In ongoing celebration of Led Zeppelin’s 50th anniversary, Fender has announced that it is teaming up with Jimmy Page to recreate the 1959 Telecaster that he used to record the band's self-titled debut in 1968. Known for its iconic “mirror” and “dragon” designs, Page played the Tele throughout Zeppelin’s early days, as well as with the Yardbirds. He also used the guitar to record the iconic solo to “Stairway to Heaven.”
Fender will release four artist signature guitar models throughout 2019. Two models will be produced on the production lines and two in the Fender Custom Shop, dubbed the “Limited Edition Jimmy Page Telecaster Set.” There will only be 50 of each “dragon” and “mirror” Fender Custom Shop model, with Page’s handwritten signature on each headstock and his hand-painted flourishes on dragon models.
The limited edition Custom Shop versions are masterbuilt by Fender Custom Shop Master Builder Paul Waller. For nearly eight months, Page has worked closely with Waller to advise throughout the process, assuring every detail was accurately recreated.
“This guitar is so special and has so much history, so I approached Fender to see if they’d be interested in recreating it,” Page said. “They really got it 110 percent right, or 150 percent right. It's so absolutely as it is, as it should be, and as it was...Visiting the Fender Custom Shop to sign and paint the guitars with Paul Waller was a real thrill. To see all those absolute gems on the wall, it's a pretty amazing experience.”
“Jimmy first approached us in February with the idea to recreate this Telecaster, and as we were planning, I could feel his passion throughout the process,” said Waller. “To achieve his vision, I wanted to get every little detail replicated exactly, so you couldn’t tell the difference from the originals and these models. That’s what we’re known for in the Fender Custom Shop: quality craftsmanship and authenticity.”
Page originally received the Telecaster in 1966 from Jeff Beck, who gifted it to Page for recommending him to the Yardbirds. Through the years, the Telecaster took on several looks and personas, as Page customized it aesthetically and sonically. When he first received it, the guitar was undecorated in its factory white blonde finish and remained that way until February 1967, when he added eight circular mirrors to the body. Page played his mirrored Telecaster only briefly in the final years of the Yardbirds, and by mid-1967 he was ready to change the look. He removed the mirrors, completely stripped and repainted the instrument himself, this time hand-painting a mystical dragon on the body.
When Led Zeppelin was formed in October 1968, the Dragon Telecaster became Page’s go-to instrument and he played it on stage and in the studio until 1969. It was also the main guitar used on the Led Zeppelin album. Page went on tour in 1969, and upon his return, he discovered a friend had kindly stripped the body and painted over the dragon paint job. The paint job compromised the sound and wiring, leaving only the neck pickup working. He salvaged the neck and put it on his brown string bender Tele, and has since re-stripped and restored the body in full.
“This guitar is so special and has so much history, so I approached Fender to see if they’d be interested in recreating it,” Page said. “They really got it 110 percent right, or 150 percent right. It's so absolutely as it is, as it should be, and as it was.”
Fender will also build both mirror and painted versions on its production lines, which will be more accessibly priced for a broader base of fans to purchase. While these will not be hand-signed and hand-painted by the artist, Page did consult with Fender throughout the design process to ensure the guitars are true-to-spec of the original Telecaster.
All Jimmy Page models will be released throughout 2019 and available at local dealers and Fender.com. Fender will reveal the complete model lineup in January 2019.