While the majority of guitarists very definitely prefer Fender or Gibson, Eric Clapton has always remained very much â€œon the fenceâ€ when it comes to choosing between the brands, using a 1960 Les Paul, Explorer and his famous â€œFoolâ€ SG as well as his signature Stratocaster and his lesser-known dabblings with Telecasters and Jazzmasters.
However, it is his Fender allegiance that will be focused on in this article.
Clapton first picked up a Strat in 1969, influenced by US blues guitarists Buddy Guy among others. He became known for using the instrument after recording the now-legendary Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs with a 1956 Strat nicknamed Brownie for its tobacco sunburst finish. In 1985 this led to Fender making him a signature Strat based on his iconic Strat, â€œBlackieâ€, originally made from three different 1950s Strats.
He adapted this model until it was perfect, and the finished result had a Clapton-specified V-shape neck profile and active Gold Lace Sensor pickups.
This model has been changed by Clapton himself over the years, and in 2001 the pickups changed to Vintage Noiseless units. There have been Custom Shop versions of the Clapton Strat as well, with new body woods and cosmetic changes. In 2008 a limited edition Antigua-finished model was released.
Here is the full specification for the current Clapton Strat:
- Trio of Fender Vintage Noiselessâ„¢ pickups
- Powerful active mid-boost and TBX circuits
- Soft V-shaped neck
- Blocked original vintage synchronized tremolo bridge
- Body: Alder
- Neck: 1-Piece Maple, Soft â€œVâ€ Shape, (Satin Urethane Finish)
- Fingerboard: Maple, 9.5â€ Radius (241 mm)
- No. of Frets: 22 Vintage Style Frets
- Pickups: 3 Vintage Noiselessâ„¢ Pickups (Neck, Middle, Bridge)
- Controls:Â Master Volume,Â Tone 1. Master TBX Tone Control,Â Tone 2. Master Active Mid Boost (0-25dB)
- Pickup Switching:Â 5-Position Blade;
- Position 1. Bridge Pickup,Â Position 2. Bridge and Middle Pickup,Â Position 3. Middle Pickup,Â Position 4. Middle and Neck Pickup,Â Position 5. Neck Pickup
- Bridge: Â â€œBlockedâ€ American Vintage Synchronized Tremolo
- Machine Heads: Â FenderÂ®/GotohÂ® Vintage Style Tuning Machines
- Hardware: Â Nickel/Chrome
- Pickguard: Â 1-Ply White, (8-Hole)
- Scale Length: Â 25.5â€ (648 mm)
- Width at Nut: Â 1.650â€ (42 mm)
- Special Soft “V” Shape Neck
- Blocked Tremolo
- Active Mid-Boost Circuit
- Strings: Fender Super 250R, Nickel Plated Steel, Gauges: (.010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046)
- Vintage Tweed Case