Jimmy Page Full style anal­y­sis

Phil Capone ex­am­ines the guitar work of Mr James Pa­trick Page OBE, found­ing mem­ber, gui­tarist, song­writer and pro­ducer of Led Zep­pelin, con­sid­ered to be the ‘great­est rock band of all time’.

Guitar Techniques - - PLAY | ROCK -

Afew years back I at­tended a live Jimmy Page in­ter­view with The Guardian’s mu­sic editor Michael Hann at the Cado­gan Hall, Lon­don. Jimmy was there to talk about his new pho­to­graphic au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, de­tail­ing his ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing his time with Led Zep­pelin. Even though I’d been a fan since the age of 14 (af­ter sneak­ing off school with my friend to lis­ten to his older broth­ers’ record col­lec­tion), I was still amazed at the rev­er­ence to­wards him that the au­di­ence dis­played. You could have heard a pin drop; there was no cough­ing, no shuf­fling, no mo­bile phone in­ter­rup­tions. No­body even left their seat. I won­dered who else could com­mand sim­i­lar lev­els of ad­mi­ra­tion and re­spect - cer­tainly no politi­cian that’s for sure!

What is most strik­ing about the Zep­pelin back cat­a­logue is the breadth and range of styles the band em­braced. Page’s early ca­reer as the go-to Lon­don ses­sion mu­si­cian dur­ing his pre-Yard­birds days would cer­tainly have broad­ened his mu­si­cal in­flu­ences, but there are two more com­pelling rea­sons for this di­ver­sity: first, the band was break­ing new ground, so there were no es­tab­lished gen­res to pi­geon­hole and sti­fle their cre­ativ­ity; and se­condly, the record com­pa­nies weren’t yet in con­trol. Man­agers and their bands were still

it would not be pos­sibl e to creat e the Zepp elin sound with mod­ern dis­tort ion; pag e’s subtl eties would be lost in the mush

call­ing the shots, es­pe­cially when you had the pit­bull of a man­ager that was Peter Grant fight­ing your cor­ner.

Page was a vir­tu­oso soloist, but he also un­der­stood chords and how to use them. His guitar work is awash with a wide range of har­monic ap­proaches, ev­ery­thing from the hum­ble pow­er­chord to dense jazzy voic­ings. What Is And What Should Never Be (from Led Zep­pelin II) clearly demon­strates Page’s breadth of knowl­edge; jazzy verse chords are con­trasted against a bom­bas­tic cho­rus riff. Can you name an­other rock song that con­tains a dom­i­nant 13th chord? Di­min­ished, sus­pended, ex­tended ma­jor, mi­nor and dom­i­nant chords, they’re all part of the guitar ta­pes­try that was the Zep­pelin sound. And for which Jimmy was the pri­mary ar­chi­tect.

Page was a master of multi-tracked guitar parts too, cre­at­ing dense walls of sound by dou­ble track­ing and lay­er­ing his riffs. He was with­out ques­tion, the first player to in­tri­cately ar­range his guitar parts in this way. It’s also worth not­ing that al­though Zep­pelin was con­sid­ered to be ‘heavy rock’ back in the early ‘70s, by to­day’s stan­dards the guitar sounds would not be de­scribed as ‘heavy’. In fact it would not be pos­si­ble to cre­ate the Led Zep­pelin sound with mod­ern day sat­u­rated dis­tor­tion; the sub­tlety of Page’s voic­ings and his lay­ered tex­tures would be lost in the mush. Jimmy se­lected tones that, by them­selves might have sounded ‘honky’ or a lit­tle odd, but which in his clever ar­range­ments of parts, built the per­fect rock wall of sound. Jimmy knew ex­actly what he wanted to cre­ate.

To rep­re­sent the di­ver­sity of Page’s skills we’ve tried to in­clude as many dif­fer­ent tech­niques as pos­si­ble. We’ll be look­ing at his early rock and roll in­flu­ences, his slide work, use of open tun­ings, riffs, and his solo­ing style. Hope­fully there’s some­thing for ev­ery­one here. And don’t be put off by the re-tun­ing re­quired for a cou­ple of the tracks ei­ther; open tun­ings are a great way to shake off all those well-worn pat­terns, hope­fully in­spir­ing you to cre­ate new and ex­cit­ing sounds just as Mr Page did 50 years ago.

These set­tings are a start­ing point. Use your guitar’s con­trols, pickup se­lec­tor and your pick at­tack to cre­ate a wider pal­ette of tones. Tre­ble needs to be high on your amp to repli­cate Page’s bit­ing solo­ing sound, es­pe­cially on the bridge pickup. Re­verb should be high when solo­ing but low for riffs and rhythm. Ex­am­ple 2 was recorded with a phaser; Page also used tape echo, which cre­ates warm ana­logue de­lay sounds, while the preamp sec­tion adds ex­tra warmth and drive.

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