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Eric Clapton’s 1954 Hardtail Strat Fails to Attract a Buyer

Eric Clapton's 1954 Fender Stratocaster
(Image credit: Gotta Have Rock and Roll)

A 1954 sunburst Fender Stratocaster once owned and played extensively by Eric Clapton was recently brought to auction, but failed to attract a buyer.

The hardtail Strat – Slowhand's main slide guitar for the stage and studio from 1979-1985 – was put under the hammer by Gotta Have Rock and Roll, for the starting price of a cool $1,000,000.

Sporting a maple neck with skunk stripe routing, a 21-fret fingerboard with dot inlays, three pickups, three rotary controls, a five-way selector switch, a tailpiece with adjustable saddles, and a white pickguard, the Strat was used by Clapton to play the opening songs, “Tulsa Time” and “Early in the Morning,” in each show on his 1979 tour. 

Eric Clapton's 1954 Fender Stratocaster in its case

(Image credit: Gotta Have Rock and Roll)

The guitar comes with a signed typescript letter from Lee Dickson, Clapton's longtime tech, which states that Clapton used the guitar exclusively for slide, that it was the only hardtail Strat in Clapton's collection, and that he particularly loved it because it was from 1954. Dickson also recalls bringing the Strat on tour along with Clapton's legendary "Brownie" and "Blackie" Strats.

The guitar also comes with a strap and a tweed rectangular hard-shell case with red plush lining.

Another guitar from the same Gotta Have Rock and Roll auction – one of Chuck Berry's 1967 Gibson ES-345s – also failed to sell. Its minimum bid was set at $200,000.

Eric Clapton's 1954 Fender Stratocaster

(Image credit: Gotta Have Rock and Roll)
Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.