Jimmy Page’s 1971 Gibson EDS-1275 Doubleneck Custom
Jimmy Page ordered this guitar from Gibson sometime in 1970/71, for the sole purpose of having something to play “Stairway to Heaven” on when performing live. It is now a known story that Jimmy used a variety of different guitars on that song, to the point where he was teased about it, so having to replicate that sound in a concert setting, proved to be a challenge.
We recorded Stairway to Heaven, and because there was like a guitar army on it – as they used to tease me. Because of that, it needed more texture than just one guitar. The double-neck seemed like a perfect compromiseJimmy Page e sua Gibson EDS 1275
Apart from “Stairway to Heaven”, Page also used this guitar to play “The Rain Song”, “Celebration Day”, and “The Song Remains The Same” when playing live with Led Zeppelin.
For one reason or another, Jimmy didn’t opt for a used guitar – these EDS-1275 guitars were produced from 1963–1968, so in 1971, Page hadn’t had the option to purchase one new. Instead, he talked directly to Gibson about making him a custom, out-of-production line model.
Based on the looks and the specs, the guitar didn’t defer at all from the standard production models. It featured a cherry finish on a mahogany body, it had mahogany necks with rosewood fretboards with split parallelogram inlays, two separate three-way switches, and two master volume and two master tone controls.
The only thing that Jimmy changed on the guitar was replacing the original 6-string bridge humbucker with a Seymour Duncan one. But, this didn’t happen probably until the 1980s, so all the iconic Led Zeppelin performances were done on the original Gibson pickup.
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During their ’77 US Tour, Led Zeppelin opened their shows with The Song Remains the Same, Jimmy playing on the EDS-1275’s 12-string neck. Then, without a pause, he switched to the 6-string neck for Sick Again, bridging the two songs with the intro to The Rover. During that whole sequence, Jimmy used the double-neck. He only switched to his “#1” Les Paul 1959 for the third song of the setlist, Nobody’s Fault But Mine.
Proof: On the video footage of the Seattle Kingdome gig on July 17th, which is widely available, we can see Jimmy playing Sick Again on his double-neck (… however, on the famous bootleg Listen to This Eddie, captured at the LA Forum by Mike ‘the Mic’ Millard on June 21, ’77, Jimmy can’t be heard for the first bars of Sick Again. Did Jimmy opted to promply switch guitars and play his Les Paul?)
Nicknamed “the Antenna” because its four humbuckers had the annoying tendency to pick up background signals and noise, the EDS-1275 was indeed custom-built for live performances of songs that require both a 6-string and a 12-string sound or two different tunings. However, the double-neck was also used at least once in the studio; according to Dave Lewis’ book “Led Zeppelin − A Celebration” (Omnibus Press, 1991), “[the EDS-1275 was] rarely used in the studio, Carouselambra being a notable exception.” Actually, there’s not doubt it’s the double-neck we hear during the arpeggios part of he song (starting at 4’06”).
Note: I also read an interview in which Jimmy stated having considered using the EDS-1275 for the ’77 live performance of Achilles Last Stand, but eventually decided otherwise, satisfied with the sound of his trademark ’59 Les Paul Standard. Perhaps the thick and rich sound of John Paul Jones’ new Alembic 8-string bass galopping riff, as well as the weight of the double-neck—Jimmy was notoriously frail and pencil-thin at the time—played a part in his final decision.