Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton “Blackie”

It’s hard to just keep with Gibson’s (as much as I do love them) if you’re someone who listens to a wide variety of music, like I do. I was a big fan of RHCP, specifically Frusciante and you just can’t go without having a Stratocaster in your arsenal to cover his tone. I also really appreciated the sound David Gilmour created with just a slightly modified Strat and a Big Muff. I’d also add the heavy bending of Jimmy’s blue Strat on In The Evening  that just sings through like no other guitar could.

My father and I had looked at a few options over the course of a few years when I first started playing, but it never really panned out to anything as the price at the time was inflated due to a poor CAD vs USD exchange. But that wouldn’t last long.

I can remember the exact place I picked this guitar up and played it, knowing nothing about the special tone circuit, and thinking “holy shit this guitar has bite!” It was at Steve’s Music in Ottawa, but oddly enough we didn’t actually buy from them. Instead we decided to go with L&M again and ordered a brand new unit in. It took nearly three weeks, but the day I got the call I was excited and couldn’t wait to try this new guitar out.

I do have a love and hate relationship with Fender’s but I think that’s because I’m used to the style and make of Gibson’s (heavier body, set necks, and greater neck angle). I have begun to adore them for what they are and how they play. I think of them more as a beat me up kind of instrument, which is odd given our feelings towards our instruments.

Ok enough babbling, let’s get into some details:

The Artist series which is the version I have (there’s also a custom shop) is an alder body with a Nitro finish and a “V” maple neck. The guitar sports hardware found on the ’60s Strats but has a custom tone circuit which boosts the mid’s with 20dB of added gain. They also have noiseless pickups to help reduce the 60 Hz cycle hum common to single coils. With the added boost circuit the second tone knob is removed and instead controls the level of boost. The great thing about this boost is, unlike a regular single coil, once the boost is dialled in, you can get the tone of a Gibson which is done by design for Mr Clapton.

I’ve used this guitar on a number of tracks from “Open” to “Red Sky” and it just has a very different sound which cuts through many mixes perfectly. I’ve found that this really goes for a more progressive alternative sound over a hard rock tone, but that may just be due to the nature of my ears and knowing the sound a hot humbucker can get.

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