How Jeff Beck and Seymour Duncan created humbucker magic with the classic JB pickup

Jeff Beck
(Image credit: Robert Knight Archive/Redferns)

One of the many, many guitarists obsessed with Jeff Beck was a young Seymour Duncan. Here’s what he told this writer back in the ’90s: “I first heard Jeff Beck in the summer of ’65 – I was playing in a talent show with a local band. The local radio station played a recording of Heart Full Of Soul by The Yardbirds, their second hit. The unique guitar sound was from Jeff Beck. I tracked down many of their recordings and saw them performing on 60s TV shows such as Hullabaloo, Shindig! and Ready Steady Go!.

“I’d noticed Jeff was playing a Fender Telecaster but without the neck pickup,” he added, “making it an Esquire [from 1954]. Originally it had a white single-layer scratchplate that Jeff changed to a black phenolic one. He’d bought the guitar for $60 [or £75, according to Jeff! – Ed] from John Maus [aka Walker], guitarist with The Walker Brothers when they toured England in the mid-’60s. Years later, John visited my workshop in Santa Barbara and told me he’d contoured the front and back of the body to make it feel more like a Stratocaster.”

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Dave Burrluck
Gear Reviews Editor, Guitarist

Dave Burrluck is one of the world’s most experienced guitar journalists, who started writing back in the '80s for International Musician and Recording World, co-founded The Guitar Magazine and has been the Gear Reviews Editor of Guitarist magazine for the past two decades. Along the way, Dave has been the sole author of The PRS Guitar Book and The Player's Guide to Guitar Maintenance as well as contributing to numerous other books on the electric guitar. Dave is an active gigging and recording musician and still finds time to make, repair and mod guitars, not least for Guitarist’s The Mod Squad.