Eric Clapton’s 1980s Fender Stratocaster Elite
This is the last of the seven guitars seen on a photograph taken in 1985 at Yoyogi Olympic Pool, Tokyo [Eric Clapton’s guitars – GettyImages], showing a collection of Eric’s tour guitars. According to Tom Wheeler’s The Stratocaster Chronicles book [The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat, Tom Wheeler, p.222], Clapton was given a couple of Elite Stratocasters in April 1985. At this time the talk about the Eric Clapton Signature model began between him and Fender, and these Elite Strats served as a blueprint.
The only Strats left (during the factory closure) were some non-trem Elites, which he asked to test before he would sign them for the promo. They had Alnico 3 pickups, a dummy coil, a YBX tone control, and the MDX midrange boost. Eric liked how it sounded. [The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat, Tom Wheeler, p.222]
It is also possible that this was not an actual Elite Stratocaster, but one of the earliest prototypes of the Eric Clapton Signature model. Apparently, the first prototypes were built by using a ’57 Strat reissue neck fitted on an Elite Strat body.
Be that as it may, we haven’t found one single occasion where Eric used the guitar live so it was likely just used in a private setting. If you happen to come across something, be sure to forward it to us.