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Jimmy Page explains how he ended up playing guitar with a violin bow

Jimmy Page illustration violin

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Jimmy Page explains how he ended up playing guitar with a violin bow

Led Zeppelin’s legendary guitarist, Jimmy page talked with American Academy Of Achievement about how he started to use a bow while he played the guitar.

Read what he said (transcribed by Ultimate Guitar):

Jimmy Page smoking

“This is an interesting story. Because the string sections didn’t really like [rock musicians] – I mean, they’ve spent years mastering their bowing techniques and there were these people – drummers and bass players and guitarists… I think they thought they just made a bit of a noise rather than music as they saw music.

“And one of the violinists came to me one day and he said, ‘Have you ever considered playing a guitar with a bow?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t think it’ll work.’ Because the strings are uniformed wheres a violin is arched.

John Bonham, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones

“And he said ‘Well here’s my bow. Would you like to try?’ And I said ‘Absolutely.’ So I tried it and i could see there was massive potential.

“After that I went and bought my own bow. But this fellow was the father of an actor David McCallum. ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ – that’s it!”

Watch Jimmy Page doing it below:

Music journey

“We have to go back when I was about 12 years old. My parents moved house when I was about 8, and there was a guitar that was left behind at the house. It was a campfire guitar, the sort of cowboy one with this sort of hole.

“It couldn’t be called a flamenco guitar, it had steel strings on it, which is pretty interesting. And fortunately, it didn’t get thrown away, so it had been there for quite a while at the house.

jeff Beck and Jimmy page

“And during that time in the ’50s, there had been the explosion of rock ‘n’ roll with Elvis Presley and all this wonderful music that was coming from America, with rockabilly and the Little Richard sort of music.

“But over here in England, there was also something called skiffle, and skiffle was something that you would actually see on the television performed by a man called Lonnie Donegan. And Lonnie Donegan was quite an inspiration for all guitarists at that point of time. He would be singing old American folk songs, a lot of American music, Leadbelly songs, and he’d be playing on the acoustic guitar and doing remarkable performances that sort of captured everybody’s imagination”.

Watch full Jimmy Page lecture on Oxford Union

“So there was all this wonderful music coming from America, but on our television screens there was this man playing an acoustic guitar – like the campfire guitar that has ben left behind at my house”.

“And then I managed to find somebody at school, one person who played the guitar. One day at the school field, he was actually playing Lonnie Donegan songs. I had a chat with him afterwards and said, ‘I’ve got one of those at home.’ And he said, ‘Bring it along to school and I’ll tune it up for you and show it a couple of chords.’

Jimmy Page solo

“So the playing guitar point came from that sort of… The intervention of the guitar, sort of Excalibur, isn’t it? But also the fact that this guy shows me some chords, and I started playing.

“I didn’t stop playing from that point. Even though I could only play one chord and the second chord, I was just playing all the time until I learned some more chords, and it just sort of kept going on. It got to the point where I was gonna do a trade up. I needed to get a guitar that was a little more user friendly, let’s put it that way.

Jimmy Page sun glass

“And my father had said, ‘I can see you’re coming on well with this. I don’t understand it but I’m not going to get in the way of it.’

“He actually helped me get the first guitar on from the campfire guitar. He said, ‘Providing you keep up with your academic studies then that’s fine.'”

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