Eric’s guitar collection features some of the most iconic instruments in the history of Rock and Roll. His first guitar was a cheap Kay Jazz II model, but by 1964 Clapton already moved onto a red Fender Telecaster, which he used on the majority of the material that he recorded with the Yardbirds. In 1966, he acquired a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard, nicknamed “Beano-burst”, that would become one of the most iconic guitars of the period. A year later, he started using a Gibson SG Standard, nicknamed “The Fool”, decorated in psychedelic colors and designs.
In 1970, Eric had made a big shift, and moved away from Gibson guitars, towards Fender. His first majorly important guitar was a 1956 Fender Stratocaster, also known as “Brownie”. With this guitar, Eric would go on to record “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”, before retiring it in 1975 – in favor of another Stratocaster, Blackie.
This second Stratocaster was assembled by Eric, using parts from four different 1950s Stratocasters that he bought from George Gruhn. He would use the Blackie until around a decade later, at which point Fender started producing replicas of the guitar, for Eric to use, and for the fans to purchase themselves.
As far as amplification, the two amps worth singling out are the Marshall Bluesbreaker Model 1962 and a Marshall JTM45/100. The Model 1962 was used to record “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton” (a.k.a. The Beano Album) in early to mid-1966, while the JTM45/100 was Eric’s main amp during Cream/Blind Faith era.
Eric Clapton Equipment Guide
Please note that this is just a quick basic guide for beginners. In reality, a lot of factors go into replicating someone’s sound, and it’s usually nearly impossible to achieve. To see the equipment that Clapton actually used himself, and all that went into it, refer to the chronological list below.
Considering that Eric went through a few different phases in his career, in regard to which guitars he preferred, it’s obviously important to decide which Eric sound we’re trying to replicate. If we’re going for Bluesbreakers/Cream era Clapton, we’d look for a humbucker equipped guitar – so what makes the most sense is a Gibson Les Paul or Gibson SG (depending on your liking), or an Epiphone (for those on a budget).
The Derek-era (and the more modern era) Eric is, in contrast, pretty much all Stratocaster. So, in this case, we’d ideally want Clapton’s Signature Stratocaster from Fender – which, take note, is somewhat pricey. The more budget-friendly option would be something like a Squier Classic Vibe 50s, which lacks all the bells and whistles of the EC model (like the mid-boost and noiseless pickups) but is still pretty amazing.
In terms of acoustic guitars, Eric himself uses Martins and has his own signature model – Martin 000-28EC. If you want something cheaper but similar, check out Sigma guitars.
Again, ideally, we’d go for something from Eric’s own signature line of amps from Fender. However, at the time of writing this, none of those models are available (production stopped). The second best would be basically any decent tube amp (so around $1000 and up). But, if you want to keep it simple and not spend too much, modern modeling amps are pretty good nowadays. Grab a Marshall Code 25 amp for example, and fiddle with the settings until it sounds good to you.
Regarding strings, pick up a set of Ernie Ball Regular Slinky (10-46) for an electric guitar. If you’re playing acoustic, Eric Clapton strings his own guitars with his signature set from Martin. Don’t worry too much about picks, and choose whatever you prefer (Eric himself probably went through all of them).