Learn to Play: Riffs in the Key of Jimmy Page

In the pantheon of all-time most iconic and influential guitarists, Jimmy Page stands second to none. His work with Led Zeppelin not only informed generations of rock guitarists to follow, but helped define entire genres of music.

In this Learn to Play lesson, Joe shows us five quintessential Jimmy Page riffs that have cropped up in some of the most famous Zeppelin songs as well as in sessions and live jams throughout the band's career. Take a look at the video above to master these Page riffs and click on the banner at the bottom to find an instructor to personally induct you into the Page school of riffage.

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Five of Jimmy Page's Other Guitars

Page was and continues to be closely associated with Gibson Les Pauls, and the image of him with his cherry sunburst Les Paul Standard (in most cases, one of two 1959 Bursts) stands as a lasting embodiment of classic rock. Gibson has produced a number of high-end reissues of Page's various Les Paul Standards and Customs over the years, and Page's use of the guitar was actually instrumental in sparking a renewed interest in the model in the early ‘70s.

That said, Page actually employed a number of other guitars through his time with Led Zeppelin and beyond. Here's a look at five of Jimmy's lesser-known guitar choices:

The “Dragon Telecaster”

Though Jimmy used more than one Telecaster over the years, such as the ’53 Tele he acquired in 1977, the most famous by far is his ’59 Tele, dubbed the “Dragon Telecaster,” for its hand-painted finish. Page was given the Tele in 1966 by Jeff Beck for recommending him as lead guitarist for the Yardbirds. When Jimmy joined the Yardbirds himself, this was his weapon of choice while playing with them as well as recording Led Zeppelin. Most notably, however, was his use of the Dragon on the solo from “Stairway to Heaven,” inarguably one of the most famous guitar solos in history. The guitar met a sad end, however, when one of Page’s misguided friends botched a paint job that effectively put the guitar out of commission forever.

’61 Danelectro 3021

Though of course Page most famously used his Les Paul Standard “Number One” as his main instrument, he used a semi-hollow Danelectro on some of Led Zeppelin’s most popular tunes. Purchased sometime in the mid ‘60s, Jimmy’s ’61 Danelectro 3021 was used on much of his earlier work with the Yardbirds and Zep. Typically, he would use this guitar in Celtic tuning - that is, DADGAD. The Danelectro was used on “When The Levee Breaks” and “In My Time of Dying,” but is most well known for being used on “Kashmir” starting in 1975.

Fender Electric XII

It may not be immediately recognizable just by sight, but any Led Zeppelin fan could identify the tone of Page’s 1965 Fender Electric XII 12-string. Although it wasn’t seen in public until 2009, the Electric XII was used as a session guitar for very particular, integral parts of some of the band’s most prominent songs. For instance, it was used for the enormous drone on “When the Levee Breaks,” the arpeggiation on “Stairway to Heaven,” and also was used on “The Song Remains The Same,” off of Houses of the Holy. Many Zep aficionados also believe that it was used on the studio recording of Led Zeppelin IV, though it was never confirmed by producer Andy John. Perhaps you’ll have to listen and decide for yourself.

Giannini Craviola

This acoustic guitar is eye-catching enough on its own, owing much to its unique body shape, but it largely was brought to popularity by Jimmy’s use of the instrument on “Tangerine.” The 12-stringed Craviola by Giannini, a company founded in Brazil by an Italian luthier, had an effective but short-lived appearance in Page’s arsenal. Page reportedly used it on stage mostly from 1971 to 1972, and also played it in the studio recording of “Tangerine.” In fact, Jimmy received a gift of two Craviolas in 2014 upon a visit to Rio de Janeiro, one in six-string configuration and one with his preferred 12 strings.

Futurama Grazioso

So what was the first in Page’s legendary lineup of guitars? Actually, it was the Grazioso, a Fender-like model by Futurama, a sub-company of Selmer. After honing his skills on an acoustic Hofner Senator, he picked up the Grazioso second-hand when he was ready to move on to the electric guitar. This guitar wasn’t used during his time with the Yardbirds or Led Zeppelin, but most likely was used during his early years of playing as a session guitarist.

Capturing the sound

For a quick and dirty way to achieve the sound and response of Page's classic plexi-to-early-'70s Marshall Super Lead and Super Bass, check out the Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret.


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