The Rock & Roll Pop Culture Auction November 2020
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Eric Clapton’s historic owned and stage played “Slowhand” 1954 sunburst Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. This magnificent guitar, heavily used by Clapton both on and off-stage would be the ultimate star in any guitar collection. Clapton acquired this rare non-tremelo 1954 Stratocaster in 1978 -79 and for the next five years it became his main stage slide guitar which he also used in the recording studio The letters “TG” on the neck-butt are the initials of Tadeo Gomez, a Fender employee who was responsible for shaping the neck, the digits 9-54 indicate the month and the year (September, 1954) the neck was completed. The guitar is a ‘non-tremolo’ model.

The story of Clapton and his guitars is a true love story, spanning the career of one of the rock and roll’s most treasured guitarists, filled with fascinating details that has intrigued his fans for years. His deep connection to the Stratocaster, which began early in his career, continued with this this ‘non-tremelo’ model 1954 sunburst Stratocaster that he used both on stage and in the studio for slide work circa 1979-1985. It appears that Clapton first used it on stage circa 1979-1980 to play his opening numbers “Tulsa Time” and “Early in the Morning” in the set list for his 1979 tour. Clapton needed a guitar set-up for slide playing for both of these songs, and for both the guitar was tuned in open G, one of his favorite tunings for playing slide.

With serial number 7431, next date and initials T-G-54 in pencil, sunburst finish, maple neck with skunk stripe routing, twenty-one fret fingerboard with dot inlay, three pickups, three rotary controls, five-way selector switch, tailpiece with adjustable saddles and white pickguard; and a tweed rectangular hard-shell case with red plush lining and Lee Dickson’s handwritten adhesive paper label “ ’54 S/Burst Fender Strat #7431; case containing strap.

This truly incredible guitar comes with impeccable provenance, including a signed typescript letter from Lee Dickson, Clapton’s guitar technician from 1979 to the present day in which he describes in detail his fond memories for this guitar – stating it that Clapton used it exclusively for slide, that is was the only non-tremelo that Clapton had and that Clapton particularly liked it because of the year 1954 – the year of the Strat. He remembers the tours Clapton used it on and that it always traveled with Clapton’s other beloved guitars “Brownie” and “Blackie”.

The guitar is also accompanied by an Eric Clapton signed Certificate from the Christie’s auction, “A Selection of Eric Clapton’s Guitars” held on June 24, 1999 which was Clapton’s first historic benefit auction to support The Crossroads Centre in Antigua, a cause very close to his heart. With the corresponding Christie’s lot card for lot 103 and original auction catalog the guitar also comes with a Gotta Have Rock and Roll Certificate of Authenticity. Also included in this lot is an Eric Clapton beautifully signed "Slowhand" gold album and cassette award. Photographs from the Christie’s catalog of Clapton playing this guitar in concert are shown here.
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