NAMM 2019: Back in October, it was announced that Fender had teamed up with former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page to recreate the 1959 Telecaster that he used to record the band's self-titled debut in 1968. Now, after three months of anticipation, the company has finally unveiled the new line of electric guitars in advance of the NAMM show.
Two models—dubbed the Limited Edition Jimmy Page Telecaster Set—will be produced in the Fender Custom Shop, while two additional models will be made on Fender’s production lines. The Limited Edition Jimmy Page Telecaster Set will be available beginning March 2019, while the two production line models will be released in Spring/Summer 2019.
“The story of the instrument is the whole journey of it – from Jeff having it, to passing it on to me with such good spirit,” Page said of the guitar. “It’s a lot of love in that gesture and the journey of it through The Yardbirds and how it was used on the first Led Zeppelin album, the journey all the way through here today. Now, it’s been restored back to its true beauty and we’ve actually been able to sort of clone it.”
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 and 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.
Among the four Artist Signature models will be two highly collectible, limited edition Fender Custom Shop versions built by Fender Custom Shop Master Builder veteran Paul Waller—one with mirrors and the other with the painted dragon. Each of these guitars, mind you, won't come cheap.
At a cool $50,000, the set will be available for local authorized showcase dealers to purchase and then sell together or separately (for $25,000 each) to consumers. Beginning March 2019, only 50 units of each Fender Custom Shop model will be made available. They will include Page’s personal touches, such as a handwritten signature on the headstock of the mirror model, as well as hand-painted flourishes on the guitar body’s dragon artwork and personally-signed Certificates of Authenticity for both models.
“Jimmy actually invited us to his house in London to spec the guitar out,” Waller said in a statement. “More than a year later, we’ve managed to bring this guitar and the evolution of Jimmy’s career back to life. As the guitar evolved, so did Jimmy’s career. As the Dragon is born, he moves in and Led Zeppelin is born as well. It’s a pivotal moment for the guitar and music.”
In addition to personal touches from Page, the Fender Custom Shop models feature an off-center-seam, two-piece ash body; a pair of Fender Custom Shop Hand-Wound ‘58 single-coil pickups; a tinted maple “Oval C” neck matching the profile of Page’s original instrument; Clear and White Vinyl pickguards on the “Dragon” and mirror models, respectively; a ‘59 top-load Tele bridge; and a 7.25”-radius rosewood fingerboard matching the specs of the era, down to the 21 vintage-sized frets.
The “Dragon” model includes a custom hardshell flight case, white seatbelt-style strap, super-long white leather strap, red coiled cable, violin bow, rosin, Herco guitar picks and Page-signed Certificate of Authenticity. The mirror model includes a vintage-style tweed hardshell case, black coiled cable, Ace “Stained Glass” fabric strap, Herco guitar picks and a Page-signed Certificate of Authenticity.
In addition to the Fender Custom Shop models, Fender will roll out both mirror and painted versions from its production lines. Priced from $1,399.99-$2,499.99, these will not be hand-signed or hand-painted by the artist, although Page did advise Fender first-hand on creation of the design to make sure the guitars were true-to-spec of the original Telecaster.
Unlike the “exact” Fender Custom Shop reproductions, the production models include: a custom "Oval C"-shaped maple neck; '50s Tele two-piece body; top-loader bridge for through-body or top-load stringing; custom single-coil pickups; lacquer finish; vintage tweed case with eight round mirrors (a tribute to the custom treatment Page applied to the guitar); black coil cable; satin lacquer finish over a reproduction of Jimmy Page's iconic artwork; and a deluxe black case and red coil cable.
For more info on the guitars, head on over to fender.com.