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(Credit: Andrew Smith)

Music

The reason why Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page started using a double-neck guitar

As one of the most legendary guitar players of all time, it’s remarkable how many axes Jimmy Page lucked into over the years. In fact, some of his most legendary guitars weren’t actually bought or formally owned by Page, at least not at first.

There’s the Fender Telecaster that was left behind by Jeff Beck when he quit The Yardbirds. of which Page took ownership of and painted it with psychedelic colours, using it on the first Led Zeppelin album. Page also later used the Tele to record the solo for ‘Stairway to Heaven’, keeping it on hand for the perfect occasion. There’s also his iconic Gibson Les Paul, which became Page’s number one stage and studio guitar from Led Zeppelin II onwards. Page didn’t originally buy that six-string either: it was a gift from James Gang leader and future Eagles member Joe Walsh.

Page wasn’t solely reliant on the kindness of others, however. The Danelectro 3021 that became instantly identifiable through its uses on songs like ‘White Summer’ and ‘Kashmir’ was bought by Page with his own money, as were a couple of backup Les Paul’s in case his number one broke a string or wasn’t working. When it comes to one of Page’s most famous guitars, though, the purchase was purely practical.

That’s because Page had a problem – he used both a six-string guitar and a twelve-string guitar while recording ‘Stairway to Heaven’. Page needed to switch from one to the other mid-song, and having two different guitars on stage would have been too burdensome. It was then that Page stumbled onto a solution: a double-neck Gibson EDS-1275.

The double-neck was more of a novelty than anything else before Page used it. Elvis Presley posed with it during the filming of the 1966 movie Spinout and English jazz guitarist John McLaughlin used one to achieve otherworldly tones with the Mahavishnu Orchestra, but for most rock fans, Page’s use of the instrument during live performances of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ was when the double-neck guitar truly took off.

After Page’s use of the instrument, guitarists like Don Felder and Alex Lifeson could be seen wielding the axe with their own bands. Page himself began to use the guitar outside of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and busted out the Gibson for live performances of ‘The Song Remains the Same’, ‘The Rain Song’, ‘Celebration Day’, and ‘Sick Again’. When Zeppelin briefly reunited in 2007, the double-neck was right there with him for one final ‘Stairway’ performance.

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