When I was just in a rock & roll band in 1989 I owned a Fender Stratocaster – because it was Clapton’s guitar of choice. But when I found out he had a signature model – one that came with a warning sticker that Fender, the guitar’s maker, was not responsible for the damage that the guitar could do to your amplifiers – I was starry-eyed! I saw Clapton onstage with a fiery red one. He favored a pewter/silver one. I tried one out, turned up the bottom tone knob and the amp blew even more volume and distortion out its speakers.
I wanted one!
I spent weeks . . . months even just scrimping and saving. Every penny from every gig that didn’t go toward guitar strings and new guitar cables went to savings for that guitar. Finally, at the end of the year I made a trek to Kansas City – the only dealer that had Clapton Stratocasters in-stock.
I walked in and went straight to the expensive, hands-off section. While it was a year old, never bought from the dealer when I got it, I had no intention of buying the sparkly, bright-green strat. I walked in looking for a Torino red or a Pewter colored EC. Then I saw her . . . a 7-up green strat, lace sensor pickups covering the normally exposed pole pieces, and it spoke to me. I had to ask to try it out and must have looked like a non-sale because they handed it to me and walked off. I plugged it into a Fender amplifier like my own and started to play. It didn’t take me five minutes.
I was hooked. Just a few weeks after owning it it fell off its guitar stand on stage and the wood of the neck split, right in the middle. Fenders are known for durability. I was beside myself. I called the dealer who told me “too bad.” I called Fender customer service, angry, and was connected to a man I thought was simply a member of the company. He asked me the dealer’s name. Then he asked me to send him my Clapton Strat.
“That’s an expensive strat, it shouldn’t do that.” I agreed. I sent it off and a couple weeks later I got a call . . . it was Fender’s custom shop. A few minutes later I was on the line with the very man who’d taken my initial phone call. He was one of their chief luthiers. They’d “taken care of” the dealer, which made me smile. Then he informed me that my strat had shown a flaw in their design . . . the bodies were routed wrong and put too much tension on the neck. They could split. He personally crafted a new body for me, grabbed a new neck off the line and then asked me what color I wanted.
I still said green.
It’s my favorite guitar, my old standby, the wood aged, the pickups perfect, and the neck fitting my hand like a glove. A couple years later my older brother looked at it and remarked that it was like the 7-UP commercials and their campaign with the “dot” in them.
From that point my EC was affectionately dubbed “Dot.” It’s been the reference ever since. I’d never seen a video of Slowhand playing a green one . . . until now. To this day, it’s my old standby . . . and I pair it with the amplifier my brother Adam built . . . and it’s perfect!