Filmed in August 1974 and originally broadcast the following month, this historic clip from the BBC archive shows guitar legend Jeff Beck demonstrating his live rig for a unique television show titled Five Faces of the Guitar.
Originally broadcast on the BBC Two channel in September that year, Five Faces of the Guitar features a host of top guitar players, each representing a particular style.
While Beck is the face of rock, other guests include Julian Bream (opens in new tab) (classical), Barney Kessel (opens in new tab) (jazz), Paco Pena (opens in new tab) (flamenco) and John Renbourn (opens in new tab) (blues/folk).
Just weeks later, Beck would begin recording his Billboard top ten solo album, Blow by Blow (opens in new tab). Produced by "Fifth Beatle" George Martin, the instrumental LP was released in March 1975 and marked a turning point in the 30-year-old guitar hero's career.
“I wanted to go directly onto an instrumental guitar album,” Beck told Steve Rosen. “I realized another vocal album would be out of the question because there weren’t any vocalists available that I liked.”
Evidently, Beck’s playing was vocal and expressive enough. Sans vocalist, Blow by Blow saw the virtuoso further explore the jazz fusion genre while drawing widespread acclaim as the album shot up the charts to the number four position.
Backed by British jazz-rockers Upp, Beck appears in the Five Faces of the Guitar program with the same Gibson Les Paul that appears on the cover of Blow by Blow.
Referred to as the "Oxblood" Les Paul on account of its refinish, this heavily modified 1954 Gibson Les Paul Model was picked up by Beck in a music store in Memphis, Tennessee called Strings and Things.
Aside from its chocolate-brown paint job, this (ex-)Goldtop has had the original cream-colored P-90 single-coil pickups (opens in new tab) replaced by dual humbuckers. Meanwhile, the tuners were replaced and the neck re-profiled for a slicker feel.
After demonstrating this distinctive Les Paul, Beck then explains how his effects work. A simple trio of stompboxes include a Cry Baby wah (opens in new tab), ZB Custom volume pedal and Colorsound Overdriver (opens in new tab).
While Beck’s main guitar amp for this appearance is an Ampeg VT-40, he also has a silverface Fender Champ (opens in new tab) in the rig, possibly for use with a Kustom the Bag (opens in new tab) unit.
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab), Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.
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