Eric Clapton’s 1969 Zemaitis 12-string “Ivan The Terrible”

This guitar was built for Eric by Tony Zemaitis in early 1969, apparently with direct input from Clapton on the design. According to Bobby Whithloc, the guitar was used at the first-ever Derek and the Dominos gig, played by Dave Mason.

When we did the Lyceum gig we had planned on doing a couple of acoustic numbers. It was just Eric and Dave [Mason, who played Clapton’s 12 string called ‘Ivan The Terrible’] and me playing acoustic guitars and singing…..We did several numbers and then Carl and Jim came on and we all plugged in and rocked the house.

Bobby Whitlock: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Autobiography
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According to info shared by the auction house though which the guitar was sold in 2004, “Ivan The Terrible” was used on the Blind Faith album, but it is not shared on which song(s) specifically. Also according to the auction, at some point, it was borrowed by George Harrison, who recorded parts of My Sweet Lord on it. [ANTHONY C. ZEMAITIS, 1969, 12-STRING GUITAR CO-DESIGNED WITH ERIC CLAPTON] At this point, it is unknown how true this story is, and if you happen to come across an interview from George talking about it, please be sure to leave a comment below.


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John Lawrence
John Lawrence
1 year ago

Tony Zemaitis told me that the guitar had a 28 second sustain

3 years ago

I’ve lusted after this one for decades with, of course, absolutely no chance of satisfying that that desire. Not only was it great sounding, and beautiful, with 12 frets to the neck, it was big enough to take a nap in between sets.

Last edited 3 years ago by errasa