Jimmy Page; Yardbirds / early Zeppelin, ul-4120


Jimmy Page had used a 4120 as part of the Yardbirds in 1968 (more pics here); note the panel of a  4120 to the right, with another amp head on top –vox_ul7120_04

Here he is in February 69, at ‘Thee Image” in Miami Beach Florida, described as ‘a big bowling alley‘ or ‘a big open ballroom floor with three stages, a meditation room, and black lights’.    You can see the volume switch on the “Bass” channel of the amp is missing, the white-ish lead (from guitar to behind speaker cab?) running past the Bass controls to one of the inputs of the Normal channel .  (Some audio of the gig here HERE.  This must be where the “Communication Breakdown” video was shot, see updated post below, link HERE ).


In 1969 he toured America  at first as part of the early Zep. incarnation ‘the New Yardbirds”, but then as Led Zeppelin for the first time, in Denver;


(Maybe plugged into Bass channel.  Detail from a photo taken by the excellent Steve Morton,  & borrowed, with huge thanks, from Twist and Shout Records,  Denver.)

“It is the first Led Zeppelin show in America. 1969 Denver Auditorium – opening for Spirit. They had toured America as the New Yardbirds and played Denver earlier in the year, but this was the first  American show as Led Zep.”

In May and June 1969, Page is seen in the studio with the 4120.  It could be the light, but now it seems to be missing a control at the end on the right, on the bass switch on the ‘normal’ channel.  Given an earlier pic showing a missing/loose control switch, perhaps here it’s swapped over to the volume of the ‘bass” channel ( though more awkward, the pots are still adjustable without outer switch).  Page seems to have often used the Vox CO2 deluxe echo unit between the guitar and amp, but in the second pic below the guitar on the left seems to be plugged straight into the Bass channel of the 4120.  The earlier live colour photo from ‘Thee image” suggests he’s plugged directly into amp, but using Nomal channel.
JimmyPageAMStudioLA19692 Jimmystudio
According to Riley Maher of ‘WholeLottaLed”,
“..the studio one was during the recording for Led Zeppelin II. there is no way
it was for Led Zeppelin I because of the clothes being worn. the acoustic he
is usuing and the length of his hair, also there was no sort of reason for
photographing the sessions for the first album as it was all very hush hush.
the acoustic is not his harmony soverign but another guitar no one has yet
identified. the only acoustic he used on LZ I was a big old gibson SJ 200,
which he borrowed from session guitarist and friend Big Jim Sullivan…”

“..Though Page says he thinks he used a Super Beatle on LZII, this is actually the amp he is likely referring too for some of the tracks.  He says he acquired the Super Beatle amps during The Yarbirds, but there is no evidence of him using a Super Beatle during the Yardbirds, but there is evidence of a Vox UL4120 in April 1968.   Probably the most substantial evidence for this being used on some LZII tracks is it being seen at Olympic Studios in June 1969. What Is and What Should Never Be and Whole Lotta Love were both recorded there according to the album notes, you’ll notice a very similar tone between the two as well.  Whole Lotta Love was one of the songs Page says he thinks he might have used the Super Beatle for.  How much use the amp saw elsewhere on II is up for debate, but it was likely main amp used.  In the 90’s Page also bought a few 7120s which can be seen in It Might Get Loud, so he definitely seemed to have a fondness for these amps.”

Page talked about the above photo in a Guardian Live conversation with Michael Hann;

(extracts from conversation,  talk posted on youtube HERE) “….With Led Zeppelin, I’ve got to say it is studio 1 ..the big studio there, where Zeppelin 1 was recorded, but this is actually from the second album.. but it (*the first album)  would have been pretty similar to that anyway..there’s the hammond organ there, and everything…it’s the impact isn’t it…with Led Zeppelin it’s a performance that you’re trying to capture on a recording of it, and …I think the music was pretty dramatic anyway, and had these whole sort of peaks and valleys in the music.   …Also somebody said to me, and I”ve just come back from Japan, and  they said.. that the mixing that you did was really 3-D.  And I thought well that’s right, because you’ve got it, that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be…sort of had all these layers and depth, but you still need to really capture people’s attention..with the riff of Whole lotta love, it’s got something which sets up this whole tension…again, it’s exactly what you want”.

It’s probably pointless pulling out any single Page quote as definitive, the specific details change – but for Page’s general thoughts about what he called the ‘Super Beatle’ amp, this quote gives us a pretty good idea;

“..Page notes that during the recording of the first album he played mostly the Telecaster. He also notes that “the first album was done totally with a Vox Super Beatle.” so with just that and a Telecaster, a wah wah, and a boost pedal, you can create a variety of sounds. I used a depressed wah wah pedal on the solo (Whole Lotta Love) and I did the same thing on “Communication Breakdown.” It gets you a really raucous sound that just slices through everything.” *(from ‘Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page’). 

Jimmy Page; Yardbirds / early Zeppelin, ul-4120 | 2015 | blog