"It's as though it was made for me" – Jeff Beck explains why the Strat is his favourite guitar

Jeff Beck may be a guitar legend now, but to get there he did the work as a pioneer; exploring uncharted territory with the instrument. But in a recent interview with Johnnie Walker for his Radio 2 show Sounds Of The '70s, the former Yardbird expressed genuine incredulity that the electric guitar has gone as far in pop culture as it has since his 1950s rock 'n' roll inspirations. 

"It was just rocket propelled from '54 until today," reflects Beck. "I never thought the guitar would be sustained for so long and everybody knows what a Stratocaster is."

Of course, part of the reason is just as Beck was inspired by players including Les Paul, Buddy Holly, Scotty Moore and Cliff Gallup, he went on to spark the imaginations of generations as one of the most expressive players to ever pick up a guitar – first a Tele and Gibson Les Paul before he found his true home; the Strat.

"It does what I want," says Beck of his favourite guitar. "It's infinitely variable in its tone and capabilities with the spring-loaded bridge. It was though it was made for me – thank you very much, Leo!"

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Jeff Beck

(Image credit: Scott Legato/Getty Images)

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It's hard to imagine that distorted guitar was once groundbreaking, but Beck was one of the early adopters in the rock 'n' roll scene of early '60s London. But it wasn't as calculated as some might presume. 

"That came as an accident," the guitarist tells Walker. "We played larger venues round about '64 / '65 and the PA was inadequate, so we cranked up the level and then found out feedback would happen. Pete Townshend discovered it and had it on My Generation and then I started using it because it was controllable – you could play tunes with it. 

"I did this once at Staines Town Hall with The Yardbirds," Beck remembers. "And afterwards the guys says, 'You know that funny noise that wasn't supposed to be there? I'd keep that in if I were you.' I said, 'It was deliberate mate – go away.'" 

Check out the full interview at the top where Beck also talks about working with Stevie Wonder on Superstition, and you can also see our feature on how Stevie returned the favour to Beck for the classic 'Cause We've Ended As Lovers below. 

Jeff Beck: “Stevie gave me Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers as an apology for releasing Superstition first"

Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.