The Eric Clapton Stratocaster represents the best of Fender’s current guitar offerings due to its extreme sonic flexibility, world-class electronics, and smooth playability.
Unless you’ve lived in a cave for the past 15 years, you know that Fender has had no shortage of Artist-inspired instruments. One of their oldest offerings is still one of their best, the Eric Clapton model Stratocaster. Though it’s had a few refinements over the years, its versatility and quality remain extremely high.
The Eric Clapton Stratocaster features an alder body and maple neck with Soft V Shape. The fretboard is maple and outfitted with 22 vintage style frets. Chrome hardware is standard, as are vintage style tuners and a blocked vintage tremolo. The pickups are Fender’s Vintage Noiseless Strat pickups connected to a master TBX and master active mid-boost that provides up to 25db of gain. A Fender tweed case is standard.
Throughout his broad career, Eric Clapton has played a variety of instruments, including a Gibson Les Paul, a Gibson SG, a Gibson ES-335, and, of course, a Fender Stratocaster. So it goes without saying that Slowhand needs an instrument that can cover a lot of sonic territory. While the Fender Eric Clapton model may look like a mild-mannered Stratocaster, there’s a lot of audio wizardry under the hood. The Clapton Strat is outfitted with an active 25db mid-boost controlled by what is usually the middle-pickup tone control. Coupled with the Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups and the master TBX tone control, this mid-boost affords this guitar unheard of tonal versatility. In fact, the Eric Clapton model Stratocater is one of the most versatile instruments we’ve ever played, bar none.
But it doesn’t stop with the sounds. Clapton chose a V-shaped neck with a 9.5″ radius fretboard, and this neck is just plain smooth. While the Clapton model favors blues and classic riffs due to its origins, I would imagine that many shredders would fine the shape and easy of play comfortable as well. We have to be honest and say that this guitar is also one of the best playing guitars we’ve ever played. It’s really that good.
That’s not to say we wouldn’t have some suggestions should Mr. Clapton ask our opinion. While the vintage-style tuners add an air of old-school charm to the model, we think that locking tuners would be a more appropriate choice for such a modern instrument. Similarly, it would be nice if the vibrato wasn’t blocked by default, but that’s the way Clapton likes it, so that’s the way it is.
Aside from these minor suggestions, we think the Eric Clapton Stratocaster represents the best of Fender’s current guitar offerings due to its extreme sonic flexibility, world-class electronics, and smooth playability. We recommend it without reservation.
Name of Gear: Fender Eric Clapton Stratocaster
List Price: $2,199.99
Manufacturer Info: Fender Musical Instruments; fender.com
Pros: Smooth neck; immaculate fretwork; versatile electronics
Cons: Blocked trem might bother some