Which amplifier is used by Led Zeppelin?

The sound worlds of Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones

by Heinz Rebellius,

"Of course, Jimmy Page plays a low-hanging Les Paul and a Doubleneck", sounds like the opinion of the people at the local guitarist regulars' table. "And‘ ne black Danelectro ", it sounds from the next table! And? Is that it? Are you kidding me? Are you serious when you say that!

Hardly any of the well-known, great guitarists have used such extensive and difficult to survey equipment as Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, who is known to be one of the ten most influential rock guitarists of all time. So it is no wonder that this article has now been revised for the fourth time, because new information from our informal informants kept trickling in; Information that was mostly contradicting and had to be cross-checked. And the journalist's work was not exactly simplified by the sheer sprawling equipment of electric bassist and multi-instrumentalist John Paul Jones, who is in no way inferior to his guitarist colleague when it comes to the use and accumulation of musical instruments.

Jimmy Page not only participated in the developments that you were automatically exposed to when you grew out of your infancy with rock music and the corresponding equipment, but at least in the first twenty years of his stage existence he always demonstrated a willingness to innovate and experiment, combined with that A penchant for spectacular stage actions that were implemented with an extensive range of instruments. It is similar with John Paul Jones, who was and is far more than just the bass player of this super group Led Zeppelin. I don't have enough space to go into detail about the equipment used by the two musicians in their careers, but in the following we give an overview of the most important instruments, amplifiers and effects, and we have assigned them to the respective phases of musical development.

Pages guitars

• PRE-YARDBIRDS: Jimmy Pages (* 1944) first properly playable electric guitar was a Grazioso, a Strat copy, built in 1957 in what was then Czechoslovakia, soon followed by a Fender Stratocaster, which was probably built in 1957 and by Page at Neil Christian and The Crusaders was played.

When business was getting better as a studio guitarist, he bought a Gibson Les Paul Custom, a 1960 Black Beauty with three humbuckers and a Bigsby and serial number 06130. Page bought it in 1962 for £ 185 and live on Led Played Zeppelin from 1970 to 1971 when it was stolen from him at Heathrow Airport in London. It has not reappeared to this day. But how good that there is the Gibson Custom Shop, because one of its many new products is bringing a replica of this guitar onto the market, and of course it can be assumed that Jimmy Page himself will also have one or the other copy of his stolen Les Paul was presented.

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The Jimmy Page Les Paul Custom w / Bigsby was officially presented at NAMM 2008. In general, the Gibson Custom Shop did nothing to delight Jimmy Page and the guitarist world with signature models. So there is not only the Jimmy Page Signature Les Paul, which was modeled on his Number Two, but in addition to the brand new Les Paul 82 Custom mentioned above, the current range also includes a Jimmy Page Custom Authentic Les Paul and a Jimmy Page Signature EDS-1275 Double neck guitar. Led Zeppelin cover bands are spoiled for choice - provided you have the necessary change.

• THE YARDBIRDS: In 1966 Jimmy Page was bassist for the Yardbirds for two months and played an Epiphone Rivoli bass from 1960 until Chris Deja took over the bass and this Rivoli electric bass. A 1967 Vox Phantom XII was only used in the studio. More important was the 1959 Fender Telecaster, a gift from Jeff Beck in 1966 - which didn't prevent Page from sanding off the original Olympic White paint, which had four large circles already painted on it, and repainting the body in late 1966. In 1976 the Tele was painted a brown color and a Parsons-White-Stringbender was installed. The guitar was briefly equipped with a one-piece maple neck in 1977.

As Yardbird, Page already played the Danelectro 3021 from 1960, one of the guitars with which Jimmy is often associated (probably because everyone was surprised that the rock guitar god condescended to use such a cheap instrument). After all, Page played this guitar, which had been assembled from the best parts of two Danos and modified for professional use with a Leo Quan Badass bridge and new machine heads, not only in 1967 and 1978 with the Yardbirds, but also with Led Zeppelin and the Time after that - mostly in a so-called modal tuning (B, A, D, G, A, D), which Page once referred to as sitar tuning in an interview.

• Led Zeppelin: The 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard in cherry sunburst, lovingly named Number One (# 1). It was first used on the Led Zeppelin II ‘. The neck profile was sanded asymmetrically by one of the previous owners, which Page really liked. Due to the modifications on the neck, the serial number is no longer recognizable, so it could also be that Number One is a 1958 Les Paul. Golden, retrofitted Grover mechanics contrast with the otherwise nickel-plated hardware. The original PAF on the bridge was later replaced by a higher output humbucker wound by Seymour Duncan. Instead of the original push / pull potentiometers, they switch the humbuckers to single coil operation.

Page bought his second 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard in cherry sunburst, serial number 91702, for £ 500 from future Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh. This Les Paul, which was then also referred to as Number Two (# 2), is almost identical to # 1. It got the same modifications as # 1 and in 1980 two button switches were installed under the pickguard, with which you could switch the pickups in series or in parallel and out of phase. In addition, the bridge was filed round so that Page could handle the violin bow more precisely.

The 'Stairway To Heaven' guitar - a Gibson EDS-1275 Doubleneck with serial number 911117 - dates from 1968 and was first used in 1971. By the way: The studio version of 'Stairway To Heaven' used a different 12-string (see below). Two Seymour-Duncan humbuckers were installed in another Gibson Les Paul Standard, which dates from 1973 and is painted cherry red. Page also had a Parsons White string bender installed after the first Led Zeppelin phase, although in his opinion it worsened the sound of this guitar. But that did not prevent him from using them at the 2007 Reunion concert. A natural-colored Gibson ES-5 Archtop was also (only) seen here.

A 1964 Fender Stratocaster in lake placid blue was often played, e.g. B. 1980 on the European Tour, on which a blonde 1966 Fender Telecaster was also used. The 1965 Fender XII was only used in the studio, but made rock history with the title, Stairway To Heaven ‘. Jimmy Page was known for putting the guitars that he was not currently using in front of the speakers in his amplifier system so that they could soak up the frequencies emitted there. Free swinging instruments always sound better, and Page used this method to give his guitars a go in that regard.

During this time, Jimmy Page only used the following instruments selectively: 1956 Gretsch Chet Atkins 6120, Alembic Series I Bass, Fender Precision Bass, Vega 5-String Banjo, Fender 800 Pedal Steel. In 1979 Page was seen once with a 1977 Gibson RD Artist at the legendary Knebworth Festival, and in the 1982 soundtrack to "Death Wish II" he played a Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster in Tobacco Sunburst, a fully resonant guitar.

Acoustically, Page also loved it exquisitely, whereby he had to borrow his first good A-guitar, a Gibson J-200 in sunburst for the production of Big Jim Sullivan's Led Zeppelin I ‘. A Harmony Sovereign H-1260 played Page for groundbreaking albums such as 'Led Zeppelin III', 'Untitled' and in live shows between 1970 and 1972. The Gretsch Cutaway 12-string was played live in 1970 and in the studio on Led Zeppelin III , a Brazilian Giannini Craviola, was used live and in the studio between 1970 and 1972. Page's main acoustic guitar is certainly a 1971 Martin D-28, which he bought new at the time. It is equipped with a Barcus Berry collection system. Yamaha also once built a signature instrument for Jimmy Page, a fine acoustic that z. B. was seen on stage in Germany in 1998. Page used a 1920 Gibson A-2 mandolin live in 1977 for the song, The Battle Of Evermore ‘.

• POST-LED-ZEPPELIN: Basically, Jimmy Page had his guitar equipment "together" until the end of the first Led Zeppelin era. When other instruments appeared, they were only additions to his main guitars. Such as B. the KET Custom, a modern, typical 80s guitar that was never used on stage, but was used in the video for "Wasting My Time". Or a Paul Reed Smith McCarty. A 1959 Fender Telecaster Custom was played by Page in 1984; she no longer has a pickguard, but a Parsons / White Stringbender.

The Gibson Les Paul Classic Premium Plus Goldtop is equipped with the The Cat system from Transperformance, an automatic tuning mechanism, and enables Page to retune to other tunings at lightning speed at the push of a button. It was possible to save 200 different tunings. The wine-red Gibson Les Paul Standard was also equipped with the Transperformance System. Due to his back pain, Page is barely able to play the guitars, which have become very difficult due to this system, live. Since the Transperformance system cannot process any string thickness, which causes problems with deep-sounding tunings, Jimmy Page is currently testing alternatives, including the German Powertune system from Tronical.

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A welcome addition to his instrumentation was the Gibson Jimmy Page Les Paul Custom Shop, built in 1991 by Roger Giffin in the West Coast Custom Shop to replace Number One. The fingerboard has a compound radius, of course the mechanics are gold-plated (as on the prototype) and the pots are designed in push / pull versions. Instead of the serial number, a “J Page” is simply stamped into the back of the headstock. In 1999, Page was also seen with the Jerry Jones Longhorn Doubleneck, a Danelectro copy from 1993 with a normal and a baritone neck.

Occasionally Jimmy Page also used a 1963 Gibson SG Junior, the Gibson ES-5 Switchmaster and a Gibson Cromwell Electric Archtop. The acoustic instruments were expanded significantly in the years after Led Zeppelin. Here is a selection of the most important instruments: Washburn EA20-12 12-string (with B-band pickup), several Ovation Elite guitars (including a doubleneck) and a Manson tripleneck guitar with 12-string, 6-string and mandolin neck, which was built for Page in 1995 by the English guitar maker.


Page plays Herco Flex 75 picks and has his electric guitars strung with Ernie Ball Super Slinky (.009 - .042) and his acoustic guitars with Ernie Ball Earthwood strings.

Jimmy's amps

Vox AC30 Topboost and Fender Dual Showman amps with 2 × 15 “boxes were used for the Yardbirds. , Led Zeppelin I ‘was recorded completely with the 58 Fender Telecaster and a Supro 1690T Coronado. Page used the same combination over and over again in later years. The Supro was slightly modified: an additional gain boost and a 1 × 12 "- instead of the original 2 × 10" equipment were the changes. Then a 1965 Fender Super Reverb with 2 × 10 "equipment was added. Other sources say the amp was equipped with a 12 "speaker and Page also used a 2 × 12" box. The Super Reverb was used at the first Led Zeppelin gigs in 1968 and 1969.

Other amps included a 1967 Arbiter Power One Hundred, a 1966 Hiwatt Custom 50 (the main amp of the 1970 tour), then a Hiwatt Custom 100 DR118 (which was played live in 1970 and 1971) and a Univox UX-1501 which was used on the US tour 1972 was used, along with gigantic 6 × 12 "boxes from the same company. In general, they seemed to be quite flexible and sometimes adapted to the products that were produced in the countries through which the tour led. There are some recordings of a Germany tour in which the complete backline came from Echolette. Another video shows a backline of chic Rickenbacker amps. And it all sounded like Page anyway!

But our list of amplifiers goes on:

  • Orange Matamp, 200 watt top, used from 1971 to 1973. Two of these tops and two boxes were used to reinforce the theremin.
  • Marshall SLP-1959 tops - were modified in 1985 to increase the output from 100 to almost 200 watts, including: with KT-88 output tubes. Page played 4 × 12 "Marshall speakers with 30 watt Celestion speakers.
  • Fender Tone-Master - used live by Jimmy Page since 1995 on the recommendation of Joe Perry (Aerosmith). The ToneMaster system consists of a 100 watt top and 4 × 12 “boxes with Celestion Vintage 30 speakers.
  • Vox AC30 TB - two pieces were used together with the two Fender Tonemaster stacks. + Petersburg 100 watt tops that Page discovered in Germany in the mid-nineties and ordered five of them from German sales. The tube tops developed by G&B employee Ralf Reichen still provide Page with the rhythm board today. His setup at the Reunion concert at the end of last year consisted of two Petersburg amps, two Marshall SLP tops and two orange tops each, each in combination with a 4 × 12 “box.

The effects

As a Yardbird, Page discovered the Sola Sound Tonebender MkII, which he had Roger Mayer reworked to increase the output and boost the mids more. Page used the Tonebender until 1971, but was also seen with the successor model Tonebender MkIII from around mid-1969, which had an additional tone control. He also played a Vox wah pedal - also modified by Roger Mayer and first used in 1966.

A Maestro Echoplex EP-3 is perhaps the most important effects device in Pages Setup, is still in operation today and almost always on. It was modified by Pete Cornish (adjustable input volume, bypass switch and effect inserts).

Other effects were:

  • a Univox UD-50 Uni-Drive was used in 1971.
  • an Eventide H949 harmonizer had been in operation mainly for Pages Noise-Solo from 1977 to 1979.
  • MXR M-101 Phase 90 + MXR Blue Box + a Theremin was used live from 1969.
  • Gizmotron, an electromagnetic device that produced string-like sounds. It was only used in the studio on two or three songs.
  • a Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive and
  • a Boss CE-2 chorus were seen in the days of The Firm.

As early as the 1970s, Page had been using an elaborate effects management system that the English technician Pete Cornish had tailored for him. The primary goal was to prevent sound losses through long cable runs and the use of effects devices, and to develop an easy-to-use system. A preamplifier was integrated between the effects, which electrically isolated the individual devices from each other and stabilized the signal. Two additional effect paths made it possible to add more effects if the master felt like it. Every effect and preamp had its own stabilized power supply.

The Maestro Echoplex was modified with send / return loops and got four electronically completely isolated outputs to the stage amplifiers, each of which was supplemented with a line driver to absorb the losses caused by the very long stage cables (4x 16 meters!) . In 1993, Jimmy treated himself to a new Pete Cornish system, which he immediately took as an opportunity to rethink his effects collection and integrate other combinations into the system: Roger Mayer Voodoo Fuzz (was launched in 1996 by the channel switch for the Fender Tonemaster Amps replaced), MXR Phase 90, Yamaha CH- 10 MkII Chorus, Boss CE-2 Chorus, Jen Cry Baby Wah, Digitech Whammy WH-1 plus Cornish Linear Booster. In addition to their own power supply units, all effects have their own on / off switch. The signal then runs into the Echoplex EP-3 and - as usual - via four individual LineDrivers to the amps.

JPJ Basses

"My bass is a pig!" At least that's what John Paul Jones (* 1946) said about his first bass, a solid body instrument from Dallas with a neck like a tree. It shouldn't be long before JPJ could afford a slightly better bass - and that was the start of one of the most impressive bass collections on the world's stages.

  • The Fender Jazz Bass, sunburst, unmodified, was Jones' main bass from 1968 to 1977. It is built in 1961 and was bought new by John Paul in 1962. Real vintage!
  • Fender Telecaster Bass, built in 1951, completely stripped of paint, used live from 1971 to 1975.
  • Fender Fretless Precision, built in 1970, sunburst, maple neck, played from 1972 to 1977 for In My Time of Dying ‘.
  • Fender Bass V, built in 1967, sunburst. JPJ was one of the few who used this bass professionally, live in 1973.
  • Hagstrom H8 8-String, built in 1968, 1973 occasionally used live and in the studio
  • Gibson EB-1 Bass, built in 1953, can be seen on the cover and heard on the LP, Led Zeppelin III ‘.
  • Alembic 4- & 8-String - like colleague John Enwistle from The Who, JPJ switched from passive Fender to active noble basses from Alembic. The four and eight strings were played from April 1977 to 1988.
  • an Arco Electric Upright Bass was used in the acoustic set in 1975.
  • JPJ was later seen with a Framus Triumph Bass, also an electric upright.
  • The Manson basses, which Hugh Manson has been building for JPJ for about two decades, now form the center of his instrumentation. These are mainly two 12-string models (one blue and one natural-colored six-string with octave strings) that have stereo outputs and are tuned from B to C. There is also a ten-string, tuned from E to C, and an eight-string in normal tuning, each with octave strings. The Manson Parade continues with two 4-strings (sunburst or natural) and a light blue copy of a Fender Precision Bass with jazz bass neck measurements, while in the Reunion concert he also has a real Fender Precision from the 70s at hand took.

Jones amps

John Paul Jones' first amplifier was a small combo with a 10 ”speaker that produced nothing but strange noises. It was replaced by an old television set, with a large loudspeaker installed in a cabinet downstairs. JPJ installed a second speaker at the top instead of the screen. JPJ played a hopelessly overloaded Vox T-60 system with Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, and then soon switched to American products, which he got to know on a tour in America in 1969: Acoustic! The Acoustic 360 with the active 361 boxes was his main system until 1977 and was then replaced by Gallien-Krueger amps (GMT 600B) and Cervin-Vega boxes.

In the course of his career, JPJ remained with American bass reinforcement, this time in the form of the Californian brand SWR, owned by the Fender Group for a few years. SWR SM 900 tops and Goliath (4 × 10 ") and Big Ben boxes (1 × 18") from the same manufacturer are used. Most of his Manson basses are stereophonic - the neck pickup is then set to the above. The SWR system and the bridge pickup are routed to a more aggressive sounding Fender Tonemaster stack.

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In the acoustic parts of the Led Zeppelin shows, JPJ particularly showed his talent as a multi-instrumentalist. Various instruments have been used here over time, especially multi-stringed ones: B. Mandolins by Martin (1970/1971), Framus (Strato-Melodie, 1971), Fender (1972) and Harmony (Florentine, 1975) and a 12-string ovation.

The Manson Tripleneck, however, shot the ball, which, like Jimmy Page's instrument, has a 12-string, a 6-string and a mandolin neck, and which has been playing the JPJ since 1977. The Manson name has become increasingly important to John Paul Jones over the past two decades. It's good that there are two mansons who are also brothers and who obviously understand their craft. Hugh actually specializes in the manufacture of electrical instruments and Andy in acoustic instruments, although there is also job sharing. The electric tripleneck mandolin from JPJ is built by Andy, while the four-string mandolin with EMG and piezo pickup is made by Hugh. The series of Manson instruments could be continued almost indefinitely; In the JPJ arsenal there is also a bass mandolin (Hugh), an eight-string acoustic guitar (Andy), another mandolin (Andy), an electric mandola (Hugh) and perhaps the most spectacular string instrument in this list - a bass pedal steel guitar (Hugh)!

We don't want to deal with the keyboards that Jones used excessively here. Just this much: there were practically all the classics that keyboard history has to offer, from manufacturers such as Arp, Fender, Hohner, Farfisa, Moog, Yamaha, Steinway, Korg, Hammond and of course Mellotron. Today Jones works intensively with the Kyma hardware and software from Symbolic Sound, a sound design and synthesis system.

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