Jimmy Page’s 1953 Fender Telecaster
Jimmy bought this Telecasterin in November 1975 and first used it with Zeppelin for “Hot Dog” and “Ten Years Gone”. Later on, in the 80s, he used it as one of his main guitars with The Firm.
Apparently, he got the guitar from Robb Lawerence, who at one point left a comment on a Led Zeppelin fansite, explaining the story. Sadly, the said website no longer exists, but the comment was copied and pasted numerous times over the web.
According to Robb, the Telecaster was acquired with the intent to install the B-Bender system on it immediately.
Found your post on Jimmy Page’s guitars last night and wanted to let you know I sold him the brown Telecaster guitar many years ago. A fellow who worked with us at SRI studios worked for them and asked me to find a Telecaster and send it up to Gene Parsons for a pull-string device. I had Gene engrave the back plate with Jimmy’s name on it. I originally found it in Ocean Beach (San Diego) near where I grew up.
It is a ’53 model dated from the serial number. I also have a few photographs of it with the receipt before I send it to Jimmy. I wish I had the old refinished neck since he put the Red Dragon rosewood neck on it.Led Zeppelin: Achilles Last Stand – 1953 Fender Telecaster (website now offline)
As Robb explained, the Telecaster originally came with a maple neck, which stayed on it up until the late 1979. At that point, Jimmy replaced with the rosewood neck from his 1959 Telecaster from the Yardbirds era.
I still have it (referring to the Dragon Tele), but it’s a tragic story. I went on tour with the ’59 Les Paul that I bought from Joe Walsh, and when I got back, a friend of mine had kindly painted over my paint job. He said, “I’ve got a present for you.” He thought he had done me a real favor. As you can guess, I wasn’t really happy about that. His paint job totally screwed up the sound and the wiring, so only the neck pickup worked.
I salvaged the neck and put it on my brown Tele string bender that I used in the Firm. As for the body… it will never be seen again! (laughs)Jimmy Page – Original Source Needed
As noted in an earlier paragraph, the guitar has a B-Bender system built in – which enabled Page to bend the B-string up a whole tone (two frets) to C-sharp with a simple press of a button. The system was installed by Gene Parsons, who also, later on, modified Jimmy’s red Les Paul with the same system.
The Telecaster has the StringBender mechanism what took me about two years to come to terms with [laughs]. No, not really, but I’d say it took a year, honestly. Considering it’s only moving two frets or whatever, you can see how slow it is for me to get things together. To be truthful, it was difficult to work through it—up the neck, so to speak. But it came to the point that as it was such a good thing to cheat with…Jimmy Page in the Eighties: The Firm Guitarist Talks Teles, ARMS Concerts, Live Aid and Eddie Van Halen in 1986 Interview
Jimmy’s Telecaster is by all accounts a 1953 model. However, it features a very unique finish that is not typical of that year. Although the guitar looks completely black in most of the photos, the color is actually brown. More precisely, it’s officially called the “Botswana Brown” color.
Looking around the internet, it is impossible to find another 1953 Telecaster with this finish, and all roads basically lead to this one guitar. So, if you happen to have any knowledge of the finishes that Fender used on the 1953 Telecaster, and whether this was even one of them, be sure to leave a comment below.
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My brother is now about to begin the process of building for me my own Telecaster, and there is no other color I want for it than “Botswana Brown”. So rare and beautiful. I contacted a very helpful gentleman at Fender who actually took the time to do some major research. He emailed back to me and stated that Fender has never used this brown finish on any guitar in its’ history. So, this is definitely a jimmy Page concoction. I will be so proud of my brother to own this one of a kind creation when he’s done. JJP
It’s possible then that the guitar was repainted when it routed out for the B-Bender system, or it could’ve been even earlier, based on Robb’s quote. .
I had no knowledge of the details regarding the Botswana brown finish, thanks for sharing it here.