Believin' guitar, a 1977 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe Black Solid Body also heard on Stone in Love and Who’s Crying Now, and played throughout the Escape tour. Interested? You'll need to bid somewhere north if $200,000.  

Amongst the 111 other guitars up for grabs are a 1974 Guild F-50R Natural Acoustic used to write Wheel In The Sky and Patiently, the 1969 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop Schon used on Santana’s third studio album, Santana III, and an extremely rare 1959 Les Paul Standard Sunburst (opening bid, $175,000). 

“Everybody's like, ‘Oh, that ’59 Les Paul is the Holy Grail, how can you get rid of that?’” says Schon. “And I'm like, ‘If I'm not going to play, I feel like somebody should be able to really play it, that's going to totally use it and appreciate it.’ I don't feel good about having them all in cases, these guitars I'm never going to really play on albums or live or anything. 

"They’re not meant to sit there and look beautiful. Somebody should be utilizing them, and I should allow somebody to, because there are not that many of them around. And, quite frankly, I'm happy with what I'm playing.

“I don't think there's any one guitar that defines me – I define myself. It comes from your fingers. It's in between your fingers and whatever amp you're plugging into and how you have that guitar set and your own picking style, how hard you pick, whether you use soft picks, hard picks. I mean, it all makes a big difference, man.

“Fifty-seven years now. That's how long I've been playing. It's crazy, man. I mean, I should be so much better. All these guitars have a story, a history."

Find out more about the Neal Schon Collection of Guitars Guitars and Musical Instruments Signature Auction.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.