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Eric Clapton’s 1968 ‘Derek and the Dominos’ Martin D-45 acoustic guitar sells at auction for $625,000

1968 Martin D-45 'Derek & the Dominoes' Eric Clapton
(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Eric Clapton’s 1968 Martin D-45 has sold at auction for $625,000, making it one of the most expensive acoustic guitars of all time, though still falling someway short of the $6 million world record set by Kurt Cobain’s 1959 Martin D-18E MT as played during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged set.

Slowhand’s D-45 was sold as part of Julien’s Auctions Icons & Idols: Rock 'N' Roll collection, and is steeped in music history, and has been heavily played at a time in which his star was cresting as the world’s most high-profile guitar player. 

It appeared onstage during Derek And The Dominos’ first gig at London’s Lyceum Theatre on 14 June 1970, and subsequently toured with Clapton, showing up in concert footage of him performing with Delaney & Bonnie and Friends. 

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1968 Martin D-45 'Derek & the Dominoes' Eric Clapton

(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)
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1968 Martin D-45 'Derek & the Dominoes' Eric Clapton

(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)
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1968 Martin D-45 'Derek & the Dominoes' Eric Clapton

(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

The backstage photos of Clapton playing the D-45 at the Lyceum are great in many ways, not least because they capture an unguarded Clapton pre-show, but also because it was then that the band decided on the name Derek And The Dominos. Only a few months later they would decamp to Criteria Studios in Miami to track Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs in the company of Atlantic Records producer Tom Dowd. 

Clapton, however, gave the D-45 away in 1976. Having promised Dave Edmunds a Gibson J-200 which he then lost, Clapton handed Edmunds the Martin dreadnought at his home in Surrey. 

Eric Clapton backstage at the Lyceum Theatre

(Image credit: Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

Other notable guitars that sold from the Icons & Idols: Rock 'N' Roll collection included David Gilmour’s ‘Cream No.2’ ’57 reissue Fender Stratocaster, and a Martin D-28 that was previously owned by a Mr Elvis Aaron Presley

The Strat was one of six that the Pink Floyd guitarist purchased during the ‘80s, and had been modded with a short tremolo arm, EMG SA pickups, and an SPC/EXG tone boost circuit. 

A veteran of the Momentary Lapse Of Reason and Division Bell tours, it sold for $200,000. The King’s D-28, meanwhile, was a 1972 model that had was stage-played, gifted to the director Norman Taurog (Blue Hawaii, G.I. Blues), and exhibited in Las Vegas’ Elvis-A-Rama Museum. It fetched $187,500. 

Not cheap but then we are talking six-strings owned by the greats. If you’ve saved up a bit but you’re budget doesn’t extend to buying Slowhand’s old workhorse, then maybe our best high end acoustic guitars might present a better option. You can hear Clapton's D-45 in action below.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.