Joe Walsh’s 1959/60 Gibson Les Paul Standard (Jimmy Page #1)
Joe acquired this guitar sometime in the late 60s. He traded it with a friend, and then shortly after that, in April of 1969, he sold the guitar to Jimmy Page. That same guitar would become Jimmy Page’s number one instrument, the one he would use on a majority of Led Zeppelin studio releases and live concerts.
He said, “This Telecaster ain’t cutting it for Led Zeppelin. And I don’t know what to do.” Now, Les Pauls virtually didn’t exist in England at the time. They didn’t hit popularity yet, and they were pretty easy to find because they hadn’t been discovered – and they didn’t cost very much.
And I happen to have two. I found one in the basement of a family-owned music store, I think in Athens, OH, where Ohio University is. It was just in the basement. I just walked in another garage, and it was all boxes – and I said, ‘What do you got downstairs?’ And there was a Les Paul!
And I found another one through a friend, I traded him some stuff for one. So, one I really liked and one I just was saving for a rainy day, so I gave Jimmy that one.Joe Walsh – Wong Notes Podcast
There are some discrepancies in Joe’s story regarding whether he borrowed the guitar to Jimmy or whether he sold it to him, so it’s unclear what exactly happened. Based on what he said on the Wong Notes Podcast, it sounds like Joe gave the guitar to Jimmy to see whether he would like it, and Jimmy sort of just kept it, and eventually paid Joe for the instrument.
I said, “‘Look, just try this out, I think this will solve the problem. And if you like it, we’ll talk.” And several times I thought about asking for it back but that didn’t work. You gave it to him. He gave me eventually 1,500 bucks or something, and that’s less than I paid for it. A little bit less yeah I paid so I broke even on that.Joe Walsh – Wong Notes Podcast
However, according to a statement from a different interview, it sounds like this whole thing was more altruistic, and Joe just wanted Jimmy to have a guitar. He packed up the guitar and took a place to see Jimmy, and gave him the price that would basically only cover his travel expenses.
Jimmy was still playing the Telecasters that he played in the Yardbirds. He was looking for a Les Paul and asked if I knew of any, ’cause he couldn’t find one that he liked. And I had two. So I kept the one I liked the most and I flew with the other one. I laid it on him and said, ‘Try this out.
He really liked it, so I gave him a really good deal, about 1,200 bucks. I had to hand-carry it; I flew there and everything. So whatever my expenses were, that’s what I charged him. But again, I just thought he should have a Les Paul for godsakes!Joe Walsh – Interview with Guitar World (page now offline)
Joe’s Time with the Guitar
Unfortunately, the history of the guitar before it came into Jimmy Page’s hands is unknown. We only know that Joe got it from a friend in a trade and that he kept it for some time as a backup, but we don’t know whether he used it during that time, and to what extent.
We also know that the guitar had its neck shaven – reduced in radius, before it got into Jimmy’s hands. Maybe this is something Joe did, or maybe it’s something that his friend did, and maybe it was something that Joe didn’t like, so he decided to trade this guitar to Jimmy instead of his first one. Be that as it may, this thin neck is exactly what Page really liked about this guitar, so it all worked out in the end.
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