In the video below, Jimmy Page shares the psychedelic story behind his famous Fender guitar.
Page's custom shop "mirror" and "dragon" Telecaster models — a historic, hands-on collaboration between Fender Custom Shop master builder Paul Waller and Page himself — are modeled after Page's beloved 1959 Fender Telecaster. At each stage in its evolution, this legendary guitar produced some of the most iconic riffs of the 20th Century.
Among music's most iconic guitars is Page's Telecaster, known for its two "mirror" and "dragon" designs. It helped launch Page's career in THE YARDBIRDS and LED ZEPPELIN, and the guitar was used to record "Led Zeppelin I" along with countless hit songs on world-renowned albums. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of LED ZEPPELIN and Page's storied career as a guitar icon, Fender will release four artist signature guitar models throughout 2019, giving fans and collectors the chance to own a piece of history. Two models will be made on Fender's production lines, and two will be produced in the Fender Custom Shop — dubbed the "Limited Edition Jimmy Page Telecaster Set."
"It's an incredible honor that one of the most-respected rock legends has entrusted Fender to recreate one of his most-prized guitars," said Mike Lewis, VP of Product Development at Fender Custom Shop. "Some of the most-esteemed artists in the world work with the Fender Custom Shop, because it is the pinnacle of craftsmanship for the Fender brand and the guitar-building community."
"This unique Fender Telecaster has an amazing backstory and helped inspire some of the greatest rock music of all time, both in the later years of THE YARDBIRDS and at the genesis of LED ZEPPELIN," added Justin Norvell, EVP Fender Products. "Now we're giving a new generation of players access to two great instruments in honor of Jimmy, his storied career and amazing musical body of work created and performed on this guitar."
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 legendary "Led Zeppelin I" 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."
"Visiting the Fender Custom Shop to sign and paint the guitars with Paul Waller was a real thrill," he added. "To see all those absolute gems on the wall, it's a pretty amazing experience."
Among the four artist signature models will be two highly collectible, limited-edition Fender Custom Shop versions masterbuilt by Waller — one with mirrors and the other with the painted dragon. For nearly eight months, Page has worked closely with Waller to advise throughout the process, assuring every detail was accurately recreated. Only 50 units of each Fender Custom Shop model will be made available with personal touches from Page himself, including a handwritten signature on the headstock and hand-painted flourishes on the guitar body's dragon artwork. Known for its world-renowned quality and craftsmanship, the Fender Custom Shop has built instruments for some of the world's most-esteemed guitar and bass players over the past 31 years.
"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."
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 on Fender.com. In true tradition, Fender's Artist Signature Series models honor popular and iconic musicians through product progression and storytelling, creating instruments inspired by the unique specifications of the world's greatest guitarists and bassists.