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What Electric Guitar Does Eric Clapton Play

Eric Clapton predominantly plays the Fender Stratocaster. He is known for his signature model, the “Blackie”.

Legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, often hailed as one of the most influential guitarists of all time, has shown a clear preference for the iconic Fender Stratocaster throughout his illustrious career. His affinity for this model is so strong that it became closely associated with his sound, particularly the custom-built “Blackie” Stratocaster, which was his main instrument through the 1970s and 1980s.

Clapton’s choice of guitar has inspired countless musicians, underlining the Fender Stratocaster’s versatility across different genres of music, from blues to rock. With its sleek design, distinct tone, and comfortable playability, the Stratocaster perfectly complements Clapton’s technical prowess and emotional expression on stage and in the studio, cementing his status as a guitar icon.

What Electric Guitar Does Eric Clapton Play


Introduction To Eric Clapton And His Musical Journey

You’d be hard-pressed to discuss the pantheon of guitar legends without mentioning Eric Clapton. This iconic musician’s journey through the heart of rock and blues history is not only fascinating but inspirational. To understand Clapton’s impact on music, it’s essential to dive into his biography, observe his influence on the industry, and explore how his guitar preferences have evolved throughout his illustrious career.

A Brief Biography Of Eric Clapton

Born on March 30, 1945, in Ripley, Surrey, England, Eric Clapton grew from a blues-obsessed teenager to a world-renowned guitarist and songwriter. Often referred to by his nickname “Slowhand”, he has graced numerous bands such as the Yardbirds, Cream, and Derek and the Dominos with his soulful playing style. Clapton’s solo career further cemented his status as a guitar maestro, earning him an array of awards and recognition.

Clapton’s Impact On The Music Industry

Clapton is not merely a musician; he is a cornerstone of modern music. His distinctive sound and pioneering techniques have influenced generations of guitarists. With seventeen Grammys and the only triple inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, his legacy is undeniable. Songs like “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight” have become staples in the soundtrack of people’s lives, thanks to his emotive guitar playing and songwriting prowess.

The Evolution Of Clapton’s Guitar Preferences Over Time

From the roaring Gibson guitars of his early career to the signature Fender Strats that became synonymous with his name, Eric Clapton’s choice of instruments tells a story of its own. Over the years, his preference for guitars seemed to parallel his musical evolution. His famous “Blackie” Stratocaster melded the best parts of various vintage Fender guitars and became as iconic as the man himself. While his acoustic performances on Martin guitars revealed a more intimate side to his music, the Fender Stratocaster remains his most enduring preference, an extension of his very soul. Notably, the “Brownie” Stratocaster gave life to the timeless classic “Layla,” chronicling another pivotal chapter in his storied career.

The Signature Guitars Of Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton’s journey with the six-string has seen a remarkable partnership with some of the most iconic guitars in the history of music. His soulful blues licks and rock’n’roll riffs have been channeled through a series of extraordinary instruments that not only became his signature tools but also shaped the sound of an era. This post delves into the celebrated axes that Clapton has strummed through the years.

The Famed ‘blackie’ Stratocaster

Amongst Eric Clapton’s arsenal, one guitar stands out—the legendary ‘Blackie’ Stratocaster. This customized Fender guitar, assembled from the best parts of three vintage Stratocasters that Clapton purchased in the 1970s, has become synonymous with his name.

  • Period of Use: Mid-70s to mid-80s
  • Key Features: Black finish, maple neck, and distinctive single-coil pickups
  • Songs Popularized: “Layla,” “Cocaine,” and “Wonderful Tonight”

The ‘brownie’ Stratocaster And Its Historical Significance

The ‘Brownie’ Stratocaster deserves its own chapter in the annals of music history. Prior to ‘Blackie’, Clapton’s ‘Brownie’ was his main instrument during the early ’70s, and it was with this guitar that he recorded the timeless hit “Layla” with Derek and the Dominos.

Sale Details Contribution to Music
Sold at auction for charity Featured in the recording of ‘Layla’ and other notable pieces

The ‘duck’ Telecaster And Lesser-known Instruments

While the Strats may dominate the limelight, Eric Clapton’s ‘Duck’ Telecaster has also played a pivotal role in his musical ventures. Named for its duck sticker on the body, this Telecaster is often overshadowed by its Strat cousins, yet it remains an integral piece of Clapton’s guitar history.

Alongside these illustrious guitars, Clapton has also been seen wielding various other instruments that have contributed to his diverse tonal palette. These include:

  • Gibson Les Pauls
  • Gibson SGs
  • Martin Acoustic Guitars

Eric Clapton’s Relationship With Guitar Manufacturers

Eric Clapton, the legendary guitarist known for his blues-infused rock licks and soulful melodies, has had a profound influence on the music world. Not only has he inspired generations of guitarists with his playing style, but his close relationships with leading guitar manufacturers have resulted in the creation of some of the most iconic musical instruments in the industry. Clapton’s collaborations have led to signature models that guitar enthusiasts and professionals alike seek after for their exceptional craftsmanship, quality, and the ‘Clapton touch’ they hope to infuse into their own playing.

Among the sea of manufacturers, Fender stands out as a brand deeply intertwined with Eric Clapton’s musical journey. Their partnership blossomed into the production of the Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster. This model not only captures the essence of Clapton’s sound but also showcases Fender’s commitment to quality. Features like the signature mid-boost circuit and “soft V” neck profile cater to Clapton’s playing preferences, making it a prime choice for musicians seeking that coveted Clapton tone.

Clapton’s influence extends to Gibson, another titan of the guitar world. The company produced limited edition models which became collector’s items instantly. The Gibson ‘Beano’ Les Paul, named after the famed Bluesbreakers album cover on which Clapton is seen with a 1960 Les Paul Standard, exemplifies his connection with Gibson. These limited runs are esteemed for their rarity and historical significance, offering a special slice of Clapton’s musical legacy.

Personalization has always been key to Eric Clapton’s approach to his instruments. He frequently employs custom-made guitars tailored to his precise specifications. Over the years, Clapton has made personal modifications that serve his unique sound, from changing pickups to adjusting neck shapes. These custom features allow him to seamlessly express his musical vision, reinforcing his status as a true connoisseur of the instrument.

What Electric Guitar Does Eric Clapton Play


Clapton’s Influence On Guitar Culture And Legacy

Eric Clapton, affectionately known as “Slowhand,” has left an indelible mark on the world of electric guitars. His touch, tone, and choice of instruments have not only defined his sound but also influenced guitar culture deeply. As a musician who has navigated through blues, rock, and pop, Clapton has showcased an array of guitars that have, in turn, become icons. With a knack for selecting guitars that complement his style, Clapton’s preference has shaped the choices of countless guitar enthusiasts and professionals alike.

How Clapton’s Guitar Choice Has Impacted Fellow Musicians

Eric Clapton’s influence on fellow musicians runs deep. His signature sound, which was often wrung from the frets of a Fender Stratocaster, famously named “Blackie,” set a benchmark for tone and playability. It was not just the specific model but the way Clapton played these instruments that inspired guitarists around the world to pick up a Stratocaster and chase that creamy, singing tone unique to Clapton’s style. The impact is evident in the explosion of Stratocaster sales and endorsements by other musicians, following Clapton’s ascendancy in the 1970s to the present.

Collectors And The Market For Clapton-associated Guitars

The market for guitars associated with Eric Clapton has seen a substantial surge, driven by collectors and enthusiasts eager to own a piece of history. Notable sales, such as the auction of “Blackie” for a then-record-breaking price, reflect the esteem with which Clapton’s instruments are held. This fervor extends to special editions and replicas, with manufacturers often releasing “Clapton-spec” models that mimic the specifications of his famous guitars. This fascination has not only boosted the vintage guitar market but also ensured that any instrument played by Clapton becomes a sought-after collector’s item.

Educational Contributions And The Crossroads Guitar Festival

Clapton’s legacy transcends his personal music career. Through initiatives like The Crossroads Guitar Festival, Clapton has contributed significantly to guitar education and awareness. This biennial music festival and charity event gathers some of the world’s greatest guitar players to raise funds for the Crossroads Centre, a drug treatment facility founded by Clapton. By doing this, he has not only spotlighted exceptional guitar talent but has also facilitated the spread of knowledge and appreciation for the instrument’s versatility and cultural significance.

Choosing The Right Eric Clapton Model For Guitarists Today

When it comes to legendary guitarists, few names are as revered as Eric Clapton. Renowned for his mesmerizing solos and distinctive blues-rock sound, Clapton has become an icon in the music world. Many aspiring guitarists dream of emulating his sound, and a crucial step to achieving that is selecting the right guitar. Clapton has played several models throughout his career, but his signature models are especially sought after. This guide will provide insights to ensure you choose the right Eric Clapton model for your own musical journey.

Considerations For Beginners Inspired By Clapton

For novices picking up the guitar, inspiration is key to staying motivated. If you’re a beginner with aspirations to follow in Clapton’s footsteps, picking an instrument that blends playability and authentic Clapton tone is essential. Here are several factors to keep in mind:

  • Comfort: A guitar that feels good in your hands and is easy to play will keep you practicing longer.
  • Quality: Look for build quality that offers both durability and excellent sound.
  • Price: As a beginner, finding a balance between affordability and the features you need is crucial.
  • Sound: The guitar should be capable of producing the bluesy tones associated with Clapton’s style.

Pros And Cons Of Different Clapton Model Guitars

Clapton’s arsenal includes a variety of models, each with its own unique features. Deciding which guitar best suits your needs requires an understanding of what each model offers. Here’s a brief comparison:

Model Pros Cons
Fender Stratocaster (Blackie) Versatile sound, exceptional playability, historic significance Can be pricey, may not suit all music genres
Gibson Les Paul Standard Thick, creamy tones ideal for blues and rock, solid construction Heavier body, higher cost
Martin Acoustic High-quality acoustic sound, craftsmanship Not immediately associated with Clapton’s electric sound, expensive

Where To Find And Purchase Clapton Signature Guitars

Every guitarist dreams of owning a piece of history, and Clapton’s signature guitars offer that chance. But where can you find these treasures? Start with reputable music shops or online retailers that specialize in guitars. Look for dealers that offer certified authenticity and solid return policies. Popular venues include:

  1. Online music instrument retailers
  2. Local music shops
  3. Auction sites for rare finds
  4. Official brand stores for new signature models

Remember to read reviews, compare prices, and, if possible, test the guitar before finalizing your purchase. Owning a Clapton model not only serves as a gateway to his sound but also as an investment in your musical journey.

What Electric Guitar Does Eric Clapton Play


Conclusion: The Enduring Legacy Of Clapton’s Guitar Choices

Exploring the impact of Eric Clapton’s electric guitar choices, we come to appreciate not only his masterful music but also the ripple effect it has had on the guitar industry. The instruments he chose throughout his career did more than provide a medium for hit songs—they became symbols of rock ‘n’ roll history. Below, we delve into the aspects that make Clapton’s guitar choices a significant chapter in the annals of music.

Summary Of Clapton’s Influence On Guitar Design

Eric Clapton’s choices in electric guitars have had a profound influence on their design and perception. His affinity for particular models, such as the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul, has not only cemented these guitars as icons but also led to the production of numerous signature models tailored to his specifications. Some noteworthy influences include:

  • The Stratocaster’s evolution through Clapton’s input, leading to enhancements in sound and playability.
  • Clapton’s custom “Blackie” guitar becoming one of the most renowned and cherished models among guitar enthusiasts.
  • Signature features like noiseless pickups and mid-boost circuits, which now appear in production-line guitars as a result of Clapton’s preferences.

The Continued Relevance Of Clapton Models

Decades on, the particular models Eric Clapton popularized remain in high demand. Fender continues producing Clapton signature Stratocasters, solidifying them as timeless staples in their lineup. The reasons for the enduring relevance of Clapton’s guitar models include:

  1. Quality craftsmanship that appeals to both professional musicians and aspiring players.
  2. Iconic associations with Clapton’s hits providing a nostalgic and aspirational allure.
  3. Ongoing visibility in contemporary music culture, often appearing in the hands of modern guitarists.

Final Thoughts On What Makes Clapton’s Guitars Iconic

Summarizing Clapton’s iconic guitars, it’s the blend of his personal artistry and the intrinsic qualities of the guitars that creates a magnetic combination. A Clapton guitar isn’t just an instrument; it’s a piece of music history, enrapturing fans with its storied past and the sounds it helped birth. Elements that contribute to the icon status of Clapton’s guitars include their:

Element Contribution to Icon Status
Historical Significance Association with ground-breaking moments in music history.
Signature Sound Distinctive tones that help define the Clapton sound.
Personalization Custom modifications and specifications that reflect Clapton’s unique style.

Ultimately, the narrative of Clapton’s guitars is interwoven with his legacy. The instruments he played told their own stories and will continue to inspire future generations of musicians and fans alike.

Frequently Asked Questions Of What Electric Guitar Does Eric Clapton Play

What Electric Guitar Does Eric Clapton Use?

Eric Clapton primarily uses Fender Stratocaster guitars, notably his signature models like “Blackie” and “Brownie. ” He also plays custom-built Stratocasters.

What Size Pick Does Eric Clapton Use?

Eric Clapton typically uses a medium gauge pick for his guitar playing.

What Was Eric Clapton’s First Guitar?

Eric Clapton’s first guitar was a Hoyer acoustic, made in Germany, which he received as a gift at thirteen.

What Guitar Did Clapton Play On Layla?

Eric Clapton played a Fender Stratocaster nicknamed “Blackie” on the iconic song “Layla. “


Eric Clapton’s guitar preferences mirror his music evolution. His choice, the Fender Stratocaster, has become iconic through his hands. Whether you’re an aspiring guitarist or a Clapton fan, his instrument is a testament to his legacy. Explore these guitars and keep the blues alive, just like Clapton does.

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