Fender pays tribute to Eric Clapton’s “Brownie” Fender Stratocaster with the release of its Fender Custom Shop Eric Clapton “Brownie” Tribute Stratocaster.
It will be available exclusively through Guitar Center on March 21 as part of the Guitar Center Eric Clapton Crossroads Collection. The original Brownie is most famous for its use on seminal 1970 Derek and the Dominos recording Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.
Limited to 100 pieces worldwide, each “Brownie” Tribute Stratocaster is hand-built by Clapton’s personal Master Builder, Todd Krause. The guitar is a meticulously crafted replica of the sunburst Stratocaster seen on the back cover of 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, and on the cover of Clapton’s eponymous 1970 debut solo album.
After meticulously researching the original guitar at the EMP Museum in Seattle in 2012, Fender Custom Shop experts replicated it in exacting detail — mirroring years of wear and tear down to every nick, scratch and cigarette burn.
While a member of original U.K. “supergroup” Cream, Clapton bought the Stratocaster he affectionately nicknamed “Brownie” secondhand at Sound City in London on May 7, 1967, a few days before the band flew to New York to record second album Disraeli Gears. It was the first Strat he had ever owned; a 1956 model with a two-color sunburst finish and a well-worn maple neck and fingerboard. More than that, “Brownie” marked a move toward a new musical identity for Clapton that would culminate in a highly successful and acclaimed solo career that continues today.
“Layla” appeared on 1970 Derek and the Dominos album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Written by Clapton and Dominos drummer Jim Gordon, it is considered one of rock’s greatest love songs and is still included in countless best-of lists. The song’s popularity endures today as a classic rock radio staple.
The Fender Custom Shop Eric Clapton “Brownie” Tribute Stratocaster has a three-piece alder body with an off-center seam and a worn nitrocellulose lacquer finish in two-color sunburst, a one-piece plain-grain maple neck with a custom large “soft V” neck shape, and a 7.25”-radius fingerboard with vintage-style frets. Additionally, it features custom-shielded ’56 Stratocaster pickups with five-way switching, a vintage-style synchronized tremolo, nickel hardware and a single-ply parchment pickguard.
Each instrument also includes a numbered certificate of authenticity hand-signed by Clapton, the 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition box set of Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, a black textured-vinyl Derek and the Dominos “Fragile” guitar case, a Fender Custom Shop story and photo album booklet, and a Crossroads Antigua brochure.
Proceeds from the sale of every “Brownie” Tribute Stratocaster will benefit Crossroads Centre Antigua, the Caribbean drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility Clapton founded in 1997, as well as the EMP Museum. The release of the “Brownie” Tribute Stratocaster also coincides with Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013, which also benefits Crossroads Centre Antigua.
For more information on the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Collection, visit guitarcenter.com/Clapton.
NYC Guitar Center photos by Guitar World