Bernie Marsden auction date confirmed, with over 80 guitars going under the hammer, including Gibson and Ibanez electrics played onstage with Whitesnake – and the Gretsch that Peter Green borrowed

Postponed following the guitar legend’s death in August 2023, Gardiner Houlgate will now host the auction on 11 June. Watch auctioneer Luke Hobbs introduce the first half of the collection

Over 80 guitars from the collection of the late Bernie Marsden are heading to auction on 11 June. The event, which is being hosted by Gardiner Houlgate, was originally scheduled for last August, but was postponed following the former Whitesnake guitarist’s death.


Many of these guitars  will be recognisable to fans of Marsden. Some have been documented in Tales Of Tone And Volume, a book that is essential reading for fans and budding collectors, a celebration of the instrument and of the most treasured items in his collection

“This is a rather special guitar, probably one of the picks of the auction,” says auctioneer Luke Hobbs, introducing the first half of the lots on Gardiner Houlgate’s YouTube channel.

“Bernie had a huge love for futuristic guitars, particularly Explorer guitars, or Gibson Explorer guitars. This isn’t quite a Gibson, though. This is an Ibanez Destroyer from around 1976 and Bernie remembers seeing this guitar up in the window of Top Gear Music in London during the very, very early Whitesnake days, and he just had to have it. Gibson Explorers were impossible to find, and even then ludicrously expensive when you could find them, and so he went for the Ibanez equivalent, which actually really do rival [Gibson]. They were really great, great copies.”

Bernie Marsden pictured in 2014 with a prototype PRS SE – note the red headstock. The stage-played SE signature model being auctioned by Gardiner Houlgate has a black headstock.

The Destroyer is a serious guitar. Marsden had Dick Knight refinish it – hence his name on the headstock. It has been retro-fitted with Bernie Marsden signature humbuckers. The originals he used with Whitesnake are lost. There is another Destroyer that has been refinished in gold by Clive Brown, and a Tokai Explorer copy. 

There are, however, some genuine Gibson guitars that were used on tour with Whitesnake. There’s a Flying V, an RD Artist, and a real Explorer, all from 1980. And the pick of the litter has to be a circa 1967 ES-335, which despite bearing the scars of a vibrato removal, a refinished neck and repair, nonetheless looks incredible.

Another highlight from the Whitesnake era include a 1968/‘69 Gretsch Streamliner that was so cool that his friend and idol Peter Green borrowed it for a while. It was another that Marsden picked up while on tour with Whitesnake. “Peter really did like this guitar and he did loan it off Bernie Marsden for a while, and enjoyed playing it before Bernie had it back,” says Hobbs. 

There are some signature guitars among the lots. There is a stage-played Bernie Marsden PRS SE (there’s also coincidentally a 2015 Private Stock Bernie Marsden No 1 that has is not part of the collection but is being auctioned nonetheless), plust Eric Clapton and Rory Gallagher signature Strats.

Check out the intro video with Hobbs above and for more information on the auction, head over to Gardiner Houlgate. A large consignment of Marsden’s epic collection, which included his his ’52 Gold Top, ’61 Telecaster Custom and ’64 ES-345 TDSV, was already sold via ATB Guitars in August last year.