Jimmy Page on how Stairway to Heaven came to be, and Guitars Used

By: GroundGuitar Dan
Posted under: Stories

No doubt that “Stairway to Heaven” is one of the songs that most of us still remember as the anthem of the time long-gone, and likely the one that made us pick up the guitar in the first place. To do what Page did on his guitar was a dream of so many youngsters picking up the guitar for the first time, and having finally gone past that part where you’re able to play the whole song from the beginning to start, meant that you’re finally are allowed to call yourself a guitarist.

A few years back, Jimmy Page did an interview with BBC News, talking about how exactly “Stairway to Heaven” came to be, and what was the idea behind the song. He talks about the concepts that made the song become such a classic, and how every single member of the band contributed to making it a masterpiece.

In his own words, Page explains he personally wanted a song that would build up excitement as the time went one, and eventually erupt into the solo:

The idea of Stairway to Heaven was to have a piece of music which would just keep on unfolding into more layers and moods. […] The overlay of the composition would accelerate as it went through, on every level – every emotional level and every musical level. And so it just keeping opening up as it continues through its passage.

The interview with Jimmy Page talking about how Stairway to Haven was written can be seen below (courtesy of BBC News)

Now to answer the question that many of the gearheads among are likely wondering about —

What guitar did Jimmy Page use on Stairway to Heaven

Well, first of all – it’s definitely more than just one guitar, at least on the studio recording of the song. On live performances of the song, as many of you will know, he used a Gibson EDS-1275 Doubleneck. This, of course, saved him from the hassle of swapping guitars multiple times throughout the song.

Gibson EDS-1275
The exclusive (and the ridiculously expensive) Gibson EDS-1275 model is being sold by the company (you can even get it on Amazon).

Acoustic guitar during the intro

Based on Page’s own recollection, the guitar he used on the acoustic parts of the songs was a 60s Harmony Sovereign H1260.

The Harmony guitar is quite special to me. It is what I used to write all the acoustic songs and many of the electric songs on the first three albums. I also used it to record all the acoustic tracks on the third album, and it’s the guitar I played on “Stairway to Heaven.”

Jimmy Page Talks First Three Led Zeppelin Albums; Guitar World Magazine

Electric guitar at around the two-minute mark

This is the part when the drums come in and Page adds an electric guitar to the mix. According to the man himself [Jimmy Page Revisits Two of Led Zeppelin’s Most God-like Albums; Guitar World Magazine], he used a 1965 Fender XII – which is a rather unique twelve-string electric guitar.

Solo

Based on most sources, the guitar that Jimmy Page used on the solo of the Stairway to Heaven is a 1959 Fender Telecaster. The same guitar was given to him by Jeff Beck, after Jimmy recommended Beck to replace Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds, instead of himself – which was Clapton’s initial idea. (you can read more about this guitar on our Gear Page – Jimmy Page’s Gear)

That should be it, although there might be some more details to this song that are unknown to the public. For instance, some have argued that the outro of the song does sound a bit like it was recorded through a pair of humbuckers, so maybe even Jimmy Page’s number one guitar – the 1959 Gibson Les Paul had a part in it.

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“This, of course, saved him from the hassle of swapping guitars multiple times throughout the song” – And it looked cool!

Also, there are numerous guitar parts in the song. Listen to a good recording with good headphones at a good volume and you will hear all the different parts and rhythms that are different but most people do not notice.

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