C.F. Martin & Company, headquarted in Nazareth, Pennsylvania (U.S.) has been producing acoustic instruments since 1833. Since 1995, the company has issued several different Eric Clapton models. Many are limited editions.
The first Eric Clapton Martin acoustic model was a limited edition 000-42EC with a production run of 461. Introduced in 1995, the entire edition sold out within days of becoming available.
In 1996, Martin introduced a stock model 000-28EC Eric Clapton signature model acoustic guitar. Eric has called it “utilitarian” in the very best sense of the word. In the first four years of production, over 4,000 were sold. It remains a popular seller and since it's introduction, the company has sold more than 17,000 instruments.
In February 2000, Martin announced a second Eric Clapton limited edition of 200 guitars with the model number 000-42ECB. It was the first time a guitarist was honored with a second limited edition by the company. Selling out immediately, it was identical to the 000-42EC in body size and shape.
On 17 January 2002, Martin announced an unprecidented third limited edition Clapton signature model, the 000-28ECB. The "B" indicates the guitar was made with Brazilian Rosewood. Guitars made of Brazilian Rosewood were many times more expensive than guitars made of the usual East Indian Rosewood. The guitars in this series were made from the last pieces of Brazilian Rosewood that Martin had in stock. The wood is no longer available due to export restrictions.
Each limited edition signature Martin guitar features an interior label signed by Eric Clapton and is individually numbered. It should be noted that the 42-series are fancier, with a different headstock, pearl inlays etc and significantly more expensive than the 28-series.
A custom Martin acoustic was used by Eric Clapton during his November and December 2003 Japan Tour. The custom guitar was designed by Eric’s friend, Hiroshi Fujiwara. Fujiwara is a well-known designer, musician and DJ. Black with pearl inlays, both men’s initials (EC and HF) are inscribed near the bottom of the fretboard. Eight of these guitars were initially manufactured. In July 2004, Martin announced it would offer a limited edition of this guitar to the public beginning in January 2005. The guitars were designated 000-ECHF Bellezza Nera as named by Eric Clapton (from the Italian: “bellezza” meaning beautiful and “nera” meaning black). The only difference between the custom guitars and the guitars in the limited edition is that it has “Bellezza Nera” in pearl inlay rather than the two men’s initials. It was the fourth limited edition and the fifth in a suite of Eric Clapton signature models sold to the public by C.F. Martin & Company. A total of 476 guitars were produced.
Martin released another limited edition guitar collaboration by Eric Clapton and Hiroshi Fujiwara in March 2006. The 000-ECHF “Bellezza Bianca” is a sister-instrument to the “Bellezza Nera.” “Bellezza Bianca” means “white beauty.” The guitar’s body is polished gloss white, with a touch of black and pearl. It is the fifth limited edition Eric Clapton Martin Guitar and the sixth in a line of Clapton acoustic signature models.
In December 2007, the manufacturer announced the sixth limited edition guitar and seventh in the line of EC signature models - the Eric Clapton Signature Edition 000-42MEC. It debuted at the 2008 NAMM Show in Anaheim, California (U.S). The top is Carpathian spruce with the back and sides being of Madagascar rosewood. Each 000-42MEC has an interior label personally signed by Eric Clapton. The edition is limited to no more than 250 guitars. It is available in either a natural top finish or with the option of a 1937-style sunburst top finish.
Since 2004, Eric Clapton has been using a Carlos Juan CP-1 Pickup in the Bellezza Nera. These pickups are handbuilt in Germany by Carlos at his American Guitar Center.