Howard Kramer, curatorial director of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, shows off the fabulously beat-up Esquire guitar Jeff Beck played with The Yardbirds. Jimmy Page played it as well, when he was in The Yardbirds with Beck, as the two would sometimes trade instruments. This guitar came to the Rock & Roll Hall Fame via Seymour Duncan, who is good friends with Jeff Beck.
Beck is one of three top British rock guitarists to have played in The Yardbirds, along with Page and Eric Clapton. It was during Beck’s tenure from 1965 to 1967 that The Yardbirds recorded some of their biggest pop hits, including “Heart Full of Soul,” Bo Diddley’s “I’m A Man,” and “Shapes of Things.” Beck and Page were in the band together in 1966, recording dual guitars on “Stroll On” and “Train Kept A-Rollin.”
The Esquire was the first guitar model sold by Fender, starting in 1950. It featured the distinctive slanted pickup with individual pole pieces for each string, and three bridge saddles which allowed adjustment of string length in pairs and individual string height.