date_range 2004

Eric Clapton’s Martin 000-ECHF Bellezza Nera

During the 2003 Japan Tour, Eric used a custom-made guitar, designed as a collaboration between him and Hiroshi Fujiwara – a Japanese musician and designer. The model styled a completely clean black finish, snowflake inlays, and both men’s initials (EC and HF) were inscribed near the bottom of the fretboard.

Only eight of these guitars were initially manufactured, but around a year later, Martin released a production model based on the same design.

The Production Model

In July 2004, Martin announced a limited edition of this guitar. The guitar was officially named ‘000-ECHF Bellezza Nera’ (Bellezza meaning beautiful, and Nera meaning black). A total of 476 of these guitars were produced.

It is important to point out that there are differences between Eric’s original guitar, and these later models. The original had ‘EC & HF’ inlayed on the fretboard, instead of “Bellezza Nera” on the production models. Second, the original had the fingerboard shaped or radiused at the last fret to reveal the entire rosette without obstruction (the regular model has a squared fingerboard at the last fret). Third, the initial model had an entirely black label inside of the guitar which is signed by CF Martin, Eric, and Hiroshi in silver pen, while the later models have a black/white label signed by the same three plus Dick Boak in black pen.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, according to the spec sheet of the first prototype ever made (thanks Steve for providing the info), the original model has an Adirondack Spruce top, compared to the Italian Alpine Spruce for the production model.

The very first prototype of the Martin 000-ECHF, identical to the guitar that Eric used himself. Thanks Steve for sending the photos (Steve Heisler on Instagram)

Note that the fingerboard on the prototype is radiused on the bottom to reveal the entire rosette without obstruction. The production model has a squared fingerboard at the last fret. Photo by: Steve Heisler on Instagram

A look at the label inside of the prototype. Photo by: Steve Heisler on Instagram

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