In the pantheon of guitar gods, few have reached the lofty heights that Jeff Beck has.
One of the holy trinity of Brit-rock guitar royalty (the others being his friends and fellow Yardbirds alumni Eric
Clapton and Jimmy Page), Beck has mesmerized listeners worldwide for four decades now with his distinctive phrasing and mastery of the electric guitar. In his legendary hands, the instrument becomes something else—something wild, wailing, plaintive and
otherworldly. It’s as if he puts something in the notes …
Most of us first met him in 1965—the slender, intense Yardbirds guitarist who cradled his Blonde ’54 Fender Esquire like a machine gun; spitting
out devastating staccato bursts of notes and wringing out fluidly blues-wailing runs and solos with a psychedelic bent that left breathless listeners with no doubt that something special had arrived on the scene.
What an instrument,
that guitar. Beck bought it secondhand for $60 from Walker Brothers guitarist John Maus, who had given it the distinctive Stratocaster® body contours. Beck made a few modifications of his own, including replacing the steel bridge saddles with brass ones.
It’s the guitar countless kids saw on the cover of 1965’s Having a Rave Up and heard on classic songs such as “Heart Full of Soul,” “I’m Not Talking,” “I’m a Man,” “Shapes of Things,”
“Evil Hearted You,” “Smokestack Lightning” and many more. Many years later, Beck gave the famous guitar to a dear friend, famed pickup “artist” Seymour Duncan.
It is this battered, battle-hardened
and truly unique guitar that the Fender Custom Shop craftsmen have recreated in reverently painstaking detail to the point where Beck himself was very nearly fooled when it arrived at his doorstep.
“I thought it was the original
one,” Beck said. “It’s spooky. Until I opened the lid, it didn’t really hit me. I thought, ‘Oh, this is my original guitar back!’”
The Fender Custom Shop Tribute Series Jeff Beck Esquire
features an extremely lightweight two-piece offset ash body with the same contours and a chipped black pickguard. The extremely worn finish has been perfectly reproduced down to the smallest ding, nick and scratch. The neck is similar to the 10/56 neck shape,
with nicely rolled edges and wear that are identical to the original. Parts and hardware are faithful recreations, right down to the brass bridge saddles. The control wiring is authentically “cloned,” and the lone Esquire pickup was carefully recreated
from the original specs by legendary Fender pickup winder Abigail Ybarra.
“As a kid in New Jersey, I grew up a major fan of Jeff’s and the Yardbirds,” Duncan said. “I used to stare at the Rave Up album cover and wonder what it
would be like to see Jeff’s Esquire or, better yet, to hold it. The fact that the same guitar was given to me by Jeff years later is one of the highlights of my life. I worked with the Fender Custom Shop to spec out all the details of the original, and
it’s amazing how faithful their replica is.”