Eric Clapton’s 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 in photos taken during the ’74-’75 tour.

Specs, Usage

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 a result of the guitar being an original prototype, but that theory was eventually debunked and the guitar turned up to be modified by the previous owner. This allegedly made Clapton somewhat pissed, up to the point of trying to return the guitar to the store. [internet babble, reliable source needed on this]

Nevertheless, he used this guitar on several songs from the album E.C. Was Here released in 1975. It is also most likely the guitar he was photographed with for the Music Man ad for HD-130 Reverb amplifiers in 1976. The photo was taken so that the sleeve on Eric’s shirt directly covers up the portion of the guitar that was cut off, so this is mostly just a guess.

1976 Music Man Guitars promotional ad featuring Eric Clapton.
1976 Music Man Guitars promotional ad featuring Eric Clapton.

The guitar today

According to Tony Bacon’s book Flying V, Explorer, Firebird: An Odd-Shaped History of Gibson’s Weird Electric Guitars, Clapton gave the guitar to Junior Marvin in 1977, who then sold it off to a private buyer sometime in the 1980s.

More recently, the guitar ended up in the hands of Kunio Kushida, a guitarist and a collector from Japan (also the same person who owns Duane Allman’s Gibson Les Paul Junior).

Kunio Kushida playing Clapton’s Gibson Explorer. Source: Kunio Kishida Goes Back to His Roots with His 8th Album “Slide Angel”

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3 years ago

This guitar was sold by Clapton to Allen Collins of Lynyrd Skynyrd I believe in 1976. It now hangs in the rock n roll HOF along with Gary Rossington’s LesPaul

Stephen Stuckmeyer
Stephen Stuckmeyer
3 years ago
Reply to  Dan Kopilovic

Yes, Allen’s was not the cut away version but I understand Eric had more than one. There are some that claim Allen bought his from a shop in Nashville. Gibson claims the Clapton/Collins story when they talk about famous people that played the Explorer. Wonder if the HOF has the serial number of Allen’s and if it could be traced back to its history?
Sorry if I’m muddying the water. I think one thing is for sure there are not a lot of those 58’s and they are worth a lot of cash.

Jim Pittman
Jim Pittman
2 years ago

I have researched this story and it is painfully obvious if you actually look at the facts, Eric Clapton owned “TWO” 1958 Gibson Korina Explorers. The first one is serial # 8-3876 with the “modified Bass Bout” (the Sawed off) and we all know that Allen Collins Explorer WAS NOT the “Sawed Off” guitar. Eric gave that guitar to Julian Marvin from Bob Marley’s band in the mid 70s. The second 1958 Gibson Korina Explorer that Eric Clapton owned was serial # 8-4541 which he owned until it was auctioned off in June of 1999. So, there is NO WAY either of those two guitars are the same as Allen Collins because AC bought his in mid 1976 from Gruhn’s guitars in Nashville for $4000 (and it’s still owned by his family) and we know it’s not the sawed off Explorer and Eric Clapton still owned his 8-4541 Explorer till 1999. Plus people keep forgetting that Allen Collins had a Maestro Vibrato metal arm installed on his Explorer and neither of Clapton’s had that option. It makes a great story for Gibson to tell and most people eat that up, but you also have to remember that there are only 45 Original 1958 Gibson Korina Explorers known to exist and the possibility of Eric Clapton owning more than 2 of the rarest guitar ever made back in the early part of their existence is HIGHLY DOUBTFUL. I’m working on getting the serial # of Allen Collins 1958 Gibson Korina Explorer so we can finally put this myth to bed. I hope this clears things up!

Craig Sanburn
Craig Sanburn
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim Pittman

The last time I saw Allens 58 he had their guitar guy put a strat or jaguar style arm on the maestro bridge. It was kinda put on with some washers and a nut on the end but it worked! I got to check it out when Allen did the Rossington Collins tour. My buddy did their merchandise and took me to the show in San Francisco. He took me to check out the guitar room. Of course, all I wanted to see was that 58.