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This instrument is one of the first of Gibson’s tributes to Clapton’s legendary 1960 sunburst Les Paul Standard. That was the instrument he played during his recording sessions with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in April 1966 for the so-called ‘Beano’ album; the guitar that led to the legend ‘Clapton is God’ famously being scrawled on London walls.
The original was stolen in the early days of Cream and never recovered, so to re-create the instrument as closely as possible, Gibson worked with Clapton to reproduce the guitar’s neck shape and feel from memory. Some of the reissues are to be given the standard VOS finish, while a more expensive version gets the Tom Murphy aging treatment.
“Then there were 50 of these that Eric personally signed,” adds Saiichi. “However, ours is not the guitar that they called ‘the mule’ – so called because it went back and forth, and back and forth between Gibson and Eric, being tweaked and modified every time. That was almost a pre-prototype guitar – you might have seen him playing it on the BBC’s Later With Jools Holland.
What’s great about this one is that it has been hand-signed on the back of the headstock by Eric, and has the serial number ‘1’ also written by hand. I’m not sure whether Eric or someone at Gibson numbered it, but he certainly signed it. It’s a beautiful guitar and it’s pretty certain that he would have played it, even though it was never used on stage.”