Eric Clapton and Gibson Guitars. There are many great guitars made by Gibson, but none have captured the hearts of music fans quite like Eric Clapton’s. This article will discuss Eric’s first guitar, including the Les Paul, ES-335, and SG Standard. Eric Clapton played guitar for over four decades, and his love of the brand is evident through his playing. Read on to learn about Clapton’s first guitar and how to get one, too!
Table of Contents
Eric Clapton and Gibson Guitars
Eric Clapton’s first Gibson guitar
Eric Clapton built his reputation as a guitarist playing only Gibson electric guitars. From June 1965 to about 1970, he used them almost exclusively. Clapton bought his first Gibson guitar in 1964. It was a Cherry Red ES-335, which has become known as the “Cream Guitar”. Clapton later sold it at an auction in June 2004. Today, the guitar is a valuable museum piece. It is the first Gibson guitar owned by an artist.
The ‘Clapton guitar features dayglo paint and a cherub on the body. The guitar started to fade over time because of playing, but it was still remarkably well preserved. The guitar later passed through George Harrison’s hands and was then painted ‘Rocky Stratocaster’ by Jackie Lomax. Today, the guitar is owned by a private collector, although it does occasionally make appearances at guitar shows.
Eric Clapton’s first Gibson guitar has taken on a mythic quality. The guitar was stolen shortly after it was made, and it has been given legendary status. It was a ‘Burst’ due to its sunburst finish, and it was sold at auction for more than $4,500 in 2004. The ‘Burst model was produced between 1958 and 1960. By the mid-60s, it was considered an “old model” and was replaced by the double-cutaway SG design.
Eric Clapton’s sound was his signature. He experimented with several guitars throughout his career, from the Bluesbreakers to Cream, Blind Faith, and the Yardbirds. After his debut as a solo artist, Clapton constantly changed guitars in search of the rich, warm tone that defined his music. Today, the guitar is considered a classic. However, it’s unlikely that Clapton would play without it.
His first Les Paul
The first Les Paul owned by Eric Clapton was a 1960 Cherry Sunburst Gibson. It changed the course of the history of the electric guitar and the sound it could produce. Clapton played his guitar through overdriven Marshall amplifiers and refined the use of electrical by-products. In addition to his many guitars, Clapton owned a few other Les Pauls throughout his career. His first Les Paul was stolen during a Cream rehearsal during the summer of 1966.
When Eric Clapton first joined the Yardbirds, he played the cherry red Gibson ES-335. He bought the instrument because he liked Freddie King. This was his first Les Paul, and he subsequently played the instrument on Cream’s farewell tour in 1968. Even though the guitar was stolen, it is still an iconic instrument and is the first Les Paul ever owned by a member of the Rolling Stones.
The first Les Paul was produced in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was a mahogany body capped by a carved maple top. Gibson began producing the Les Paul Standard in 1952 and slowly refined the guitar’s cosmetics, hardware, and electronics. By the 1960s, however, Gibson’s Les Pauls were considered un-hip and too heavy. Fender soon became the dominant player in the market.
After the First Les Paul, Clapton switched to a Dallas Rangemaster treble-booster pedal. Although rare in today’s guitar market, the treble-booster pedal was originally designed to add treble and output to the guitar signal. This device was a very simple pedal with only one control knob and a short attached cord. It also had no footswitch. Clapton used tone control to achieve the “woman tone”.
His first ES-335
The first Gibson ES-335 was produced in 1964. Clapton used the guitar on his Goodbye album in December 1968. The guitarist later sold it to Christie’s in 2004. The ES-335 was also used on the cover of the Hard Times album. Clapton played the ES-335 on the cover of his next album, Blind Faith. The guitar is now worth millions of dollars and is considered a museum piece.
The 335 became Clapton’s main guitar during the Cream years. It made its debut in Goodbye, Wheels of Fire, and Disraeli Gears. Clapton even mistakenly credited it for his solo on the track Crossroads. It later went on to be used by others, including George Harrison and Todd Rundgren. He even loaned the guitar to XTC, which also used it for their album Something/Anything.
Although Eric Clapton sold his first Gibson ES-335 forty years ago, it has remained one of the most expensive guitars ever sold. It sold for $847,500 at a charity auction. Guitar Center, a chain of music stores in the US, purchased the guitar. Despite the high price tag, the ES-335 was a collector’s item that will be treasured by guitar enthusiasts.
In addition to Albert Hall 335, Clapton used the ES-335 at a concert on May 13, 1965. This is an interesting note because Dreja’s dot-marker 335, which was used by Clapton in the Yardbirds, had block inlays. This makes it impossible to identify Clapton’s first Gibson ES-335, even though it may have been the same model.
His first SG Standard
Originally named “The Fool,” Eric Clapton’s Gibson SG has a striking psychedelic paint job that has earned it cult status. This guitar changed hands several times during Clapton’s career and was owned by many members of rock royalty. As a result, it has been nicknamed “The Fool” for its striking look. Read on to discover more about this guitar and how it got its moniker.
A double cutaway sculpted body, a double cutaway, and Gibson ’65 Custom pickups are features that Eric Clapton favored. The guitar’s rich tone and lightness were obvious draws to Clapton, and the guitar’s appearance would surely have been admired by his fans. In addition to its performance prowess, Clapton’s Gibson SG Standard has a distinctive look that is highly reminiscent of his Gibson SG Special.
The SG Standard was owned by Clapton before switching to the Gibson Firebird. He was friends with Harrison and left the SG at Harrison’s home. After some years, the guitar passed through many hands and eventually ended up with Todd Rundgren. This is a guitar that is worth millions, and one that is worth admiring. It is an important piece of music history and deserves a place among Clapton’s guitars.
The ‘Fool’ SG began life as a 1961 Gibson SG Standard. Clapton’s ’64 SG was hand-painted by a group of Dutch artists, called ‘The Fool’. Clapton’s guitar was given to the artists after the famous rock band Cream’s Les Paul was stolen. The artist duo also painted Jack Bruce’s Fender Bass VI and Ginger Baker’s Drumhead.
His first Gibson ES-335
The story of Eric Clapton’s first Gibson ES 335 guitar begins over 40 years ago when he purchased the cherry-red guitar. This instrument became a staple in Clapton’s guitar arsenal for over four decades. Most notably, the guitar was used by Clapton during his time with Cream, on songs such as “Crossroads” on the Wheels of Fire album.
The ES-335 is one of the most iconic guitars ever made. It was invented by Jim McCarty and made popular during the late 1950s. Among its users were Clapton and Alvin Lee, who used ES-335 guitars at the Woodstock festival. Its center block helped reduce feedback and increase sustain and bottom-end response. Its body is made of pressed laminated maple and poplar. Its neck is made of mahogany and features a 17-degree headstock pitch. It also has a rosewood fingerboard.
While Clapton’s ’64 red ES-335 is revered by Clapton’s fans, vintage-minded fans may prefer the dot-neck or block-marker versions. Both of these models are highly sought-after today and still command a substantial price at auction. However, they’re not nearly as expensive as Clapton’s original red ES-335. It’s worth mentioning that this guitar was purchased for $847,500 at Christie’s auction in 2004.
According to guitar historian Tony Bacon, the ES-335 has likely used on Clapton’s album “No Reason to Cry.” Pictures from spring 1976 show him playing the ES-335 in the Shangri La Studio. The No Reason to Cry album was recorded on November 21, 1976. The first edition of Clapton’s Journeyman album was released in 1981, but it’s unclear whether this guitar was used on the album’s cover.