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Eric Clapton’s 1954 Fender Stratocaster is hitting the auction block for a cool one million

Clapton's Slowhand 1954 Strat is being auctioned
(Image credit: Gotta Have Rock and Roll)

Back in 2004, Eric Clapton’s coveted black Fender Strat electric guitar, "Blackie," sold at Christies at a then-record-breaking price of $959,500.

Now another historic Clapton-owned and -played Strat is up for auction, and this one looks set to go for a pretty penny as well.

Auction house Gotta Have Rock and Roll is offering up Clapton’s 1954 Sunburst Fender Strat, heavily used by the guitar great between 1979 and 1985.

Clapton acquired the Strat, a hardtail/non-tremolo model, in 1978 or ’79, and for the next five years it became his main slide guitar on stage and in the studio.

Clapton's Slowhand 1954 Strat is being auctioned

(Image credit: Gotta Have Rock and Roll)

According to Gotta Have Rock and Roll, Clapton first used the Strat to play the opening numbers Tulsa Time and Early in the Morning in the set list for his 1979 tour. The guitar was tuned in open G, “one of his favorite tunings for playing slide”.

Features on the Strat include a maple neck with skunk stripe routing, 21-fret fingerboard with dot inlay, three pickups, three rotary controls, five-way selector switch, tailpiece with adjustable saddles and white pickguard and, of course, a Sunburst finish.

The neck-butt sports the letters “TG,” the initials of Tadeo Garcia, a Fender employee who was responsible for shaping the neck, as well as the digits 9-54, indicating the month and the year (September, 1954) the neck was completed.

The guitar comes with a tweed rectangular hardshell case with red plush lining and Clapton guitar tech Lee Dickson’s handwritten adhesive paper label reading “ ’54 S/Burst Fender Strat #7431.” The case also includes a strap.

Clapton's Slowhand 1954 Strat is being auctioned

(Image credit: Gotta Have Rock and Roll)

Additionally, there’s a signed typescript letter from Dickson stating that Clapton used the guitar exclusively for slide, that is was the only non-tremolo that Clapton had and that Clapton particularly liked it because it was a ‘54 – the first year of the Strat. 

In Dickson’s letter he also remembers the tours Clapton used it on and that it always traveled with Clapton’s other beloved Strats, "Brownie" and "Blackie".

The Slowhand auction opens on November 25, with a minimum bid of $1,000,000. Which puts the guitar above Blackie right off the bat. But, hey, inflation…

For more information, head to Gotta Have Rock and Roll.

Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.