Eric Clapton, often hailed as one of the greatest guitarists of all time, has been an influential figure in the music industry for over five decades.
Throughout his illustrious career, Clapton has experimented with various guitars and amplifiers, creating a signature sound that fans and musicians alike have come to recognize. To better understand the components behind his legendary tone, it’s essential to delve into the amplifiers he has used over the years.
For most of Clapton’s career, Fender and Marshall amps have been his primary choices, with the Fender ’57 Custom Twin frequently associated with his sound. However, he has also worked with Marshall amplifiers, such as the Marshall Bluesbreaker Model 1962 and the JTM45/100.
These iconic amps have played a considerable part in shaping Clapton’s sonic identity, allowing him to explore various styles and techniques.
Key Takeaways on What Amp Does Eric Clapton Use?
- Eric Clapton predominantly used Fender and Marshall amplifiers throughout his career.
- The Fender ’57 Custom Twin is often associated with Clapton’s signature sound.
- He also used iconic Marshall amps, such as the Bluesbreaker Model 1962 and the JTM45/100.
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Early Years and Initial Use of Equipment
During the early years of his career, Eric Clapton experimented with various guitars and amps. In his first band, The Roosters, Clapton played a double cutaway Kay through a Selmer Futurama III Amplifier. He was already a massive name in the British rock and blues scene by the time he was 17.
While with the Yardbirds, Clapton used a Gibson ES-335 before switching to a Fender Telecaster and later a 1939 Martin 000-42 for his acoustic performances. His choice of amplifiers during this period primarily consisted of Marshall amps, specifically the Marshall Bluesbreaker. This amp was notably used for the recording of the famous “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton” album.
As he joined the power trio Cream, Clapton’s choice of guitar shifted again, this time to a Gibson SG, equipped with humbuckers, which he termed as “The Fool”. He then switched to a Gibson Les Paul, which he used during his time with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers.
During the Cream and Bluesbreaker era, Clapton relied on Marshall amps, particularly the JTM-45, as they offered more distortion and mid-range emphasis compared to the brighter sounding Fender amps. This contributed to the iconic sound that the guitarist became known for at that time.
The journey of acquiring and experimenting with different gear continued for Clapton even after Cream disbanded. He used a Gibson Firebird with a single pick-up for a brief period in 1968. His tonal preferences began to change, and he eventually settled on a Gibson Les Paul before moving on to the Fender Stratocaster, notably his famous “Brownie” guitar.
Eric Clapton’s early years were marked by a constant exploration of various guitars and amps. From Kay guitars and Selmer amps to his famous use of Gibson and Marshall combinations, Clapton’s journey through gear has played a significant role in shaping his unique and influential guitar sound.
Key Amplifiers and Guitars Used in Clapton’s Career
Throughout his illustrious career, Eric Clapton has used an array of guitars and amplifiers to achieve his signature tone. Some of the most notable instruments and gear include the Fender Stratocaster, Gibson Les Paul, Martin acoustic guitars, and various amplifiers from Marshall, Fender, and Vox.
Clapton is synonymous with the Fender Stratocaster, especially his iconic guitar nicknamed “Blackie”, which was a composite of three different Stratocasters. The detailed neck on the “Blackie” provided a smooth playability, while the Fender-made Vintage Noiseless pickups contributed to its outstanding tone.
Besides the Stratocaster, Clapton’s use of the Gibson Les Paul Standard and “The Fool” paint design, as well as the Martin 000-28EC acoustic guitar, were crucial in shaping his sound.
In terms of amplifiers, Eric Clapton has favored the Marshall JTM45, Vox AC30, and Fender Twinolux models throughout different periods of his career. The Marshall JTM45, with its KT66 output tubes, provided a rich, bluesy tone that defined Clapton’s sound during his time with Cream.
The Vox AC30, on the other hand, gave Clapton a chimey, British sound during his tenure with the Yardbirds. Later in his career, the versatile Fender Twinolux amplifier became a staple in Clapton’s studio setup, especially on his “From the Cradle” album.
Clapton’s choice of effects was also instrumental in developing his tonal identity. The use of a wah-wah pedal, for example, was a distinctive aspect of Clapton’s sound during his Cream era. The Dunlop-made pedal allowed him to create expressive, vocal-like tones that have since become synonymous with his playing style.
Significance of Clapton’s Pedal and Pickup Selection
Eric Clapton is known for his extensive use of pedals and pickups to achieve his signature sound. One of the key components of his setup is the Fender ’57 Custom Twin amp, which has become his personal favorite amplifier.
A significant aspect of his tone is the “woman tone.” This can be heard in tracks like Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” where he achieves it through the combination of his ’64 SG and Marshall half-stack amplifier, using the neck pickup with the volume at 10 and the tone control rolled down to 1. The Marshall amplifier complements Clapton’s playing style, enhancing the tonal quality.
Clapton has experimented with various effects pedals throughout his career, including wah-wah, chorus, and distortion to shape his sound further. His use of the wah-wah pedal lends a distinctive voice to his guitar sound, allowing him to explore more intricate and emotional phrasings.
In addition to wah-wah pedals, Clapton has also utilized fuzz, which adds a warm, distorted effect to his guitar tone.
Another crucial element of Clapton’s pedal and pickup selection is his preference for single-coil pickups, particularly on his signature Strats. The pickup selector plays an essential role in helping him achieve specific tonal variations, giving him the ability to switch between warmer and brighter sounds during performances.
When pairing his guitars with amplifiers, Clapton looks for a good pedal platform suitable for the type of pedals he uses. The EC Twinolux amp and the ’57 Twin provide a clean sound and an excellent platform for employing his effects pedals.
Overall, the attention to detail in Clapton’s pedal and pickup choices, combined with his skill and experimentation, has helped him create a unique and influential sound that has inspired countless musicians and fans alike over the years.
Specific Amp Settings and Sound Effects
Eric Clapton is known for his unique guitar tone, and his amp settings play an essential role in achieving that distinct sound. Throughout his career, Clapton has used various amps with different settings, including the legendary Marshall amps often used during the Cream era.
His iconic “Woman Tone” was achieved using a Gibson Les Paul guitar with specific settings on his Marshall amp. The key settings for this tone include the presence at 3, bass and middle at 1 o’clock, treble at 8, and volume just under 9. Clapton also used .010-.046 gauge Ernie Ball strings during this time.
Another important aspect of Clapton’s tone is his use of effects. One of the most significant effects was the wah-wah pedal, allowing him to create an expressive and unique sound. Additionally, Clapton has been known to use chorus effects, mic placement techniques, and feedback manipulation in shaping his sound.
Over time, he experimented with various effects such as fuzz, distortion, and treble booster pedals to achieve his signature sound. In his later career, he used an EC Twinolux amp, which enabled him to explore a more classic and gritty blues tone.
Eric Clapton’s tone was developed through a combination of specific amp settings, effects, and guitar choices. By adjusting the presence, bass, middle, treble, and volume of his Marshall amps along with the use of wah-wah, chorus, and other effects, he crafted a unique and expressive sound that has made him a blues legend.
Impact and Critique of Clapton’s Choices
Eric Clapton’s choice of amps and guitars has had a lasting impact on the world of music. Known for his “woman tone” and nicknamed “Slowhand,” Clapton has consistently used a range of gear throughout his illustrious career to create unique tones that capture the hearts of many listeners.
One of Clapton’s most notable setups includes the Gibson SG and Marshall amplifiers, which were essential in creating the sounds that defined his work in the Cream era, such as the iconic “Sunshine of Your Love.” Additionally, Clapton has made extensive use of Fender guitars, especially the Stratocaster combined with Fender amps.
Notwithstanding his influences on countless guitarists, Clapton’s choices have also been met with some criticism. For example, some argue that his preference for later switching to Fender amps, known for their brighter and cleaner sound, has resulted in a less edgy tone compared to his earlier work with Gibson Les Paul and Marshall amps.
Clapton is also known to make use of various effects, such as the wah pedal. However, it is important to note that while he is a master of using effects to enhance his signature sound, some fans argue that his playing is less experimental than contemporaries like Jimi Hendrix.
Hendrix often pushed the boundaries of what guitar effects could achieve and incorporated more radical approaches into his performances.
In terms of craftsmanship, Clapton has been known to appreciate handmade guitars. This preference underscores his dedication to quality and distinctiveness in his choice of instruments. Regardless of the occasional criticism, it is undeniable that Clapton’s choices in gear have contributed significantly to his legendary status as one of the most influential guitarists in history.
While preferences may vary, and some may critique aspects of Clapton’s approach, his impact on the music world and the legacy he has built through his choices of amplifiers, guitars, and effects continue to inspire and captivate his fans and fellow musicians alike.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which amplifier did Clapton use for Layla?
During the recording of “Layla,” Eric Clapton used a Fender Champ amplifier, which is a small, low-wattage tube amp known for its warm and dynamic sound. This choice of amp helped to create the signature tone that can be heard on the iconic track.
What is included in Eric Clapton’s pedalboard?
Eric Clapton’s pedalboard has changed over the years, but some of the mainstays include a wah-wah pedal for expressive filter sweeps, an overdrive or distortion pedal for boosting his signal, and a delay pedal to create lush, spacious soundscapes.
Additionally, he has incorporated various modulation effects, such as chorus and phaser pedals.
Did Eric Clapton ever use a Soldano rig?
While Eric Clapton may have experimented with several amplifiers throughout his career, there is no definitive evidence to suggest that he used a Soldano rig. He is primarily known for using Fender and Marshall amps, including the Fender ’57 Custom Twin and the Marshall Bluesbreaker Model 1962.
Which chorus pedal does Eric Clapton prefer?
Although he has likely used several chorus pedals over the years, Eric Clapton is known to prefer the Boss CE-2 Chorus pedal. This classic analog pedal helps to create a subtle, lush chorus effect that complements his signature guitar tones.
Did Clapton use a Bandmaster amp during his career?
Eric Clapton has been known to use a variety of Fender amplifiers, including the Bandmaster. The Fender Bandmaster, a larger combo amp with more headroom, has been used by Clapton in live settings, offering a versatile sound that can be adjusted for different venues and performances.
Which amplifier was used by Clapton at Live Aid?
During the historic Live Aid concert in 1985, Eric Clapton performed with a Fender Vibroverb amplifier. The Vibroverb is a vintage Fender amp, famous for its warm, clean tone and its built-in vibrato and reverb effects.
My name is Howard Matthews and I have been playing the guitar since I was knee-high. My parents like to joke that I was pulling the strings even before I was born. In fact, one of my earliest memories is sitting on the couch with my dad’s guitar, wreaking havoc on the chords.
Now, 40 years later, I can attest that I play them much better than I did back then. I have followed in the footsteps of both my parents – much to their delight – and have been the main guitarist in my band for the best part of three decades.
Music has always been my passion, and until recently my life has been so consumed with it that I haven’t had a moment to have a breath (and I wouldn’t have it any other way)!