Eric Clapton’s 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, and this seems to be the only time Clapton ever used this guitar on stage.

Eric playing a Gibson hollow-body at the Concert for Bangladesh, 1971
Eric used a Gibson hollow-body at the Concert for Bangladesh in August 1971

Based on the visual cues – like the flowerpot headstock inlay, gold-plated hardware, pointy fingerboard at the end, and the tailpiece – the guitar appears to be a Byrdland model. There are however some deviations – like the fact that the fretboard has double parallelogram inlays which are usually found on the 350T model. 

But, given the fact that most things point towards a Byrdland, and taking into consideration that Eric himself was apparently quoted saying he played that exact model during Concert for Bangladesh, it is safe to assume that this is indeed a closed case. But, it’s also very interesting that there doesn’t seem to be another one of these in existence – a Byrdland with double parallelogram inlays.

Feedback

GroundGuitar counts on your criticism and feedback. In case you notice anything wrong with the information posted on this page, or you have knowledge of something that you would like to share, be sure to leave a comment below.

If you notice a piece of gear missing, and you wanna add it yourself, you can do so on this page Add Gear to GroundGuitar.

In case you want to talk to me directly and privately, please use the Contact Form and I will get back to you as soon as possible. (Dan)

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
11 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Steve O'Connor
Steve O'Connor
3 years ago

I believe he also played the Byrdland in the Chuck Berry movie most notably in the song, “Wee Wee Hours.”

Steven Gamiello
Steven Gamiello
1 year ago

On the Chuck Berry Film he was using an ES 350T with p90’s Pre1957. I believe his was a ’55. These were a short scale, 23.5″. He did use a few Byrdlands on the Nothing but the Blues Tour in ’94-’95. He has also used some vintage L-5’s through out the years. Usually with p90’s as well. See his “Over the Rainbow” video.

Ron
Ron
3 years ago

Eric Clapton’s 1950s Gibson Byrdland
I think Clapton used this on one of the live ” Somewhere over the Rainbow”

Steve G
Steve G
3 years ago

What happened to the guitar. Who owns it now?

Steve G
Steve G
1 year ago

New York, where the Concert was held, has many studios and equipment rentals house. I know first hand that Carroll Music in Manhattan, Just blocks away from MSG, has some amazing vintage guitars that they rent. I have rented two of the finest acoustics that I ever played from them. A sunburst Gibson J-200 and a Martin D-28. I can’t remember the years of the guitars but they were from the 50’s or early 60’s. It is possible that Eric had rented the guitar from them just for the show. I have seen a video where Eric states that he wanted a Chuck Berry Guitar with P-90’s for the show but one wasn’t readily available.

Brad
Brad
3 years ago

It appears that the second show guitar actually wasn’t Brownie (no fingerboard wear) but another mid fifties two tone sunburst Strat.

William Northcutt
William Northcutt
2 years ago

This is probably well-known. The Byrdland just happened to be handy when Clapton left to go to the concert. He grabbed it, but when he got on stage, he regretted his choice. That probably has something to do with it’s absence in live situations, except for those times mentioned. Let’s just say it’s never been his go to after Bangladesh.