Jeffery Beck was born in Wallington, Surrey, England on June 24, 1944. He showed interest in music at a very young age, and he was a part of a church choir and took piano lessons for 2 years. His interest in string instruments came after his uncle showed him how to play the upright bass and the violin. His encounter with an electric guitar was when he went to a Buddy Holly concert at Croydon School in the spring of 1958. This inspired him to get his first guitar which was acoustic, and which he borrowed from a friend – who never asked it back. He also made an attempt of building his own guitar, but never really succeeded.
Jeff joined his first band “the Rumbles” in 1963, with whom he played mostly Gene Vincent and Buddy Holly songs, and he got his first gig as a session guitarist in 1964 on a single by Fitz and Startz titled “I’m Not Running Away”. His breakthrough came in 1965 when he replaced Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds on the recommendation of his childhood friend Jimmy Page, who also joined the band shortly after.
Jeff left the Yardbirds 20 months later and started doing his own stuff. He recorded a couple of singles and formed his own band called “the Jeff Beck Group”, whose members among others were Shadow Jet Harris, Rod Stewart, Ronnie Wood, Nicky Hopkins, and Micky Waller.
From then on Jeff mostly went by himself, but he also appeared on a great ton of albums by musicians such as Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Jon Bon Jovi, Roger Waters, Donovan, Stevie Wonder, and many others. He was even approached by Rolling Stones to join the band following the death of Brian Jones, and the members of Pink Floyd intended to ask him to join as a replacement for Syd Barrett, but as they said, “None of us had the nerve to ask him.”
Today Jeff is considered to by one of the most influential guitarists of all time, and he was placed number 5 in Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.
Jeff is also a lover of Hot Rod cars, of which he owns quite a collection. He does not only drive and own them but works on the mechanical stuff himself.
Jeff Beck’s Electric Guitars:
|Upon joining the Yardbirds Jeff didn’t have a guitar of his own, so for a short period of time he used a red Fender Telecaster that belonged to the band, which was previously played by Eric Clapton.|
1954 Fender Esquire
|Jeff got this guitar in 1965 while touring with the Yardbirds and the Walker Brothers. At that time Fender was releasing guitars with the rosewood neck, but Jeff preferred maple. John Walker from the Walker Brothers offered Jeff to sell his Esquire for £75, which he gladly accepted. This quickly became his favorite guitar, and he used it on nearly all the early songs since he didn’t have any other guitars at that time.|
The guitar was stolen from Jeff during one of the first tours with the Yardbirds, but it was fortunately recovered a week later. Jeff claims that the fingerprint dust from that day is still present on the guitar.
In 1974, while working on the “Blow by Blow” album, Jeff was approached by Seymour Duncan who offered him one of his modified Telecasters for his Esquire. Jeff accepted the deal straight away, finding it surprising that Saymour would give him a better guitar for his old worn-out Esquire. But just as soon as Saymour walked out of the studio with the guitar, Jeff realized what a mistake he’d done, and he stated in many interviews that he regrets making that decision to this day.
1958 Fender Telecaster
|Jeff bought this guitar from John Owen sometime in 1965. Although rarely used by Back, the guitar would eventually become famous by Jimmy Page, who received it as a present from Beck after joining the band himself in 1966.|
The two played together in the Yardbirds for a couple of months, but Jeff left the band in October. Jimmy continued using the guitar with the Yardbirds and later on with the Led Zeppelin – it making a brief appearance on the solo for the song “Stairway to Heaven”. The guitar would eventually go down in history as the “Dragon Tele” (read more about this guitar on Jimmy Page’s gear page).
1959/60 Gibson Les Paul
|This was Jeff’s Les Paul with the Yardbirds. He bought the guitar in London in 1966, and it originally had two white humbuckers and a ply black pickguard. After a while, Jeff removed the pickguard and the white plastic ring surrounding the toggle switch.|
Sometime in 1968, Jeff decided the completely remove the finish from the top, which was allegedly done in order to replicate a blonde Les Paul that he saw in a Gibson catalog.
In the early 70s, the guitar allegedly fell from the top of a Marshall amp leaving the neck broken. Jeff took it to a guitar luthier who quickly replaced the neck so Jeff could use it with the Jeff Beck Group as a spare, next to his newly acquired 1959 Les Paul.
The new neck had a thinner profile, an old-style Gibson logo, and “JB” engraved on the 22nd fret. The person who did the repair on the guitar apparently also replaced the original PAFs without Jeff’s knowledge or consent.
Although Jeff did use this guitar often with the Jeff Beck Group, he was not completely satisfied with how it played after all these mods done to it. He eventually retired it and switched to playing different guitars.
1959 Gibson Les Paul
|Jeff acquired this Les Paul in Philadelphia in 1968 from Rick Nielsen (lead guitarist of the band “Cheap Trick”) for $350. It originally had a Bigsby tremolo installed – which Jeff removed, flame-top finish, and a zebra neck PAF pickup.|
He used this guitar for a couple of months until it was stolen in the late sixties, probably 1969. The guitar’s serial number is 9_1864.
1954 Gibson “Oxblood” Les Paul
|Around the time of recording the “Beck, Bogert & Appice” album in 1973, Jeff stumbled upon an Oxblood-colored Les Paul at a music store in Memphis called “Strings and Things”. Even though it didn’t look like it, the guitar was a 1954 model, with some major modifications done to it.|
The original finish was stripped off, and the guitar was refinished in deep brown color, which under a certain angle looked like oxblood. The old P-90 single coils were removed and replaced with full-size humbucking pickups, the neck was slightly shaved, and the tuning pegs were replaced with newer models.
These were all done prior to Jeff coming to the shop, supposedly on a request from some other guy who ended up not liking how the guitar turned out. Fortunately, Jeff fell in love with the guitar at the first sight, and he took it home without having second thoughts about the purchase.
1954 Fender Stratocaster
|Jeff used this guitar from 1969-1977 with The Jeff Beck Group and Beck, Bogert & Appice.|
In the mid-’70s Jeff changed the neck for a 70s-style large headstock rosewood neck and used the guitar on his solo tour. The guitar can be seen on the cover of the “Live Wire” album.
1959 Fender Telecaster “Tele-Gib”
|While recording the “Blow by Blow” album in 1974, Jeff was approached by Seymour Duncan with this heavily modified 1959 Telecaster. It was offered as an exchange for Jeff’s ’54 Esquire, which Jeff gladly accepted at first, but later became nostalgic about his original Esquire, even though he admitted to Tele-Gib being a better-sounding guitar.|
Seymour bought the Tele-Gib in 1972, at a music store in Cincinnati, Ohio, and at that stage, the guitar had a rosewood neck, the body was heavily worn, and it was missing most of the hardware. He replaced the neck, put two PAF humbuckers in, and changed the bridge piece. We will not go into further details about the guitar, since the whole story is available on Seymour Duncan’s website, written by him personally. Read it here: The Story of the Tele-Gib
Jeff used the Tele-Gib on “Blow by Blow”, and he recorded “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” on it. It can be seen in the music video for “Secret Policeman’s Ball”.
1954 Fender Stratocaster
|While working in the studio Jeff was approached by a guy willing to give him his 1954 Stratocaster as a present. Jeff, of course, accepted it, but as a kind gesture, he left it in a studio for a couple of days to see if the guy will change his mind since this guitar is one of the most expensive and sought-out Stratocasters out there.|
We couldn’t date when exactly Jeff got this guitar, so if you know anything more about that, please post it in the comments.
Also, we are not sure if this was the Stratocaster that Jeff used during the ARMS Charity Concerts, and the one that was given to him by Steve Marriott. Judging from the pictures alone this might as well be the case, but until we get more solid info, don’t take it as a fact.
1960s Fender Stratocaster
|This Stratocaster was a gift from John McLaughlin, who would often approach Jeff with various guitars and ask him for an opinion.|
This guitar was the second Strat Jeff received from John, with the first one being stolen. He used it on the “Wired” album, and since then he keeps it safe at his studio, considering it to be one of his most prized possessions.
Jeff Fender Signature model which was introduced in 1991 was mostly based on this particular guitar.
Jackson Soloist “Tina”
|Jeff played this guitar on ARMS Charity Concerts in 1983, and during the studio sessions of the “Flash” album for solos on “People Get Ready” and “Ambitious”. He also used it in 1984 during the legendary CBS Records convention in Honolulu, when he played on stage with Stevie Ray Vaughan for the first time.|
The guitar features a pink finish, 3 single-coil pickups, and a Kahler bridge. Its nickname “Tina” comes from Tina Turner who engraved her name on the guitar.
Jackson Soloist #2
|Jeff was not too happy with the pink Soloist, so he started using a different one. This one had an orange body finish, a white pickguard inspired by the 70’s model of the Tele bass, and a Floyd Rose tremolo bridge which Jeff preferred over the Kahler.|
Jeff played a total of three Jackson guitars, the pink “Tina” one mentioned before, this orange one, and a white one featured in Rod’s Ambitious video.
1955 Gretsch 6128 Duo-Jet
|This is the same model that Cliff Gallup used to play. Jeff likes it very much, and it’s one of his favorite guitars.|
He fell in love with it after seeing it on a booklet on one of Gallup’s albums, but since the headstock was not visible on that particular photo, he didn’t know what exact model of the guitar it was. After finding it out, he went out and bought a 1963 model which was all in pieces. He managed to put it back together, just to find out that it wasn’t the exact same model which Gallup used to play.
|Jeff used to rent this guitar from a local guitar shop quite often, and after some time the owner of the shop decided to bestow the guitar to Jeff.|
He said that he likes to use his L-5 for some Scotty Moore-inspired stuff.
1993/95 Fender “Jeff Beck” Custom Shop Stratocaster
|This is the oldest Jeff Beck Signature model that Jeff still plays, which is also his main go-to guitar. If you see Jeff playing white Stratocaster nowadays, it’s most likely this one.|
The guitar is kind of a hybrid of a couple of other guitars, and it features three custom-wound single-coil pickups by John Suhr, a rosewood fretboard with Dunlop 6150 fretwire, and a split Wilkinson roller nut.
The basswood body was made in 1995 by Fender Custom Shop builder J.W. Black, while the neck comes from an older guitar from 1993, which was also built by J.W. Black.
Fender “Jeff Beck” Signature Stratocaster (First Series)
|The first series of Jeff Beck Signature models were introduced in 1991, and it was mostly based on the Strat Plus model and Jeff’s old ’60s Strat.|
Jeff was supposedly partially responsible for the Strat Plus model. In 1987 he ordered a custom guitar from Fender, which was styled the same color as the Ford 32 Coupe featured in the movie “American Graffiti”. Fender made the guitar, but Jeff stepped out of the deal, so the company decided to release the guitar under the name “Strat Plus”.
Jeff’s Signature model was released a couple of years after the Strat Plus, and it didn’t feature a yellow “American Graffiti” finish but came in Vintage White, Surf Green, and Midnight Purple. The yellow Strat Plus guitars often get confused with the “Jeff Beck prototype” which is not the case.
First series of Jeff Beck Signature Stratocaster guitars featured a ’50s U-shape maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, Gold Lace Sensor pickups (single-coils in the neck and middle position, and a humbucker in the bridge), and a TBX tone circuit.
Perhaps one of Jeff’s favorite Strats from this series was a green model with Little Richard’s name engraved into it, which ended up being split in half after an incident on stage. Jeff had it glued back together, but he strictly keeps it at his house since.
Fender “Jeff Beck” Signature Stratocaster (Post 2001)
|In 2001 Fender decided to refresh the Jeff Beck Signature model. The new version features a thinner C-shape maple neck with a 9.5″ radius rosewood fingerboard, LSR Roller Nut, Schaller locking tuner, a 2-point synchronized tremolo, and three Dual-Coil Ceramic Noiseless pickups. It was made available in Olympic White and Surf Green finishes.|
Fender Custom Shop Relic ’51 Nocaster
|Jeff has been carrying this guitar on some of the recent tours.|
The guitar was made sometime in the ’90s, and it comes with Lindy Fralin pickups and classic Telecaster wiring.
1958 Gibson Les Paul Custom Shop Reissue
|Jeff started playing this RI Les Paul with flame-top finish during some of the more recent gigs, more specifically on “How High the Moon” for what was to be Les Paul’s 95th birthday.|
The guitar was supposedly one of the two built for Mark Knopfler, and this one was left at the shop.
Jeff’s Les Paul has a slightly slimmer neck than the original 1958 Les Paul, and it has a push/pull knob that switches the bridge pickup to make it single-coil or humbucker.
Gibson Jeff Beck 1954 Les Paul Oxblood
|Jeff has also been using a Signature model made after his 1954 Gibson Les Paul.|
|Not much info about this particular guitar. The only proof of Jeff playing one are some photographs taken during some of the recent gigs (check Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Tour 2011).|
He supposedly recorded “Poor Boy” on it, but don’t take our word for it.
|This guitar was used for some Scotty Moore stuff during the Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul. The guitar didn’t actually belong to Jeff but was loaned from Gibson.|
This is not the only ES-175 Jeff played. There’s a video of him playing “Matchbox” on a tobacco-burst Gibson ES-175 with The Big Town Playboys.
2016 Fender Stratocaster Custom Shop JB w/ Reverse Headstock
|This guitar was used extensively for the 2016 Loud Hailer tour, next to his regular old Signature Stratocaster [Jeff Beck, @jeffbeckmusic] This Stratocaster has a couple of unique features which point out to the possibility of it being a Custom Shop modification of Jeff Beck’s standard series Signature Strat.|
The first one, and the most obvious one, is the headstock – which is rotated 180 degrees while still featuring a correctly orientated logo – meaning that it isn’t just a regular neck reversed, but a completely custom-made one. The edge of the fretboard on the bottom end also has a very sharp edge, instead of it being slightly curved as you’ll find on both the JB Signature model and on most standard Strats. The 22nd fret rests on the very edge of the fretboard, which is also something that isn’t particularly common.
The rest of the specs seem to match the JB Signature model (pre-2001), including the Wilkinson roller nut, Fender Noiseless pickups, and a Fender modern-style 2-point tremolo.
Fender Telecaster Standard MIM
|Jeff was seen using this guitar occasionally during the 2016 Loud Hailer tour, but this same Tele seems to have been used on stage as early as 2014 [Jeff Beck – Shot at the Symphony Hall, Birmingham on Tuesday 20th May 2014].|
Based on appearance, the guitar looks like a regular Standard Telecaster made in Mexico – which may come as a surprise to some. The logo design, as well as the particular pickguard/body color combination, and the modern 6-piece saddles – all seem to match the specs of a MIM Standard Telecaster.
Jeff Beck’s Acoustic Guitars:
Jeff rarely if ever plays or talks about his acoustic guitars, but luckily there’s a video of him where he does show a couple of his acoustic guitars (check: Jeff Beck’s Rock’n’Roll Party on Amazon)
|The only full-sized acoustic guitar that Jeff talked about is the red Gretsch Rancher. Jeff was influenced to buy the Gretsch by Paul Peek of Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps who played in the classic 1956 movie “The Girl Can’t Help it”.|
Jeff’s Rancher has square inlays, a red finish, and a standard drop-in saddle, as opposed to an adjustable saddle which was common on some of the 50’s models.
|This is a guitar Jeff seems really proud of since it was a present from Jimmy Page, who he met through his sister when they were about 11 years old.|
The guitar is 3/4 size, and the body was made of plastic. The Maccaferri brand is mostly known for Django Reinhardt, who favored the Selmer Guitar -which was one of their classical guitar models with an oval sound hole.
Jeff Beck’s Guitar Amps:
Jeff usually prefers using a low-wattage amp, not only in the studio but on stage as well.
He’s known to be using a lot of different stuff, depending on the style of music he’s playing, so it’s hard to gather up all the information. Below is the list of amps that we could find, and they are mostly listed in chronological order. Please excuse us for not writing a detailed list, but we’ll add more stuff down the line. If you are knowledgeable of the subject, be sure to send us a message.
– Vox AC30
Jeff used two of these with the Yardbirds – at the time he was playing the Esquire. They were linked in series and placed on chairs so they were at the waist level, where Jeff could get to the controls easier and hear the sound better.
– Marshall JTM45 Plexi
Used mostly during the post-Yardbirds era, probably the amp he’s best known for.
During the early 2000s, Jeff decided to go back to this original sound, so he started again using the JTM45, which is a cleaner-sounding amp than the DSL- his second best-known amp. This does not mean that Jeff now uses one or the other exclusively – he often switches between them depending on the kind of stuff he wants to play.
– Fender Twin Reverb Reissue
Used during the tour with Stevie Ray Vaughan in 1989.
– Marshall JCM2000 DSL50
Used during the ’90s mostly.
– Fender Bassman Reissue
Used for the recording of the “Crazy Legs” album.
– Fender Pro Junior
Used on Rock ‘n’ Roll Party tour; he had two of them on-stage, one in black one and another one in blue – perhaps as a tribute to Blue Caps – which has a Jensen P10R Alnico I speaker.
– Lazy J 20
This amp is based on a tweed Deluxe, and it’s built by Jesse Hoff. These were mostly used for the “Crazy Legs” tour.
– Fender Princeton
– Fender Super Sonic
Seen on stage in the late 2000s. He used two heads, each one connected to a separate cabinet.
– Marshall DSL100H
– Marshall 2062x
Used as a backup on stage.
– Magnatone Varsity
Seen on stage when Jeff played with ZZ Top in 2014.
– Fender Vibro-King
He’s been using this amp as his main in the most recent time (post-2010)
Jeff Beck’s Guitar Effects:
– Dunlop Cry Baby
Used in the early days.
– Colorsound Overdriver
An old pedal. Jeff demonstrated it in an interview recorded in 1964.
-Maestro Ring Modulator
Given to Jeff by Jan Hammer, who used to use it himself
– Kustom Bag talk box
Used on “She’s A Woman”.
– Mu-Tron Octave Divider
– EBS OctaBass
– MXR Power Flanger
– Boss BF-2 Flanger
– Klon Centaur
Uses it to get some more boost and dirtier sound from his JTM45
– ProCo Turbo Rat Distortion
Jeff goes between this one and the Klon – but he seems to prefer the Klon
– DigiTech GSP-21 Legend
Used on the soundtrack album ‘Frankie’s House’ with Jed Leiber.
– Snarling Dogs Whine-O-Wah
– Hughes & Kettner Tube Rotosphere MkII
– Way Huge Electronics Aqua-Puss Analog Delay
– MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay
– Boss CE-5 Chorus
– Lexicon Reflex
Jeff Beck’s Guitar Strings:
Back in the day, Jeff would use very light strings on his Les Paul, because as he said – he has very “weak flesh” on the tips of his fingers.
Later on, he switched to the .011 to .049 set, but since then he also used .010 to .052 and .009 to .052 gauges.