Eric Clapton’s 1996 The Gold Leaf Stratocaster EC1

In 1996 Eric asked the Fender Custom Shop to build a one of a kind guitar for him. John Page, then vice president of the Fender Custom Shop, recalls that “Eric was in the search of something special, a piece that could hang in a museum like the Louvre”. John thought about gilding a Stratocaster using 23K gold leaves, it took three trials prior to finding the right combination of finish/hardware.

Clapton’s guitar was built by Masterbuilder Mark Kendrick with a gold pickguard, control knobs, and pickup covers. Eric replaced the pickguard, pickups and control knobs with the usual white plastic components found on his personal guitars. EC1 was extensively used in 1997 and sold for $455,000 on June 24th, 2004 during the Christies’ charity auction for the Crossroads Centre which he founded in 1998.

In 2004 Guitar Center introduced a limited Masterbuilt edition of the Gold Leaf Stratocaster which retailed for $8000. The model was however discontinued in 2010. Unlike the original Gold Leaf Strat, this recreation sported three Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups, a 25dB active midrange booster and a regular 250K tone control in place of the TBX circuit.


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