Jimmy Page really is the guitarist’s guitarist. Throughout his career with Led Zeppelin, he played several different models, from his ying-yang Danelectro to the famous double-necked Gibson EDS-1275S used to perform ‘Stairway to heaven’ during live shows. However, there is one guitar that means more to Page than any other; his 1959 Les Paul Standard.
The Gibson Les Paul was the first solid-body guitar created by Gibson Guitar Corporation back in 1952. Until that point, they had made only hollow and semi-hollow models. But the introduction of the Les Paul marked a new era of guitar manufacturing.
The Les Paul originally featured a gold finish and two P-90 pickups. However, in 1957, humbucking pickups were added, along with sunburst finishes in 1958. Page’s model is an example of that sunburst model. Today, it is one of the most recognisable guitars in the world, despite the fact it was a commercial failure when it was first released.
Page first came across the Les Paul in the early 1960s. He played a three-pickup custom model with his group The Yardbirds, alongside a Fender Telecaster, and was stil playing that model when he formed Led Zeppelin in 1968. But in 1969, Page bought his first Les Paul standard from Joe Walsh, paying £500 for it.
He went on to use it in recordings for Led Zeppelin II and has kept it by his side ever since. In the below video, Page explains the appeal of the Les Paul, saying: “It was always known as a really user-friendly guitar.” And although he has innumerable guitars in his collection, his 1959 Les Paul Standard remains his most beloved model.
In the video, Page pores over his guitar, describing it as “my mistress, my wife”. He explains how he had the model customised. “With a three-piece like Led Zeppelin,” Page begins, pointing out the sealed Grover tuners, “You couldn’t have a slipping machine head”. The guitar certainly was a bit of a work-horse for Page, accompanying him on more tours than any other.
Page goes on to talk about how the Les Paul’s pickups define its character: “The thing that I found most important to me was the fact that you could reverse the phase on these (points to pickups). And by reversing the phase, you get a close approximation to the sort of sound that Peter Green would get and also, certainly, BB King.”
Page’s Les Paul Standard is a guitar that arrived in his hands almost by chance. He notes how all of his favourite guitars have fallen into his hands without him needing to look for them. The same thing happened when Jeff Beck gave Page the Telecaster he used with The Yardbirds. “It’s one of those guitars that was really meant to come my way,” Page explains. “Because, as I say, Joe Walsh insisted that I bought it, and he was right.”
In this video clip, Page is interviewed by a member of the Gibson team prior to his iconic Les Paul being taken away and reproduced. Gibson released a limited run of Page signature models in 2004, all of which were signed by the legendary guitarist. Of course, nothing comes close to the real thing.
You can watch the full clip below.