Author: Doug Youland

Willie Goes to the Clapton Auction!

Willie Goes to the Clapton Auction!

The day I got my catalog from Christie’s I knew I wanted to go. Eric Clapton-my boyhood hero- I wanted a piece of the action. Besides I needed an excuse to go see Tommy our old friend and employee (by the way he’s doing great, married a wonderful girl and works for Jon Landau’s office who manages Springsteen and Shania Twain).

We arrived Wednesday at the viewing room in Christie’s. Lots of other dealers were there, all of us appraising the guitars like we would on any given day-this one’s missing knobs, that one has a crack, and who cares about the newer Fender Clapton Strats…retail fodder for a Vintage Guitar Dealer. Dave Rodgers (from Dave’s Guitars always a nice guy) and I talked at length as to where this auction will go. With all the hype in the last week we knew prices were probably going to get crazy (little did we know). Christie’s had guestimated what the guitars may go for based on past auctions. All the dealers I talked to felt that some things were guessed too low (like “Brownie” Eric’s ’56 Stratocaster was sure to go for more than the $80K to $100K estimate, he had owned it for about 30 years and he recorded “Layla” with it. It was the most historically significant guitar we’ve ever seen for sale.) Some things were guessed too high. Come on… would anyone pay six to eight thousand for a Japanese made 12 string strat…now really! Everywhere at the previewing were note takers, prospective buyers busily taking notes on the guitars they would bid on. “Do you really think it will go for that much?” asked one. “No way” said his friend “I bet it goes for half that.” (little did they know.) Christie’s catalogs with yellow post it notes jutting from the pages were everywhere. After the viewing I went back to the hotel rethinking my absolute highest price I’ll go on the items that I wanted. Before going to bed I saw VH1 plugging the Clapton Auction in a big way. This was going to get interesting.

Auction day! Arriving 90 minutes early I stand in a line that goes out to the sidewalk. Lots of Bigshots in suits saying: “but I bought a paddle (Christie’s charges $300 to get a bidding number on a paddle, the only sure way to get in). A buzz is in the air. Seemingly every News Agency in the world is in attendance. It was exciting. Then it starts amid clicking shutters and murmurs. Lot #1 goes up…a ’94 Martin J-12-40 ($1400 used value Christie’s was guessing $4-$6k cause it’s Eric’s) 45 seconds later it sold for $26,000 plus a 15% premium to Christie’s. A sign of things to come. Item #3 was a J-185 from ’51 (first year of issue). I had my paddle in the air at $7,000 then 9k then $11,000 at 14k I thought I’d wait for something else, so it sells at $14K. It proved to be the third cheapest thing sold that day. Oh well, I already have a J-185. And they really are one of the world’s best acoustics. But things were starting to heat up.

I was sitting next to Rudy from Rudy’s Music in New York (Pensa Surh guitars) he was almost falling down laughing as lot #5 started going through the roof. A 90’s Gibson ES-335 dot neck, Natural flametop sold for $38,000 add Christies 15% and that’s $43,700 for a guitar that Willie’s just sold for $1800! That’s 24 times normal used retail.

Yet somehow that seems sane compared to lot #8. A 60’s Harmony made Silvertone “Stella” flat top, $95 on a good day in the retail world…O.K. it’s signed by Les Paul who plays every Monday night at Fat Tuesdays in New York. But is it worth almost $28,000???…Hmmm..Must be!

Buckle up kids it’s lot #13 a ’94 Fender Clapton model Strat, White with Maple board. Eric used this on stage as one of his backups and for recording the film score to”The Van”. Kinda cool…let’s see $795 retail, Christies’s thinks Eric’s mojo should bump it to the $8k zone. I’m guessing like $28-$34k in this room. In 15 seconds it’s past 40 and sells for $50,000 (add 15% to that). everybody looks around in disbelief. “Was that a lot for that guitar?” a reporter asks me…”ahh yeah…kinda”.

A clean ’62 SG Les Paul Standard sells to a friend of ours from back home (let’s call him “Joe” for now) for $30K. He digs SG’s it’s Clapton’s, good straight vintage piece, seems like a good deal.

Lot #58 is Eric’s ’91 Clapton Strat with a custom cigarette holder headstock…$66,700 after auction fees…mercy.

Lot #62 was a favorite of Eric’s used a lot on stage and video. Christie’s guess is fifteen grand but you need $109,250 to take it home that day. But think fast the sale of that guitar lasted under two minutes.

The Japanese made Fender Electric XII (just sold one for $450) went for 42,000 clams.

Then comes lot #92 a rare ’58 Gibson Korina Explorer. The holy grail in the vintage world, only 19 ever made. This puppy is $100k If you could find one for sale.

Christie’s says “estimate open request”. My guess is $250k because Clapton did play this live and on video. O.K. it’s got a head crack that’s been fixed, it’s still Clapton’s. People stand and bow as the Explorer rotates into view. As a vintage freak it’s an exciting guitar. “Shall we start at $500?” the auctioneer jokes. Everyone laughs…this one should go through the roof. The bidding slows at $85k it looks like it might stop there, “Joe” turns to me and says “should I buy this?” I look up and it’s going…going… “yea you should buy this.” Joe figured it would go to $200k and didn’t have his bidding paddle ready, oh shoot where’s my pedal…Final bid at $85k…Joe shoots his hand in the air with the found paddle at $90k. It goes to $110k…he waits and waits…going…going…At $120k Joe’s got it. Applause all around all the dealers turn to Joe with congratulations. It was a solid buy. Remember the Music Man Amp ads with Clapton… holding an Explorer. This was a really really cool buy. It was exciting.

Lot #96 was a ’74 000-28 that had a long history with Clapton it was “very important” to him. I’m sure this was hard to part with. $155k was the final bid and it was an exciting thing to see it inch up $5k-$10k at a time. When it crossed $100,000, the crowd wooed. Sold to someone on the phone. Lot’s of fun to watch.

Lot#100 was a ’30 Gibson L-4 round hole. On the inspection day I noted this guitar was “beat” with many repairs including an added zero fret but Eric used this guitar for at home writing and wanted it back. Estimates said it might get $6k-$8k. Someone told me that Clapton would pay up to 15 grand to have it back home. It went for 50 thousand buckaroos. (add 15%).

Lot#103 a ’54 Strat hardtail, yes Eric played it. yes it looked like a refin(maybe not) Yes Christie’s thought 30 grand should take. But as it sold for $190,00 some thought the buyer mistook it for brownie. One Hundred and Ninety Thousand…those words were repeated over and over in the gallery.

“Brownie” was the last up. The song “Layla” played on the PA. This is what they came for. She was the guitar that recorded some of the most listened to licks in the history of Rock and Roll. The holy grail of solidbody electrics. It would be hard to think of a more important guitar that could even be for sale. The bidding started at $200,000. The Auctioneer asked for $220k and it jumped up to $300k. “Aww…that’s no fun” said the auctioneer. “I asked for 220 and you went to 300…o.k. do I here 325?” A moment of silence passed…$300k took a lot of wind out of people’s sails. “Come on 325?” $400,000 was offered from the phones. The room was electrified, some serious dough here kids. Again we hear “going once to the phone” No one in the gallery has the courage to spend $500k…”going twice to the phones.” “$450,000 !”yells a Christie’s phone operator, the crowd loves it. A little more begging for $500k then rather quickly it’s sold an anonymous caller for $450,000 that’s $497,000 after Christie’s add on. And the whole thing is over. What fun!

My friend “Joe” (who bought the Explorer) was mobbed by the press. He and Gil Southworth (Southworth Guitars) were some of the few big spenders in the gallery. But as CNN tried to interview him a person from Christie’s cut right in front of the camera and said “stop, you’d better think about this, do you really want to lose your anonymity? If you let CNN interview you everyone will know you and your family. The press will not leave alone.” “what if I don’t want to give my name?” said Joe. “It’s the press sir they’ll find you out. We advise that you turn away now. And it you like we’ll arrange a press conference later after you’ve thought a minute.” (very cool of christie’s).

With the camera’s rolling and shudders clicking Joe turned and ran away. Madeline and I ran block behind him as the press knocked over chairs chasing after him. “O.K. O.K., shows over back off…back off!” Christie’s showed him a private exit and the show was…over.

Downstairs someone from VG magazine was standing by Joe. He offered them an interview (after declining CNN Washington, Washington Post, NY Times etc.). They oddly declined. Joe got the only really vintage buy at the show. The only guitar to go for less than the estimate and a ’58 Gibson Explorer (only 19 made) to boot. But naw they didn’t take the story…go figure.

Thanks for reading,


Seymour Duncan Power Stage Amps Pack Huge Sound in A Small Box!

The Pedalboard Amp Revolution is here—Seymour Duncan’s new PowerStage 170 & 700 models are powerful new tools for the discerning guitarist that wants consistent tone from studio to gig in one ultra portable package.

                                         POWER STAGE 170                                       POWER STAGE 700

The PowerStage is truly the first power amp designed with the guitarist in mind. If you’re anything like me you’ve spent countless paychecks on new effects pedals and hours fiddling with your board to get things just the way you want them. Your tone exists in that precise pedal arrangement, those subtle twists of the knobs. The PowerStage provides a portable power amp that you know will retain that meticulous tone you’ve spent so long dialing in, no matter what your next gig throws at you.

Alternatively, maybe you prefer the amp modeling & effects processor route which means you appreciate things being confined in one box. Whatever kind of player you are, these Seymour Duncan amps can give you a real tube amp sound at a fraction of the size. The beautiful part—it’s a crystal clean transparent amp that lets every bit of your effects rig shine through without the need of a bulky amp head.

When clean, consistent tone is what you’re looking for the PowerStage line of amps is the perfect addition to you rig. These pedal sized power amps fit right in your gear bag or pedalboard and might just be the missing link in your signal chain. The horrors of depending on the backline gear at a bar or venue are a thing of the past. Just plug into your favorite cab or right into the front of house board and you’re ready to go.

At 170 Watts, The PowerStage 170 provides more than ample power to fill most rooms. If SERIOUS volume is what you crave then the Power Stage 700 will more than quench your thirst with a massive 700 Watts at 4 Ohms output. Added features such as direct DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) connection, stereo ins and outs, and highly refined cab simulation makes the 700-Watt model a worthy upgrade.

The PowerStage is made to work with today’s popular effects processors and stompboxes, providing a clean power stage with a universal 3-Band EQ to tweak your sound at the end of your chain. Toss in a gain stage/overdrive pedal like the Seymour Duncan Palladium and you’ve essentially got yourself a two channel amp head that reacts like a real tube amp when you toss some drive or fuzz into it.

Travelling musicians will delight at the freedom and clarity the PowerStage provides. The highly sculpt-able 3-Band EQ and over-sized level knob let you crank your stage volume with a quick flick of your foot. The PowerStage 170 has landed a permanent spot on Blues guitarist Jared James Nichols pedalboard while the high wattage, and stereo ins/outs have won over guitar virtuoso Mark Holcomb of Periphery & Dario Lorina of Black Label Society.

Check out what’s under the hood:


  • LEVEL: 0 dB to 47 dB
  • TREBLE CONTROL: +/- 13 dB @6.61 kHz
  • MID CONTROL: +/- 13 dB @712 Hz
  • BASS CONTROL: +/- 13 dB @87 Hz
  • POWER: 170 W at 4 Ohms
  • DIMENSIONS: 5″ x 5.24″ x 2.84″
  • WEIGHT: 2 lbs.


  • LEVEL: 0 dB to 47 dB
  • TREBLE CONTROL: +/- 13 dB @6.61 kHz
  • MID CONTROL: +/- 13 dB @712 Hz
  • BASS CONTROL: +/- 13 dB @87 Hz
  • POWER: 350 W at 8 Ohms, 700 W at 4 Ohms
  • DIMENSIONS: 11.5” x 2.2” x 6.9”
  • WEIGHT: 6.3 lbs.

With a PowerStage amp on your pedalboard all you have to do is B.Y.O. Speaker Cab and you’re ready to play. This is a game changer for any gigging guitarist. Which PowerStage amp is right for your rig? Visit our Chicago showroom and try one out today!

Show Us Your Space: Butch Walker and RubyRed Productions

Welcome to RubyRed Productions! I named my production company after my mom and dad (my mom’s first name is Ruby and my dad’s childhood nickname was Red). It started in a studio I bought in Atlanta, GA that used to be an old studio called Purple Dragon way back in the ‘80s. It had a colorful past to say the least.

When I bought and started remodeling it, I found the old SSL automation floppy disks for Elton John’s “Lion King” sessions that were recorded there, along with several syringes and other drug paraphernalia behind the fridge that belonged to the old owner, apparently.

My friend used to engineer there back in the day, and he told me that the big dent in the monitor section of the SSL 4048E that came with the place was from a police SWAT team raid. Apparently, two thugs showed up demanding their tapes from the studio owner and pistol-whipped the engineers. When the SWAT team showed up, the thugs jumped on the console to climb up and hide in the drop-tile ceiling, only to be caught and arrested by enforcement.

When I found myself needing to relocate to LA due to my growing producer demand out there, I sold it. I moved an entire semi truck of studio to a house/studio in the canyons of Malibu, CA, and all was great until a wildfire struck Malibu in 2007 on Thanksgiving weekend. It wiped out my entire house and studio while my family was in NY for holiday, and I came back to nothing but the suitcase and the acoustic guitar I had with me.

It was an awful blow to the head and heart, but I eventually and slowly collected one piece at a time, and got together a decent little pile of creative toys over the last 10 years. I also built my own studio in Santa Monica near the beach, and I love it.

This is the heart and soul of my studio. It’s an early-’70s Quad Eight 2082 that has been meticulously restored by my tech after I found it in pieces in a studio in Washington.

This console was the famous Steely Dan console on the back of their album Countdown To Ecstasy, and they used this room exclusively at The Village Recorder in Santa Monica Weird that it’s back where this console’s life got its start!

Many cool records at the time were done on this console (Fleetwood Mac, KISS, Cheap Trick, etc.), and it’s been a total workhorse for me. Everything goes through this console before it hits Tools/Tape.

I can’t leave out my trusty Teac 244 4-track recorder (bought on Reverb). I learned how to record and overdub on one of these in my mom and dad’s antique shop behind our house.

I think it’s essential for kids today to start learning the art of recording with one of these, instead of a computer. It will teach you how to be creative outside of your limitations due to track count, no editing, no correcting, etc. You will be a better player, singer, writer, engineer because of it, I promise you that.

Plus, they sound cool as shit. Sometimes I run the mix through it, and back into Pro Tools so that I get the flavor that it brings. Nothing like them.

Guitarmageddon here. I am a shredder, first and foremost, so I love me some guitars. We (my engineer Todd Stopera and I) have a little of everything. We aren’t trying to pride ourselves on our collection of “rare” or vintage instruments that may sound good but would be a bummer to scratch or drop.

I like useable shit. Stuff with a soul that can be found for $200 from a pawn shop. But the occasional boutique guitar or custom shop model is also fun. To me, guitars are for playing, not collecting. I have a good selection of FenderYamaha, and Duesenberg stuff, along with some random acoustics of all types.

I’m a minimalist with outboard gear and don’t find myself wanting too many options. I know what I like, and I know how to get the sounds I dig in a matter of minutes. Here are just a few pieces at ЯR in Santa Monica — some Neve 1073s2264As, some Chandler TG1 and TG2sRetro Sta-Level and Pultec-style EQ, Radial JD7DistressorAltecs etc.

I have tons of guitar amps that I rotate, but I don’t like them all over the studio, so we keep a couple at a time in the room. Two of my favorites are my 3 Monkeys Orangutan and my Goodsell Black Dog that are going to their respected 2×12 cabs in an ISO booth (not pictured).

I also always have my trusty silverface Fender Deluxe Reverb amps handy. We also have a mountain of cool pedals — I use my own signature overdrive pedal made by JHS called the RubyRed quite a lot. I also just picked up a Helix by Line6, which is pretty kickass at being a Swiss Army knife for a sound I may not have in one of my existing amps or pedals. I’m not a precious purist. If it sounds cool, it is cool.

Never underestimate the genius of Tom Scholz. He was the guitar player and producer of the ‘70s arena rock band Boston and the creator of the first really good direct recording guitar amp simulator (also a handy headphone amp) called The Rockman. This box is the sound of every guitar on Def Leppard’s Hysteria album and many a session guitar solo on the radio through that era.

I remember saving up to get one of these as a kid, and I used it for awhile as my amp, direct through the PA, with the Top 40 cover band I was in. In the studio, I run a Y-cable in stereo because the chorus effect is so good that it’ll make the spiked-up, bleached blonde hair on your head fall out. Instant Mr. Mister.

Drum world is small but useful here. I use a pretty random assortment of drums made by C&C drumsLudwig, and Slingerland — some old, some new. Like I said, I’m not precious. Really digging my CC Concert Tom kit these days.

This is my baby. My old engineer, Jake Sinclair, found me this late 1800s Steinway upright grand piano in some rich person’s garage up near Oprah Winfrey’s house. They let us have it for $1,000, and it’s the best-sounding piano I’ve ever had or heard. It has a soul like no other, and its imperfections are perfect. I’ve used it on almost every recording I’ve done for the last 10 years.

Wade over at Chandler is my dawg and he is making some of the most incredible stuff these days. I’m blown away by the new REDD mic they have. I am using this on everyone. It sounds incredible and has one of their EMI mic preamps built into the mic. It’s incredibly convenient but more importantly, it sounds disgustingly good on everything.

This is the hangout area. Very important at a studio. People usually roll up the big industrial garage door, sit in the courtyard, or watch a movie on the big screen projector.

This is my escape from whatever music I’m making at the time. I put on records on my Basis 4000 turntable through my McIntoshMX110 tube receiver, through my MC2505 solid state amp. I love this setup. People are usually surprised that I’m usually listening to Stan Getz or Tom Waits on this rig most of the time.

One of the few things that survived the big fire was my Six Million Dollar Man pinball machine (because it was in storage when everything got burned), and I’m so glad I still have it. When I was a kid, I used to go to the corner grocery store and play pinball after school with the quarters I could find in the couch at home.

When I made my first decent paycheck at music, I went and bought that machine. The motorcycle game next to it was a gift from my pal Ryan Adams (he’s an avid game collector like no other). It sometimes comes on by itself and has a mind of its own. I love it.

The jacket pictured to the left of the games is my old hair metal band jacket from 1988 that I bought when our band moved to LA. Before rock ‘n’ roll got so self aware and sensitive, it was cool back then to actually flaunt your band’s name on your clothes, jackets, shirts etc. (kinda like hip-hop does now). We all had a guy custom paint the back of our leather jackets with our band name. Humble brag: I can still fit into this thing 30 years later.

We also needed a space with a garage because my engineer, Todd, and myself have a motorcycle problem. He loves to work on vintage Harleys. We don’t have every bike we own in this picture because some are at my house or back in Nashville where I split my time, but this is a good idea of where the money goes that I make from music. We ride pretty much every day, so you need a place to maintain these things.

A wide angle shot of the tracking room. I’m a big fan of having the “one room setup” for the control room and tracking area. I do a lot of records where I’m playing a lot of the instruments, and I like to turn around and grab it and go.

I don’t care about conventional acoustic treatments, separation of sounds, etc. None of that shit matters when making a great recording. I’ve made some of my best recordings in bedrooms and some of my worst ones in $2,500/day commercial studios. Just because there’s a good-looking receptionist and a nice fruit bowl and deli tray doesn’t mean you’re gonna get an inspirational recording done.

I like a comfortable atmosphere where people aren’t sweating the clock because of the pressure to deliver every day due to the cost and intimidation of the building’s “pedigree.”