Jeff Beck

Posted: August 3, 2010 by Paul H in Tips & Tricks

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 4.00.36 PMI had the good fortune to go to Chicago for the Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival for Boss. As I was busy showing pedals and other gear, I would sneak a peek at whatever bands were playing. Eric Clapton has that beautiful, perfect, in tune bending and vibrato, and his time is great. I also liked Sonny Landreth, he’s a real under-rated player. It was sad to see, Johnny Winter’s health must be deteriorating, he could hardly play; and somehow I totally missed ZZ Top.

However, one guy stood out and totally blew me away, Jeff Beck. Jeff is one of those few guitarists who continues to push the envelope of what you can do on the instrument. He has a unique approach. First of all he plays with his thumb, no pick; and he uses his whammy bar not for effects but as a musical, melodic tool. He plays with so much power and authority, it was amazing to hear his guitar soaring across a stadium of 50,000 people. His current album featuring a 64 piece orchestra is unbelievable and no one can do it quite like Jeff Beck.

After returning home, I was surfing the internet and I found a performance of Jeff playing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” live, with close-ups of his hands. In this video he’s basically doing a clinic on Left Hand position. I call this blues style technique, it’s mostly with your thumb around the neck and it involves a lot of dampening the adjacent strings. If you sign up for the 10 week course I explain in depth how to do this, but Jeff is showing it very clearly in this video. Jeff also has some very interesting ideas on getting tone out of amps that he talks about in detail in the Guitar Player interview.

Jeff Beck has always been a legendary guitar player, but how often is a legend of his stature also on the cutting edge? I guess that’s why he is legendary. I take my hat off to Jeff Beck.

Here’s the video of him doing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.”

Jeff Beck

  1. Chris says:

    Very cool post, keep them coming

  2. I had no idea that Jeff Beck did not play with a pick at all. I wonder if he used only his thumb back in the “Yardbirds” days.

    • Paul H says:

      I don’t know exactly when he switched, but a friend of mine, Steve Lynch has one of Jeff’s “Herco” heavy picks that Jeff gave him sometime in the ’70′s. The thing for me about Jeff Beck is he shows that you don’t have to play super fast to be great. You just have to play great and put emotion in your playing.

    • Rodolp says:

      I guess Jeff Beck left the pick on early 80′s. I readed that in a magazine, under a complete explanation about the requirements of a techniques to hit a string while need to manipulate the volume control and whammy bar at the same time. All of that was developed by Jeff. And that is exactly what you can see in this video! So… I think that version goes on the right direction. A great post, many thanks.

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