Recording: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Engineer: Ken Scott

This was the session in which Eric Clapton recorded his famous guitar solo onto While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

George Harrison had invited Clapton to the session earlier that day, while giving him a lift from Surrey to London. Despite Clapton's initial wariness about performing on a Beatles song, Harrison insisted that it would be fine.

Clapton used the Gibson Les Paul guitar that Harrison had given him a month previously. His presence in the studio reportedly made the other Beatles more attentive and enthusiastic about the song, doubtless to Harrison's relief.

The solo replaced an earlier guitar track performed by John Lennon on the previous day. Harrison overdubbed organ and two lead vocals, Paul McCartney added vocal harmonies and a distorted bass guitar part, and Ringo Starr played tambourine and castanets.

Mono and stereo mixes were made on 7 October, but these were improved upon on 14 October.

Also on this day...

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6 responses on “Recording: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

  1. Warren

    I’ve read that Eric Clapton gave George Harrison the Gibson Les Paul guitar in August 1968 (not the other way around) about a month before the “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” recording session. I’ve also read that the guitar was given to George shortly after this recording session. Could anyone definitely confirm which is accurate? I’ve also read differing accounts on who played the high-pitched organ notes in this song. Was it John during a previous recording session (since he wasn’t in attendance on this night) or George?

    Thanks in advance!


  2. Staffan William-Olsson

    I think it’s recorded on the Beatles-owned Gibson SG with a maestro vibrola. If you listen to the isolated guitar track available on YouTube, you clearly hear the vibrato bar in 3:05, 3:50 and the outro. You can hear the banging noise from the bar. The overall sound isn’t that of a Les Paul, in my opinion.

    1. elmo7sharp9

      I am a guitarist with 40 years experience…

      That’s most definitely a vibrato arm in use.
      Quite separate from the manual flanging applied to the track, which is also audible on the isolated YouTube track.

      George had several vibrato-equipped guitars.
      I have no opinion as to which guitar we’re hearing
      (Definitely NOT the Stratocaster, though).

  3. Mathew

    Curious that Lennon wasn’t present to contribute anything additional on this day as Paul and Ringo did. From listening to the final track (and from what I’ve learned from this site – thanks!) his role appears to have been reduced to just a few notes thrown in at the end.

  4. Rob

    The vibrato sound was not a whammy bar but was made by running the guitar track through an ACT circuit, operated by assistant engineer Chris Thomas. Clapton didn’t want just his regular sound. He asked for something that sounded more bizarre and “Beatley” so Thomas manually waggled the oscillator knob during the solos, to the extreme at times, which is what Clapton had wanted. And Eric did use “Lucy”, the Les Paul that he had given to George just prior to the session.

  5. henry_the_horse

    @Rob. There are two types of pitch modulation on this recording, A.D.T. with lots of wobbling and also guitar vibrato. The vibrato is heard in the guitar bleed on the drums track, a product of cross-talk between the tape tracks. Since the drums are not treated with A.D.T., then the guitar bleed is not either. This clearly shows that the vibrato was during the performance, rather than during mixing stage as it would have been with the application of A.D.T.

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