The Fender Jeff Beck signature Strat – MSRP of $2,199 – is a unique animal in Strat-dom. Meaning basically it’s a customized standard Strat. But the one Fender sells isn’t much like the one Jeff plays.
The Fender Beck Strat has a Strat-standard alder body, maple neck (9.5″ radius) and rosewood board. But per Beck’s preferences, the neck is fat and the nut is a roller nut.
It has three pickups, but because Jeff hates single-coil hum, they are all noiseless ceramic humbuckers (presumably stacked).
That’s basically it. The Custom Shop model, which costs about $1K more, has the same specs.
So you’d think that the rest of the magic in Beck’s tone is all in his fingers. Much of it yes, all of it no.
The new issue of Vintage Guitar mag has Beck on the cover, and in it is a very good – yet still wanting – interview with Beck’s tech, Stevie Prior. Here’s what Stevie says about Jeff’s personal Strats:
All of Jeff’s signature Strats are slightly modified from the ones you’d find in a guitar shop. The main white one is a ’95 basswood body made by [Fender master builder] J.W. Black with at J.W. Black neck from ’93 and John Suhr pickups, which there are really only two sets of in existence [on] that main guitar and the surf green spare.
Obviously Fender would like to get those [guitars] back so they could try to replicate those pickups, but that’ll never happen because you’d never get the guitar[s] out of Jeff’s hands long enough.
Basswood?! Well crap. I’ve played some basswood guitars and hated ‘em, but if it works for Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen and other tone legends, maybe I need to revisit it…though I’m assuming the basswood those guys get isn’t exactly the same quality that we would (note what qualifies as mahogany and rosewood these days).
Anyhow, a basswood body and unique pickups are definitely going to sound different, whether Beck can do Star Wars on a whoopie cushion or not (see below).