Nabbed this from a google cache of the JEFF BECK BULLETIN ISSUE #3, Fall 1994, because the site was down, and didn't want to lose it.
From The Desk Of: Seymour Duncan
Jeff has always been my favorite guitarist and I have many great stories about him. I want to share some of the stories with you and my envolvement with Jeff throughout the years. I want to thank Dick Wyzanski for being the focal point of the Jeff Beck fan club.
The Man: Jeff Beck
The first time I heard of Jeff Beck was the summer of 1965 when I was playing in Bridgeton, New Jersey during a talent show with a local band. The local radio station had been broadcasting live during the performances of the talent show. During intermission from the live music they played a recording by a group that previously had good air play with a recording "For Your Love" and their second hit had a guitar sound I'd never heard before. The song was "Heart Full Of Soul" and was performed by a group from England called "The Yardbirds" and was released July 1965. Their unique sound and incredible guitar work was from a new guitarist named Jeff Beck. He had previously been in a group called the Tridents and joined the Yardbirds by the suggestion of Jimmy Page who had other obligations with sessions and was unable to join the band to fill Eric Clapton's spot. Eric wanted to play more blues and develope his title of "Slow Hand". During the mid sixties I hunted record shops to find and often nag the store owner to order the 45's and LP's. I remember playing in Lima, Ohio and taking along my records to learn all the riffs I could. I was playing every night during the summer and traveling from club to club. I learned "I'm A Man", "The Nazz Are Blue", "Steeled Blues" and one of my favorites, "I'm Not Talking". The greatist thing was seeing the Yardbirds perform on many of the early music shows like Hullaballoo, Shindig, Ready Steay Go and more.
I noticed Jeff was playing a Fender Telecaster minus the rhythm pickup making it an Esquire. Jeff's Fender Esquire originally had a white single layer pickguard which Jeff later changed to a black phenolic one. He bought the guitar from John Maus, a guitarist with a recording group called the "Walker Brothers" and they had a hit recording "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore". Several years ago John visited my shop in Santa Barbara and he said he contoured the front (forearm) and back of the body to make it feel more like a Fender Stratocaster. He carefully shaped the wood leaving the original paint and exposed Swamp Ash body.
During the early 60's, Jeff Beck was on tour and bought a 1954 Fender Esquire from the guitarist in the group "Walker Brothers". The Walker Brothers consisted of John Maus (guitar), Scott Engle (bass) and Gary Leeds (drums). In the mid 60's the group went to London for a tour. While touring England, Jeff bought it from John for $60. When on some of the very early Yardbirds' videos recorded during a television show, you can see the guitar first had a white Esquire (no slot for a rhythm pickup) pickguard. A short time later on Yardbirds' videos you can see the black pickguard Jeff put on. Jeff liked the contrast and it looked like the Tele's made just a year earlier. You can see the chips in the pickguard and the neck was the third or fourth according to Ralph Baker, Jeff's long time assistant. During the days of youth watching Jeff Beck, Yardbirds and the British Invasion and famouse television shows like Lloyd Thaxton, Shindig and Hullabaloo, I totally became hooked on Fender Esquires. While working in England during the mid-70's, I worked with a technician named Ron Roka, who worked at the newly opened Fender Soundhouse that was originally located on Tottenham Court Road in London. Ron had a custom shop in the Soundhouse and had advertised for a guitar repairman to assist him with guitar repairs and custom work. I was recording during the evenings at Polydor Records with an artist named Chris Rainbow and had days off. My manager Norman Vandenberg read an advertisement in a local paper that Ron Roka (Roka's Repair) was looking for a guitar repairman. The next day I interviewed and got the job. It was a great time working with Ron and meeting all the players that came to visit and have their instruments worked on. I remember working for The Stones, The Who, Robin Trower, Vinegar Joe, Gerry Rafferty, Roy Wood and Wizzard, Sutherland Brother and Quiver, Suzi Quatro, Super Tramp and Beck, Bogert and Appice. During the time at the Soundhouse, I did the first article on Guitar Pickups for Guitarist Magazine in 1974. Jeff was recording the second (unreleased as of yet) album with Beck, Bogert and Appice at the CBS Studios that was a block from the Fender Soundhouse. While at the Fender Soundhouse I put together the first "Tele-Gib" guitar and gave it to Jeff. It was a Telecaster with two Humbuckers. The bridge on the Telecaster was cut to fit the Humbuckers and to keep the 3 piece brass early 50's bridge saddles. The two Humbuckers came out of an old broken Gibson Flying V that once belonged to Lonnie Mack in Cincinnati, Ohio. Somebody messed with the coils and I rewound them as prototypes for Jeff. The neck pickup was Zebra (cream bobbin facing the bridge) and bridge pickup was Double Cream and both were originally '59 Patent Applied For Humbuckers. I made a pickguard for the Tele-Gib out of dark chocolate vinyl plastic. The lever switch knob was from a handfull 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 in Wildwood, New Jersey, a shore resort town near the Atlantic Ocean. Jeff started playing and recording with the "Tele-Gib" in 1974 and recorded tracks on the "Blow By Blow" album. One song you can hear him using the volume controls in on "Cause We've Ended As Lovers". The main reason I made and gave Jeff the Tele-Gib was because I loved the tone he had on the "Truth" album. His tech had taken his sunburst Les Paul into a repair shop for volume control problems and when they got to the next gig Jeff rehearsed and he noticed someone put covers on his "Patent Applied For" pickups. He told his guitar tech to remove the covers because the guitar was feeding back too much. When the covers were removed Jeff noticed that his "Patent Applied For" Humbuckers had been replaced with new Gibson Humbuckers. I felt bad when I heard this and I wanted Jeff to have an instrument that had the tone of a Les Paul. I couldn't afford a Les Paul so I made the Tele-Gib instead and gave it to him. Several days after giving Jeff the guitar while BBA was recording the unreleased second album at the CBS Studios, Ralph Baker came to the Fender Soundhouse with a cloth bag with three guitars in it. Ralph said "Jeff wanted you to take your pick." In the bag was a 51 Telecaster, a mid 50's Stratocaster and my favorite guitar, Jeff's 54' Fender Esquire guitar he used with "The Yardbirds". I picked the Esquire because Jeff used it! I remembered the songs like "Heart Full Of Soul", "I'm A Man", "Train Kept A Rollin'" and "Mister You're A Better Man Than I".
During the early touring years, a British singer by the name of Terry Reid was touring with a joint Rolling Stone, Yardbirds, Reid tour. Terry recalls while he was standing by the equipment loading dock, as the back door was opened he remembers catching the guitar (caseless) as it fell from the back of the truck. Terry remembers Jeff doing all kinds of wild things with the guitar.
Jeff could manipulate the volume and tone controls giving it a Wah Wah effect as in "Train Kept A Rollin'" or "Still I'm Sad". The lever switch would give full treble in the bridge position, variable tone control in the center and full bass in the front position. (See schematic) The bridge pickup has slightly staggered poles. The body was made in 1954 and the neck (the original was broken) was replaced with one made in 1955. During the mid sixties, the Yardbirds were touring the midwest and I had a chance to meet the band and see Jeff play and do his tricks. He would lean on the amp, causing feedback and always looking down at his guitar. During another tour, Jimmy Page was in the band and I asked where Jeff was and Jimmy said he left the band. When I asked Keith (Keith Relf was the singer and front man in the Yardbirds) to play "Nazz Are Blue" I heard Jimmy yell out "The Nazz isn't here". So I figured they wouldn't do the song as long as Jeff wasn't there. During that time Jimmy had Jeff's Esquire on tour with them and their roadie named Brian Conliffe let me play the Esquire and I took photos of it. I photographed it at a concert hall in Lima, Ohio called Springbrook Gardens. While there I saw Jimmy playing another guitar and written on the back of it was "Jeffman" and you can see it in some of my photos. I don't know if it was Jeff's guitar as I never asked Jimmy about it. It may be the one that later was used in Led Zeppelin and later painted psychedelic.
Throughout the years i have had much enjoyment building custom guitars and pickups for Jeff and enjoyed keeping his 32 Ford roadster. I have many great stories and info for later fan club articles. Below is a rundown on the 1954 Fender Esquire used by Jeff Beck in the "Yardbirds".
Jeff Beck's 1954 Fender Esquire
o 1. Esquire pickguard: When Jeff first got it from John Maus it had a white vinyl pickguard and can be seen in earlier "Yardbird" videos and photos. Jeff replaced it with a black Esquire pickguard (no slot for rhythm pickup). The pickguard had a 5 hole pattern with two distinctive chips. The top edge and lower neck slot.
o 2. Bridge saddles: The 54' steel bridge saddles were completely rusted and were replaced with 52' Telecaster brass saddles from another Telecaster belonging to Jeff.
+ Bridge saddle heights: .371" E-1st, .396" B-2nd, .398" G-3rd, .411" D-4th, .409" A-5th, .395" E-6th.
+ Intonation: E & A saddle: .605", D & G saddle: .686", B & E saddle: .715" (Measured from the inside back plate to the middle of the bridge saddle) Intonation adjustment are round head phillips: 6-32 x 1 1/4" machine screws.
o 3. The lever knob: Jeff used a white lever knob from a 55' Stratocaster and is still in the case. A recessed 53' Telecaster black bakelite knob was put on it the late 60's.
o 4. The tuning keys: are stock 1955 Klusons. They are worn but still work well.
o 5. The strings: have been on the instrument since 1974 are kept de-tuned as to reduce tension and eliminate breaking. E-.009", B-.011", G-.016", D-.024", A-.032", E-.042" .
o 6. Body: is light Swamp Ash, hand contoured. No dates on the body. Body thickness: 1.770" measured with thin lacquer finish. String ferrules recessed in body slightly below finish surface.
o 7. The neck: is dated 55' with stock frets and fingerware. Round string guide measures .313" top thickness of neck to the pickguard that measures .063" thick, 7" neck radius. Position markers on fingerboard measure .250" diameter, side dots measure .093".
o 8. Serial Number: #1056 stamped on the back neck plate. Neck plate measures 2.519" X 2.012", thickness .062", 1/4" radius.
o 9. Instrument Weight: 6 lbs. 6 oz.
o 10. Pickup Ohms: 5.86k ohms. Pickup reading may vary depending in tolerance of meter being used for test. Pickup height has not been modified since used by Jeff.
o 11. Pickup Description: Stock hand wind, G & D poles slightly raised, .197" diameter and .625" length common for such pickups. Magnets are sand cast Alnico and measure 20 gauss. Pickup height from bridge plate: .316" high on treble side, .288" high on bass side.
o 12. Pickup Control: Wiring: On control plate stock Esquire wiring.
+ Front Position: Mellow sound due to capacitor connected to ground. Tone control inactive in this position.
+ Middle Position: Variable tone control adjustment. Only position tone control works. You can have maximum treble or maximum bass. Swells and Wah Wah effect.
+ Bridge Position: Full treble in this position and tone control inactive.
o 13. Body Information: Stock well worn and checked Blond finish. The body was hand shaped by John Maus (Walker Brothers) to make it feel and simulate the contours of a Stratocaster. The rhythm pickup cavity is routed for a neck pickup but was not drilled to hold one. The body is well worn with nicks and gouges and the Nitrocellulose lacquer Blond finish has turned various shades of yellow and orange.
o 14. Body Specifications:
+ Body Thickness: 1.767"
+ Body Length: 15.812"
+ Body Width: Minimum 8.875" Maximum 12.5"
o 15. Neck Specifications: Nitrocellulose lacquer finish, orange and yellowish and worn thin. The top edge of the fingerboard is rounded towards the edge from both sanding at the factory and extensive wear from playing.
# Nut: 1.657"
# 5th fret: 1.837"
# 8th fret: 1.922"
# 12th fret: 2.023"
# 15th fret: 2.095"
# 21st fret: 2.185"
# Headstock: .562"
# Nut: .90"
# 5th fret: .957"
# 8th fret: .972"
# 12th fret: .975"
# 15th fret: .988"
# 21st fret: .990"
# Pickguard: Oval head Phillip, wood screw, steel, plating worn off.
# Neck: Oval head Phillip, wood screw, steel, plating worn off.
# Bridge: Oval head Phillip, wood screw, steel, rusted.
# Tuning Keys: Round head Phillip, wood screw, rusted.
# Control Plate: Oval head Phillip, wood screw, plating worn off.
# Lever Switch: Round head slotted, machine screw, plating worn off 6-32.
# Pickup Height Adjustment: Round head slotted machine screw 6-32 X 1/2".
+ Misc. Information:
# Lever switch is a Centralab #1452 three way "shorting".
# Lever knob: Harry Davies Molded, traditional 1950-1954 style common on early Broadcasters, No-Casters, Telecasters and Esquires. Jeff used a white 54' Stratocaster lever knob during the "Yardbirds".
# Neck slot depth: .610" deep.
+ Bridge Plate: stamped FENDER PAT. PEND. (at the same angle as the pickup)
+ Frets: .075" wide and .022" high.
+ Weight: 5 lbs. 10 oz. This is a very light instrument and would weigh a little more if there were no cutaways or contours.
+ The Esquire can be seen on several "Yardbird" albums and CD covers including; "The Yardbirds", "Rave Up" (Epic LN 24177), "The Yardbirds' Greatest Hits Vol. 1" (Rhino RNLP 70128) and Spanish release "The Yardbirds Play The Blues" (Charley EP-472).