Jimmy Page

With reis­sues of Led Zep­pelin’s first three al­bums just re­leased, Stu­art Ryan delves into the all- toooften un­der­rated acous­tic play­ing of Jimmy Page.

Guitar Techniques - - Lesson: Acoustic -

AL­THOUGH RIGHT­FULLY revered as the grand­fa­ther of the bone- crunch­ing heavy- rock riff, Led Zep­pelin’s Jimmy Page is also one of the most cre­ative and tech­ni­cally pro­fi­cient acous­tic gui­tarists to emerge from the world of 70s rock.

A main­stay of Lon­don’s 60s ses­sion scene, he was ex­posed to the leading acous­tic play­ers of the time, who could be seen reg­u­larly per­form­ing all over the cap­i­tal. The folk stylings and al­tered tun­ings of gamechang­ing play­ers in­clud­ing John Ren­bourn, Roy Harper, Bert Jan­sch and Davey Gra­ham would have been a huge in­flu­ence on the young gui­tarist.

An adept fin­ger­picker, Page placed the acous­tic gui­tar to the fore in many Led Zep­pelin tracks, while also fea­tur­ing it as a solo in­stru­ment in pieces like the Celtic- tinged Bron- Yr- Aur. In­deed, the sen­si­tiv­ity of his acous­tic play­ing is in such stark con­trast to his work on the Gibson Les Paul and Fen­der Tele­caster for which he is fa­mous, that at times it can seem like an en­tirely dif­fer­ent player.

While Jimmy’s elec­tric gui­tar play­ing was rooted in the heav­ier side of blues, rhythm and blues and rock, his acous­tic voice of­ten leans more to­wards the Celtic side. So, you’ll find an ar­ray of al­ter­na­tive tun­ings, un­usual chord voic­ings and drone strings – the lat­ter be­ing a tech­nique he most prob­a­bly de­vel­oped af­ter

An adept fin­ger­picker, Page placed the acous­tic gui­tar to the fore in many Led Zep­pelin tracks, as well as fea­tur­ing it as a solo in­stru­ment.

hear­ing Davey Gra­ham, who was em­ploy­ing DADGAD tun­ing in or­der to em­u­late the dron­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics of Mid­dle East­ern in­stru­ments like the oud.

I’ve writ­ten this is­sue’s piece in DADGAD so you can re­ally get a sense of some of the Page- es­que chords and licks to be dis­cov­ered within this tun­ing. In ad­di­tion to the un­usu­al­sound­ing chord voic­ings, the open strings are great for adding res­o­nance and depth to a piece; es­pe­cially in the key of D, DADGAD’s nat­u­ral home. There are sev­eral sec­tions to this ex­er­cise, so you can re­ally fo­cus on each key el­e­ment of Jimmy’s acous­tic style – the strummed chords need to be played very cleanly, so you can keep the all- im­por­tant open strings sound­ing, while the Celticin­spired licks will re­ally test your fret­ting­hand legato while also pro­vid­ing a good work­out for the pick­ing hand.

Over­all, Jimmy Page is a multi- faceted player, and it’s fas­ci­nat­ing to con­sider how well his acous­tic parts would work as stand­alone tracks, and also how melodic and tech­ni­cally chal­leng­ing his solo acous­tic pieces are, from Babe I’m Gonna Leave You on the de­but al­bum, up to Over The Hills And far Away on Houses Of The Holy.

Had it not been for his meet­ing Messrs Plant, Bon­ham and Jones, who knows which mu­si­cal di­rec­tion this ver­sa­tile and vi­tally im­por­tant mu­si­cian would have taken?

JImmy Page fin­ger­pick­ing his Martin D- 28

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