What Acoustic Guitar Does Eric Clapton Play? A Comprehensive Analysis

Eric Clapton, a legendary musician, is well-known for his impeccable guitar skills and mastery of various guitar styles. Throughout his career, Clapton has played a variety of acoustic and electric guitars.

One of his most notable instruments is the acoustic guitar, which has played an essential role in shaping his music and creating a distinct sound that millions of fans adore.

When it comes to acoustic guitars, Eric Clapton primarily plays a Martin 000-28EC. This signature model, designed in collaboration with Clapton himself, boasts solid East Indian rosewood construction and an ebony fingerboard, producing a rich and complex sound with plenty of overtones.

The Martin 000-28EC has become synonymous with Clapton’s acoustic performances, showcasing his unique techniques and inimitable style. Throughout the years, Clapton’s choice of guitars has contributed significantly to his artistic development and his influence on fellow musicians and fans alike.

Key Takeaways on What Acoustic Guitar Does Eric Clapton Play?

  • Eric Clapton’s primary acoustic guitar is the Martin 000-28EC
  • Clapton’s choice of guitars has had a profound impact on his music and style
  • The Martin 000-28EC showcases Clapton’s unique guitar techniques and contributes to his iconic sound

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Early Career and Choice of Guitars

Eric Clapton began his music career in the early 1960s, joining several bands such as The Roosters and The Yardbirds, both of which played a significant role in shaping his guitar playing style. Clapton’s passion for the blues led him to choose guitars that could produce the authentic and rich tone he desired.

During his time with The Roosters, Clapton played a Gibson ES-335, a semi-hollow body guitar, which was suitable for the band’s bluesy sound. However, as he moved on to The Yardbirds, his choice of guitar also evolved. He started using Fender Telecasters, and towards the end of his tenure with The Yardbirds, he began to experiment with the now-iconic Fender Stratocaster.

While Eric Clapton’s electric guitar journey has seen him use many different models, his most famous acoustic guitar is the 1939 Martin 000-42. With its Brazilian Rosewood construction, this guitar is valued at around $1 million and is known for its beautiful tone and exceptional playability.

Additionally, Clapton has also been known to play a Martin 000-28 on several occasions, another well-regarded acoustic guitar model.

As his career progressed and his playing style evolved, Eric Clapton continually sought out instruments that would suit his needs, both from a technical and tonal standpoint. It is evident that Clapton has always had a keen ear for quality sound, and his choice of guitars reflects that discerning taste.

Despite the various guitars he has played over the years, one thing has remained consistent: his dedication to achieving the perfect blend of the blues and rock sound, which has made him a master of the art form.

Clapton’s Guitars Throughout the Years

Fender Master Built Eric Clapton Gold Leaf

Eric Clapton has played a wide variety of guitars throughout his illustrious career, showcasing his talent and versatility as a guitar player. One of his most iconic guitars is the Fender Stratocaster.

Clapton has used several Stratocasters over the years, including the famous “Brownie” and “Blackie” models. The Fender Stratocaster became his main electric guitar, known for its versatility and smooth playing style.

In addition to his love for Stratocasters, Clapton has also played the Gibson Les Paul. A notable model was the 1957 Gibson Les Paul, nicknamed “Lucy”.

This guitar has a rich history, having once belonged to the Beatles’ George Harrison. Les Paul Standards have also played a part in Clapton’s gear lineup, contributing to his powerful and distinctive sound.

Another well-known guitar in Clapton’s collection is the 1939 Martin 000-42. This beautiful acoustic guitar is notable for its use in his iconic “Unplugged” performance. With its distinctive tone and impressive craftsmanship, the Martin 000-42 has become one of Clapton’s most recognizable acoustic guitars.

Over the years, Eric Clapton has been known to play other electric guitars as well. The Fender Telecaster and Gibson ES-335 have been part of his collection, highlighting his ability to adapt to different guitar models while maintaining his signature style.

Below is a summary of some key guitars in Clapton’s arsenal:

  • Fender Stratocaster (e.g., “Brownie” and “Blackie”)
  • Gibson Les Paul (e.g., “Lucy” and Les Paul Standard)
  • 1939 Martin 000-42
  • Fender Telecaster
  • Gibson ES-335

With a career spanning more than five decades, Eric Clapton’s choice of guitars reflects his dedication to the craft and his ability to draw inspiration from various styles and models. These instruments have become an integral part of his musical identity, contributing to the legendary status he enjoys today.

Clapton’s Iconic Guitars

1. Blackie

Eric Clapton’s most famous Stratocaster guitar is a Black 1950s model known as “Blackie”. He created this guitar by combining the best parts from three different Strats. “Blackie” quickly became his go-to instrument, and its unique sound helped define his legendary career.

2. Brownie

Another one of Clapton’s iconic electrics is a Sunburst 1956 Fender Stratocaster affectionately referred to as “Brownie”. This guitar was prominently used in his early performances and during his tenure with Derek and the Dominos.

3. Martin 000-42

Clapton is also well-known for his use of acoustic guitars, specifically the Martin 000-42. This model can be heard on many of his famous recordings, including “Layla” and “Wonderful Tonight.” One such guitar was sold at auction in 2004 for nearly $800,000.

4. Lucy

Another significant guitar in Clapton’s collection is the cherry red 1957 Gibson Les Paul nicknamed “Lucy”. This guitar has a storied history of its own, having been played by George Harrison from The Beatles before eventually coming into Clapton’s possession.

5. Beano Burst

During his time with the Bluesbreakers, Clapton played a 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard known as the “Beano Burst”. It’s named after the “Beano” British comic book Clapton was reading in the iconic album cover photo. This guitar helped Clapton establish himself as a pioneering blues guitarist.

Clapton’s guitar collection showcases his talent for picking the perfect instrument to enhance his musical style. Whether wielding a Stratocaster, a Martin acoustic, or other iconic models, Clapton consistently demonstrates his mastery of the guitar.

Impact of Clapton’s Guitars on His Music

Eric Clapton’s choice of acoustic guitars has undeniably played a significant role in shaping his music. He is known to primarily play the Martin 000-28 acoustic guitar, which offers a balanced tone and exceptional playability. This guitar model has been a popular choice among professional musicians for its versatility in adapting to various music styles.

Clapton’s career spans several decades, and his guitars have been an essential element in his performances with albums like Bluesbreakers, MTV Unplugged, 461 Ocean Boulevard, From the Cradle, and Me and Mr. Johnson.

These albums demonstrate Clapton’s mastery of the guitar as well as his ability to navigate various musical genres while staying true to his unique sound.

In 1992, when Clapton recorded the famous MTV Unplugged album, his choice of the Martin 000-28 acoustic guitar was crucial in highlighting the stripped-down, raw nature of the songs. The intimate setting and acoustic sound of the guitar allowed him to convey powerful emotions and showcase his exceptional fingerpicking technique.

Similarly, the 1994 release of From the Cradle marked Clapton’s return to his blues roots. It was an all-blues album that showcased his incredible skill and affinity for the genre. The Martin 000-28, with its balanced tone and versatility, allowed Clapton to explore the depth and emotion of various blues styles.

Throughout his career, Clapton has often demonstrated a profound connection to the music of Robert Johnson. This influence can be heard in his 2004 album, Me and Mr. Johnson, where Clapton paid tribute to the blues legend.

The Martin 000-28 once again proved to be the perfect instrument for this project, as it conveyed the soul and spirit of Johnson’s original recordings with both grace and intensity.

Eric Clapton’s choice of acoustic guitars, specifically the Martin 000-28, has had a significant impact on the music he has created throughout his career. Be it the raw intimacy of MTV Unplugged or the soulful tribute to Robert Johnson, Clapton’s guitars have played an essential role in shaping the sound and emotion that made his music so exceptional.

Clapton’s Unique Guitar Techniques

Guitar Strings and Setup

Eric Clapton is known for his unique style, which often features a combination of fingerpicking and flatpicking techniques.

One aspect that contributes to his distinct sound is the choice of guitar strings and setup. Clapton often uses lighter gauge strings to achieve a more comfortable playing experience, allowing him to easily glide through chord shapes and intricate fingerpicking patterns.

He is also known for utilizing a bottle neck slide, which adds a distinct texture and tonality to his playing. This technique involves placing a smooth, rounded glass or metal tube on the fretting hand’s ring finger to glide over the strings, producing a unique, vocal-like sound.

Playing Style

A signature element of Clapton’s playing style is his masterful control of dynamics and tonality. He uses his picking hand to play bass notes with his thumb while simultaneously using his fingers to play the midrange and higher notes. This enables him to create a rich, full sound with just one guitar.

His fingerpicking technique often incorporates intricate patterns and syncopated rhythms, showcasing an impressive level of skill and precision. Clapton also employs various chord shapes and inversions, further enriching the harmonic spectrum of his music.

When it comes to tone, Clapton is known for using a midrange boost on his guitar amp. This allows him to highlight the most expressive and melodic aspects of his playing while maintaining a warm, balanced sound.

Combining these guitar techniques with his innate musical sensibilities and impeccable taste has solidified Eric Clapton’s status as a guitar legend.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the specific model of Eric Clapton’s acoustic guitar?

Eric Clapton plays a Martin 000-28EC acoustic guitar.

What is the price range of the Martin Eric Clapton Signature guitars?

The Martin Eric Clapton Signature guitars, including the 000-28EC, typically range from around $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the specific model and features.

What features make the Martin 000-28EC unique?

The Martin 000-28EC is known for its balanced tone and exceptional playability. With its smaller body size, the guitar provides a comfortable playing experience while still projecting a rich and full sound. It features East Indian rosewood back and sides with a Sitka spruce top, which contribute to its warm, articulate tone.

How do Eric Clapton’s acoustic guitar strings affect his sound?

The choice of strings can significantly affect the tone and playability of an acoustic guitar. Eric Clapton is known to use phosphor bronze strings, providing a mellow yet bright and balanced sound.

Additionally, the string gauge can impact the guitar’s sound; Clapton often chooses medium to light gauge strings depending on his preferences or the specific musical piece.

What are the key differences between the Martin D-45 and the 000-28EC?

Two primary differences between the Martin D-45 and the 000-28EC are body size and decorative features. The D-45 is a larger dreadnought-style guitar, offering increased volume and bass response compared to the smaller and more comfortable 000-28EC.

Additionally, the D-45 features ornate abalone inlays and binding, creating a visually stunning instrument, while the 000-28EC has more subtle herringbone inlays.

Are there any special edition Crossroads Signature guitars by Martin?

Yes, Martin Guitars has produced several limited-edition Crossroads Signature models in collaboration with Eric Clapton over the years.

These guitars usually feature unique specifications, appointments, and a connection to Clapton’s Crossroads Centre charity. Availability varies, and these models may be sought after by collectors and guitar enthusiasts alike.

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