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Clapton's Guitar "A Concert for Bangladesh"


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It's an ES350T, the "cheap" version of the Byrdland. Same specs but less ornate and with a maple ply top. I had one in the late 60s, another great one I foolishly traded off. Edit to add that the one he's playing has an unusual feature in the "scroll" or "tail" at the end of the fingerboard. These were usually only found on ebony board models.

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It's an ES350T, the "cheap" version of the Byrdland. Same specs but less ornate and with a maple ply top. I had one in the late 60s, another great one I foolishly traded off. Edit to add that the one he's playing has an unusual feature in the "scroll" or "tail" at the end of the fingerboard. These were usually only found on ebony board models.

Okay, I know this is an OLD debate, and I've seen it discussed on numerous forums. We may never know the exact history and story behind this guitar, but from what I've seen and read, I think it's definitely more Byrdland than ES350T.

 

1. Clapton has been quoted that it was a Byrdland.

2. The headstock inlay (flowerpot): Byrdland.

3. The fingerboard is pointed at the end: Byrdland.

4. The tailpiece: Byrdland (and by the way, there's something stuck through it or on top of it, running horizontally, which is distracting, but it's definitely a Byrdland tailpiece).

5. The top appears to be spruce: Byrdland.

6. The tuners have gold-plated metal buttons: Byrdland.

 

1. Double parallelogram fretboard inlays: 350T

2. Pickguard appears to be black: 350T (but also a very easy thing to change/replace)

 

Maybe the fingerboard was modified, or maybe it was custom-ordered that way, but the evidence points more to Byrdland than 350T.

 

References:

Video, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps":

At about 4:04 to 4:06, there's a good view of the Byrdland tailpiece. Note also the reflection of light off the metal tuner buttons.

 

Clapton quote: http://books.google.com/books?id=7hdNzCRKjeMC&pg=PA44&dq=Byrdland+12+String#v=onepage&q=Byrdland%2012%20String&f=false

 

Small photo, but note spruce-like grain in the upper bout on the bass side...

clapton.jpg

 

Both models featured single-bound f-holes, so never mind that detail, but the top binding appears to be the thicker/fancier Byrdland type, judging from this photo...

Eric%20Clapton%20Bangladesh.jpg

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Hi Jim,

 

I thought it was a es 350 t but wouldn't bet on it as you say the finger board could have been custom ordered on balance I would say it probably is a 350 t based on the inlays but do not know for sure...

??? I don't understand why some of you keep insisting that it's probably an ES350T. Look at the info I just presented. Why would you base your opinion on one thing (the fretboard inlays), when there is far more evidence that it's a Byrdland? I just don't get it. All these other things point to it being a Byrdland, and Clapton even stated (in interviews, when he was probably NOT high) that it was a Byrdland.

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I'm going to post in this thread what I did in the Byrdland thread....

 

 

I'm inclined to think ES-350 as well --- but due to another reason not stated: The lack of space between the neck pickup and the beginning of the neck.

 

Here's a pic of a '59 ES-350 (note it has the fancier Byrdland-style trim at the last fret):

 

http://www.300guitars.com/2011/09/1959-gibson-es-350-update/

 

Note how the neck goes right up to the neck pickup?

 

That doesn't occur on Byrdlands.

 

 

ES-350-016-1024x768.jpg

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I'm going to post in this thread what I did in the Byrdland thread....

 

I'm inclined to think ES-350 as well --- but due to another reason not stated: The lack of space between the neck pickup and the beginning of the neck.

 

Here's a pic of a '59 ES-350 (note it has the fancier Byrdland-style trim at the last fret):

 

 

Obviously you haven't looked the Bangladesh video JimR posted in fullscreen HD 720 -

 

Open your eyes now. Click to the

and play it in full screen 720 HD and take a look. At 4:00 the headstock has a FLOWERPOT inlay and the tailpiece is a Byrdland. . It's a Byrdland!

And while people are looking, near the end of the video, check the body depth - It's a Byrdland. . Just as Clapton has said, and he certainly looks straight and sober in the video. No need to malign the guy to fit your incorrect hypothesis.

 

Here's the whole 1959 350 guitar you mention - It's got a crown inlay on the headstock and a 350 tailpiece - http://www.300guitars.com/2011/07/franny-beechers-1959-gibson-es-350t/ -

 

350-001-1024x580.jpg

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Hi Jim,

 

There is no way of telling for sure and as I said in the other thread Eric himself doesn't remember much about this himself did you look at the rehearsal video I posted poor chap could hardly stand up.

So, you're arguing that the only period of time in which Clapton possessed this instrument, that he was too high to know what guitar he had? I don't know how long he had this guitar, but to suggest that he was high beyond the ability to think during that whole period of time seems ludicrous to me.

 

In that rehearsal video there is a closser look at the tail trapeze it looks like a 350t to me, you describe it as having something stuck to it. but definitely more Byrdland see these pictures of the trapeze for both and it may be still a vague possibility that it is either.

I presented everybody with a Youtube video that clearly shows the tailpiece. I even gave you the elapsed time at which you get the clearest view. The light reflects off of it, and you can clearly see the four loops that exist at the bottom portion of a Byrdland tailpiece, as well as the three loops at the top. Here's a close shot of the design, for reference:

 

40U-3135_tailpiece.jpg

 

Believe me on this one Roger, it's a Byrdland tailpiece, despite the dark foreign object that transverses the central portion of it.

 

What is the likelie hood of the fingerboard being the only thing that is modded or special ordered? evens I guess but not probable.

??? Are you serious? What is the likelihood that somebody took an ES350T, and changed the headstock inlay; the fingerboard binding; the tailpiece; the tuners (again, they have metal buttons like a Byrdland)...? Your argument is illogical. Looking at this guitar, it would be FAR easier to take a Byrdland and change the fretboard inlays and the pickguard than it would be to take an ES350T and change all these other things.

 

on the question of the top being spruce the grain of laminated tops still looks like wood I am not sure that that is such a conclusive piece of evidence.

"Still looks like wood"...? Spruce has a different grain and appearance from maple, Roger. This is a minor part of my argument, and I don't think I even need it to make my case, but it does add to it.

 

I do think on balance that it is probably an ES350t but I can't get excited about it either way I am not persuaded to your point of view whiilst I fully acknowledge that what you propose may be the case the mst conclusive piece of information is the fret board inlays and those are the main distinguishinh feature between two otherwise identical instruments in terms of dimensions etc apart from the trapeze.

Roger, are you aware that this guitar has a Byrdland-style flowerpot headstock inlay? Is that not a relatively permanent and important distinguishing feature of a Byrdland? Again, don't base your entire argument on one feature. Clearly, the double parallellogram inlays are not right for a stock Byrdland, but they could have been changed, OR, the guitar could have been ordered that way. The point is, there are far more things pointing to this being a slightly unusual Byrdland than an unusual ES350T.

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So, you're arguing that the only period of time in which Clapton possessed this instrument, that he was too high to know what guitar he had? I don't know how long he had this guitar, but to suggest that he was high beyond the ability to think during that whole period of time seems ludicrous to me.

 

You haven't read his book have you!

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By the way, Roger, do you remember the guy who straightened you out regarding the difference between double parallellogram inlays and Super 400-type split block inlays; and the fact that Ted Nugent's 12-string guitar (the one with a Super 400 head inlay, Super 400 fretboard inlays, Super 400 pickup spacing, and a Super 400 tailpiece) was not a 12-string Byrdland? That was me. :)

 

Edit: I have not read Clapton's book. There's still plenty of evidence in the photos and videos that this was more likely a modified or custom order Byrdland than a 350T, though. Body depth is absolutely consistent with those models, by the way.

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In 2004 a dealer had a blonde Custom Shop Byrdland for sale. It had a 25.5" scale length, Bigsby and parallelogram inlays in an ebony fretboard. Since I'm obsessed with long-scale, thin-body archtops, I was thinking about buying it, but it was sold in the meantime. A year later, the same guitar showed up on another dealer's site. The price I was quoted on it seemed reasonable, but when I contacted the dealer again, he told me that the price had been a mistake and quoted one $1300 higher. I thought the new price was too high considering the Bigsby and inlays, and passed on it. I sometimes keep photos of interesting guitars I didn't buy, but apparently not for this one.

 

Anyway, that's at least one Byrdland with factory parallelogram inlays, so I figure there could be more.

 

Danny W.

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I'm in the Byrdland camp for sure now.

 

But of course now I'm wondering why some Byrdlands have the neck right up against the pickup....

I haven't researched it, but I just looked at a bunch of photos of Byrdlands from different periods, and every one of them had the neck pickup right up against the end of the fingerboard. Maybe not all are like this, but it would seem that most are. Maybe you could post some pics, do more searches, and report back. Seems like a worthwhile thing to examine, if you find enough evidence.

 

I think there are always going to be exceptions to every rule, though.

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In 2004 a dealer had a blonde Custom Shop Byrdland for sale. It had a 25.5" scale length, Bigsby and parallelogram inlays in an ebony fretboard. Since I'm obsessed with long-scale, thin-body archtops, I was thinking about buying it, but it was sold in the meantime. A year later, the same guitar showed up on another dealer's site. The price I was quoted on it seemed reasonable, but when I contacted the dealer again, he told me that the price had been a mistake and quoted one $1300 higher. I thought the new price was too high considering the Bigsby and inlays, and passed on it. I sometimes keep photos of interesting guitars I didn't buy, but apparently not for this one.

 

Anyway, that's at least one Byrdland with factory parallelogram inlays, so I figure there could be more.

 

Danny W.

Interesting, Danny. And yes, there are most likely more. I've seen many Gibsons over the years that had been custom-ordered with variations of all kinds. There are examples of this in Duchossoir's well-known "GIbson Electrics" book. Some "oddball" guitars have also been said to have been put together by Gibson employees as their own personal instruments (George Gruhn first told me about this phenomenon). Also, some models have gone through changes as the models have evolved. Early examples are often different from what eventually becomes "stock" for that model.

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I haven't researched it, but I just looked at a bunch of photos of Byrdlands from different periods, and every one of them had the neck pickup right up against the end of the fingerboard. Maybe not all are like this, but it would seem that most are. Maybe you could post some pics, do more searches, and report back. Seems like a worthwhile thing to examine, if you find enough evidence.

 

I think there are always going to be exceptions to every rule, though.

 

 

 

 

The only close-up shots I have of Byrdlands are Nugent's and mine.

 

In that Clapton pic and in the image that BigKahuna posted of the blonde Byrd it can be seen how the pointy end of the neck binding is overtop of the neck pickup ring and almost touching the pickup.

 

 

104061098_el.jpg

 

Eric%20Clapton%20Bangladesh.jpg

 

 

 

But there does appear to be a slight variance in the distance on different Byrds.

 

A few of Ted's:

 

p406332609-3.jpg

 

Ted_pickup_height-2.jpg

 

byrdland3-1.jpg

 

p541379212-5.jpg

 

p150824812-5.jpg

 

 

 

pickup_height.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Mine:

 

 

 

byrd_front.jpg

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Thanks cdntac. That's interesting, and worthy of further study. In a few of your photos, it appears that the end of the fingerboard is touching the mounting ring, so that's really not a "gap". In the case of Clapton's guitar, it appears that the mounting ring had to be cut into in order to get the pickup that close to the fingerboard. In the case of Nugent's white one, was that a custom order?

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By "gap" I meant to the actual pickup. Sorry for the confusion.

 

One would think that all Byrds would be the same. I doubt that Les Paul pickup/neck distances vary. Even though all the Byrds in the above pics (except the white one) are from the '60s, there's no way that there would be mistakes (and I'm hesitant to use the word "mistakes") would be made in regards to the pickup positioning.

 

It's very strange.....

 

The white 2003 Byrd is a normal Byrdland --- just painted white. It's starting to get some major lacquer checking.

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One more thing possibly of interest in regards to the neck/pickup placement --- listing the years of each Byrd in the pics.

 

Not including Clapton's and the other Byrd at the top of my post.

 

1966

1961

1967

1964

2003

(the next pic is the same '67)

Mine is a '68.

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