How to play as Eric Clapton

By | April 5, 2021


Watch videos of Eric Clapton performing. Choose a song you want to learn and watch how Clapton plays it. Note Clapton’s technique and where on the guitar’s neck he plays.


Learn the smaller pentatonic scale, also known as the ‘blues’ scale. Clapton, among other electric blues players, will use this scale in solo. Remember how to play the scale in a variety of keys. If you can read music or tablature, which is a guitar notation style, identify places in a Clapton song that use the blues scale.


Learn how to play with vibrato. Vibrato aims to manipulate a pitch by quickly moving your left hand up and down or from side to side. Move your whole hand when playing vibrato instead of just a small wrist movement. Watch the video of Clapton with vibrato. Work out in front of a mirror and match your hand movements with those you see in the video.


Learn techniques for playing the guitar and identify when Clapton is using them. For example, Clapton often uses triplets and accents in his gig. Watch a video or listen to a recording and locate where Clapton uses these techniques. Practice holding the pick a little tighter to make playing accents easier. Practice triplets, which are groups with three notes within one stroke.


Choose a riff from an Eric Clapton song. If possible, watch a video of someone playing the riff. Practice the riff in front of a mirror to match what you see and hear.


Learn the tools that Clapton uses. Much of the tone and sound of a performer comes from the instruments and amplifiers they use. If possible, use the same equipment or a variant that sounds the same. Eric Clapton has signature guitars from manufacturers Fender Stratocaster and Martin guitars. Clapton also uses Marshall cabinets, Marshall heads and Fender Twin amplifiers.

Eric Clapton, from 2010 onwards, is the only person to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times – as a member of the band ‘Cream’ and ‘Yardbirds’ and as a solo artist – often seen as one of the greatest guitarists by fans and critics. Clapton’s style, whether playing in a group or performing solo, is rooted in the blues. Learning the basics of blues playing and learning about musical instruments will help you achieve a sound similar to Eric Clapton’s.