Eric Clapton’s Guitar

Eric Clapton’s Guitar

What Acoustic Guitar Does Eric Clapton Use?


  • Eric Clapton is primarily known for playing electric legendary guitars like the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul.
  • However, Eric Clapton is famous for playing a 1939 Martin 000-42 acoustic guitar, as he played it on MTV Unplugged.
  • Martin still makes Eric Clapton’s guitar, though there are slight design differences when compared to the 1939 signature model.

If you are new to the world of musical instruments, you may wonder about Eric Clapton’s guitar. The best guitars, after all, tend to attract the best players, and Clapton is no exception. Clapton is primarily known for playing electric guitars, but he had his hand in playing the best acoustic guitars as well. So what was his favorite acoustic? Keep reading to find out.

Did Eric Clapton Play Acoustic Guitars?

The renowned guitarist is known for playing many different electric guitars, just like when learning about Kurt Cobain’s guitars. Clapton preferred the Fender Stratocaster, the Gibson Les Paul Standard, and more. His acoustic offerings are fewer, but they are still there if you are conducting that Martin DRS1 review.

What Acoustic Guitar Does Eric Clapton Use?

Eric Clapton is primarily known for one particularly famous acoustic guitar, the Martin 000-42. This acoustic was manufactured in 1939, and Clapton famously played it during his MTV Unplugged session in 1992. The acoustic version of Layla became a hit for the singer-songwriter after that premiered. If you’re a beginner and want to play acoustic guitars like Eric, a high quality beginner’s model is featured in our Taylor Academy 12E review.

What is the Martin 000-42?

This is an extraordinarily rare Martin acoustic guitar, dating from before World War II. It was manufactured in 1939 and was even a limited edition model back then. There is only a handful of these around, and they are made from Brazilian rosewood, which is a type of wood that is no longer used to make guitars.

Can You Get Close to a Martin 000-42?

Yes. You can get really close. Clapton playing the original model on MTV led to a resurgence in this type of dreadnought acoustic guitar. Martin currently makes modern versions of the 000-42, though they are expensive at around $6,000 to $7,000. They do not feature Brazilian rosewood, but they are certainly gorgeous and full-sounding guitars.

Features of Modern 000-42 Guitars

Newly manufactured 000-42 acoustic guitars are known to be fantastic sounding models that are easy to play. They include a number of well-regarded design features that make them worth the exorbitant price tag.

  • These guitars are made from East Indian rosewood, a close cousin to the Brazilian rosewood of the original.
  • They include open-geared tuners, an abalone pearl top inlay, and a polished gloss finish.
  • This is a short-scale guitar with a modified oval neck to allow for easy strumming and picking.

Eric Clapton Guitar FAQs

What strings does Eric Clapton use?

Eric Clapton’s strings are varied depending on the guitar he is playing at the time. In other words, he uses different strings for Blind Faith or Cream than when performing solo work. The same goes for George Harrison, John Mayall, Lee Dickson, Jack Bruce, and other players. 

What amps does Eric Clapton use? 

Clapton is known to rock an array of classic amplifiers, from the iconic Fender Twin to models manufactured by Vox, Ampeg, and others. The amp depends on the favorite guitar plugging into it. 

What pickups does Eric Clapton use?

Clapton’s guitar technician is on top of this, but the player is known for sporting Fishman and Fender pickups, among others. The same can be said for Steve Winwood and John Mayall’s guitars. 



“For his electric guitars, Eric uses Ernie Ball .10 to .46 gauge strings. The action is set low. For acoustic guitars, Martin & Co. light gauge .12 to .54 phosphor bronze strings are used. The type of strings used on his resonator guitars (dobros) is unknown.” (source)

TIP: If you are spending the money to emulate Clapton, be sure to clean and maintain the guitar, so it lasts a long time.



Mimi Chase
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Mimi has been working in the Music Industry since 2007. She excels in organization; fulfilling roles as an Artist Manager, Tour Manager & Production, Album Release, Budget Analyst etc. She sees a variety of Gear and Instruments from artists on the road, to venue's backline to hear what sounds the best and whats the most durable. She earned her Business Degree from Roanoke College, and utilizes those skills to promote Artist Growth!

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