Guitar porn: Fender Eric Clapton Custom Shop Gold Leaf Strat

Written by drseb on September 2nd, 2009

In 1996, Fender’s 50th anniversary, Eric Clapton asked the Fender Custom Shop to build a one of a kind guitar.  John Page, then vice president of the Fender Custom Shop, recalls that “Eric was in the search of something special, a piece that could hang in a museum like the Louvre”.  John thought about gilding a Stratocaster using 23K gold leaves, it took three trials prior to finding the right combination of finish/hardware.

EC’s guitar was built by Masterbuilder Mark Kendrick with gold pickguard, control knobs and pickup covers. Eric replaced the pickguard, pickups, and control knobs with the usual white plastic components found on his Signature Stratocaster. The guitar was extensively used in 1997, and sold for $455,000 on June 24th 2004 during the Christies charity auction for the Crossroads Center which he founded in 1998.

In 2004 Guitar Center introduced a limited Masterbuilt edition of the Gold Leaf Strat which retailed for $8000.
Luckily, with a bit of patience you can gild your own guitar body and make your own gold leaf Strat.

I based mine on a brand new Fender Custom Shop Teambuilt Eric Clapton Stratocaster in Mercedes blue finish.
That was a long time ago (~2007) when the price difference between the Teambuilt model and the USA production model was still relatively small:
mercedes_ec_strat

The body was replaced by a USACG one-piece alder body finished with 23k gold leaves clear-coated with polyurethane. I also replaced the Vintage Noiseless pickups with a set of Hot Gold Lace Sensors, and upgraded to gold hardware from Fender (except for the bridge from Gotoh):
gold_leaf_front
gold_leaf_back
gold_leaf_front2

1 Comments so far ↓

  1. admin says:

    I used patent leaves, this allows you to apply each leave partially (i.e. without going all the way to the edge of the leaf). I haven’t tried “loose” leaves but imagine it’s more difficult in this case to avoid the square pattern.
    Wood preparation was simple, I apply just a few coats of “wipe on” polyurethane, sand to 400 grit until the wood is completely sealed.
    This is an extremely thin layer, it doesn’t really “sink in” like thicker finishes would.
    Then put the gilding size, once it’s tacky apply the leaves (it could take 3 hours if that’s your first time doing this).
    I had the final polyurethane clear coat applied by a local airbrush/auto shop.

    I’d strongly advise against using nitro/lacquer, I tried once and the finish started cracking and lifting the gold leaves.

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