How to play guitar like Eric Clapton

Play electric blues lead like Slowhand with our video lesson

Image 1 of 6 How to play guitar like Eric Clapton
Image 2 of 6 blank
Example 1 - Opening phrase: To establish a solo, it helps to play a few key phrases with lots of space, rather than wading in with all the flashy stuff.
Image 3 of 6 blank
Example 2 - Major and minor pentatonic combination lick: Notice how this example changes freely between major and minor pentatonic lines. This is was an important facet of Clapton's playing at this time and has been ever since.
Image 4 of 6 blank
Example 3 - Lower register lick: This lick continues to move between E major and minor pentatonic sounds. A particularly authentic blues feel is obtained by playing all the way down in the first position at the end of the phrase.
Image 5 of 6 blank
Example 4 - Low and high register combinations: This is more low register stuff that uses ringing notes and vibrato. There's no need to get bogged down in the first position, though, because the phrase swiftly moves up to the dusty end in bar 3. Triplets, sextuplets, vibrato and quarter-tone bends abound.
Image 6 of 6 blank
Example 5 - Winding-up phrase: As a winding-up phrase, this combines pentatonic runs, sustained notes with vibrato and doublestops alongside all the other trademarks. Watch for dotted rhythms like the one in bar 2; these are essential to keep the feel authentic. Check out the video if you're in any doubt.
FutTv : D0sKn3nzL57Oz

Click here for more of our How To Play Blues Guitar Like... lessons.

On his 13th birthday, Eric Clapton was given an acoustic guitar - but he found the instrument so difficult to get to grips with that he almost gave up.

Thankfully, he persevered, and his rise to fame began in 1963 when he joined The Yardbirds. He played on their first big hit For Your Love, but disliked the band's new 'pop' direction and left. His next move was to John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, recording the famous 'Beano' album. His audience was so impressed that the graffiti slogan 'Clapton Is God' began to appear all over London.

Our examples recall Eric's style in the mid to late '60s. Though the tone is more distorted than the previous players in this series, it's crucial not to overdo it. Eric was using non-master volume Marshalls around this time and all the sustain and overdrive was due to sheer volume - much to the horror of studio engineers of the day! If you're using single-coil pickups, boost the bass, mid and gain a little and you'll get close to the tone.

To be authentic, pay attention to details like vibrato and the swing triplet feel, as well as the more dazzling pentatonic stuff.

Click here for free full-size tab.

Stay up to date with the latest gear and tuition.
Subscribe and save today.