Historic ‘The Who’ bass guitar on auction in Lyon today

John Entwistle’s bass, which is estimated to fetch around €15,000, was named following a heavy drinking session

John Entwistle pictured playing with the Buzzard with an insert of the Warwick Buzzard bass guitar displayed at the auction today

An instrument emblematic of British rock band The Who is to be auctioned in France today (May 23).

The Warwick ‘Buzzard’ bass guitar was designed for – and used extensively on tour by – the rock band’s bass player John Entwistle, and will be one of the 250 instruments auctioned by De Baecque et Associés in Lyon.

The bass is engraved with the words ‘To not get fooled’, a reference to The Who’s song ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’, on a mother-of-pearl plaque that is signed by Entwistle on its back.

The signature reads ‘July 5, 1988’, marking the day he was presented with the guitar as part of the opening of a guitar shop in the 6th district of Lyon.

It is estimated at between €12,000 and €15,000 by the auction house.

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Entwistle loved ‘beautiful, ugly’ bass

The ‘Buzzard’ is one of Entwistle’s many signature instruments designed at his request and with which he performed, mainly during a tour in 1989.

It was conceived for him in collaboration with Hans Peter Wilfer, the founder of Warwick basses, in 1985 and so named because the head resembles the beak of a buzzard.

“John had some unique ideas as to how the bass should look and play, so he sat down with Hans Peter and the two of them sketched out the design that the world knows today,” wrote bass player Dale Titus, about the instrument’s creation.

“In all honesty, Hans Peter says that many drinks were consumed that night and he cannot remember exactly who thought of the name Buzzard, but he thinks it was John’s idea,” the article added.

“It is the most beautiful, ugly bass in the world,” Entwistle told Guitar Player magazine in 1989.

Entwistle, who died in 2002, carried on with his Buzzard but partnered with Modulus Graphite in 1996, which designed three Modulus Graphite Buzzards for him.

Along with the Buzzard displayed by De Baecque et Associés are 20 guitars from an unnamed collector. The collection gathers, among other instruments, an ensemble of rare guitars from C.F. Martin & Company to which are featured two 00-42 EC Martin guitars from Eric Clapton’s collections.

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