Auction Set for Steely Dan Co-Founder Walter Becker’s Gear Collection

The guitarist and songwriter died in 2017

Walter Becker
Walter Becker of Steely Dan performing at Madison Square Garden, New York on 18 August 1993.
David Corio/Redferns
By Tobias Carroll / October 18, 2019 11:34 am

During their time actively making music, the duo of Steely Dan — comprised of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen — made some of the most intellectual pop music to ever hit the charts. A book exploring Aja, perhaps their most beloved album, abounds with technical detail about unexpected instrumentation and groundbreaking time signatures. The online comedy series Yacht Rock depicted Steely Dan as two reclusive geniuses speaking in their own secret language. Their music remains deeply accessible, but it’s also complex enough to inspire a cult-like devotion over the years.

Becker died in 2017, but his musical legacy lives on. That’s not just a metaphor — an upcoming auction will feature his substantial collection of musical gear, which can be heard on some of Steely Dan’s most beloved albums. The Los Angeles Times explored some of what will be available at the auction, which is set to run today and tomorrow:

… A Cardinal Magpie electric guitar with a “spalted sycamore” top and matching pick-up covers. Another oblong Cardinal with a maple top. A 1959 Gretsch Tennessean hollow-body guitar signed by Nashville legend Chet Atkins. Flying Vs, Telecasters, Songbirds, Rickenbachers, Hofners, Stratocasters, Les Pauls, Bluesmasters. A Pensa-brand seven-stringed guitar.

As befits a musician’s musician like Becker, the instruments and gear are drawn from a wide array of shops and regions, from custom petals to rare guitar models. 

And if a high-profile guitar auction isn’t your speed, there are other ways to pay your respects to Becker — from listening to the music he made to taking a stroll on the New York City street named in his honor

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