Joe Walsh’s 1970s Fender Telecaster (Hotel California)

This is one of Joe’s most recognizable guitars because he appeared to have used it as his main around the release of the Hotel California album in the mid-70s. Among others, Joe played this guitar on the 1977 video release Eagles: Live at the Capital Centre, and most likely on the studio recording of the song “Hotel California”.

Joe Walsh playing a 1970s Fender Telecaster live at the Capital Centre, 1977.
Joe Walsh playing a 1970s Fender Telecaster live at the Capital Centre, 1977.

Unfortunately, not a lot is known about this guitar. From the looks of it, it appears to be a 70s Telecaster, based on the Fender logo design and double string tree on the headstock.

Stratocaster neck pickup?

It also looks like Joe removed the original Telecaster pickup from the neck slot and installed a Strat-style pickup instead. What’s potentially interesting about this pickup is that if you look at the photo below, you’ll notice that the poles are staggered. Furthermore, the pole with the lowest height is sitting below the A string. Usually, at least on modern single coils with staggered poles, the lowest pole would sit below the B string.

The Stratocaster pickup in Joe's 1970s Fender Telecaster.
The Stratocaster pickup in Joe’s 1970s Fender Telecaster.

So, it could be that Joe installed the neck pickup in his Telecaster the other way around, rotating it 90 degrees. This is of course just a fun theory, and it could be that this is just a pickup designed in a different way, and there is absolutely nothing wrong or unusual with the way Joe installed it.

Hotel California guitar?

As said in the opening paragraph, this 1970 Fender Telecaster is the guitar that Joe Walsh most likely used on the recording of “Hotel California”. There are no definite sources on this (if you happen to know of some, leave a comment below), but the overall impression that you get from Eagles aficionados is that this is in fact true.

Well, Don Felder and I sat down and we worked all the descending lines. After the basic track was done and Don [Henley] had sung it, it was our turn. We agreed on who was gonna play when at the end at the big solo, and we tried to complement each other and build it up to the very last part.

So the solos were not planned, they were spontaneous playing off of each other. We were really good at that, and the rest of the song was kind of planned out, we put those descending lines on because that was the first set of overdubs.

Long Distance: Paul Calls Joe Walsh | PRS Guitars

According to the same general internet knowledge, Joe used this guitar to record “Funk 49”.

If you happen to come across any Joe Walsh interviews from 1972, or you happen to have them on hand and wouldn’t mind sharing them via email, please be sure to leave a comment below. The early Joe Walsh gear is shrouded in mystery, and we’d like to make information more readily available.


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