“I don’t understand why some people will only accept a guitar if it has an instantly recognizable guitar sound,” says Beck. “Finding ways to use the same guitar people have been using for 50 years to make sounds that no one has heard before is truly what gets me off. I love it when people hear my music but can’t figure out what instrument I’m playing. What a cool compliment.”
Beck burst onto the music scene in 1966 after joining the Yardbirds. Although his stint with the band lasted only 18 months, Beck played on almost all of the group’s hits. More importantly, Beck’s innovative style heard on classics like “Heart Full of Soul” and “Shapes of Things” helped influence the psychedelic sound of the ‘60s.
At the height of the Yardbirds’ popularity in 1967, Beck left the group and embarked upon unpredictable journey of musical discovery that has lasted nearly four-decades as an Epic recording artist. During that time, Beck has left his distinctive mark on hard rock, jazz-fusion and modern music history.
A rare breed of guitarist like Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix, Beck is not only compelling for what he plays, but for how he plays it. While some guitar players use racks of gear to create sound, Beck prefers a simple, natural approach that emphasizes manual dexterity over gadgets. As Eric Clapton once said, “With Jeff, it’s all in his hands.”
Like few guitarists before him, Beck plays the entire guitar. Using his fingers instead of a guitar pick for greater speed and control over the fretboard, Beck adds deft twists of the volume and tone knobs to shape the notes as he’s playing them and further bends sounds into a rubbery tangle with his controlled cruelty on the whammy bar. “I play the way I do because it allows me to come up with the sickest sounds possible. That’s the point now isn’t it?” says Beck with a wicked grin. “I don’t care about the rules. In fact, if I don’t break the rules at least 10 times in every song then I’m not doing my job properly.”