July 1, 2013 in Historic Fenders

Historic Fenders: Jeff Beck’s Stratocaster

jeffbeckJeff Beck may not have become as famous as his Yardbirds companions Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page; however, he will always be known for his wildly influential instrumental collection and his innovative sound.

The Guitar Hero

Jeff Beck has been discussed as one of the most influential guitar players in rock history in popular magazines. He was actually listed at number five in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. Beck’s sound is distinctively his own – bright and edgy, urgent and in your face, yet still having a sweet, musical component to it. You can always tell that he isn’t holding anything back.

“It’s all in his hands,” Eric Clapton once said. Beck stopped using a pick in the 80s. He is able to create his unique sound solely with his fingers and a little help from the vibrato bar on his signature Fender Stratocaster. He also frequently uses a wah-wah pedal both live and in the studio.

His albums span genres from blues rock, to heavy metal, to jazz fusion, to guitar rock, to electronica, to funk and other forms of hybrid rock and blues. He is well known throughout the music industry as one of the most versatile guitarists ever to walk the face of the Earth. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, once with The Yardbirds and again as a solo artist. He has won seven Grammy awards. He has also worked with a long list of legendary musicians, including: Mick Jagger, Morrissey, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Cyndi Lauper, and Stanley Clarke.

Here is a great example of Jeff Beck’s guitar playing:

The Legendary Strat

Throughout his early career as an English rock guitarist for The Yardbirds, Beck was known for playing a Fender Stratocaster. He played a Strat during most of his performances and studio work. His most famous guitar is his 1954 Fender Stratocaster.

There was one infamous night in 1975 where he cheated on his Stratocaster during a performance in Cleveland, Ohio. Beck was on stage performing his version of the Beatles’ song She’s A Woman with an early version of a talk box. He broke a string on his Stratocaster and in frustration, tossed the guitar and the talk box off the stage and finished the show playing a Gibson Les Paul.

The Jeff Beck Signature Stratocaster

jeffbeckstrat

In 1991, Fender created the Jeff Beck Signature Stratocaster, which Beck himself has used. The Jeff Beck Stratocaster features and alder body finished in polyurethane, or “Thinskin” nitrocellulose lacquer. It has a thin, C-shaped maple neck with a contoured heel for easier access to the high registers. Its fingerboard is made with rosewood, with 22 medium-jumbo frets, LSR Roller Nut, Schaller locking machine heads, and an American two-point synchronized vibrato. The Jeff Beck Strat’s main stand-out feature is the specially designed Fender dual-coil ceramic noiseless pickups with five-way switching that it uses.

The Jeff Beck Stratocaster has the usual Fender Stratocaster sound and versatility, plus a new set of unique characteristics. You can do acoustic finger-picking, to cranking distortion, to clean jazz chords and switch back and forth effortlessly. It also has great playability and sound quality. The sound produced is darker than the average Stratocaster, yet it still plays very smooth. It can handle gain well and the bridge pickup, which has its own tone control, can really scream.

The original Jeff Back Signature Stratocasters were available in Sea-Foam Green, Vintage White, Mystic Black, and Midnight Purple. In 2004, Fender released a Custom Shop version that is a slight upgrade and is available in Olympic White and Surf Green finishes.

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