Iconic Rigs on a Budget is a companion to our Iconic Rigs series at zZounds, where we show you the gear of legendary guitarists. Here on the zZounds Blog, we’ll help you get really, really close to that sound without blowing your tour budget. This month: get a whole lotta tone for not a whole lot!
We all know that scoring the same gear as your guitar heroes, like Jimmy Page, can really put a dent your wallet. Picking up a vintage Gibson can set you back many thousands of dollars, let alone leave you with enough left over to pick up high-end amps and effects. Here at zZounds know that the struggle is real and we want to help you attain the tone of your favorite guitarists without going over budget.
Accumulating all the iconic gear that Jimmy Page made famous could involve selling a kidney on the black market, but it doesn’t have to be so bad if you’re just looking to nail his distinctive tone! Take a look at the gear we used to get as close to Jimmy’s tone as possible on a reasonable budget. As we say here at zZounds, get the tone, save a kidney.
The Guitar: Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plustop PRO
Of course, Jimmy Page is most well known for a vintage Gibson Les Paul slung down to his knees. The most natural substitution for a genuine Gibson is picking up an LP made by a member of the same family, Epiphone. The Epi Les Paul Standard Plustop PRO has all the mojo of an authentic Gibson model, without the price tag. Just like Jimmy’s LP, this killer guitar features a mahogany back with a tastefully figured flame maple top, evoking the famous tones of its more expensive relative while maintaining a beautiful shimmer under stage lights. The Epiphone Alnico Classic PRO humbuckers create sweet, warm tones that sound fantastic clean, and downright mean when pushed into high gain. Feel free to tap the coils via the push/pull volume knobs for a brighter single-coil tone, or keep both coils engaged for the thicker and darker tone for which Les Pauls are known.
The Amp: Epiphone Electar Century
While Jimmy is probably most well known for playing huge amplifier stacks on stage, he tended to prefer playing smaller, lower-wattage amps in the studio. Some of his most famous tones have come from old Supro or Valco combos on his early recordings. To recreate the tone of those vintage amps, we turned to the Epiphone Electar Century combo. This 18-watt combo is housed in a cool Art Deco-derived wooden cabinet with tons of cool features. Three inputs on the back correspond to different flavors of tone, with Dark, Normal, and Bright choices. The 6V6 power tubes deliver an angry overdrive that cleans up quite nicely when you roll down your guitar’s volume knob. If you need even more saturation, the volume knob can be pulled out to give you a boost. With an amp this size, and with such simple controls, you can easily dial in the right tone you need for the job without blowing your eardrums out.
The Effects: Catalinbread RAH and Dunlop Crybaby Mini
To really nail the Jimmy Page tone without loading up on what could potentially amount to many thousands of dollars worth of gear, we recommend the Catalinbread RAH overdrive. Designed to imitate the tone of Zep’s 1970 gig at the historic Royal Albert Hall, this overdrive takes Jimmy’s gigantic Hiwatt tone and stuffs it in a tiny pedal. Featuring an accurate tone stack from his Hiwatts, this thing goes from subtle to downright rude when you crank the gain. The overdrive completely electrifies your rig and immediately transports your tone to legendary status.
When you absolutely have to add some more expression into your wailing leads, check out the Dunlop Crybaby Mini wah pedal. Built with a classic Fasel inductor, this miniature wonder will make your licks wail and takes up half the space of a standard Crybaby. After flicking on this pedal, we were able to get super close to the classic Jimmy Page tone. Just as expressive as its bigger brother, the Crybaby Mini is even more versatile thanks to three internally switchable settings: Low, Vintage (emphasizing the mids), and GCB95 (which sweeps the top-end of the spectrum). We found that the Vintage setting gave us the Page vibe we were looking for.