Eric Clapton’s 1960s Kay Jazz II

access_time First seen circa 1962

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 then we started making money, I found I had nothing else to spend it on but guitars, so maybe once a month I bought a guitar. [Eric Clapton: Blues Power –]

There are some interesting details about this guitar worth mentioning. Although most of the internet seems to agree that this is indeed a Kay Jazz II model, the fingerboard inlays on Eric’s guitar don’t seem to fit the description. If you Google a photo of a vintage Jazz II, you’ll probably notice that almost every single guitar has uniquely shaped inlays, while Eric’s Kay has simple block inlays. Next to that, you’ll also notice that Eric’s guitar is fitted with a black round pickguard, while every other Kay Jazz II features a very distinctively shaped pickguard mostly in white.

This possibly goes to show that the guitar was somewhat modified, or that it was simply misidentified, or perhaps this is just inconsistency across the same model over the years. If you happen to know more, as always – shoot us a message using the contact form at the bottom of this list.

In his autobiography book Eric also talked a bit about the guitar, mentioning that what he was really after was the Gibson ES-335 – which he would acquire later on while playing with the Yardbirds. In the book he also goes on to explain how the Kay had no truss rod, which resulted in the neck bowing – making it even harder to play.

It was the same guitar I had seen Alexis Korner playing, a double-cutaway semi-acoustic Kay, which at the time was quite an advanced instrument, although essentially, as I later learned, it was still only a copy of the best guitar of the day, the Gibson ES-335. The Gibson would have cost over a hundred pounds then I think, well beyond our reach, while the Kay cost only ten pounds, but still seemed quite exotic. It captured my heart. The only thing that wasn’t quite right with it was the color. Though advertised as Sunburst, which would have been a golden orange going to dark red at the edges, it was more yellowy, going to a sort of pink, so as soon as I got it home, I covered it with black Fablon. [Clapton: The Autobiography; p.80]

Interestingly enough, the guitar was never seen the black Fablon covering the whole body, but perhaps that explains the black pickguard.

Continue browsing, or go subdirectory_arrow_leftBack to Eric Clapton Gear Page
access_time 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 […]

access_time 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 […]

access_time 1968

1964 Gibson ES-335TDC

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

access_time 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 […]

access_time 1973

1950s Fender Stratocaster “Blackie”

Eric assembled this guitar in 1970 using parts from four different 1950s Stratocasters that he bought from George Gruhn, and from additional parts that were purchased at the Sho-Bud guitar shop in Nashville. Eric Clapton first visited my shop in 1970 when Derek & the Dominos performed on The Johnny Cash Show. He assembled his […]

access_time 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 […]

access_time 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 […]

access_time 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 […]

access_time 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 […]

access_time 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) […]

Interested in other artists? Check out GroundGuitar's subdirectory_arrow_rightGear Page

Leave a Reply

Notify of