For ten years, Philadelphia’s Get The Led Out has built an impressive following paying homage to Led Zeppelin by recreating the studio versions of the band’s iconic masterworks in live performance. GTLO’s studio-to-stage approach requires six musicians to cast its spell, including a gifted musical illusionist in guitarist Paul Hammond, who not only earned himself a Master’s Degree in the Canon of Jimmy Page, but also modified some of his own gear to emulate the sounds on classic Zep tracks.
“I try to present Page’s tones very precisely, but it’s not an easy feat, because his sound varies so widely within a single song,” says Hammond. “It all starts with the proper amps and guitars—I actually built an amp from scratch using parts from Metro Amps to match a 1968 Marshall 100-watt head that I retired from the road—but then it’s taken to the next level. Changing guitars, pickup selections, and Tone knob settings happens a lot during our shows. For example, ‘Bring it on Home’ starts with a very dark and slightly distorted tone, which I achieve by using the rhythm pickup on my Les Paul with the Tone knob at 2. When the main verse kicks in, it’s the lead pickup with the Volume and Tone knobs at around 7, and with a fuzz switched on.”
Given his intensive study of Led Zeppelin’s music, Hammond has a unique and critical perspective on how some players might miss the essence of Pagey’s style.
“I think some guitarists might try to ‘straighten out’ his parts, and get the timing and tuning a bit more accurate,” he says. “However that isn’t what makes Jimmy’s playing so magical. His quarter-tone bends, playing around the beat, slurring notes, and having one of the ballsiest performance attitudes ever makes his playing what it is. For me, I am definitely trying to reconstruct the recorded music of Led Zeppelin along with my bandmates. However, no one in Get The Led Out is attempting to impersonate the original members. I’m still me—I’m just me performing Jimmy Page’s parts as accurately as possible.”