Eric Clapton Guitar Settings - The Woman Sound

Author: Ricky Sharples 

Eric Clapton has used many guitar settings in a career that goes across several decades but people are still fascinated by the sound that people call the "woman" tone. If you don't know what that means listen to the Cream track, "Sunshine Of Your Love" that features the guitar solo starting with the melody of "Blue Moon" by Rodgers and Hart. With none of the modern technological stuff available to him in the nineteen sixties, Eric just set his guitar and his amp according to his taste and played.

Some of what you hear on record is more to do with what happens as the music is recorded than with the sound Clapton set out to make. Eric Clapton always played with the volume at full tilt and the tone was at a very low setting. The use of the wah-wah pedal and heavy gauge strings also contributed alot to the sound.

Eric Clapton emerged with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers in the sixties playing a 1960 Les Paul Standard guitar. His amp was 1962 Marshall forty-five watt 2x12 combination. He fought with producers and engineers to be allowed to play at concert volume in the studio. This was unheard of at that time.

When he played with Cream, Clapton played a 1964 Gibson Les Paul SG. He chose 100 watt Marshall heads and 4x12 cabinets. He was also one of the pioneers of the wah-wah pedal. It was with this guitar and amp that he produced his famous "woman" tone. Do not forget Eric's Marshall amps were extremely overdriven and this was another major contributor to his sound.

You can buy pedals that are supposed to duplicate Eric Clapton's guitar settings but you can be more "authentic" by setting the guitar and amp yourself. Because Eric has mostly been seen playing Fender Stratocasters for some years, we will stick with setting a Strat to try to get that "woman tone". But remember that Eric was not playing a Strat when he was with Cream so you will need to be creative to get the sound out of your guitar.

You will be using the neck pickup. You need to turn down the second and third volume control knobs to get a fairly muddy tone. From here you need to use your ear to compare your sound with one of Eric Clapton's records. As far as your amplifier goes, set your bass to around seven and the middle at five. The treble should be set at five. These suggestions are only meant to be a rough guide to start off in the right direction to achieving a tone that you may not have the equipment to duplicate one hundred per cent.

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