Purhcased by Page in the early 60′s in England, this gutiar is NOT from Keith Richards as mentioned in the Richard Cole book. Used for his session work in mid 60′s. The guitar didn’t make an appearance during Led Zeppelin until the 1970 UK tour and would be stolen in April 1970 between Boston and Montreal Canada according to Page. It was never returned and it’s whereabouts remain unknown to this day. A missing ad was placed Rolling Stone Magazine.
The middle position on the pickup selector has a distinct honk/nasally quality to it. It’s almost out of phase sounding but it’s still technically in phase. The proximity of the middle and bridge pickup causes certain frequencies to be canceled out leaving you with that nasally/honky tone very similar to an out of phase sound. If you listen to the middle section of Bring it On Home from Royal Albert Hall you’ll hear the honky/nasally tone I’m talking about. Sometime between February and March 1970 two extra switches were added. No word on what they actually did. Assumed just to be for extra pickup combos, not split, series/parallel, or any of that. It would make sense for them just to be for extra combinations too as he favored the typical in phase middle position of his #1 a lot even early on. With the stock Black Beauty set up he couldn’t get that unless he had the ability to take some of the pickups out of the mix, hence the extra switches. The switches are also mentioned in the missing ad. The wiring mods were believed to have been performed by Joe Jammer.
As far as studio use goes during Led Zeppelin, there has been some talk about it being used on the second album. Page himself has said #1 was the main guitar for II, however in one interview he’s taken as saying the Black Beauty was used for Whole Lotta Love, you can’t really tell what he meant though.
Guitar World January 1991: “Which guitar did you use on Whole Lotta Love?
Page: The Les Paul. I had been using a Black Beauty, which got nicked (stolen) in the States. It disappeared in airports, somewhere between Boston and Montreal. A lot of my studio work had been done with that guitar. I didn’t want to take it out of the house. Funny that once I did take it out, it got nicked!
The two known dates for Whole Lotta Love sessions is early May at Mirror Sound in LA which would have been during the second American tour and Olmypic Studios in June ’69 which is what the album notes say. He didn’t take the Custom on the 2nd American tour, so that would seem to rule out anything done in April/May ’69 since they were in the US. As far as June goes, it’s certainly more plausible as they were home. There’s a studio picture from Olympic in June ’69 though showing #1 in view, the Custom could have been lurking around, hard to say. Interestingly enough, recording engineer Eddie Kramer once claimed the Black Beauty was used for LZII as well.
Taken from Wholelottaled
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