Jimmy Page’s sound is the essence of Classic Rock. The tone he permeated with Led Zeppelin is instantly recognizable and sought after by thousands of guitarists. A big piece of that tone were his pickups. So, I went searching and researching to find out, what pickups did Jimmy Page use?
Jimmy Page used hand-wound ’58 single-coil pickups in his Fender Telecaster and Gibson PAF Humbuckers in his Gibson Les Paul. In 1972, Jimmy replaced the bridge pickup with T-Top Midranges.
Continue reading to learn more about Jimmy Pages pickups, what other guitarists have to say about them, and where you can get them.
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What Pickups Did Jimmy Page Use in His Fender Telecaster?
In Jimmy Page’s ’59 Fender Telecaster, Page used hand-wound ’58 single-coil pickups. These pickups had a raised middle pole which were popular in the late 1950’s. Hand-wound pickups were common and offered a warmer tone without too much high end.
This guitar would help to create the quintessential Yardbirds sound as well as the early Led Zeppelin sound. Given to him by Jeff Beck, Page used this guitar to create the first Led Zeppelin album, Led Zeppelin 1, in 1968-1969. The sound you hear on this album is from the warm tone of hand-wound ’58 single-coil pickups.
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Fender has since released a signature series based on this exact Fender Telecaster. On the Jimmy Page Telecaster, custom single-coil pickups are used. These pickups were designed for the classic Fender tone and constructed to be as close to the originals as possible.
Similar to the original pickups Jimmy used on his Telecaster, the production model pickups are underwound and warm. This gives the pickups a low high-end and pleasant tone.
What Pickups Did Jimmy Page Use?
In Jimmy Pages Les Paul, Page originally used Gibson PAF Humbucker pickups with internal wiring modifications to enhance the push of the sound. He would later replace the bridge pickup in 1972 with T-Top midranges to add more “squawk” to the tone.
Jimmy Page got his famous number one Les Paul from Joe Walsh after Walsh insisted that Page buys it. The guitar had many custom mods and wiring intricacies. One unique aspect of the guitar had to do with its pickups.
“The thing that I found most important about this guitar and to me was the fact that you could reverse the phaser on these” (pointing to the pickups)Jimmy Page Interview
The guitar had the ability to reverse the phaser on the pickups. Jimmy mentions how reversing the phaser gives a close approximation to the sound that Peter Green would get. Jimmy is not sure if this line of Les Paul’s had the pickups with one out of phase. Although Jimmy did it on purpose and has ever since with his future Les Paul’s. Jimmy toggles the reverse phase on the neck pickup by a push-pull dial on the bottom right of the guitars body.
In 1972, Jimmy noticed a declining output on the pickups. After touring in Australia, Jimmy had the bridge pickup replaced with the classic T-Top Midrange. This is often the coveted sound that many led heads are after.
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Furthermore, there is much discussion regarding the pickup height of Jimmy Page’s number 1 Les Paul. For the pickup height, Jimmy had the pickups and the pole pieces flush with the pickup ring. This was a constant for Jimmy Page always and was not specific to his number 1. It is also noticed on his custom number 2 and even non-humbucker guitars.
2 Best Pickups for Jimmy Page Tone
Most of Jimmy’s tone was in his fingers. His playing style and touch are what truly give him a unique tone. Although, if you do not have the natural Jimmy Page-like talent as 99% of guitarists don’t, then what pickups will help you get closer to Jimmy Page’s tone? Let’s find out.
T-Top and PAF Pickup Combo
For those that have a bit more money to spend and are adamant about sounding as close to Jimmy as possible, then this pickup combination is the setup for you. If you can find original Gibson 1958 PAF humbuckers, then those will get you closest to Page’s number 1 Les Paul tone.
Next step would be to get a T-Top Midrange pickup for the bridge pickup. This combination of the two would make the tone very similar to post 1972 Led Zeppelin.
Seymour Duncan Whole Lotta Humbuckers
The next viable option to achieving Jimmy Page’s tone is by using a set of Seymour Duncan Whole Lotta Humbucker pickups. Duncan’s aim for these pickups were to provide a tone similar to vintage PAF’s. As you can see in the name of the pickups, much of their design was based off late-50’s PAF pickup tones, the same kind that Jimmy Page used.
The reviews for these pickups are nothing short of amazing. Many guitarists, including myself, find these pickups to be warm and balanced, outputting the classic humbucker tone. Articulate is the best way to put them. Many reviewers find them to be extremely “Jimmy Page” sounding, which means Duncan achieved their goal in these pickups.
The pricing is not abnormally high for these higher end pickups either. You can get them on Amazon (linked here) for $249. I noticed a vast improvement in my tone with Whole Lotta Humbuckers versus the stock pickups that I originally had.
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