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— Purchased by Guitar Center as one of four classic Clapton-owned guitars at an historic Christie’s auction, this rock & roll treasure was painstakingly recreated by Gibson craftsmen, using digital tools and a century-plus of luthier experience, to perfectly reflect the original —

— A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these limited edition Eric Clapton Crossroads 335 models, each of which carried a price tag of $12,000, will be donated to the
Crossroads Centre in Antigua, an International Centre of Excellence founded by Clapton
for the treatment of alcohol, drugs and other addictive disorders —

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA, August 16, 2005 — Guitar Center, Inc. (Nasdaq NMS: GTRC), America’s leading musical instrument and professional audio retailer, made an enormous contribution to the preservation of music history when, last year, it purchased at auction the Gibson ES-335 guitar used by Eric Clapton on numerous landmark recordings over the last 40 years, including the enduring Cream hit “Crossroads.” Guitar Center also made history when 175 meticulously crafted recreations — scrupulously measured and shaped by Gibson luthiers and named the “Eric Clapton Crossroads 335” model — sold out in less than three days. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the legendary artist’s Crossroads Centre in Antigua. The Crossroads Centre is an internationally recognized treatment center for addiction, founded by Clapton.

The 175 guitars earmarked for the U.S. market were offered for sale starting Saturday, July 30, 2005 at precisely 10 a.m. EST, 9 a.m. CST, 8 a.m. MST and 7 a.m. PST, and were sold strictly on a first come, first served basis through Guitar Center’s 150 U.S. retail locations. Within 24 hours, 144 of the Eric Clapton Crossroads 335 guitars had been sold to eager aficionados, each at a price of $12,000 — 90 of them within the first 60 minutes! In less than two more days, the remaining guitars were completely sold out. An additional 75 Crossroads guitars will be sold at a future date overseas, making this a truly global event.

The journey of the Eric Clapton 335 guitar began over 40 years ago, when in 1964 Clapton, already building his legend with the Yardbirds, purchased the cherry-red Gibson ES-335 in London. The guitar would go on to become a staple of Clapton's guitar arsenal for the next four decades, most famous for its use during the Cream years. It achieved special recognition as the guitar he played on “Crossroads” from the Cream Wheels of Fire album. Thirty years later, when Clapton envisioned his Crossroads Centre, now an internationally renowned treatment facility for addiction disorders in Antigua, he offered the ES-335 and many of his famous guitars — including his famed “Blackie” Fender Stratocaster — for sale at auction through the prestigious Christie’s auctioneers. The auction was held on June 24, 2004, in New York City. There, Guitar Center purchased it for $847,000 — one of the highest prices on record ever paid for a Gibson guitar. (Interesting fact: an original 1964 Gibson ES-335 now sells on the collector market for about $25,000.) Guitar Center, a leading sponsor of Clapton’s landmark “Crossroads” festival in Dallas, TX, brought the guitar to Gibson’s factory in Nashville, TN, where experienced Gibson technicians meticulously measured it millimeter by millimeter, even using a laser beam to digitize the neck’s dimensions. Their precision extended to reproducing the “Hare Krishna” sticker on the guitar, a gift from close Clapton friend the late George Harrison, stenciling the “distressed” case with the “CREAM” logo as per the original, and artificially aging the finish to ensure an authentic vintage look. Clapton himself approved this incredible accomplishment, as indicated by his signature on each of the guitars.

Andy Finn is a mortgage banker who purchased #42 of the Eric Clapton Crossroads 335 model. Andy has this to say about the latest addition to his extensive vintage collection, “I’ve been a big Clapton fan as well as played and collected guitars all my life. So, after seeing the original at the Crossroads show in Dallas last year, and learning that Guitar Center and Gibson were going to recreate that instrument, I said, ‘I have to have one.’ I picked it up last night and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a guitar. It looks perfect and has a great feel — they really nailed every detail of the original. I have two vintage 335’s from the 1960s and this is a good complement to that.”

Keith Brawley, Vice President of Merchandising for Guitar Center’s Guitar Division, talks about the added benefits of the Eric Clapton Crossroads 335 project. “We were inspired by Eric Clapton’s amazingly generous donation of his historic, prized instruments for the Crossroads auction. We had the idea to offer a small number of limited edition instruments that would be as rewarding to their owners as the original was to Eric Clapton. Working closely with the master craftsmen in Gibson’s Custom Shop, we knew we were in the unique position to execute this project, and offer meticulously-detailed replicas. The additional charitable donation to the Crossroads Centre made it a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

The story of the Eric Clapton Crossroads 335 model is more than that of a guitar. It’s an epic journey that began over 40 years ago and will continue as long as there are guitarists who know a treasure when they hear one.

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Photo Caption: Shown Left to Right: Keith Brawley, Guitar Center VP Merchandising Guitar Division; Mike Doyle, Guitar Center Director of Purchasing, Guitars and Amplification; Jay Wanamaker, Executive Vice President, General Merchandise manager.

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About Guitar Center
Guitar Center is the nation’s leading retailer of guitars, amplifiers, percussion instruments, keyboards, live-sound/DJ and recording equipment. We presently operate 151 Guitar Center stores, with 121 stores in 48 major markets and 30 stores in secondary markets across the U.S. In addition, the Music & Arts division operates 77 retail locations specializing in band instruments for sale and rental, serving thousands of teachers, band directors, college professors and students. Guitar Center is also the largest direct response retailer of musical instruments in the U.S. through our wholly owned subsidiary, Musician’s Friend, Inc., and its catalog and web site, www.musiciansfriend.com. More information on Guitar Center can be found by visiting the Company’s web site at www.guitarcenter.com.

The Guitar Center logo is a registered trademark of Guitar Center, Inc. Other brand or product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.

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