Led Zeppelin Studio Secrets Revealed

(Gibson) Jimmy Page stands among the heaviest of six-string heavyweights, and most often with one of his iconic Gibson Les Pauls slung around his shoulders. But Page's sonic genius extends well beyond the fretboard and composition, and into the studio.

Page was one of the greatest record producers of the 1960s and '70s a sonic innovator and perfectionist whose vision made Led Zeppelin albums vivid listening experiences, rather than simple recordings. Compare the six discs Led Zeppelin made from 1969 through 1975 with other classic titles from the period: King Crimson's initial releases, the Jeff Beck Group's LPs, Blind Faith, The Rolling Stones, pre-Dark Side Pink Floyd. Sonically, Page's work with Led Zeppelin put his band's studio albums on an entirely higher sonic plane.

Initially, it was a matter of observation. During his pre-Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin years, Page was a session musician and had the opportunity to watch many producers and engineers in close quarters. As a guitarist, miking technique caught his interest early on. Later he would apply ambient miking to the small amps that were essential to his sound in Led Zeppelin. But he was especially interested in the drum sounds that came out of '60s studios. Drummers were often put in small booths at the time, to isolate them from the band while basics were being cut, or out of sheer habit. Either way, the results were tinny and dismal. So when Page took the helm of Led Zeppelin in the studio, he made sure John Bonham's kit and its peripherals were always given plenty of space in a large, bright, live-sounding room.

Page based his ambient miking of guitar amps on what he'd learned listening to classic recordings of blues and emerging rock on the Sun and Chess labels, where one microphone often sufficed to cut an entire band live but the guitar sounds nonetheless killed. A lot more here.

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