“When you leave a 12-string neck open and play on the 6-string neck, you get the 12 strings vibrating in sympathy, like an Indian sitar

“When you leave a 12-string neck open and play on the 6-string neck, you get the 12 strings vibrating in sympathy, like an Indian sitar. I use it on Stairway to Heaven like that”: How Jimmy Page brought the studio magic of Stairway to the stage”

In the world of rock ‘n’ roll, few songs have the iconic status of Led Zeppelin’sStairway to Heaven“.

Today, we at SEE ROCK LIVE MAGAZINE celebrate the 80th birthday of the maestro behind this masterpiece, Jimmy Page.

His contributions to the electric guitar lexicon are countless, but none more iconic than the eight-minute epic, “Stairway to Heaven”, crowned by a soaring lead break that is almost universally hailed as one of the greatest guitar solos of all time. Page’s studio magic for “Stairway” involved a Harmony acoustic guitar, a Fender Electric XII 12-string, and his trusty Telecaster for the triumphant solo. However, the challenge was to bring this studio magic to the live stage, where he couldn’t use all three guitars. The solution? The Gibson EDS-1275 double-neck.The EDS-1275 not only made live performances of “Stairway” possible, but it also added a unique dimension to its sound. Page explained in a 1977 interview,

“The main thing is, there’s an effect you can get where you leave the 12-string neck open – as far as the sound goes – and play on the 6-string neck, and you get the 12-strings vibrating in sympathy. It’s like an Indian sitar, and I’ve worked on that a little bit. I use it on Stairway like that – not on [Led Zeppelin IV] but on the [The Song Remains the Same] soundtrack and film”

Page’s EDS-1275 was a special order, acquired at a time when Gibson had stopped production of the model. His prominent use of the model on live versions of “Stairway” arguably led to the biggest demand for the EDS-1275, resulting in its reinstatement to Gibson’s lineup in the mid-’70s, where it has remained ever since. During the Zeppelin days, Page kept his double-neck model essentially the same as when he first got it, though he later swapped out the Gibson pickups on the six-string with coverless Seymour Duncan units. This iconic guitar would later be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, as part of the institution’s Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll exhibit

So, as we celebrate Jimmy Page’s 80th birthday, we also celebrate the magic of “Stairway to Heaven” and the unique sound of the Gibson EDS-1275 that helped bring this studio masterpiece to life on stage. Rock on, Jimmy!


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