Photo: Rick Gould, courtesy Vintage Guitar magazine.
The October issue of Vintage Guitar includes a piece on guitar legend Albert Lee by Dan Forte called “Albert Lee: The Gypsy Spirit of a Country-Guitar Hero.” The interview is loaded with gems from Lee, like this one about how he developed his guitar style below.
After listing off Buddy Holly, Scotty Moore, Cliff Gallup and a few others, Lee says, “Of course, I have to go back to James Burton. When I first heard him, I thought, ‘How the hell is he doing this?’ I had no idea people were using an unwound third. It wasn’t until Eddie Cochran said, ‘Oh yeah, buy two first strings or a really light banjo string, put it on the top, put the first string where the second string should be and so on, and throw away the bottom string.’
So after buying a Telecaster, Lee says he “put an unwound third on it, and from there on I was playing the other styles that I’d heard, and I was able to instantly capture that James Burton sound.”
The lengthy piece also includes the “best of” Lee’s guitar collection, which features the 1953 Fender Telecaster that served as his trademark guitar for many years.
“I always wanted a maple-neck Tele, and you couldn’t find them in England,” he explains. “So on my first trip to LA – this still goes on – these guitar dealers found out where the band was staying and showed up at the hotel with a couple of guitars in their trunk. This guy had a couple of Teles and I fell in love with this ’53 he had. It didn’t have any finish on it.”
The guitar (seen above) is autographed by the Crickets, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Jesse Ed Davis, Chet and James Burton, Eric Johnson, Jimmy Bryant and many more.
The article also mentions a Fender ’59 Jazzmaster with a gold anodized pickguard, which was a gift from Joe Cocker.
“There are a couple of nicks in the body, but apart from that, it’s pretty original. My daughter, Alex, stuck a Mickey Mouse sticker on the back.”
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