Name: Jeff Beck
DOB/Location: 24th June 1944. Wallington, London.
There aren’t many tougher gigs than filling Eric Clapton’s shoes. But back in 1965, when Britain’s most trumpeted bluesman quit the Yardbirds lineup, the world got its first taste of the guitar maverick who would go on to tear up the six-string rulebook – and arguably eclipse his predecessor. Right from the start, Jeff Beck was different. A Surrey-born, R&B-obsessed virtuoso, he could play with the soulful touch of an ancient blues master, yet had the vision and rebellious streak to rival even Jimi Hendrix. “He was doing stuff,” Clapton once recalled, “that didn’t exist.”
The Yardbirds were a mere stepping stone on Beck’s voyage of discovery. In 1967, he formed the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart, Ron Wood, Nicky Hopkins and Micky Waller, serving up a brace of classic albums – 1968’s Truth and 1969’s Beck-Ola – that fused heavy-blues and mind-expanding psychedelia. But it was the solo period that established Beck’s hallowed reputation, as he traded his plectrum for fingertips, caressed his whammy bar and performed swells with his volume dials to create that utterly unique whale-song guitar tone.
Beck’s tendency to record instrumental music perhaps explains why he’s never quite scaled the commercial heights. But if a guitarist’s worth is measured by the respect of his peers, the veteran is simply untouchable. Poll any top guitarist – from Slash to David Gilmour – and Beck is the name they’ll breathe in a reverential whisper. Play his spookily beautiful Where Were You, meanwhile, and you’ll silence the room and stop the clocks.
Beck slung a Les Paul and Telecaster in the ’60s, but in modern times, you’ll mostly see him armed with the Fender Stratocaster – chosen for its tonal palette, whammy bar and the handy positioning of the volume pots for swells.
Beck’s backline has taken in all the Vox and Marshall models you’d expect of a ’60s guitar god. But in more recent times, he’s fallen for the 6L6-based Lazy J 20 combo, built by Jesse Hoff with a little inspiration from the Fender Tweed Deluxe.
Shame on me - no Jeff Beck except his Christmas hit Hi Ho Silver Lining... but his stuff is what I play recreationally and don't feel capable of delivering a lesson on, yet!
Videos To Check Out
Becks Bolero - from the legendary Ronnie Scotts gigs with Tal, Vinnie and Jason.
Scatterbrain - from the same gig as above - mental he can play so fast with fingers!
Thing is here - while I'm looking around for cool stuff - there's just soo much awesome stuff out there!
One personal highlight for me is his track Nadia in which he replicated the complex microtonal subtleties of an Indian singer - sounds incredible... then you hear the original version of the song by Nitin Sawhney and he's copied and nailed it incredibly!
- LESSON STEPS -
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