Eric Clapton’s 1986 Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton Prototype (V000007)
This is the prototype of the Eric Clapton Signature model. The EC Signature Strat was based in part on the Fender Elite Stratocaster, a ’57 Reissue Strat, and Clapton’s own Blackie. Based on photos, Eric started using the prototype in early 1986, alongside two other prototypes finished in dark grey. They were all built by George Blanda. [Lot 62, A 1986 Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton Signature Model – Christie’s]
EC Prototypes Specs
The prototypes were based overall on the Blackie, including the vintage-style headstock and spaghetti logo, body shape, and contours. The maple neck itself was based on a ’57 reissue model (a guitar which Clapton had access to since the ARMS tour in 1983), and it featured a slightly softer V-profile neck than what Clapton was used to on the Blackie. Although an exact replica of the Blackie’s neck was apparently Clapton’s initial wish, he ended up liking the softer V neck, and it remained on his Signature model ever since [source needed].
The electronics were largely based on the Fender Elite Stratocaster. That model had Alnico 3 pickups, a YBX tone control, and the MDX midrange boost. The pickups and the mid-boost circuit were likely taken as they were, at least on these early prototypes.
At some time before the guitar reached production, the pickups on the EC model were changed to Lace Sensors Gold, and the boost was adjusted to 25db from the original 14db.
This would evolve into the Clapton circuit, with Eric wanting more and more of what he called ‘compression,’ so we kept increasing the midrange boost until we maxed out at 25db.The Stratocaster Chronicles: Celebrating 50 Years of the Fender Strat, Tom Wheeler
Some sources claim that these three guitars (the red one and the two grey ones) had Gold Laces from the very start, but based on the photos there’s no visible branding on them, so that’s probably not true.
Eric used this red prototype in 1986 and in 1987. It was seen most notably on June 20th, 1986 at the Wembley Arena, on July 9th/10th 1986 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and on January 9th, 1987 at the Royal Albert Hall.
In 1987, Eric acquired two additional red Stratocasters, so it becomes very hard to tell them apart from this guitar from that point on. Both of those had Lace Sensor Gold pickups, and they both had Eric’s signature on the headstock. But those are basically the only visible differences, and very hard to spot on grainy video footage.
Gone to Ian Botham
The first red prototype Clapton apparently gave to English cricketer Ian Botham as a gift in exchange for his bat. [Lot 62, A 1986 Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton Signature Model – Christie’s] It’s unknown when exactly this happened, but likely sometime in 1987 or 1988.
When Beefy [Ian Botham] came along I wanted to come back [to cricket]. It drew me back, and I spend about a year hanging out with him actually in the 80s – just going to watch him play everywhere. He was playing for Worcester.Eric Clapton – Talks About His Passion For Cricket, Ian Botham(Beefy) & more – Radio Broadcast 2008
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