EC: ..A lovely guitar, beautiful guitar. I wanted that kind of gesso look, you know..
LD: ..Fender rang to say it was their 50th Anniversary coming up..I said to Eric, "are you interested in them making you anything?", and he said "Yes a Gold Strat. would be good", and I said "Cool - no problem", and he said "Yes - a gold leaf Strat.", then I said "Ah, big problem" [all laugh]. I took it to Fender...and, like me, they thought, "No Problem", until they realised it was a gold leaf Strat.... Anyway, they went to a lot of trouble to get it right, to get an even area of gold leaf is very difficult, they had great trouble with it... But they did it. When it came out, it's one of those things that people [react to in completely different ways]. You either see it and think "Oh my God" [voice of admiration] ..or you think "Oh my God!" [horrified voice]...I was of the first school of thought. I think it's amazing, it looks so cool.
EC: There's one guy, my number one fan, in a great restaurant I go to in Tokyo. He asked Fender to make a copy of it. They said they only would if I gave permission, so there is another one...[Bill Schultz, the Chairman of Fender has the only other gold leaf one made apart from these two].
LD:..Eric played this fan's gold Stratocaster. .. on stage...for the encore, three nights in a row on the 2001 Japan tour. This one's been in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a couple of years... [March 2000 - October 2003].
EC: This got played a lot, all over the place..
CW: Do you remember Eric, when you first saw this guitar - did it live up to your expectations?
EC: Oh yes, it was exactly what I thought it would be. The only reason I stopped playing it...sometimes guitars require too much attention. Or they stop being working tools. I've always just reverted to guitars that can...sublimate themselves to the work. Although I've been working with those Crash guitars for a while, which...are quite elaborate, but they're not as ornate as [this one].
LD: Although we never had any trouble with this finish, it's still immaculate. ...They [Fender] actually tried to come up with a matching amp. But it was too much trouble.
EC: Oh God! [all laugh]
Mark Kendrick, Master Builder at Fender Custom Shop, who was responsible for this gold leaf Strat. confirmed that this guitar was built to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Fender, 1946-1996. It was delivered to Eric Clapton at The Complex, Santa Monica, California in late May, 1996.
In an interview with Guitar World Magazine in 1998, Lee Dickson spoke about Clapton's use of the gold leaf Strat. on Pilgrim...'for most of the album, his primary electric guitar was a Clapton Signature Model Stratocaster with a custom gold leaf finish and 23-carat gold-plated hardware". In the same article Kendrick commented .."Eric was looking for something that had an old world look - something like it could hang in the Louvre". It apprently took him and Custom Shop Artisan, George Amicay, three attempts before they found the right combination of finishes for the two-piece alder body, which had been contoured to feel like a mid-fifties Strat. "The most difficult thing was trying to second guess what Eric would like...but it appears that he was very pleased".
The headstock bearing the logo Fender STRATOCASTER, neckplate engraved -EC1-/Fender 50th/Anniversary, dated under the pickguard 10-15-96, the body in 23 carat gold leaf with clear polyester finish fitted with gold-plated hardware and three Lace Sensor pickups; and original hardshell case with adhesive tape inscribed by Lee Dickson gold leaf 50th Anniv/Fender-Strat #E.C.1
Claptones - The tools of a journeyman's trade in Guitar World Magazine, May, 1998