"My favorite guitar at the moment for the Get The Led Out show would be my #1 Les Paul," says GTLO guitarist Paul Hammond. "It's a 2011 Gibson VOS R9 1959 Historic Reissue—modified by taking off the lead pickup cover, adding Grover tuners, an aluminum jack plate, and a push-pull phase switch on the lead tone pot. I use Darco .009 gauge electric strings on it.
"My favorite acoustic guitar is a 2006 Martin D28 Marquis—though my Mid '90s Martin D1 with the Fishman Rare Earth pickup runs a close second.
"My amp rig consists of a 1969 100 watt Marshall Plexi and a 10,000 series Plexi clone that I built to match an actual 1968 100-watt top I own that was retired from the road a while back. Both are modded with post-phase inverter master volume controls so when our FOH sound engineer Chris Chalfin tells me to turn down I actually can. Both amplifiers feed two 4x12 1960A/B handwired Marshall cabinets that are loaded with Heritage 30H speakers. One amp feeds a Radial JDX reactor that goes direct to the mixing consoles. The bottom cab is miked at the edge of the speaker cone with a Sennheiser MD421.
"For effects, I've been using the Fractal Audio AXE FX as a clean front end unit that feeds both amps in stereo. The flexibility of programming the AXE FX is fantastic, and the overall sound of the unit is top notch. What sold me on the AXE was the germanium fuzz box emulation—which is very convincing and consistent"
Note: Read more on Hammond and Get The Led Out in the June 2014 issue of Guitar Player.
Hammond and GTLO vocalist Paul Sinclair
Bonus Interview Outtakes
How He Approaches Some of the Songs
"On songs like 'All My Love,' I will use my custom-built Fender B-Bender Telecaster—which I use on 'Hot Dog' too, but with a specifically timed slap delay to emulate the tight room sound on the record," says Hammond. "I wrote a tuned flange preset for the intro to 'Houses of the Holy,' of which the depth is controlled by an expression pedal so I can back it off when the vocals come in. Then, I bring it in again again during the outro solo. The flange is tuned to a G note, which is the minor 7th of the key of the song, which is A. That also happens on 'Nobody's Fault But Mine,' but it's a sweeping flange with depth and modulation, so I basically set up a patch to use the expression pedal as a 'console fader' to bring the effect in and out smoothly. Those are just a few small tips of the iceberg. A lot of care, time, and effort goes into trying to recreate the iconic tones of the recordings of Led Zeppelin."
Can He Put a Bit of Himself into the Jimmy Page Illusion?
"That's an interesting question," he says. "As far as the performance goes, none of us try to insert our own style musically into the GTLO presentation. Trying to recreate the recorded music of Led Zeppelin is what we seek to do. However, we are doing it as ourselves—not trying to impersonate the original members. So from that perspective, the presentation might be our own in that we don't try to copy the mannerisms of the original members of Led Zeppelin. You won't see me move the same way Jimmy did, or see lead vocalist Paul Sinclair doing the Robert Plant motions. I am 'me' throughout the entire show, and a lot of our fans identify with that because I'm not trying to be Jimmy Page. No one can ever be another person, but they can impersonate them. I'd rather just perform their music as accurately as possible, and do my own thing on my own time."
What makes a successful Led Zeppelin tribute, and where do lesser LZ tribute bands fall short?
"A successful Zep tribute is one that cares enough to take the time to present the music in the best possible way," says Hammond. "There are a lot of fantastic tribute bands out there enjoying varying degrees of popularity, as there is a demand for the best music of all time to be performed live in concert. Recently, when we performed at The Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, there was an afternoon show before ours that was a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. The head of security at the venue was kind enough to let me watch the show from the soundboard, and I was stunned at how great of a performance it was. So that was a tribute too, but at the highest level—like a world-renowned orchestra performing Liszt or Mozart compositions. I tend to encourage rather than disparage anyone who plays a musical instrument of any kind. In my estimation, it really comes down to study, practice, dedication, and perseverance. Then, if your audience and musical peers like what you are doing, you are on the right track."