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Eric Clapton: ‘Six-String Stories’

New limited-edition book celebrates his career through his famous guitars

eric clapton book

www.ClaptonBook.com

Eric Clapton has joined forces with Genesis Publications to chronicle his extensive career using his guitars in a fresh way. Six-String Stories includes archival photographs of and background information on nearly 300 instruments from Clapton’s collection. In his own words, Clapton tells his story through the history of his instruments. The book will be published as a 2,000-piece limited edition, bound in cherry red leather – the color of Clapton’s Gibson ES-335 – and the pages will be edged in gold. Proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Crossroads Centre.

By Emma Greenberg

eric clapton book

© Barrie Wentzell / www.ClaptonBook.com

At Home

"I used this guitar for writing and playing at home. I don’t play the electric much at home." (all quotes by Eric Clapton)

eric clapton book

© Barrie Wentzell / www.ClaptonBook.com

Feedback

"In those early days, I was feeling biased towards a certain image and, for me, the Telecaster initially was more accessible. The image was one thing, but the guitar was quite difficult to play. With a Telecaster, the feedback is not that easy to control."

eric clapton book

© Dan Cuny / www.ClaptonBook.com

Playability

"The playability of the OM is so finite it's untrue. Nobody else but me would probably care, but I'm very picky because I'm lazy. The guitar has to do quite a lot of the work for me. OMs have a longer string length, which means they're going to be easier to bend and to project a little bit more."

eric clapton book

www.ClaptonBook.com

Brownie

The 1956 Fender Stratocaster "Brownie" was Clapton's main guitar in 1970. He recorded many songs on the Derek and the Dominos album Layla and Other Assorted Songs using Brownie, and the guitar appeared inside Layla's gatefold cover and on Clapton's first solo album cover.

"I think Brownie dictated the way I played to a certain extent. Because the Strat has less sustain – it's harder to bend on and harder to hold the bends and apply vibrato – I play more notes."

eric clapton book

© Genesis Publications Ltd / www.ClaptonBook.com

Dire Straits

"I had been using Fender Dual Showman amps when I heard Mark Knopfler at rehearsals and was impressed by his sound. I realised it was Knopfler's amp rather than the guitar that was responsible for the sound character. I tried Knopfler's amp and, liking its warm and round sound, immediately placed an order with Michael Soldano."

eric clapton book

© Genesis Publications Ltd / www.ClaptonBook.com

The Best

"Blackie is the template for all of these signature guitars. You just pick one up, and it's exactly right. For me, it's exactly the way I would want a guitar to be. I'm very, very happy with it. And someone else that I know, who's very into guitars, came along and gave me an objective point of view. He said it was the best guitar he'd ever played, all round."

eric clapton book

© Genesis Publications Ltd / www.ClaptonBook.com

George

"I put it to George [Harrison] that he come out to Japan with us. All he had to do essentially was walk out on the stage and strum an acoustic guitar. He was delighted and scared at the same time. Because it had been a long time, 15 years or so, since his last American tour."

eric clapton book

© Moriyasu Aono / www.ClaptonBook.com

T-Bone

"If I'm trying to evoke something from the Fifties, I'll use an old Gibson. They're quite tricky to play because I use fairly thick strings on them, so they're louder and fatter. But it means that when I go to bend a note, I'm not going to be able to do exactly what I want. It's pretty resistant. So I end up playing – or attempting to play – a little like T-Bone Walker would play, with that kind of sound."

eric clapton book

www.ClaptonBook.com

Blackie

Clapton's most iconic guitar is his black 1950s Fender Stratocaster, a.k.a. "Blackie." Blackie was Clapton's main guitar for the longest period of any of his instruments; he played it onstage continuously from 1973 to 1985. Blackie appears on a number of album covers, including Slowhand, Backless, Just One Night and Time Pieces.

"Something is just magical about that guitar. Maybe it's all the tender loving care I've given it over the years. That's probably why I like buying second-hand guitars and old vintage guitars. This may sound superstitious, but you never know who owned a guitar before. That person may have been a master and he may have put something in there. The way the guitar was played and handled seems to stay with the guitar, and you inherit that if you're lucky or aware enough to acknowledge it."

eric clapton book

© Michael Zagaris / www.ClaptonBook.com

Second Hand

"It's probably a well-known story . . . I went into a shop in Nashville called Sho Bud which was owned by Buddy Emmons – the famous pedal steel player – and they had things like Rickenbackers in the front of the shop going for quite high prices. In the back they had this second-hand department, and there was a row of Stratocasters, and I bought them all. Blackie was made out of three of these guitars – the body of one, the neck of another and the pickups of another."

eric clapton book

© Michael Zagaris / www.ClaptonBook.com

Attachment

"I get seriously attached to an instrument, and I felt that Blackie had become part of me. A guitar like Blackie comes along maybe once in a lifetime. I played it for 12 years non-stop on the road."

eric clapton book

© Michael Zagaris / www.ClaptonBook.com

The Action

"The action was perfect even when the neck was quite worn down and narrow. All you had to do was pick it up and it played itself. I developed a lot of trust and security with that instrument. It's a remarkable guitar."

eric clapton book

© Neil Zlozower / www.ClaptonBook.com

Dobro

"Duane Allman is the only person I consider a major Dobro influence. He could play Dobro any way, and in fact played it his way. I wasn't aware of that until we were doing the Layla sessions, and there were a couple of ballads where he decided to play straight Dobro. It was the only time I heard Dobro that wasn’t strictly confined to being country Dobro – meaning lap-style Dobro, very regimented."

eric clapton book

© Paul Cox / www.ClaptonBook.com

Martin

"I think Martin were very, very pleased that I'd done so much to boost their image, by using Martins onstage and in Unplugged . . . Obviously I'm a staunch admirer. So they offered me a chance to put together a guitar with my wish list and make it."

In This Article: Eric Clapton

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