Ron Wood and the ESP Telecaster

Ron Wood is one of the great baby boomer British invasion blues-rock guitarist who've contributed so much to the classic rock music many of us love so dearly. He's always been very under the radar. He plays the role of second fiddle; but there must be a huge amount of modesty in all of this. Ron Wood is greatness.

Ronnie is more than a guitarist, he's been the bassist in major bands. He sings and writes songs. He's also a radio personality and a visual artist. Creative expression, without a doubt, is one of his defining traits.

There is no doubt what Ron Wood is most recognized as. He's the second guitarist for The Rolling Stones, and he has been since 1975. You can still see Ronnie and The Stones in concert, but if you plan to, you'd best hurry. The Rolling Stones may seem to be a never ending thing, but all good things eventually come to an end.

Ron's career in music started in 1964 with a group called The Birds. Please don't mistake them with America's The Byrds, very different bands are those. Being the bassist for The Jeff Beck Group was where Wood's career really took off. Beck, of course, is one of the best guitarists in the entire world. And the group featured another guy who became a long lasting someone, Rod Stewart. The late 60s were a time where very loud blues rock was king, and Ron Wood was in the thick of it, and that's where he'd stay.

There would only ever be two albums from The Jeff Beck Group. Ron Wood, however, was also working with other bands at the exact same time. He preferred to play the guitar, and not the bass guitar; but making music was what mattered most. Jeff Beck was notoriously fickle and moody. He'd break up his Jeff Beck Group; but Ron Wood and Rod Stewart had formed a friendship and musical partnership which would last.

Ron Wood and Rod Stewart

In late 1969 Ron Wood would join the Small Faces, who'd shorten their name to just Faces. They'd create rowdy bar room rock tunes and some much more pastoral folk rock music too. It doesn't sound possible, but in the first half of 1970 the Faces released four studio albums. That's quite a lot of work.

Besides playing guitar, Ron Wood would back up Rod Stewart on vocals. He'd play the base guitar, the harmonica, and write songs. The rough and rowdy hit Stay With Me, and the softer Every Picture Tells a Story would become certified classics in the lexicon of rock and roll. Soon Ronnie would help out Mick Taylor with his solo album, and then collaborate with Mick Jagger on the Stones' song It's Only Rock and Roll.  The year was 1973, and both of the Glimmer Twins would aid Wood in his solo album.

It wouldn't take a genius to see where this was heading. He was obviously close to the two scions of The Rolling Stones, and also to Mick Taylor. Taylor was having a terrible time of getting along with Keith Richards. Richards insulted Mick in the recording studio one day, and Mick didn't sit well with it. To make matters far worse between those tow, Keith had Taylor's guitar parts erased from a track which was being developed. He replaced Taylor's parts with his own. Jagger and Richards had already ran off one guitarist, Brian Jones, and now they'd ran off a second one, Mick Taylor.

The Rolling Stones, however, needed two guitarists in the band. Ronnie Wood would step right in. Wood, an excellent slide guitarist, would truly replace the late Brian Jones, who Mick Taylor truly never did, as his style wasn't so oriented as Wood's towards the style Jones had had. Ron would also use the slide steel and pedal steel guitars for the great country and western effect The Stones often incorporated into their tunes.

Ron Wood and Keith Richards

So Ronnie Wood was recording stuff with members of The Stones before he ever recorded with them on a Rolling Stones album. But in 1975 he went on tour with them, he'd not become announced as a member until 1976. The Faces ceased to exist as a band, and Rod Stewart went on to his solo career.

The styles of Ron Wood and Keith Richards are kind of similar in some ways. Either player walks a line where they are neither playing rhythm nor lead, but a bit of both, and in the same song. They trade off back and forth, while one is playing some lead the other plays rhythm, and vice versa. Wood has also played base guitar with The Rolling Stones when Bill Wyman is playing keyboard or synthesizer.

Wood never stopped doing solo material and releasing solo albums. He also played guitar on albums by other artists, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Prince, David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, Bo Diddly, and many more. It wasn't until 1990 The Rolling Stones would cut Ron in as a full partner in terms of earnings from The Rolling Stones vast financial enterprise. He's worth ninety million dollars today. So lets not cry over any spilled metaphorical milk in Ron's case.

When you're a guy like Ron Wood you own any guitar you want to own. There's no telling how many fine guitars he does own. What is sure is he's for many years preferred Fender guitars to all others. He seemingly most loves the Fender Stratocaster, but he plays a Telecaster quite a lot too. His favorite Tele is a 1952, and then there is his ESP Ron Wood Telecaster.

Ron Wood and the ESP Telecaster

ESP guitars are mostly Japanese. They do have a US manufacturing operation too, but for the most part the most of the ESP guitar you will ever see are made in Japan. They do lower end guitars manufactured in Korea, as lots of Japanese companies do. In any event, the Ron Wood signature Telecaster is not one of the low end guitars by any stretch.

This is as fine a Telecaster as can be made. Fender USA Teles won't be better than this one, but one needs to know about the guitar to ascertain if it is what they're looking for. From the start the Tele was forever a two single coil pickup guitar with simple controls and a simple design. It wasn't long after the debut of the Fender Telecaster, however, that many of a certain ilk desired one with a humbucking pickup in the neck position for to simulate more blues oriented tonal flavors.

This is just that sort of guitar, a Telecaster with a humbucking pickup not made by Fender. The ESP has the best of globalism for being manufactured by the fine craftsmen of Japan, while also incorporating US made Seymour Duncan pickups in both positions. There are less expensive Ron Wood Teles by ESP, but the signature series guitar sells for roughly twenty seven hundred dollars.

This is a standard alder body guitar. The neck is a U profile rather than a C profile. It's important one know just what sort of neck shape suits them best before ever purchasing such an expensive instrument. The hardware here is all chrome, and the nut is of bone. You don't put bone nuts on anything but great guitars. So check one out if you're in the market, and if you get the chance to see Ron Wood and The Rolling Stones, then you'd best do it while you still can.