Eric Clapton’s Guitars and Gear

Eric Patrick Clapton was born on March 30, 1945, in Surrey, England. Being the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he is ranked among the greatest rock and roll guitarists of all time (he ranked 2nd on the  Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and 4th in Gibson’s Top 50 Guitarists of All Time). Eric’s first guitar was an acoustic Hoyer – which he got as a present for his 13th birthday. About two years after that, he started playing more seriously and began practicing non-stop. He was influenced by blues from an early age and practiced long hours to learn the chords of blues music by playing along with the records. He used to record himself playing on his portable Grundig tape recorder, and listening to that over and over until he felt he got it right.

Eric Clapton playing his most famous Fender Stratocaster nicknamed “Blackie”.

Electric Guitars

date_range 1962

1960s Kay Jazz II

Eric used this guitar prior to joining the Yardbirds circa 1962, while he was playing in his first band called “The Rooster”. According to Eric, he received this guitar as a gift from his grandmother: The Kay was the guitar that my grandmother bought me on the “hire-purchase” scheme. That got me into the band, and […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1964

1963 Fender Telecaster

This was Eric’s main recording and gigging guitar during the Yardbirds era. The guitar allegedly belonged to the Yardbirds management, and after Eric had left the band, Jeff Beck who took over his role, played the same guitar for some time prior to acquiring a Fender Esquire (more on Jeff Beck’s Gear Page). (Jeff Beck:) We were on […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1964

1961/62 Gretsch Chet Atkins Model 6120

Eric was seen playing this guitar during the Yardbirds’ Ready Steady Go! TV appearance sometime in 1964. The show seems to have aired on May 22nd, 1964 [Ready Steady Go! Season 1 – TheTVDB.com], and as far as we could find, this is the only time Eric appeared with this guitar. This could possibly mean that the guitar was borrowed. Since there’s some […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1966

1950s Gibson Les Paul Standard

This guitar seemed to have been a very brief affair, but since the goal with this list is to make it as complete as possible at least when it comes to the early years, it is somewhat important to include it as well. To our knowledge, Eric only used the guitar at the 6th National Jazz & […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1966

1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard "Beano Burst"

Eric used this guitar during the John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers era, although it is likely not the only Les Paul he owned at that time. In his autobiography [Clapton: The Autobiography] Eric mentions buying a couple of guitars prior heading to Greece in 1966 and leaving one Les Paul behind after he bailed out and left the Juniors […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1966

1959/60 Gibson Les Paul Standard "Summers Burst"

This is the guitar that Eric used as his main with the Cream from around July 1966 to mid-1967. He purchased this guitar from Andy Summers (who later went on the form The Police) after his own Les Paul was stolen sometime in mid-1966. The two guitars were originally purchased from the same store, Summers […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1967

1956 Fender Stratocaster "Brownie"

Clapton purchased the maple neck Stratocaster at London’s Sound City on May 7, 1967 [Eric Clapton“Brownie” Tribute Stratocaster, Fender Custom Shop]. At that time, Eric was using the Fool SG practically exclusively, and the Strat itself didn’t see much stage-light until around three years later, although its neck had a history of its own on […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1967

1959/60 Gibson Les Paul Custom

Clapton likely purchased this guitar on the Cream’s first mini-tour in the US in March 1967. Eric mentioned in his autobiography that he visited Manny’s Music shop in New York during the visit, so it possible that this guitar was purchased right there and then. The first time he was seen playing it was during the […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1967

1964 Gibson SG Standard ”The Fool”

Clapton acquired this guitar presumably sometime in 1967, likely purchasing it himself. It first appeared at Cream’s debut US concert on March 25th, 1967 at the RKO theater on 58th Street, Manhattan, New York. By that time the guitar already featured the custom body paint done by Simon Posthuma and Marijke Koger, who later went on to form […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1968

1962 Fender Telecaster/Stratocaster Custom

This guitar first appeared in the late Cream days, more precisely during the band’s guest appearance on the Danish movie “Det var en lørdag aften” (It Was a Saturday Evening), filmed on February 5th and 6th, 1968 in Copenhagen. At this time the Telecaster was fitted with a late 60s Stratocaster neck with rosewood fretboard and […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1968

1957 Gibson Les Paul “Lucy”

Clapton purchased this guitar at Dan Amstrong’s Guitar shop in New York at an unknown date. The previous owner, Rick Derringer, had sold the guitar to the shop sometime in 1966 or 1967 (no credible source mentions any dates related to this), after he had it repainted in Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory (no dates mentioned either) […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1968

1963/65 Gibson Reverse Firebird 1

Clapton purchased this Gibson Firebird most likely on the afternoon of April 13th, 1968, on the second day of the three-day gig at the Philadelphia’s Electric Factory. This is based on two things. First, the Cream concert tour expense ledger used by the band’s tour manager Bob Adcock reads “Musical equipment” – $905.50″ on April 13th [Cream 1968 Summer and […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1968

1964 Gibson ES-335TDC

According to Eric, he acquired this guitar sometime in 1964 from the money earned while playing with the Yardbirds. However, according to the photographic evidence, and based on the info from Eric himself, the guitar wasn’t used at all during the Yardbirds era, even though – as said, Clapton claimed that he did own the guitar […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1968

1958 Gibson Les Paul Standard (Darkburst)

This was one of Eric’s main touring guitars during the Cream farewell tour. It seems however that the guitar was used rarely in comparison to the Firebird which was Clapton main guitar from the summer of 1968 and until the end of the tour. Based on the photos, the Les Paul was used at least a few […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1969

Danelectro 3021 Shorthorn

This guitar was seen during the Blind Faith rehearsals in early 1969, although it is not known whether Eric ever used the guitar with the band in a live or a studio setting. Aside from its appearance on these photos, everything else about this guitar is a mystery. It is apparent that it featured some kind […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1969

Les Paul Custom (Paul Kossoff)

There has been some confusion regarding this particular guitar, but the story basically goes that sometime during the Blind Faith North American tour, for which the opening acts for Blind Faith included Free, Taste and Delaney & Bonnie; Clapton and Kossoff swapped guitars. [Paul Kossoff – The Back Street Crawler; Tom Guerra] According to what we’ve […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1971

1950s Gibson Byrdland

Eric was seen with this guitar on a charity Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971 organized by George Harrison and Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar. The guitar was used during the first show (the Brownie being used for the second one), and this seems to be the only time Clapton ever used this guitar on stage. Based […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1973

1950s Fender Stratocaster “Blackie”

Eric assembled this guitar in 1970 using parts from three different 50s Stratocasters that he bought in at the Sho-bud guitar shop in Nashville. Some sources claim that the guitar was put together in Nashville by Ted Newman Jones, but Clapton has stated that he carried the guitars back to England before disassembly. The guitar I chose to use for my […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1973

1958 Gibson Korina Explorer

Eric purchased the guitar at the Alex Musical Instruments in New York in the early to mid-70s. [original source needed] It can be seen on photos taken during the ’74-’75 tour. One unique feature on the guitar that attracted his attention was the shortened bass bout (the upper back horn). Clapton initially believed that this came as […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1974

1950s Fender Telecaster

This Telecaster was seen on a few photos taken during the 1974 tour, all of which seem to be from the same concert – at KB Hallen on June 20th, 1974 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Based on the wear on the neck, the guitar was, most likely, a vintage model from the 50s, but beyond that, the guitar is […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1981

1954 Fender Stratocaster

According to the info Eric gave to Christie’s, he used this guitar from around mid-70s. The earliest photo that we’ve been able to dig up of Clapton with the guitar is from late 1981 [Eric Clapton performs on stage at the Forum on October 15th 1981 in Copenhagen, Denmark]. However, again based on the info from […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1983

Gibson Les Paul Standard

This guitar was first seen at the Ahoy, Rotterdam, Netherlands, on April 23rd, 1983. From the photos, it appears to be brand new, but it’s impossible to say for sure what’s the story of this guitar. Be that as it may, it was seen again in 1985, on a photo of a collection of Clapton’s tour […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1983

1983 Roger Giffin Stratocaster #1

This guitar was built by Roger Giffin, an English guitar luthier, as a direct replica of the Blackie, aside from the color of the finish obviously. Eric actually loaned the Blackie to Roger in order to copy the exact specifications. [Giffin Guitars – Client list] The blue Giffin Strat was first used in late 1983, during […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1983

1983 Roger Giffin Stratocaster #2

According to the info available on Giffin Guitars website [Giffin Guitars – Client list], Clapton not only had a blue Giffin Stratocaster, but also a green one. Both were built by Roger Giffin as replicas of the Blackie – a 50s “Partcaster” that was Clapton’s main axe at the time. Although the blue guitar was […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1983

1983 Fender Stratocaster '57 Reissue

According to Tom Wheeler’s The Stratocaster Chronicles book [The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat, Tom Wheeler, p.222], Clapton was presented with one of the first ’57 reissue Strats by John Page and Freddie Tevares during the ARMS concert tour in 1983. This guitar was seen on a photo that we’ve referenced a […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1984

1982 Roland G-505

This guitar can be heard on “Never Make You Cry” from the Behind the Sun album released in 1985. According to the info posted on the auction page at Christie’s, he used it on tour in 1984 with Roger Waters, and in 1985 during the “Behind the Sun” tour. Serial No. K824044, the guitar features a double cutaway […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1985

1980s Fender Stratocaster Elite

This is the last of the seven guitars seen on a photograph taken in 1985 at Yoyogi Olympic Pool, Tokyo [Eric Clapton’s guitars – GettyImages], showing a collection of Eric’s tour guitars. According to Tom Wheeler’s The Stratocaster Chronicles book [The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat, Tom Wheeler, p.222], Clapton was given […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1986

1986 Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton Prototype (V000007)

This is the prototype of the Eric Clapton Signature model based in part on the Fender Elite Stratocaster, a ’57 Reissue Strat, and Clapton’s own Blackie. Based on photos, Eric started using it in early 1986, alongside two other prototypes finished in dark grey. They were all built by George Blanda. [Lot 62, A 1986 Fender Stratocaster […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1986

1986 Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton Prototype (V000008)

This is the second of the three prototypes that Eric received from Fender in early 1986. Since this guitar is identical to the red prototype (aside from the color obviously) please refer to Eric Clapton’s 1986 Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton Prototype (V000007) page for more information. If any information comes up regarding this specific prototype […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1986

1986 Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton Prototype (V000009)

This is the third prototype made by George Blanda that Eric received from Fender sometime in early 1986. Based on photos and video recordings from around that time, the guitar was used parallel with the other prototypes but was the only one to have made it into the 90s. Also based on the photos, initially there didn’t […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1988

Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton Signature (First Edition)

The Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster was officially released in 1988, and ever since then, Eric has been using the model as his main go-to guitar. The first version of the EC Signature Strat that came out that year was essentially kept the same all the way until 2001, although there have been some minor changes made to […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1996

1996 The Gold Leaf Stratocaster EC1

In 1996 Eric asked the Fender Custom Shop to build a one of a kind guitar for him. John Page, then vice president of the Fender Custom Shop, recalls that “Eric was in the search of something special, a piece that could hang in a museum like the Louvre”. John thought about gilding a Stratocaster […]

Read Morearrow_right

Acoustic Guitars

date_range 1970

Martin D-45

Eric was first seen with this guitar backstage at the dressing room of Lyceum Ballroom, London, on June 14th, 1970. This was the debut concert of his new band – Derek and the Dominos, but interestingly – the band had no official name prior to the gig. It was billed simply as “Eric Clapton and Friends”, […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1971

1970s Dobro/Regal Resonator Custom

Eric used this guitar most famously during the MTV Unplugged show recorded in 1992. It can be heard on two of the slide tunes he played that night – “Running on Faith” and “Walkin’ Blues”. The guitar was ordered by Clapton as a custom build from Randy Wood and it was finished sometime in 1970 […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1988

1988 Guild Songbird Amber

Clapton was seen playing this guitar on the concert played at Shoreline Amphitheatre, San Francisco, USA, on September 21st, 1988. He used it for the song “Can’t Find My Way Home”, and both him and Mark Knopfler who joined him on stage, used the exact same model that night. [Clapton / Knopfler – Can’t Find My Way Home – […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 1992

1939 Martin 000-42

This is the guitar that Clapton played on MTV Unplugged on January 16, 1992. He played it through most of the show – which was highlighted by an acoustic version of “Layla”. Although we haven’t been able to find any photos of Eric using the guitar prior to the 1992 show, it is possible that he acquired […]

Read Morearrow_right
date_range 2004

Martin 000-ECHF Bellezza Nera

During Eric’s 2003 Japan Tour he used custom guitar which was designed by his friend, Hiroshi Fujiwara. Guitar was black with pearl inlays, and both men’s initials (EC and HF) were inscribed near the bottom of the fretboard. Only eight of these guitars were initially manufactured. In July 2004, Martin announced a limited edition of […]

Read Morearrow_right