How to Sound Like Led Zeppelin

Most of us started playing guitar after we got hooked on the music and the tone of a certain guitar legend. And whatever is this guitar hero who got you interested in 6-string instruments, you'll always try and replicate the tones you heard in their music. This is, however, not exactly the easiest task as they usually have really expensive and sometimes even extremely rare equipment.

Jimmy Page comes to mind as one of the guitar players whose tone made a huge impact on the development of rock and metal music. Being a guitar champion that he is, it's only obvious that countless guitar enthusiasts will be trying to copy his tone. Yes, he used a few different guitars and amps during his time in Led Zeppelin, but whenever Jimmy plays, you can always recognize his tone.

In this brief guide, we'll try and find the best ways to help you get that Led Zeppelin guitar tone without using the extremely expensive and rare stuff.

Guitars and pickups

Jimmy's main guitars have always been his Fender "Dragon" Telecaster and his "Number One" Gibson Les Paul. The Telecaster was used for the recording of the first record and for the solo of "Stairway to Heaven." The "Number One" is a '59 Les Paul, the model that's still considered to be the "Holy Grail" of guitar and usually reaches astronomical prices among the collectors. There were a few other instruments during his time in Led Zeppelin, like the double-neck Gibson EDS-1275 or even the Danelectro 59 DC.

Going with a Fender Telecaster might be a good start. Despite having two single-coils, a Tele can always deliver some hard-rocking tones when needed. It somehow gives that perfect combination of bright crunch and thicker heavy territories.

You can always go with a Gibson Les Paul or an SG, even if it's a cheaper one, or one bearing P90 pickups. If you're going with humbuckers, then something vintage-inspired and with lower output would do the trick. Seymore Duncan has a lot of vintage options that are worth checking out.

Pedals

Jimmy didn't go heavy on guitar pedals and he mostly relied on his guitars and amps to get a more "natural" tone. His signal chain had some pretty old and rare pedals, like the legendary Tone Bender MKII fuzz or the Echoplex EP-2 tape delay. Since these would be extremely expensive to obtain these days, some cheaper alternatives would be enough to help you achieve the tone.

Using a classic distortion like the DS-1 is not the best idea as its tone is closer to the 1980s hard rock and heavy metal. Something like Boss BD-2 or any Tube Screamer clone (even a cheaper one) would come as a better option. A standard delay/echo pedal is also welcome, although you should go with something analog, like the MXR Carbon Copy.

He was also known for using wah pedals, and a standard Dunlop Cry Baby or the Vox V845 will be enough for some of Jimmy's lead tones.

If you're using single-coils, then a compressor would be welcome for some riffing parts. The old Boss CS-2 can really help you fatten up single-coils and even give some volume boost.

Amps

During the late 1960s and 1970s, Page changed a few amp models, some of which would be pretty rare to find these days, like the Rickenbacker Transonic or the Supro Thunderbolt. However, Marshall Super Lead SLP-1959 and Vox AC-30 were often present in his live setup. While there were some occasions when he played through Fenders, his tone has always been closer to British amps like Vox and Marshall.

Using a lower gain vintage-inspired tube amp is a better option for copying Jimmy's tone. Vox AC30 or AC15 would be great, maybe even a Peavey Classic 30. The classic approach of using an overdrive pedal in front of a clean tube amp channel would be a great way to get some Led Zeppelin tones. Tube Screamer, Boss BD-2, Boss OD-1, or anything similar set on lower gain and higher volume will serve as a booster that will drive tube amps over the limit and add some color to the tone.

In case you stumble upon some old Fender Champs, even the lower wattage ones, they too can be helpful for making that Led Zeppelin tone when paired with an overdrive pedal.

Conclusion

Of course, not everyone can have a tone as good as Jimmy Page. But with this guide, it would be possible to get somewhat close to it, just enough so you can play those Led Zeppelin songs properly.

High gain pedals and amps are something you should avoid. Anything that's vintage-oriented would be of more help, especially if it's replicating tones of old Vox and Marshall amps. Active and high output humbucker pickups are definitely a no-go zone as they'll just keep things in the "modern" high gain territory.

Despite its raw power, Jimmy Page's tone is low gain and its heaviness comes from its tonal spectrum, not the amount of distortion added to it.

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