Gibson has unveiled a new limited edition Custom Shop version of the Eric Clapton 1964 Firebird I, a guitar that Clapton was last seen playing quite some time ago. The asking price? An eye-watering USD 8000. The question becomes: Do the specifications justify this kind of price tag?
Eric Clapton 1964 Firebird I
It’s the second release of a guitar associated with a famous guitar player in only a few days, coming hot on the heels of Fender’s Jimi Hendrix ‘Izabella’ Stratocaster. The Eric Clapton 1964 Firebird I is being produced in even more limited numbers, with only 100 instruments being produced (Fender is producing 250 ‘Izabella’ Strats).
Firebird Alnico V Pickups
The guitar has a single Firebird Alnico V pickup designed specifically for this guitar with the aim of recreating pickups from the mid-60s. It’s controlled by a black Top Hat master Volume and Tone control, both with traditional, period-correct silver inserts.
The guitar features a Lightning Bar wraparound bridge and Deluxe Banjo tuners. The neck is a nine-ply mahogany/walnut neck-through construction with two solid mahogany wings and a medium C profile. The fretboard is Indian rosewood. All in all, these are the kind of specs you’d expect from a standard Firebird.
Limited Edition Goodies
Each Gibson Eric Clapton 1964 Firebird I comes with a custom case. The case candy includes a replica of Mr Clapton’s old guitar strap, a certificate of authenticity booklet and more. The backplate is also signed by Mr Eric Clapton himself.
I know that the release coincides with Clapton’s Crossroads festival and that he usually uses this to raise money for his charity. However, there has been no mention of any money from the sale of this limited edition guitar going towards that foundation on Gibson’s site. But, I’m pretty sure Guitar Center is organising the sale to raise money for Eric’s drug rehabilitation centre in Antigua.
If not, then much like the Fender Izabella Stratocaster, this smacks a bit of cash grab. With the standard Firebird retailing at USD 1999, the question arises: How can a pickup and a Clapton signature add USD 6000 to a guitar’s value? Sorry, but this kind of release seems to be all about exclusivity. 100 guitars are being produced worldwide, and 50 of those will be exclusively available through Guitar Center in the US. The rest are being sold through select international dealers. I imagine that collectors will love it and I hope some money is getting donated from its sale.
But then again, I’m a bit of a cheapskate who’s more tempted by one of these instead!
RRP – USD 7999