Eric ‘s collection of guitars features some of the most iconic instruments in Rock and Roll history. His first guitar was an inexpensive Kay Jazz II model , but in 1964 Clapton already replaced it with a Fender Telecaster red, which he used on most of the material he recorded with the Yardbirds. In 1966 he purchased a Gibson Les Paul Standard 1960 , nicknamed“Beano-burst,” which would later become one of the most iconic guitars of the period. A year later, he began using a Gibson SG Standard, nicknamed “The Fool” , decorated with psychedelic colors and designs.

The Stratocaster

In 1970, Eric made a big change and moved away from Gibson guitars and toward the Fender. His first guitar of primary importance was a Fender Stratocaster 1956, also known as the “Brownie.” With this guitar, Eric would go on to record “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs,” before retiring it in 1975 – replacing it with another Stratocaster, Blackie.

This second Stratocaster was assembled by Eric, using parts from four different Stratocaster from the 1950s that he purchased from George Gruhn. He would use the Blackie until about a decade later, at which point he Fender began producing replicas of the guitar, for Eric to use and for fans to buy.

The Marshall

In terms of amplification, the two amplifiers of note are the Marshall Bluesbreaker Model 1962 and a Marshall JTM45 / 100. The Model 1962 was used to record “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton” (aka The Beano Album) from early to mid-1966, while the JTM45 / 100 was Eric ‘s main amplifier during the Cream / Blind Faith era.

Eric Clapton’s Kay Jazz II K775 from the 1960s

Eric used this guitar before joining the Yardbirds in about 1962, while playing in his first band called “The Rooster.” The guitar was purchased from Bells in Surbiton. Eric, purchased it with the help of his grandmother.

<<The Kay was the guitar my grandmother bought me on installment. That got me into the band, and then we started making money, I found that I had nothing else to spend it on but guitars.>>

Eric Clapton’s 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard “Beano Burst”

Eric used this guitar during the John Mayall and Bluesbreakers era, although it is probably not the only Les Paul he owned at that time. In his autobiography [ Clapton: The Autobiography ] Eric mentions buying a couple of guitars before leaving for Greece in 1966 and bringing only one to play with the Juniors (a Greek band he played with for a short time). This could mean that the Les Paul he used in the early days of the Bluesbreakers, before the trip to Greece, was actually a different guitar.

So to avoid any confusion, in all likelihood the Beano Burst is the guitar Eric was photographed with during studio sessions with John Mayall, who of course produced the Blues Breakers with the ‘ album of Eric Clapton. Most of the photos from the era Bluesbreakers actually show Eric using a Les Paul, but because of some things said in the autobiography of Eric, and because most of these photos are too grainy to see any detail of the guitar, it is almost impossible to tell if they are the same guitar or different guitars.

1956 Fender Stratocaster “Brownie”

Clapton purchased the Stratocaster with maple neck at London’s Sound City on May 7, 1967 [ Eric Clapton “Brownie” Tribute Stratocaster, Fender Custom Shop ]. At that time, Eric was using the Fool SG pretty much exclusively, and it Stratocaster did not see much light on stage until about three years later, although its neck had its own history on another guitar before that.

The neck that Eric used on the Telecaster probably came directly from the Stratocaster which later became known as the Brownie. As far as we know, this has not been confirmed by Eric, but based on photographic evidence and the concerts where they were used (never simultaneously), it makes this thesis most likely true.

Eric Clapton’s 1950s Fender Stratocaster “Blackie”

Eric assembled this guitar in 1970 using parts from four different Stratocaster from the 1950s purchased from George Gruhn and from additional parts purchased from the Sho-Bud guitar store in Nashville.
Some sources claim the guitar was assembled in Nashville by Ted Newman Jones, but Clapton said he brought the guitars back to England before disassembly.

Blackie essentially became Eric ‘s lead guitar when he returned from a two-year hiatus in the early ’70s, directly replacing Brownie-a guitar Clapton had used most famously on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs in late 1970. Eric ‘s first live appearance on guitar was on January 13, 1973, at the Rainbow Concert, organized by Pete Townshend as Clapton‘s comeback concert.

Blackie has been both the lead guitar for recordings and the lead guitar for live concerts. He was featured extensively on the 1974 album 461 Ocean Boulevard (this was his favorite guitar back to recording), as well as in There One in Every Crowd that followed shortly thereafter.

From then on (based on the information provided with the Christie’s auction) the guitar was used on virtually all subsequent albums until 1985. This includes the studio albums No Reason to Cry (1976), Slowhand (1977), Backless (1978 – the guitar is featured on the cover), Another Ticket (1981), Money and Cigarettes (1983) and finally – Behind the Sun (1985). The Blackie was also featured on all three live albums: EC Was Here (1975), Just One Night (1980 – Blackie is featured on the cover) and Time Pieces Vol.II Live in the Seventies (1983 – also has Blackie on the cover)

The same is true for live performances. Blackie was widely used until 1984, when Eric started using a bunch of new Stratocaster. In 1986, Blackie retired.

Roger Giffin Stratocaster #1

This guitar was built by Roger Giffin, an English luthier, as a direct replica of the Blackie, except of course for the color of the finish. Eric actually loaned the Blackie to Roger to copy the exact specifications. [ Giffin Guitars – Customer List ]

The Giffin Stratocaster blue was first used in late 1983, during the ARMS concert at the Royal Albert Hall, for the song “Everybody Oughta Change.”

From late 1983 onward, the guitar was used regularly on tour to play slide (according to Christie’ s auction information of the guitar-it was used on “Tulsa Time” and “Motherless Children”). It was finally retired in 1986 and remained in Eric ‘s possession until 1999, when it was sold at auction as part of the big Crossroads Center sale.




  • Powerful midrange boosted pickups
  • Fast, comfortable neck profile


  • Too ‘normal’ for a signature style?
Mechanics and Electronics

Final Verdict

Not only the closest match to Slowhand’s guitar, but a supreme piece of equipment in its own right. The Fender Custom Shop Eric Clapton Signature Strat, Eric’s most familiar guitar post-Cream, comes with an alder body, noiseless pickups and synchronized tremolo. Apparently to have a feel more akin to his acoustics, the neck profile is a smoothed V, which Eric personally specified. The neck also carries a satin finish to enable quicker movement. The pickups are the other main area of change, where a midrange boost gives the single coils an almost humbucking sound. Fender’s TBX tone control also offers a wide band, from shimmering to bass driven.