Solid-State Amp; Heartbreaker Guitar Audio Below!
Jimmy Page: Les Paul and Marshall plexi.
Live, yes – mostly. Studio, no. And for Heartbreaker? Heck no, apparently.
As a former studio musician, Jimmy knew that different gear would give him different sounds, knew what combinations would give him some sounds, and probably loved to experiment to find those sounds (we’re talking different guitars and amps here more than effects).
His use of a Fender Tele and small Supro amp in the studio is well-known. But he also used other amps and other guitars, some of which people probably have no idea about. Luckily, thanks to this thing called the Internet, we do know what Jimmy used on the song Heartbreaker, which has a unique-to-Jimmy guitar tone. Of course, I read it on the Internet and now you are, so bear that in mind!
The always-reliable (sarcasm) Wikipedia says that “Page…disclosed to Guitar World [likewise “always reliable”] that this song in general, and the a cappella solo in particular, was the first recorded instance of his famous Gibson Les Paul/Marshall stack combination.”
It’s possible that the unaccompanied guitar solo used that combo, but the song did not, according to Dan Torres “who was there [apparently hanging around?] during the recording sessions,” according to user Suproman77 at the vintageamps.com board (aka, Plexi Palace).
The thread was about Jimmy’s Heartbreaker tone, and there was some speculation that a solid-state amp may have been used.
Here’s what was posted and attributed to Torres:
“It would be really hard to get the exact sound again. The [solid-state Rickenbacker] Transonic amp [Jimmy used] was not in good repair. I was not a tech then, I was a studio musician, but my guess is it was overbiased a ton, running red hot, and most likely with parts out of spec. The speaker is a little bit ‘ratty’ sounding, perfect for the tone needed.
“A couple of guitars were there, the [’59] Les Paul and the Telecaster – a lot is the Telecaster for that Tele bass string sound [not sure if this means Heartbreaker was recorded with the Tele?]. Both had new strings and awful light gauge.
“The amp was close-miced [with] a second mic about 12-18 feet back up and to the side. [That setup got] kind of an intentional ‘echo’ effect with the mics far enough apart to have some small delay between them [giving it a] huge sound yet an intimate ‘grinding’ sound from the close microphone.
“The amp’s tone was re-adjusted for the different sound on different parts of the song, mostly with just the volume control.
“The real trick to the sound is the ‘space’ recorded there. The actual air in the room is captured by the spaced mics and somewhat by accident.”
He added that “the volume of the Transonic amp is not enough for a performance anywhere” – odd, considering I believe it was available in two versions, 100 watts and 200 watts.
There’s ample photographic evidence to support the fact that Jimmy and Zep used the Rickenbacker Transonic amps, including on their first American tour in 1969. But apparently they didn’t like them a whole lot on that tour because they apparently left the amps in the States when they went back to England.
> For a good rundown of all the amps Jimmy used, with photos, check out this link.
> Below is the semi-isolated guitar from Heartbreaker, found on this website.
[mp3]http://www.woodytone.com/wp-content/audio/Led Zep Heartbreaker isolated guitar.mp3[/mp3]