Jeff Buckley’s 1983 Fender Telecaster Toploader

access_time First seen circa 1991

This is without a doubt Jeff’s best-known guitar, but a little less known fact is that the guitar didn’t actually belong to him but to Janine Nichols, Arts at St. Ann’s Program Director, from whom he borrowed it in 1991. This happened just a couple of days after all of Jeff valuables were stolen from his apartment in Los Angeles, and following a Tim Buckley Tribute concert at which Jeff was invited to perform and was given the opportunity to meet Janine.

The guitar originally featured a white pickguard, but Janine changed it to a mirror one – allegedly inspired by Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) who played a similar guitar back in the day. The second modification included replacing the original bridge pickup with what seems to be a Seymour Duncan Hot Lead Stack. The change was done by Jeff sometime in late 1994, or early 1995, meaning after the Grace studio sessions. This is based on the photographic evidence – for example, the photo displayed below was taken on August 6, 1994, and shows the Telecaster with a stock bridge pickup. Most of the filmed performances from 1995 though (see Live in Chicago), show the alleged Seymour Duncan Hot Lead

Embed from Getty Images

Jeff used this guitar as his main from the point he received up until his untimely death. It can be seen and heard on Jeff’s only studio album released in his lifetime ‘Grace’, as well as on most of the live gigs, including Live at Sin-é and Live In Chicago 1995.

The Telecaster was returned to Janine after Buckley’s memorial service on August 1, 1997. In 2011 it was put for auction, and reached the price of around $50,000. The buyer’s identity is unknown, but there’s a short video from Dan´s Chelsea Guitars featuring Jeff’s Tele: Jeff Buckley´s Fender Telecaster 1983

The ‘Hallelujah’ Guitar

There’s some talk about whether Jeff actually used the Telecaster specifically on ‘Hallelujah”’, or if that was some other guitar. The source of these doubts seems to be a post over at GearSlutz forums which quotes Bryant W. Jackson (assistant engineer for the Soundtrack studio session), in which Jackson claims that he was present during the sessions and that Jeff used “Gibson Semi-Hollowbody” on Hali (Hallelujah). He also points out in a different post that this was during the overdub sessions at Soundtrack, and that he was not present at the earlier sessions which produced most of the album (VintageGuitar forums – Jeff Buckley’s Grace).

Jeff is seen playing the Telecaster in one of the versions of ‘Hallelujah’ that was filmed and released as a music video. Souce: YouTube

Upon some digging, it is evident that Jeff did indeed record a bunch of different versions of Hallelujah, more than thirty during the first sessions at the Bearsville studio (MojoPin – When I Met Jeff Buckley), and at least one more at a later session done at Sony’s studios during which ‘So Real’ was recorded (Jeff Buckley – MTV Outtakes 1-15-95). However, this still leaves us clueless about the overdub sessions, and how much was done there to change to initial recordings. It possible that Jeff dumped all the tapes he did previously of ‘Hallelujah’, and started from scratch using a semi-hollow Gibson (likely an ES-175 as Jackson pointed out). But, if one were to guess, without knowing anything about this story about the alleged semi-hollow, Hallelujah really does sound like a single-coil Telecaster topped off with some reverb, and it’s just hard to imagine Jeff playing anything else but that.

2
Leave a Reply

avatar
1 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
DanKhan Rmah Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Khan Rmah
Guest
Khan Rmah

During one of the outtakes of hallelujah, Jeff said he “feels different on this guitar”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Abrasn8v48 Near the end.

Continue browsing, or go subdirectory_arrow_leftBack to Jeff Buckley Gear Page
access_time 1995

Series 10 "Flower" Telecaster

According to a post made over at JBCommunity forums, Jeff got this guitar as a gift after a gig played in Lyon, France in October 1994, from a guy called Jean-Marc who worked at the avenue. For the full story please refer to The Story of the “Flower” Guitar. The guitar was apparently a cheap Korean knock-off that didn’t play too well, but it attracted Jeff’s attention anyways, mostly because of the groovy flower finish […]

access_time 1980

1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom

When Jeff was 14 years old, he received a Gibson Les Paul guitar as a birthday present from his mother and his stepfather [Jeff Buckley – Everybody Here Wants You; 5:30]. He can be seen holding the guitar in a recent issue of the Guitar World magazine [Guitar World, June 2016]. It is assumed that he used the guitar up until he moved to Hollywood to attend the Musicians Institute in 1986, […]

access_time 1994

Rickenbacker 360/12 Fireglo

This was Jeff’s second most used guitar, perhaps best known for occasionally being used to play ‘Last Goodbye’ live. There’s some debate on the exact model of this guitar, but the round edges on the body and neck inlays are all the clues you need to figure out it’s a 360 model. The guitar first appeared in mid to late 1994, or around the time album Grace was released. It is therefore somewhat safe […]

access_time 1985

Unknown Guitar

Jeff was first seen using the guitar circa 1985. At that time he was in Los Angeles and playing in a band called Group Therapy. He continued using the guitar until around 1989 when he was seen playing it with The Wild Blue Yonder. [The Wild Blue Yonder 1989-1991] This guitar is, unfortunately, a mystery. The exact model is currently not identified, and until it is, all further research is on halt. […]

access_time 1984

1980s Ovation Viper

This Ovation was used by Jeff sometime in the early to mid-80s. There’s a photo of him with the guitar, which seems to have been taken prior to his college days. Jeff’s band-mate at the time, John Lindsey, who contacted us via email, noted that Jeff played the guitar through a Roland JC-120 during their time together. Jeff played and recorded with John, Tim Marse, and Dan Roth, and the band did […]

Interested in other artists? Check out GroundGuitar's subdirectory_arrow_rightGear Page