Yet all of a sudden, Jeff allows his world to be albeit temporarily included by me, who he knows is bent on as much outside publicity of him as possible. What I hope you gained from all that Jeff is the assurance that what's important to us is the indescribable feeling of your guitar notes, singularly and together. If along the way we have a laugh together, all the better.
Dear Dick, In regard to Jeff Beck and his guitar, this is brief history to my recollection of the signature product. Before I came to Fender in 1989, George Blanda and Dan Smith gave Jeff two guitars; A surf green and a yellow based on the American Standard of Strat Plus with a custom neck shape.
My first involvement was after Dan Smith directed John Page to start prototyping the Jeff Beck signature model. John Page had me make up three guitar protos in March 1990 - one purple with the largest neck (seen with Stevie Ray Vaughn on Guitar Player magazine); one green with a medium example of the signature neck, and one with custom graphics.(Ed. note - That's the hot rod one Jeff has sitting at home and rarely if ever plays.)
Later in June 1990 we made three more guitars to his (Jeff's) final specs now adding a double gold (lace sensor pickups) in the bridge position as decided by he and Dan Smith. Two were surf green and one was now the new purple (not as dark as proto 001).
Since 1990 we have provided Jeff with a couple of different versions of his model fitted with maple necks or other minor changes - but the majority of guitars provided to Jeff are stock line Jeff Beck models lent for special sessions or videos that he often kept. That's the nice thing about his model since he can take and play them right out of the box. I hope this has been helpful to you regarding Jeff and Fender for the last couple of years.
P.S. In 12/92 we started fitting Jeff's guitars with the new LSR nut and all his guitars since then are with the LSR nut.
ED. Come on gang let's show our appreciation for Fender's effort. Check out Fender's Website and the signature series of Fender Stratocasters.
Update: 2nd Jones Beach show reveals Jeff finishing "Pork Pie Hat" one note short as he tosses his guitar to the stage floor, raises his hands above his head in triumph, and shakes them as he leads the band into the finish...Quotable Jeffism from the same show at the encore; "I've had complaints about the color of my green guitar so I've switched to the white one!"...Jeff's track with Pino Palladino and Tony Hymas on John McLaughlin's next project is almost a year in the can and yet to be released (update 97, was released in '96)...Kansas City video finds Santana singer Tony Lindsay rendering the vocals to "People Get Ready"...A new Marshall head had to be hurried in for the last show at the Paramount in N.Y.C. as one of the trustworthy old ones took a dive...Santana and Beck did a soundcheck together out in L.A. but nothing ever came of it...Jeff did get his rightful place at the Hollywood Rock Walk of Fame but there weren't a lot of people of fans around when it happened. Can't say more...Toronto on video...Hero of the tour - Michael Springer. After attending many consecutive shows he was recognized by Jeff's stage crew who invited him back after the next show. Michael had the balls to tell Jeff he had taped ten shows. After confirming that Michael had no plans to bootleg them, Jeff had a listen, liked what he heard and made arrangements to have copies sent to London. So far they haven't arrived. In turn Michael got to hear basic tracks from the new Lp! In closing, congratulations Jeff on your pilot's license. When you gotta land, you land!
The "Tele-Gib" started out as a butchered '59 Fender Telecaster that originally had a slab rosewood fingerboard. The body was chiseled out badly and had been through some unearthly modifications by the look of it. It had no pickguard, bridge or other parts that could be used. The Telecaster was found in 1972 at a music store in Cincinnati, Ohio. I took it with me when I left for London to meet Roy Buchanan and his manager, Jay Reich in early 1973. Roy started his European tour in Germany before heading for London. My manager at the time, Norman Vandenberg, also managed Christopher Rainbow (Alan Parsons-Camel and solo albums) saw an ad in a London paper that the Fender Soundhouse was looking for a guitar tech to do repairs. I was doing sessions at night and had free time during the day and decided to apply for the job. I got the job, working with amp whiz Ron Roka who had a repair shop on the main floor of the Fender Soundhouse. The Soundhouse was originally on Tottenham-Court Road in London. Working there was great and I had a chance to meet so many great guitarists that rehearsed on the 3rd floor sound studio. Nearby was CBS Studios where Jeff was recording the 2nd (unreleased) album with Beck, Bogert and Appice. Jeff was playing his Stratocaster through a Fender Deluxe Reverb amplifier set on 10! I remember sitting in the control room and watching Jeff, Tim and Carmine playing live. I believe Andy Johns was engineering and jumping around the studio dancing to the music. I was sitting with Jeff's manager Ernest Chapman as we watched the session being recorded.
The next day I grabbed my old battered Telecaster and started removing the destroyed fingerboard that somebody did a bad fret job on. I made a homemade heating element to remove the fingerboard. I replaced it with a 3/16th of an inch piece of maple and cut the fret slots by hand. I put in heavier Gibson frets with a 13" inch radius. The frets were 18% nickel silver Gibson Les Paul frets. The neck was sprayed with nitrocellulose lacquer I got from master repairman Sam Lee. Sam had a repair and vintage shop with Steve Howe who played in the group "Yes". The neck never had a replacement decal though I've been wanting to put one on for years. I was trying to get the guitar finished quickly as Jeff only had a few more days in the CBS Studios.
The next step was to find some material for a pickguard. My manager Norman found it nearby at a plastic fabrication shop. I cut the shape by hand and got it ready to install the neck pickup.
I had to rewind a broken pair of old Gibson '59 "Patent Applied For" humbuckers that were damaged when the covers were removed. The pickups were from an old smashed '59 Gibson Flying V that was painted black and once belonged to Lonnie Mack. Lonnie often played in Cincinnati, Ohio and lived nearby in the state of Indiana. It was hard finding the magnet wire needed for winding the coils. I found the wire at a motor repair shop and ended up with two different rolls of wire for winding the coils. I used the heavier gauge to wind the neck pickup also because I had only a small amount. I used the finer wire to wind the bridge pickup because I could get extra turns on the bobbins for increased sustain, harmonics and output.
The body was light ash with blond nitrocellulose lacquer finish. I recall the weight to be about 6 1/2 pounds. The pickguard was ready for the neck humbucking pickup and I used the original cream Gibson '59 neck mounting ring for that. I wanted to keep the original cream Gibson '59 bridge mounting ring and found another one for the bridge. I didn't want to cut the '59 cream ring for the bridge position and used it on my "Tele-Gib" I made around 1976. I have my JM-neck and JB proto in the bridge and can be heard on my recordings "King Tone Blues" and "When A Man Loves A Woman". I had to salvage an old Telecaster bridge plate that could be cut to fit the bridge humbucker. I cut the bridge straight across in front of the Fender logo. The front of the plate was smoothed out and rounded slightly. It has 3 early 50's brass saddles given to me by Roy Buchanan in the mid 60's from an old guitar someone gave him. The bridge pickup fit into the recess on the pickguard that I crudely cut. It was made from a dark chocolate brown plastic about .093" thick. It has 5 holes like traditional Tele pickguards and I mounted the neck pickup and mounting ring using 4 Gibson neck mounting ring screws.
The neck pickup is zebra with the cream stud bobbin facing the bridge and the black adjustable bobbin facing towards the neck. The bridge pickup is double cream and an original '59 Patent Applied For humbucker. The 6 adjustable 5/40 fillister screws are adjusted so the bottom of the head is about flush with the top of the bobbin.
The lever switch knob was from a handful that I got from an old telephone switchboard during the mid 60's. The same knob was given to Roy Buchanan and can be seen on the cover of his "Loading Zone" album (Atlantic SD 18219). I gave them to Roy about 1966 when he was playing at a club in Wildwood, New Jersey. The volume and tone control knobs and control plate are from an early 50's Telecaster.
Jeff used the "Tele-Gib" on the "Blow By Blow" album and others after that. He recorded "Cause We've Ended As Lovers" and songs like "Freeway Jam". You can see Jeff playing it on the video "Secret Policeman't Ball". Jeff is my favorite all around guitarist and I can't thank him enough for all the help and friendship he has given me throughout the years. He has many tricks up his sleeve so sit back and listen to what he does! He's the best! SWD
Several years later I wanted to make the same pickups with the winding specs I used on Jeff's "Tele-Gib". I called the neck pickup JM-neck for John Milner whose one of Jeff's favorite characters in the movie "American Graffiti" but later changed to Jazz Model-neck so a player could better indentify with it for it's clean smooth tone. The bridge pickup became the JB because you can play Jazz and Blues with it. Thanks...Seymour W. Duncan
Finally Jeff showed up looking quite the fit 51 year old with calves bulging from his shorts, sinewy forearms and of course the famous brown mop top. For added effect (or to hide, hah) he was sporting dark wrap around shades. Always a lover of t-shirts, he had on one that said 'Nigel Says Go To 11!'. This is a reference to the Nigel Tuffnel (Spinal Tap) video commercial for Marshall amps that you can 'turn up to 20'. Jeff went straight to his dressing room and that's all we saw of him for the time being except for a brief interlude where he wandered out to see where everyone else was and laughed, "They've all boogered off and left me."
Jeff suddenly came out and headed upstairs but Al Dutton came by and reassured us, "Don't worry Dick, he can't go anywhere. I've got the keys." Shortly thereafter Jeff came back down the stairs with Ernest Chapman and the same bottle of champagne. (A bit more empty as you've probably guessed.) Another long time fan and colleague, Steve Rolley from North Carolina had made himself known to me at the show and I got him backstage for the after show festivities. Jeff walked past him first and instantly remembered him after Steve had said that they had met in '75. "Yeah, I remember you from the hotel at the Houston airport in '75." Jeff said. "You're the one that had the 202 angle plugs." (Chevrolet small block heads, remember Jeff builds hot rods.) Never let it be said again that Jeff has a bad memory. Quite the opposite, a selective memory would be more appropriate.
I then shook Jeff's had and thanked him for a great show. Then I introduced him to my wife of whom I said to Jeff, "she's the one that puts up with all this fan insanity." As if picking up on my cue, she added, yes, it was crazy of me calling and writing all over the place to which Jeff responded, "Well now that's what makes the world go 'round isn't it?" Realizing that he had opened his world to me for a day, Jeff wasn't about to let me off the hook without having some fun with me. "You know all about Cliff right?" I said, "you mean Cliff Gallup? Sure." "Yeah Dick, you know everything." He then asked how many people read the bulletin and then extended the question with "all six or eight people?" Jeff Beck was amazed when I told him that over a thousand in North America and several hundred worldwide avid fans. I then motioned for Jeff to take a seat and for the next thirty minutes or so we talked about music, guitar techniques and a bit of 'Beckology'. Every once in a while Steve would interject a hot rod question and Jeff in mid musical thought would amazingly sketch hot rod engine parts in rapid fire sequence to answer Steve. Bill Armstrong asked Jeff how he gets that 'underwater' sound with the whammy bar at times. Jeff replied, "you take the whammy bar and flick in up or down. It's like flicking a knife on the edge of a table. Same type of sound."
I asked Jeff to autograph a few million things and he saw another opportunity to have some fun with me. "An autograph? You want me to autograph these for you Dick?" He laughed as I turned red faced and then answered, "Sure." The first thing I gave him to sign was an original 7 inch UK "Dog Presides" single. I told him it was my favorite session and he asked, "which one was that?" "The one with McCartney, Samwell-Smith and Paul Jones." I replied. "Oh yeah," was Jeff's response. I tried to discuss the musical content of the session with him but he emphatically but politely said, "I don't want to know anything about that." He did say however that the ad for hair curlers on the record sleeve reminded him of the sixties. As if building upon the not wanting to talk about anything musical in his far past he half jokingly told me, "Dick, make me a promise you'll make a provision that if anything happens to you when you're on a mission at sea (Jeff was first made aware of me when I used to teach scuba diving for a living) that all of my stuff will get burned." We both laughed and then he recounted a story about how someone found porno magazines after cleaning out some damage done to his house. His point was that people remember you by the things they find.
Finally I got around to having Jeff autograph Issue #3 of the bulletin. Jeff asked, "Can I have this?" It was now my turn to have some fun with him. "Certainly not, young man. This is the only copy I've got with me and you're going to sign it for me. If you want your own copy then see Ralph Baker as I gave him a few extras." Jeff leaned back in his chair with shock and amusement that I had enough balls to say that to him and then laughed until he took a real good look at the cover. Beck groaned and said, "Oh no, that was a modeling session I went on at Carnaby Street in the sixties. There was this other shot where I had on this ridiculous paisley tie with a matching belt. It was 'orrible!" A look of glee came over my face as I flipped to the second to last page of the magazine and asked, "oh, you mean this one?" He laughed and said, "Yeah," and then rhetorically asked me, "you know who took these pictures don't you." I simply said, "yeah, Annette Carson." All of a sudden Jeff leaned over towards me, looked me straight in the eye, and I sensed that for the next few minutes that Jeff wanted my full attention and no one elses, not in a menacing sense but rather a confidential one. Whatever Jeff was going to say I felt that at this juncture he wanted my honest opinion which of course I was only too happy to give him. "Dick, what is the story with Annette Carson, what is she trying to do?" I replied, "Jeff, she's trying to do the best job she can with the book considering she doesn't have any access to you." "Yeah, but it doesn't have any humour in it and that's what I'm all about." confessed Jeff. "Besides I'm doing my own thing and it's going to be really funny. I know all those writers that hang around over where I live in England like to one that did Eric's (Clapton) and I think it'll come out really good." Then all of a sudden Jeff had this wistful look on his face and he muttered, "Well, maybe I can use some of her book." All along we in the fan movement had thought that Ernest Chapman had been the one to go over her manuscripts but it was really Jeff who had read every word.
To build on the humour theme I mentioned the Nigel Tufnel t-shirt he wore before the show. "Have you seen the video?" He asked me. I said, "No, I haven't but Jennifer Batten said you showed it to her when she visited you at your castle." "You speak to Jennifer much?", Jeff inquired. "Yeah, all the time." Jeff flatly stated, "she's fantastic, a class act." Then Jeff promised to send me a copy of the Nigel commercial. Continuing with the humour theme I told Jeff that some of my favorite Beck moments are spent listening to the give and take with past concert audiences. (Refer to Issue #2) Jeff didn't verbally respond to that statement but gave me this big boyish, mischevious grin which spoke a thousand words.
Musically I told Jeff how I thought the critics missed the whose point of the "Guitar Shop" Lp even though it got him the Grammy. Beyond all the technical wizardry, which was heavily written about, if one listens closely there are more gutteral references to a Delta style Muddy Waters blues sound than on anything Jeff had done before. Jeff picked right up on that and said that's what he's all about, always trying to hide little familiar things in new music to challenge the audience to listen a little closer. I then asked who's idea it was to change "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" right in the middle to a twelve bar blues format and he exclaimed, "that was my idea. Same concept, make the audience listen a little harder."
We had reached a state of mutual comfortableness in our conversation so I whipped out my walkman and cued up the comic strip (BBC comedy series produced by Beck mate Peter Richardson) "South Atlantic Raiders" episode where Jeff can be heard doing bits of "Where Were You" to a bolero beat. Jeff slid on the headphones and I turned on the machine but he said he couldn't hear anything. I told him the phones have an inline volume control. Jeff overslid the control a bit, which wasn't great for his tinnitus, and his head jerked back as he laughed. He listened for a minute and then proclaimed, "Yeah, that's just me and Tony (Hymas)." Alan was passing by now ever more frequently giving Jeff the polite nod that exiting time was near. Before he left he suddenly turned to me and said, "Dick you know everything so you've got to know this. I was over at McCartney's house along with George Martin two days before I came to the states. They're doing a fifty track Beatles tribute CD. I couldn't believe they were playing me tapes with John actually speaking with Paul in the studio. It was amazing." I thanked Jeff for the info and saw a great opportunity for a request I've sequestered for a long time. I told Jeff we'd like him to do a short Christmas greeting tape for his fans solely through the magazine. On the tape we'd like following that an exclusive unreleased track. (A cover of something so there wouldn't be any worry of another artist getting a hold of something and copyrighting it.) I offered "Wild Weekend", you know the one you did for the "Little Big League" soundtrack but wound up putting on "Walk Don't Run" instead. ('Wild Weekend' is a surf classic done originally by The Rockin' Rebels on Dick Clark's Swansong Records. The flip side of the original is the same song done to a cha-cha beat. Jeff recorded the song with Playboy's bassist Ian Jennings and new Playboy's drummer Mark Morgan who replaced Clive Deamer.) Jeff looked at me like I was from another planet at having known about the session and proceeded to ask, "you mean the one that goes like this?" (He proceeds to air guitar pick the hook from the song while humming the theme) I said, "Yeah, that's the one." Jeff immediately said, "Sure, yeah." Jeff then looked at my nine year old son, smiled, and asked who's he was. All pointed to me and Jeff let out this big smile and said, "That's great." Then just as fast as everything began, it was over. The band was whisked away back to the hotel and we left on whichever cloud Mick Jagger wasn't on.