Jimmy Page and the Fender Telecaster

Updated on November 1, 2018
Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

Jimmy Page with his brown "B-bender" Telecaster

When people think of the legendary guitarist James Patrick Page, first off, they don't think of his full name, as he's famously known as Jimmy Page, and secondly, they think of Led Zeppelin. Most often, when people think of the man, they think of him as Led Zeppelin's guitarist, and they envision him with one of three instruments, two of which are Les Paul guitars which look identical from a photo, and the other being the double neck Gibson SG which was only ever a guitar used for a very few songs, and only on stage.

Fact are Jimmy Page had a successful career as a guitarist years before Led Zeppelin began, and during that time, and also with Led Zeppelin, Mr. Page played a LOT of different guitars both in live performances and in the recording studio. While Page may be mostly associated with the Les Paul, it would be a shame to not recognize the many fine recordings and performances he'd made with the electric guitar he used before adopting the Les Paul as his primary instrument, the Fender Telecaster.

Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck

Source
Jimmy Page with his 1959 or 1960 Fender Telecaster.
Jimmy Page with his 1959 or 1960 Fender Telecaster.

Jimmy Page, The Yardbirds, and The Fender Telecaster

Probably anyone even interested in this subject already knows, but in case they do not, it should be mentioned that over the course of the lifetime of the band known as The Yardbirds, three great guitarist were employed. Originally the job belonged to Eric Clapton, and when Eric quit the job was offered to Page, who instead declined and arranged for Jeff Beck to take the position, and then later, when Beck quit, Page became the band's guitarist. As guitarist for The Yardbirds, Jimmy page most always if not always, played a Fender Telecaster.

Page initially toured and recorded with Led Zeppelin using a Fender Telecaster as his primary electric guitar, but then switched to the Les Paul; but Page never stopped using Telecasters, he used them whenever he wanted the infamous "b-bender" effect pioneered by Clarence White and Gene Parsons.

In the two pictures closest to the top you see Jimmy Page with a brown telecaster, that instrument is not the Telecaster he used with The Yardbirds or on the early Led Zeppelin records. The brown telecaster is a "b-bender" Telecaster. The Botswana Brown Telecaster is a 1958 Telecaster which had been both repainted to the brown color, and had the b-bender device installed on it, both in the year 1976. Strangely enough, as it turns out, the Telecaster Page used with The Yardbirds and on the Early Led Zeppelin albums was either a 1959 or a 1960 model, as is seen due to some specifications observable from looking at the bridge of the guitar. The brown Telecaster is absolutely a 1958 Telecaster. The Telecaster Page used early on with Led Zeppelin and with The Yardbirds was given to Page by Jeff Beck.

So the brown Tele Page plays is not the same guitar as the psychedelic paint job Telecaster he had used for Led Zeppelin I, and for later things such as the solo to Stairway To Heaven, well; so what? Like it or not, the brown Telecaster has the same neck on it as does the cream or psychedelic paint job Telecaster, and I do mean the EXACT same neck; so they are in some way the same guitar, yet not. I'm told that during some tours, the neck on the Botswana brown telecaster would get changed to a maple neck at times, and then later back to the neck it probably has now, the one from the Telecaster Page played with The Yardbirds and early on with Led Zeppelin.

Page, Led Zeppelin, and the Fender Telecaster

If you watch the video above, or listen to it, you can hear Page playing his Telecaster, and making it scream. Who says the Telecaster is a country and western guitar? Oh not I, and not Jimmy Page! It's just a statement of fact a lot of the early Led Zep music was early heavy metal, and also rather psychedelic, and was recorded and played live on a Fender Telecaster. Not until Led Zeppelin II did Page start using a Les Paul, and not until later still did Page start using the Les Paul as his primary electric guitar, and never once did he drop the Telecaster from use; he only seemed to not carry a Tele on tour with him all the time.

So what all Led Zeppelin songs did Page use the Telecaster on? Well, probably only Jimmy Page knows for sure, but if you are familiar with a b-bender effect, then whenever you hear that, you know for sure you are hearing the Fender Telecaster. Also, Page famously recorded some of his finest solos with the Telecaster, solos like in Stairway To Heaven, and Ten Years Gone were done on the Telecaster, and huge parts of the album In Through The Outdoor feature the b-bender.

After Led Zeppelin ended as a recording and touring band due to the death of Jon Bonham, the drummer, Page eventually moved on to other projects, and another band known as The Firm. During his years with The Firm, Page mostly played the b-bender Telecaster.

Jimmy Page Explains The B-Bender Telecaster

Fender American Nashville B-Bender Telecaster, Maple Fretboard - 3-Tone Sunburst

Fender B-Bender Telecasters

No worries if you wish to emulate the sound of Clarence White with The Byrds or Jimmy Page with The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, or The Firm and beyond. Fender makes many models of Telecaster, and among the models they provide are at least two with a b-bender device inside. Now this first guitar isn't cheap, it's an American classic featuring:

  • Custom Fender/Parsons/Green B-Bender raises the pitch of the B string when you push down on the neck putting pedal steel licks right at your fingertips.
  • An American Tele neck and bridge pickup, TX Special Strat middle pickup, and 5-way Strat-o-Tele switching offers a broader tonal palette than most Tele models.
  • Molded Rectangular SKB Case, Strap, and Cable included.

Then, if someone is really set up nicely in the cash department, there is the Fender Custom Shop 1957 Telecaster B-Bender Relic Electric Guitar, Master built by Dale Wilson. Whenever you see something described as "master built," that's a real clue you're going to have to spend a lot more money, but you should also expect something more impressive. In any case, the financial leap is one from $1,600 for the American Nashville b -bender to $8,600 for the custom shop master built one.

Fender American Nashville B-Bender Telecaster features:

  • Relic treatment
  • Hand-selected ash body
  • Maple neck with "U" back shape
  • Maple fingerboard
  • 51 Nocaster bridge
  • Mounted B-Bender
  • Fender logo tuners
  • Hand-wound Tele pickups
  • 52 Tele pickguard shape
  • Includes case

Thanks for reading.

Jimmy Page Plays Chopin On His B-Bender Telecaster

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Wesman Todd Shaw

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      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

        lostohanababy - I wonder if the tune is still the most played song in FM radio history. I think it's very possible it still is.

        Perspycacious -Thanks very much!

      • Perspycacious profile image

        Demas W Jasper 

        4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

        Thanks for the insights.

      • lostohanababy profile image

        lostohanababy 

        4 years ago

        My fav, is "Stairway to Heaven". The awesome lyrics, linger still in the memories of my past of listing to interesting talented Musical Artists of the times, 60s, 70s, & 80s. Great songs of Led Zepplin were really awesome!

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

        texshelters - Thanks, Sir! I bet I can come up with one about Page and the Stratocaster, I'm told most of Physical Graffiti was done with one :)

      • texshelters profile image

        texshelters 

        4 years ago from Mesa, Arizona

        You can hear the early blue influence in the guitar sounds and styles. As a songwriter and not so great guitarist myself, I appreciate the Page never relied on one style and play various styles with various sounds. Great videos, by the way. What about Page's ramblings on with acoustic guitars? There's the next article for you. I have a fender acoustic, and it's excellent, though I'll not much of a guitar afficianado.

        Thanks.

        PTxS

      • Wesman Todd Shaw profile imageAUTHOR

        Wesman Todd Shaw 

        4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

        Thanks Very Much, SIR! Growing up I so preferred the music of around 7 years before I was born to the years when I was just hitting public school to anything which was new.....and nowadays, I also like the stuff from when I was just hitting public school to about...oh maybe ten years ago. I never seem to like brand new music, I guess it just takes things a long while of aging before I can accept it at all.

      • The Frog Prince profile image

        The Frog Prince 

        4 years ago from Arlington, TX

        Page and the Zep burst on the scene and turned rock and roll on its head. It was a blast living through that period and experiencing a live concert in Tampa Stadium back in the day.

        Nice write up on a guitar legend and his guitar of choice.

        The Frog

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