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, and it took three trials prior to finding the right combination of finish/hardware.

Eric Clapton playing a Gold Leaf Stratocaster at Montreux 1997
Eric used the Gold Leaf Stratocaster at Montreux 1997

Specs, Usage

Clapton’s guitar was built by Masterbuilder Mark Kendrick. It featured a clear polyester finish that protected the gold leaf patterns, curly maple neck, gold-plated hardware, and three Lace Sensor pickups.

Eric used this guitar extensively in 1997. It was used throughout the “Legends” European tour, including filmed performances such as the one at Montreux, and at the Music For Montserrat concert at the Royal Albert Hall on September 15, 1997.

The guitar was also used in the studio. According to Lee Dickinson, Clapton’s guitar tech, the Golf Leaf Stratocaster was used to record most of the Pilgrim album released in 1998. According to Christie’s auction house, the guitar was also used on Rock Me Baby, recorded with B.B. King for his 1997 album Deuces Wild.

For most of the album, his primary electric guitar was a Clapton Signature Model Stratocaster with a custom gold leaf finish and 23-carat gold-plated hardware.

Lee Dickinson, Guitar World, 1998

Fender Masterbuilt Edition

In 2004 Fender 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 instead of the Lace Sensors.


Eric’s original Gold Leaf Stratocaster was sold on June 24th, 2004 at the Christies charity auction for the Crossroads Centre which Eric founded in 1998. The final price was $455,500.


GroundGuitar counts on your criticism and feedback. In case you notice anything wrong with the information posted on this page, or you have knowledge of something that you would like to share, be sure to leave a comment below.

In case you want to talk to me directly and privately, please use the Contact Form and I will get back to you as soon as possible. (Dan)

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments