Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ Tone Dissected

“Whole Lotta Love” is the opening track on Led Zeppelin’s legendary album Led Zeppelin II. Let’s take a look at Jimmy Page’s gear and how we can replicate the tone from Whole Lotta Love with the Boss ME-80!
Contributed by Joshua Munday for the Roland Australia Blog “Whole Lotta Love” is the opening track on Led Zeppelin’s legendary album Led Zeppelin II. The solo section comes blazing out of the swirling sound effect break down in the middle part of the song. It features Jimmy Page squeezing out some nice short phrases between stops. There’s a whole range of legends surrounding which amplifier Jimmy Page used in this recording. The only thing we know for certain is that he used as many variations of amps in the studio as he did live. It’s a very squashed and compressed tone probably due to both the wah pedal fully depressed for the duration of the solo and the recording process itself giving some great tape saturation and compression. In any case we can start with an amp with similar characteristics from the recording. I’ve started with a LEAD amp and run a fuzz distortion pedal in the front of that. Then some delay that’s used in the recording and it’s important to get the delay time and repeats as close as possible to the recording for more authenticity. The final touch is a Wah pedal turned on and pressed all the way down. Using the 4 Elements of Guitar Tone formula for this song we have:

1. The Guitar

Led Zeppelin's guitar tone dissectedWe simply don’t know. Jimmy is a classic Les Paul Player but is also known for his Telecaster work. In the end this sound is so effected by the compression and distortion in won’t matter too much which guitar we use.

2. The Pickup Selection

This is a bridge pickup tone which you can tell by how sharp it is and the amount of “bite” to the tone.

3. The Amp

amp Just like the guitar there doesn’t seem to be any confirmation of which amp was used for the recording. We can start with a generic amp setting for the time frame (i.e. a British Style of amp tone). When selecting an amp there are some basic rules of thumb that will help: ALWAYS START WITH EVERYTHING OFF!!! I can’t stress this enough. Find the OFF button for everything in the signal chain so all you can hear is your dry old guitar sound coming through. Remember any multiFX/amp simulator like the BOSS ME-80 are just simulating a room full of gear, so think about it like that, you wouldn’t walk into a room full of amps and FX and start by turning everything ON would you? You would plug into an amp, get a good basic tone, then turn on any effects one at a time and build up your sound…likewise with any multiFX. ▀  Set the EQ “flat” (i.e. all settings at the half way point or 12 o’clock) this gives you a neutral starting point so that the EQ isn’t colouring the tone too much yet. ▀ Put the gain up to about a quarter to half a turn so you can hear the gain character. Since we can’t be sure about the type of amp used I’ve started with a LEAD Amp setting on the ME-80 and turned the EQ up quite a long way. The Amp in the recording may have been quite loud so I like to push the EQ settings up to get the correct response from the amp and then adjust the stand alone EQ settings to allow for the recorded EQ. For the Amp I’ve used BASS on 78, MIDDLE on 78 and TREBLE on 81. I’ve put the GAIN up to 99 (or Full) because this sound is so compressed. We’ll run some more gain to change the tone in the OD/DS Pedal Section.

4. The Effects

In this section we’ll cover the added Gain, Compression, Delay timing, Reverb and the Wah setting. Led Zeppelin's Tone Dissected ▀ Starting with the COMP/FX1 Setting. I’ve added the compressor in this section to take away any volume dynamics form different pick attack you might use. Setting are SUSTAIN on 64, ATTACK on 68 and LEVEL on 40. ▀ The gain for the solo is from a combination of amp gain and pedal gain. I’ve used a FUZZ setting in the OD/DS Section of the ME-80 and turned up the DRIVE to 12, the TONE to 95. ▀ I’ve used the EQ setting to pull back the bass response from the amp (although I wanted the Amp Bass setting turned up to get that response from the amp). So BASS  on 24, MIDDLE on 52 and TREBLE on 62. ▀ It’s important to get the Delay settings as close to the recording as possible if you want that authenticity. The delay time is rather quick at 270ms, feedback of 15 (which is only a couple of repeats) and level at 35. ▀ There’s also some reverb on this sound as the room the amp was recorded in added some “space” to the sound. It’s pretty subtle as the sound is fairly dry as far as the room goes. I’ve just added a ROOM Reverb at a setting of 5. ▀ Finally, but very importantly, is the Wah Pedal setting. Make sure your PEDAL FX knob is turn to Wah, press the “toe” of the Pedal down to turn it on and leave it there! This tone has the Wah pushed all the way to the toe and stays there the whole time.

Download

There you have it guys the guitar tone from solo in “Whole Lotta Love”. If you have an ME-80 and don’t want to have to program this tone yourself you can download it at this link HERE Download the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ patch for BOSS GT-100 HERE Download the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ patch for ME-80 HERE

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