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Eric Clapton's guitar, amp and equipment set up (historical)

In his first band, The Roosters, Eric Clapton played a double cutaway Kay through a Selmer Futurama III Amplifier. During his tenure with the Yardbirds, Eric played a Fender Telecaster through a Vox AC-30 amplifier.

While in John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, Eric Clapton played a 1960 model Les Paul Standard through a 45-watt model 1962 Marshall 2x12 combo (JTM 45). The amp was stock except that the output tubes were replaced with KT66s which have a more refined mid-range and clearer top end than either EL34s or 6L6s. The amp was usually turned up full volume, even in the studio. When the engineer complained that his amp was too loud, Eric replied “That’s the way I play.”

In Cream, Eric Clapton switched to 100-watt Marshall heads and 4x12 cabinets using two full stacks. He also used a Vox wah-wah pedal and occasionally a fuzz effect pedal. For a while, he used Les Paul guitars exclusively. Sometime in 1967, he started playing a 1964 Gibson Les Paul SG. He had it painted by the artist collective known as "The Fool" - it is as famous for it's paint job as well as for its association with Clapton. The Fool Guitar is not a 1961 model as commonly believed as it has six screws on the scratch plate. This number of screws came into use three years later, in 1964. During the Spring of 1968, Clapton switched to a Gibson Firebird with a single pick-up. He then alternated between the Firebird and his now-famous Cherry Red Gibson ES-335 guitar for the US tour through Cream’s farewell concert.

In Blind Faith (1969), Eric played a Gibson Firebird through either Fender Dual Showman or Marshall amps. But, at the band's debut performance in London?s Hyde Park, he played a Fender Telecaster with a Stratocaster neck.

While with Derek and the Dominos (1970), Eric Clapton switched to maple neck Fender Stratocasters (primarily the stratocaster known as “Brownie”). During the Dominos UK Tour, Eric would still play Gibsons. A Fender Champ was his main studio amp used in recording the classic album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.” On stage, he used Fender Dual Showmans or Marshall amps with Fender cabinets.

In 1976, Eric Clapton used his Cherry Red Gibson ES-335 (purchased in 1964 and used extensively during his Cream days) for slide playing. It was strung with Ernie Ball Super Slinky’s .009 - .042 and he used an Isis medium slide. Eric utilized Modified Music Man amps (HD 130 Reverb) with the bias up all the way and special open-back cabinets. He also used a Leslie cabinet with JBL components and had a special foot switch with fast/slow and on/off positions so that the guitar could go either through the amp, through both the amp and the Leslie, or just through the Leslie at either fast or slow speeds (as in the song “Badge”). Eric Clapton also used a Crybaby wah-wah pedal at this time. His Fender Stratocaster of choice was "Blackie", with the tobacco sunburst "Brownie" on standby.

On the ARMS tour in 1983, Eric Clapton used a ‘57 blonde Fender Twin amp, Blackie, a Gibson Explorer, a Martin acoustic and assorted other Fender Stratocasters.

In the mid-80s, "Blackie" and "Brownie" were still Eric Clapton’s Stratocasters of choice, although he owned others. For his Behind the Sun Tour, his stage rig grew tremendously. He used an effects board with (from right to left): a Jim Dunlop Crybaby re-issue, a Bradshaw foot controller, and a Roland 700 synthesizer bank. The rack was controlled by a pedal board consisting of an Ibanez Harmonics / Delay, a DBX 160 compressor, a Roland SDE-3000 delay, a Tri Stereo Chorus [Dyno-My-Piano], a Boss CE-1 chorus, and a Boss Heavy Metal pedal. Eric Clapton switched from Music Man amps to Marshall 800 series heads (50 watts) during this time. The amp settings were: presence 3; bass and middle 1 o’clock; treble 8; and volume just under 9. The strings he used were Ernie Balls .010-.046. He also used a Dean Markely head ?possibly a 130 with Marshall cabinets.

In 1985, Eric Clapton "retired" Blackie and by 1988, Fender was supplying him with his own line of Eric Clapton Signature Stratocasters based on Blackie. Up until the mid-90s, Eric Clapton would play these Signature Strats exclusively on stage for electric numbers.

In recording the album “From The Cradle” in 1994, Eric Clapton used approximately 50 guitars from his personal collection, including a dot-neck Gibson ES-335 (a tobacco sunburst model from the early 60s), and his famous Cherry Red ES-335. He also used a n olympic white Eric Clapton Model Strat from the Fender Custom Shop, several different Gibson L-5s, Byrdlands and some Super 400s. He played straight through a Soldano SLO-100. The acoustic guitars used on the album included several Martin Acoustics, his Tony Zemaitis 12-string (known as “Ivan the Terrible” with a heart shaped motif), and several resonator guitars (dobros) in different tunings. Clapton used an old Fender Twin amp with no effects and occasionally an old Fender Champ, plus a Silverface Fender Deluxe and a Blonde Showman head. When Clapton took this album on the road in 1994 and 1995, many of these guitars made the trip with him. A good number of these guitars were later sold by Eric Clapton at auctions held in 1999 and 2004 to help raise funds for Crossroads Centre Antigua.

Eric Clapton used the following set-up for the Soldano SLO-100 during his mid-90s blues period:
Normal / Preamp: 8
Overdrive / Preamp: 3
Bass: 11
Middle: 11
Treble: 3
Normal Volume / Master: 10
Overdrive Volume / Master: 7
Presence: 4
Amp switches: Normal and Crunch
A foot pedal was used to switch between the normal and overdrive channels

During the 2001 Reptile Tour, several changes were made in Eric Clapton's stage set-up. He initially started out using copies of his old Fender Tweed Twins, built by Fender under the supervision of John Suhr. Part way through the tour, Eric went off of them and started using 3 x 10 Fender Vibro Kings with 2x12 extension cabinets built by the Fender Custom Shop. He also continued to use a Leslie speaker driven by a Marshall JCM800 Lead Series 1959 head. Due to its proximity on stage to drummer Steve Gadd, the box was also soundproofed.

For his 2004 World Tour, Eric Clapton used Cornell Amplifiers with Tone Tubby Speakers with hemp cones inside the cabinets for his electric guitars. Built by Dennis Cornell, the Eric Clapton Custom 80 (Single Channel) looks very much like a Fender Twin, but sounds bluer with a lot more middle. Designed to his exact specifications, the Custom 80 is made from birch ply and covered in “fender tweed” that is treated to look old. He first used the Cornell / Eric Clapton Custom 80 at the Party At The Palace concert in June 2002. The manufacturer sold these amps in both single channel and twin-channel models. In addition to this amp, Eric Clapton used a Fender Woody for the Robert Johnson set in the middle of each concert during the 2004 Tour.

Clapton's effects pedals for the 2004 tour were limited to a tri-stereo chorus (Boss Chorus CE-3), a Leslie pedal, a Jim Dunlop 535 Crybabywah-wah pedal (6 way selectable) and a box to switch from the amp to the Leslie or to select both. Eric did and does not use an overdrive pedal. He gets all of the overdrive from the 25dB boost in his guitar, a Fender Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster. Eric used a Samson Synthetics wireless system on stage. His Martin 000-28EC goes through an Avalon DI box.

Since 2004, Eric Clapton has been using a Carlos Juan CP-1 Pickup in the Bellezza Nera model Martin guitar. These pickups are handbuilt in Germany by Carlos at his American Guitar Center. The Eric Clapton Signature Stratocasters are equipped with Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups.

Cream Reunion Shows took place in May (London) and October (New York) 2005. For these concerts, Eric Clapton changed his set-up a bit. Available to him on stage were four Fender Stratocasters (all were black strats, 2 were set up for slide), a Fender Custom Shop Tweed Twin Amp (1957 Tweed Reissue), Leslie Speaker, Samson wireless pack, Jimi Hendrix Wah Wah Pedal, and a box to switch from the amp to the Leslie or to select both.

Things changed a bit for the 2006 / 2007 World tour. Eric had on stage:
- Eric Clapton Signature Fender Stratocasters, some of which were set up for slide
- Martin Acoustics - EC signature models, including the Bellezza Nera
- Fender Custom Shop Tweed Twin Amp (1957 Tweed Reissue)
- Leslie Speaker
- Samson wireless pack
- Vox Wah Wah Pedal
- Boss TR-2 Tremelo Pedal
- Box to switch from the amp to the Leslie or to select both

 

On some of the dates in 2007, Eric played a white Stratocaster with gold anodized scratchplate. According to a blog he maintained at the time, it was a gift from his wife and four daughters at Christmas 2006 (See "Christmastcaster" entry in this section for additional details).During his June 2009 U.S. Tour with Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton had the following gear on stage:
- Eric Clapton Signature Model Fender Stratocasters in Black
- 6 String Martin Acoustics - EC signature model 000-28EC
- Fender Custom Shop Tweed Twin Amp (1957 Tweed Reissue)
- Leslie Speaker
- Samson wireless pack
- Vox Wah Wah Pedal
- Box to switch from the amp to the Leslie or to select bothEric toured Ireland and England in May 2009. His on stage gear was:
- Eric Clapton Signature Model Fender Stratocasters in Daphne Blue, Ferrari Grigio Silvertone and Black
- 6 String Martin Acoustics - EC signature model 000-28EC
- Gibson L-5
- Fender Custom Shop Tweed Twin Amp (1957 Tweed Reissue)
- Leslie Speaker
- Samson wireless pack
- Vox Wah Wah Pedal
- Box to switch from the amp to the Leslie or to select both

For his Summer 2008 Tour (U.S. and Europe), he used:
- Eric Clapton Signature Fender Stratocasters in Ferrari Grigio Silverstone
- Eric Clapton Signature Fender Stratocaster in Black set up for slide, open tuning
- 6 String Martin Acoustics - EC signature models
- 12 String Martin Acoustic with capo
- Fender Custom Shop Tweed Twin Amp (1957 Tweed Reissue)
- Leslie Speaker
- Samson wireless pack
- Vox Wah Wah Pedal
- Box to switch from the amp to the Leslie or to select both

For his Japan, New Zealand and Australia tour in February and March 2009, EC had the following gear on stage:
- Eric Clapton Signature Model Fender Stratocasters in Daphne Blue, Ferrari Grigio Silvertone and Black (The black was a signature model with lace sensor pickups and was set up for slide). Those in Daphne Blue and Ferrari Grigio Silvertone had the mid boost, no TBX, with vintage noiseless pick ups. The Daphne Blue Strats served as his main guitars during this tour.
- 6 String Martin Acoustics - EC signature model 000-28EC
- 12 String Martin Acoustic - model unknown but body shape is 000
- Fender Custom Shop Tweed Twin Amp (1957 Tweed Reissue)
- Leslie Speaker
- Samson wireless pack
- Vox Wah Wah Pedal
- Box to switch from the amp to the Leslie or to select both
The Eric Clapton Signature Stratocasters are equipped with Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups.

EC has the action on his stratocasters set low.

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