And now for something a bit different, here is a short story about a guitar that wasn’t bound to be more than a vision. In this story, the guitar itself isn’t that much of a fail—well, maybe a little bit actually—but its fate was a fail… Big time!

Back in the 1980s, Jeff Beck envisioned his fantasy guitar: a hybrid between a Les Paul (along with the Tele that’s pretty much where he started back in the 1960s) and a Stratocaster (that’s where he landed in the early 1970s).

Now that’s something strange to wish for, right? And if you wanna something strange, who you gonna call?

In all logic (sic), Jeff Beck commissioned Ibanez to make his dream guitar come true. In retrospect – yeah, as if someone asked us to retrospect on this – it was a smart and sorta dumb move altogether.

We’re not judgemental, let us explain…

It was smart because a fews years earlier, Ibanez had started to move towards establishing its own identity in the guitar world. (Source Guitar Factoids) Indeed, in 1973, Ibanez launched its Artist Series which was a departure from their usual copies of American models.

And what better choice than a brand willing to leave its mark in the guitar world? Surely, the builders at Ibanez would come up with some groundbreaking innovation to fulfill Beck’s fantasy.

Alas, this is not how the story goes. Think about it. Ibanez was trying to move past the copy of what, you might ask… Stratocasters and Les Pauls obviously! And Jeff Beck comes at he meeting, showing them a sketch of his vision in a notebook, and asking them to build some sort of hybrid of both guitars!

Now, as previously said, the guitar itself isn’t a fail per se. Ibanez builders didn’t do a bad job. Obviously, the guitar has its flaws which probably explain why Beck didn’t like the prototype.

  • 2 humbuckers
  • 6 volume and tone knobs
  • 3 mini-switches
  • 3-way toggle switch

It turned out that the best of both Strat and LP worlds was a nightmare of complexity! You know what they say… Two heads are better than one. Well, Jeff Beck’s Strat-a-Paul prototype proved that two guitars in one are just a knob-tangled mess.

Jeff Beck was probably expecting simplicity that would align with his less-is-more attitude. Ibanez gave him a guitar that needed its own control tower, and a manual to dial in the tone. “Play a chord! Accidentally launch a rocket!” could have been a well-suited tagline to market this Strat-a-Paul.

Anyway, Jeff Beck didn’t like the prototype. It fade into oblivion, probably for the best, until it resurfaced a while back. Jeff Beck eventually succumbed to Fender’s charming courtship dance the brand was executing around him for while. Probably for the best too. And the rest is history…

In the tale of Jeff Beck and Ibanez, the moral is quite clear: too many knobs spoil the guitar.

If you want to know more, you can read the full story at Guitar World.

Guitar Fail
Guitar Fail

Exploring the funny side of guitar since 2011. Our motto is simple: “In it for the guitar fail!“

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