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

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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.

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Khan Rmah

During one of the outtakes of hallelujah, Jeff said he “feels different on this guitar” 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 1995

1976 Gibson Les Paul Custom

Chronologically looking, this was the second Les Paul that Jeff owned and played. However, it was the first legitimate Gibson model, since the first guitar wasm according to the most sources, a knockoff. Jeff’s First Les Paul At this point, it is important to establish histories behind the two Les Pauls. For the longest time, people (including us) thought that that the Les Paul that Jeff received for his 14th […]

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 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 1982

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. According to Jeff’s friend, Jason Hamel, this guitar was purchased in 1982, as a replacement for Jeff’s old Les Paul knockoff. The Ovation Viper was purchased at Pete’s Music. My friend Dave Judy says he sold it to him. […]

access_time 1980

Les Paul (Copy)

When Jeff was 14 years old, he received a Paul guitar as a birthday present from his mother and his stepfather. Then when he was about 14 (1980), for his birthday, he asked for [this part cuts of during the video, so it’s not positive that these are exact words] a guitar, a real guitar. And that’s when we all chipped in to get him the Les Paul. Jeff Buckley […]

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