We’re only a few weeks away from Eric Clapton’s 2023 Crossroads Guitar Festival – a two-day event that could serve as the biggest guitar event of the decade.
For the once-in-a-lifetime lineup, Slowhand has recruited John Mayer, Joe Bonamassa, Buddy Guy, Carlos Santana, Marcus King, Stephen Stills, H.E.R., Eric Gales, Samantha Fish, Molly Tuttle and countless other A-list players, all of whom will assemble at LA’s Crypto.com Arena on 23-24 September.
To celebrate the mammoth musical event, Guitar Center has partnered with Eric Clapton – as well as a host of electric guitar and acoustic guitar brands – to release a 25th Anniversary Collection of highly exclusive, limited-edition six-strings.
Fender, Martin and PRS have all been brought on board for the catalog, which comprises “a rare series of meticulously crafted, limited-edition guitars, based on vintage, iconic instruments that Clapton played early in his career with Cream, Blind Faith and Derek and the Dominos”.
The launch of the 25th Anniversary Crossroads Collection has been accompanied by a collection of Guitar Center videos, which sees Clapton – as well as a handful of luthiers who brought these builds to life – get hands-on with each instrument.
Leading the way are two elegantly assembled Martins – a D-45 and D-28 – both of which pay tribute to Clapton’s most influential unplugged performances.
One of those, of course, is Clapton’s Grammy-winning 1992 Unplugged album, for which he wielded a “1966 Martin 000-28 with some D-45 trimmings”. Slowhand’s famed 1970 Lyceum Theater performance with Derek and the Dominos also featured a 1968 Martin D-45.
That latter model has been immortalized with the two Crossroads D-45 guitars – a one-of-a-kind Brazilian rosewood-equipped model and a Madagascar rosewood-loaded alternative for die-hard Slowhand fans.
Notably, the former model was crafted using Chris Martin’s personal stash of legal Brazilian rosewood – a regulated tonewood that is incredibly rare.
The D-28, meanwhile, is an enlarged nod to the 000-28 from Unplugged. While not completely historically accurate, it is the first-ever D-28 Clapton signature, and apparently required some R&D to make it as close to Clapton’s Unplugged acoustic as possible.
The feedback from Clapton – who was gifted a D-45 in the video – is, understandably, very positive indeed. “Beautiful”, “Nice neck”, “Great action”, and, “That's all right with me” were just some of the phrases thrown around.
In terms of price and availability, 60 D-28 models at $4,499 apiece have been made available, while there are 25 $15,499 D-45s.
Elsewhere, two Fender Stratocasters make up the drop – namely, a uniquely finished Todd Krause-built Blu Scozia model inspired by one of Slowhand’s Ferraris and a CRASH variant that pays homage to Clapton’s previous collaborations with New York Street artist, John Matos.
That former model bears all the hallmarks of Clapton’s most famous Strats, “Blackie” and “Brownie”, but has some unique features. These include an altered V neck shape more akin to the Martins that Krause says “doesn’t exist” on any other Strat, and an unorthodox neck finish.
The CRASH model, on the other hand, is a more familiar Clapton signature model, though with an eye-catching body artwork that takes inspiration from the previous guitars Matos has designed for Slowhand, such as the famed Crashocaster from the ‘19 Crossroads festival.
Fender’s Blu Scozia Strat is the most premium of the two: only 25 have been made, each of which is $14,999. The CRASH Strat (of which there are 60) has been made more accessible at $3,499.
A final Private Stock PRS Carlos Santana I model in Santana Orange has also been unveiled in recognition of Clapton and Carlos’s relationship. Only 10 examples will be made, with the model paying homage to one of the earliest PRS designs that was masterminded for Santana, and the pair’s 40-year partnership.
Specs include a pre-’85 double-cut body, coil-tapping Santana pickups and a premium Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. Each model has a price tag of $14,999.
A portion of proceeds from the sales of all 25th Anniversary Crossroads Guitars will go towards supporting the Crossroads Center at Antigua.