The Secret Of Jeff Beck's Guitar Tone

Jeff Beck is probably the most uncompromising rock guitar player - highly unique, versatile, and non-commercial.

He dismisses guitar picks because they are in the way of the true guitar tone, usually doesn't use effects and surprises (and confuses) his listeners with radical changes in stylistic direction. His use of the vibrato bar is unique, his use of tone and volume pots masterful. He often turns down the tone pot altogether and compensates the lack of treble through increased distortion, creating his unique, singing lead tone.

Just with his fingers, vibrato bar and the use of tone and volume pot he can create almost effect-like tones. No other guitarist is so in control of the guitar. Jeff Beck is the master of self-expression.

In terms of equipment Jeff goes through several interesting stages. During his 'Yardbird' days he'd usually rely on early 60's Telecaster models, usually with rosewood fingerboard.

He also used a '52-Mapleneck Tele, modded by Seymour Duncan with Gibson Humbuckers. Around that time Seymour also developed his popular SH-4 Jeff Beck Humbucker.

Then Beck moved on to Gibson Les Pauls to record his legendary Jazzrock albums 'Blow By Blow' and 'Wired'. After meeting Hendrix and his explosive music he contemplates his approach and already on the recordings to 'Wired' he is experimenting with the Fender Stratocaster. This will from now on be his main type of guitar. In the 80's Jeff flirts with a Jackson 'Super-Strat-Style' guitar only to return to Fender, when they launch the 'Strat Plus'. In 1991 Fender comes out with the Jeff Beck Signature Stratocaster and in the later updated model Fender slimmed down the super-chunky neck (which many guitarists found unpractical) and put a set of 'noiseless' Pickups in.

Ampwise, Jeff Beck is always straight forward. During his stint with the 'Yardbirds' a Vox AC-30 is the only amp available. But for his own music he wants a louder and more aggressive tone. So he gets his first Marshall Full-stack. Over time, he replaces his Plexi Marshalls with the JCM-2000. From now on he uses a 50-watt top and two 4x12" cabinets to create his colourful tone.

Only twice he uses different equipment: for the movie soundtrack 'Frankie's House' he plays his Strat and Tele into a Digitech GSP-21 Legend direct into the mixing desk.

For 'Crazy Legs', a tribute to his idol Cliff Gallup he uses a '56 Gretsch Duo Jet and several vintage Fender Combos (Tremolux, Tweed Bassman, Concert & 2x12" Cab and Fender Twin) to recreate the typical Gallup sound.

Chris Basener is a guitarist, composer, producer and instructor who plays instrumental groove rock with vibrant melodies that speaks to the cosmopolitan music fan as much as the guitar community.

The graduate of the Munich Guitar Institute (MGI) in Germany did many clinics and demos at tradeshows and fairs across Europe (Germany, Austria, France and Belgium) performing to tens of thousands of people. He has more free articles on his website

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