Clapton Filter
May 9, 2008 8:48 AM   Subscribe

What did Eric Clapton do to get "that" sound on Crossroads on the Wheels of Fire Album, I think he used a Les Paul and Marshalls but what was his setup? Thanks.
posted by jara1953 to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Guitar Geek has his setup from that time period, but there's not much to go on.
posted by zsazsa at 8:59 AM on May 9, 2008

Best answer: Quoting Guitar Player, January 1999:
It is deified as the perfect evocation of a blues-rock guitar solo by practically everyone--the notable exception being the cat who actually played it.

"I've always had `Crossroads' held up as, like, one of the great landmarks of guitar playing," said Eric Clapton in an April '98 interview with Britain's Mojo. "But most of that solo is on the wrong beat. Instead of playing on the two and four, I'm playing on the one and three and thinking, `that's the offbeat.' No wonder people think it's so good--because it's wrong!"

Groove-challenged or not, Clapton's solo on "Crossroads"--recorded live at San Francisco's Winterland for Cream's classic 1968 album, Wheels of Fire--is truly inspirational. Clapton's ferociously passionate licks, bends, and runs have humbled pro guitarists and music fans alike, and "Crossroads" has become a staple of every blues bar band worth its beer intake.

The gear equation for this landmark solo is explicit: Clapton used a '61 Gibson SG-shaped Les Paul (his prized sunburst Les Paul was stolen during the rehearsals for Cream's debut concert), light-gauge Fender Rock and Roll strings, and a 100-watt Marshall stack (two stacks were typically set up onstage, but one was a spare). More mysterious, however, is what possessed Clapton to transform Robert Johnson's licks--as well as the riffs and lines of other blues greats--into a stunning and highly personal language.

You can explore ways to morph classic blues lines into fresh licks in our "Hand Me Down Blues" lesson (p. 54). Then, use this "Crossroads" transcription as a starting point for your own stylistic epiphany. In other words, don't merely rip off these riffs--get inspired! If you can translate Clapton's playing into something all your own, you're on the road to becoming a genuine blues god. Good luck!
posted by cribcage at 9:02 AM on May 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Clapton used a '61 Gibson SG-shaped Les Paul

So... an SG? That's a sort of odd description.

Anyhow, as Clapton explains in this video, it's all about the tone and volume controls combined with the pick attack. With an amp capable of significant expression--like Clapton's 60s Plexis--you can generate a remarkable variety of sounds from the same guitar/amp combination.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:33 AM on May 9, 2008

That's a sort of odd description.

Between 1961 and 1963, the SG shape replaced the single-cutaway LP, but the name on the headstock remained 'Les Paul'. See Wikipedia and here.
posted by holgate at 9:42 AM on May 9, 2008

Ahh, thanks. The more you know...
posted by uncleozzy at 9:48 AM on May 9, 2008

"So... an SG?"

Les pauls were shaped like SGs for a little while.
posted by stubby phillips at 11:01 AM on May 9, 2008

um. what holgate said.
posted by stubby phillips at 11:05 AM on May 9, 2008

Best answer: Not to be too detail obsessed, but it was actually a '64 SG according to this site.
posted by Paid In Full at 12:57 PM on May 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks. Or in the parlance of the 60s - Cool, far out, solid, groovy and right on!
posted by jara1953 at 6:15 AM on May 10, 2008

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