By Damian Fanelli | PHOTO: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images
As part of our ongoing “Isolation Booth” series, we’ve heard isolated guitar tracks by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, Dimebag Darrell, Steve Vai, Mark Knopfler and more. But we’ve never ventured into the fascinating world of Led Zeppelin.
Today, however, that’s exactly where we’re headed.
Below, you can check out most of the isolated guitar and bass parts from “Ramble On,” a standout cut from 1969’s Led Zeppelin II. Enjoy!
BASS: Although the drum track is pretty much inaudible, the song serves as an illustration of the super-tight interplay between Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham. Jones’ light, nimble, melodic bass phrases give way to an ascending motif that follows Bonham’s soft percussion.
ACOUSTIC GUITAR: Page wrote “Ramble On” and several other classic Led Zep tracks on his Harmony acoustic (although we’re not claiming that he used the Harmony on this recording).
“[futureusgalleryThe Harmony] helped me come up with all these amazing songs! It encouraged me,” Page told Guitar World in 2014. “It didn’t fight back, and it didn’t go out of tune. It would say to me, ‘Go on, man, give me more! C’mon!’ … I know I wrote ‘Ramble On’ and ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’ on it.”
ELECTRIC RHYTHM GUITAR: Page’s ferocity kicks in around 1:14. Although Page eventually became known for building up layer upon layer of guitar tracks (just watch a top-notch Led Zeppelin cover band to see how many guitarists are required to capture the essence of the band’s studio recordings), Page kept the lead guitar overdubs for “Ramble On” pretty simple.
A few years ago, Guitar World’s Brad Tolinski asked Page how he achieved that smooth, sustaining violin-like tone on the “Ramble On” guitar solo: “I used the neck pickup on my Les Paul and backed off on the treble knob on the guitar, and ran it through the sustainer Roger Mayer made for me years before. When I was recording it, I was thinking in terms of making a sound sort of like a string arrangement.”
Unfortunately, the isolated violin-style guitar solo is no longer available on YouTube; however, you can hear it in the bottom video, which is the regular version of the studio track.