Pagey’s Yardbirds- and Led Zeppelin-era axe is a fountain of endless inspiration.
Amazing, unique neck profile. Excellent quality. Elegantly simple and drop-dead gorgeous. Airy, dimensional pickups.
Volume and tone pots could have a smoother taper. Fast neck begs for worn-satin finish.
Fender Jimmy Page Mirror Telecaster
Jimmy Page is probably my favorite Yardbirds guitarist, which lands me in spirited conversations with Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck fans. But I have a lot of lively chats with Jimmy Page fans, too—usually because I’m faster to wax rhapsodic about his daring and reckless abandon than his more obvious attributes as a fretboard/production sorcerer. I guess what I’m saying is, I love punk Pagey. Which means I also love Telecaster Pagey.
A Telecaster and Jimmy Page: late-period Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin’s first, and those killer clips from the Led Zeppelin DVD that showcase the savage young Zep’—coalescing, but not yet codified … hungry, searching, and melting into heavy grooving chaos that, in glimpses, reflects the Stooges and predicts Sonic Youth as much as the fine-tuned heavy-rock machine the band would become. Fender’s USA-made Jimmy Page Mirror Telecaster succeeds at situating you in the many possible mindsets of this less-celebrated and less-well-understood Jimmy Page. It’s a flexible, sturdy, sophisticated, super-dynamic guitar that feels fast and most certainly prods your inner punk. It’s also a reminder that a great Telecaster does way more than twang.
Spec’d to Soar
For all the anticipation a Jimmy Page signature instrument provokes, the Mirror Tele doesn’t exactly scream “Dazed and Confused” when it peers back at you from the tweed and wine-red case. It’s classy and stylishly restrained. And if an innocent bystander asked if you were the proud owner of a new Steve Cropper signature Telecaster, it would be hard to blame them.
Few fans ever saw Page’s Telecaster in this guise. But, man, it looks beautiful in its un-mirrored state. The transparent white blond lacquer finish (most folks usually assume the standard finish at the time was white) makes the guitar look dipped in vanilla crème. The 1-ply white pickguard lends an extra-simple elegance to the Telecaster’s already graceful lines, while the rich grain in the slab rosewood fretboard is a warm, chocolate-y contrast. The whole is a picture of understated, minimalist Fender perfection.
Page’s original Telecaster is a 1959, which marks the brief period where the Telecaster came with a top loading bridge. One need only listen to Page’s Telecaster discography to know that a top loader has all the punch it takes to make massive sounds. But if you’re in doubt, the instrument can also be strung in more traditional string-through-body style, which also enables compare-and-contrast tone experiments between the two stringing methods.
The build quality is tip-top. I couldn’t find a manufacturing misstep anywhere. The setup was a touch higher than I prefer. (It would probably be perfect for many players.) But the higher action highlighted the ringing, rib-rattling resonance and sustain of the light, 2-piece ash body. And there was room to lower the strings at the saddles and still nail Pagey’s interstellar bends without fretting out on the period-correct 7.25" fretboard.
Dazed and Completely Dazzled
Inevitably, someone (or some hundreds) among our readership will ask “why this Page Telecaster rather than any other late-’50s/early-’60s Telecaster reissue?” Fair question. But there’s at least one simple answer, from my perspective. This neck is straight-up killer. Variation in hand-shaped pre-CBS Fender necks is a well-known quantity among players and collectors. It’s also half the thrill of finding a soulmate in a vintage Fender. But for my money, the neck on the Jimmy Page Telecaster, which Fender calls an “Oval C,” represents near perfection. It feels substantial—lending the confidence to lean into neck-waggling vibrato moves without fear of emerging hopelessly out of tune. But while it’s stout, it also has that narrow, compact, and quick feel between the first seven-or-so frets that makes late ’50s and ’60s Fenders so effortless to play. Toward the ninth fret you perceive a widening taper and thicker profile, but it never feels like an impediment to moving around the fretboard at top speed. Instead, it inspires a sense of leverage and stability that will satisfy your most bend-happy urges. I’ve played slighter and more narrow-feeling pre-CBS necks that felt unforgettably amazing. But I’m not sure any of them could better the balance in this neck’s profile.
The pickups, too, are a study in balance. I’m pretty sure they are quieter than any pre-CBS Fender pickups ever were—even new. But they have much of the oxygenated, panorama-view dimensionality that makes old Fender pickups prizes. The bridge pickup is articulate, chiming, and a touch growly in chord-based contexts, making the Jimmy Page Telecaster a jangle machine without parallel. But single notes have mass and a just-right twang that feels vintage-authentic and properly Telecaster without teetering towards the breed’s most rabidly treble-ish tendencies. It’s also a dynamic pickup. It’s responsive to pick attack variation and tone and volume attenuation. And it can deliver enough range between clean, mellow, and snarling to make stompboxes feel redundant—especially if you keep your amplifier pretty loud.
If you’ve forgotten the Telecaster’s underappreciated capabilities as a jazz axe, the Jimmy Page Telecaster’s smokey, smooth, and responsive neck pickup will be a revelation. It’s moody without being muddy. And the capacity for articulation that it shares with the bridge pickup makes it a sweet partner for quiet, flesh-on-strings fingerstyle and drifting chord-melody explorations.
Any good Telecaster is a great blank slate, and this Jimmy Page signature model is most certainly that. Its simplicity and wide-spectrum tone profile compel you to explore the potential of the two knobs, two pickups, and the way the guitar can interact dynamically with an amp running at open throttle. At about $2,500, it’s expensive—about $500 more than an American Original ’60s Telecaster and $600 more than an American Original ’50s model. But each of those guitars have a modern 9.5" radius, which makes the Jimmy Page Mirror Telecaster one of the few ways to get a vintage-correct 7.25" Telecaster neck without jumping up to a Custom Shop model or down to a Mexico-made Vintera-series instrument. But, oh man, that neck. It’s the kind of neck that could make this the only electric you ever want to use. For a lot of players, that neck alone—and its ability to let you walk in the shoes of a punky young Jimmy Page—will be well worth the cost of admission.
Watch the First Look: