Eric Clapton’s 1963 Fender Telecaster

access_time First seen circa 1964

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 the road constantly and I didn’t even have my own guitar. I [initially] used Eric’s red Tele, which I think belonged to the Yardbirds.

Legendary Guitar: Jeff Beck’s 1954 Yardbirds Esquire

However, since Jeff was never actually seen playing the guitar, there are some doubts whether this story is completely true. […]

As said, this was Eric’s main guitar with the Yardbirds, and it was likely used on both the 1964 live album “Five Live Yardbirds” recorded at the Marquee Club in London [Yardbirds at The Marquee Club 1964], and on the tracks that Eric played on “For Your Love” in 1965 (basically everything except “I’m Not Talking”, “I Ain’t Done Wrong”, and “My Girl Sloopy” – which were of course played by Jeff Beck). [For Your Love (album) – Wikipedia]

(When asked which guitar he used on Yardbirds recordings:) I think the Tele. Or the Gibson, but more likely the Tele, because I remember breaking strings a lot, and that’s why I moved to the Tele.

Eric Clapton: Blues Power; GuitarWorld.com

In the quote below Clapton notes again that he would often break his strings while playing on the Tele, and how that eventually played a role in him acquiring the nickname “Slowhand”.  This statement, however, makes the quote above a bit confusing, since he mentioned moving from Gibson to the Tele, while below he mentioned that he had the Tele from the day one. The Gibson ES-335 was purchased only after he had made some money playing with the Yardbirds (more about this in the ES-335 section)

I had a Telecaster in The Yardbirds from day one. I used light-gauge strings, with a very thin first string, which made it easier to bend the notes, and it was not uncommon, during frenetic bits of playing, for me to break at least one string.  While I was changing my strings the audience would often break into a slow handclap, inspiring Giorgio (Gomelsky, The Yardbirds’ manager) to dream up the nickname of ‘Slowhand’ Clapton.

I choked up as my guitars were sold, Eric Clapton, DailyMail.co.uk

After Eric left the Yardbirds on March 25, 1965, the guitar ended up with the band’s new guitarist – Jeff Beck, who used for a brief period of time before acquiring a Fender Esquire. The red Telecaster practically disappears from that point on, and its whereabouts are to this day unknown. It could’ve remained in the private possession of Giorgio Gomelsky, who was the band’s manager during the Clapton era, or it could’ve been sold since everybody in the band seemed to have settled with a guitar of their own.

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I think I know where it is

Continue browsing, or go subdirectory_arrow_leftBack to Eric Clapton Gear Page
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. Date of Purchase Theories The first theory is largely based on Eric’s claim that he […]

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 a design collective called The Fool. They had also painted John Lennon’s Rolls-Royce in lurid psychedelic […]

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 “Farewell” Tours Original Signed Expense Ledger]. Please note that depending on the source, you’ll find […]

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 another guitar prior to that. One the page regarding the 1962 Fender Telecaster/Stratocaster Custom, we’ve mentioned […]

access_time 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 then we started making money, I found I had nothing else to spend it 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 famous “Blackie” Stratocaster using components from the four Stratocasters he bought from me and parts […]

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 (a Greek band he had a short stint with). This could possibly mean that the […]

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 a large headstock. Most of the people, however, associate this guitar with the Blind Faith […]

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 being the first of the two to buy one. About the time that we share […]

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) [Million Dollar Les Paul, Tony Bacon, pp. 66–68.] Lucy with Eric Eric himself seems to […]

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