When Jeff Beck started his short tenure in The Yardbirds in 1965, he didn’t actually have a guitar to call his own and had to loan the band’s red Tele for early gigs.
Beck played various Telecasters from that point onwards but was put off by the rosewood fingerboards featured on Fender’s new models: “I wanted a maple neck. And the only one I ever saw belonged to John Walker from the Walker Brothers… He wanted £75 – only about £10 cheaper than a brand new one. But he wouldn’t shift.”
Beck bought the guitar anyway – actually a 1954 Esquire rather than a Tele – and set about modifying his new purchase by adding a black scratchplate and replacing the rusted steel saddles with brass ones from another guitar. The Esquire’s peculiar, Strat-like contours sanded into the front and back were actually there before Jeff acquired it.
Fender offered a limited edition, 150-guitar run of the legendary Esquire in 2006, with every one of its numerous modifications and battle scars recreated. The guitar itself currently resides in pickup designer Seymour Duncan’s private collection.