When the Levee Breaks

Ken Whisler

Member
Messages
591
What is your source for this info? I was led to believe for decades that its a 12 string tuned to open G.

I've played it hundreds of times, open G is what works best. There is no doubt it's a 12 string as well. Likely Page's Fender XII.
I’ve played it since the album came out, as a kid I tried to do it in standard tuning because we didn’t know anything about open tunings at the time. I agree with you on the 12, but not everyone has a 12 laying around. And since Page pretty much stays on the upper 4 strings, an open G tuned down another whole step will work. But the studio version is in F. I do have a Dano that stays in G except for Levee. G is too high for our singer. He can sing it like the record in F, and I can play it like the record in F. G tuning down a whole step throws a low C in the equation that is not there.
I don’t remember where I got the idea to tune to FAcfac, but the first time I tried it along with the recording, it just worked. My band mates think it’s the closest they’ve ever heard anyone do it.
 

Snowdogyyz

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
395
I believe Bonham's drums were set up in the foyer of Headley Grange, the old manor Zeppelin rented out for the songwriting/recording of their fourth album. The cavernous foyer was huge, two or three stories tall, and Jimmy had a mic dropped in from above. The acoustics (reverb?) made the drums sound huge.
I’ve often heard they were set up and recorded in a stairway and that gave them the big echo sound.
 

tiktok

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,716
I’ve played it since the album came out, as a kid I tried to do it in standard tuning because we didn’t know anything about open tunings at the time. I agree with you on the 12, but not everyone has a 12 laying around. And since Page pretty much stays on the upper 4 strings, an open G tuned down another whole step will work. But the studio version is in F. I do have a Dano that stays in G except for Levee. G is too high for our singer. He can sing it like the record in F, and I can play it like the record in F. G tuning down a whole step throws a low C in the equation that is not there.
I don’t remember where I got the idea to tune to FAcfac, but the first time I tried it along with the recording, it just worked. My band mates think it’s the closest they’ve ever heard anyone do it.
Bear in mind that the backing track is not playing back at the speed at which it was recorded, by design.

 

zep41

Member
Messages
3,061
I’ve played it since the album came out, as a kid I tried to do it in standard tuning because we didn’t know anything about open tunings at the time. I agree with you on the 12, but not everyone has a 12 laying around. And since Page pretty much stays on the upper 4 strings, an open G tuned down another whole step will work. But the studio version is in F. I do have a Dano that stays in G except for Levee. G is too high for our singer. He can sing it like the record in F, and I can play it like the record in F. G tuning down a whole step throws a low C in the equation that is not there.
I don’t remember where I got the idea to tune to FAcfac, but the first time I tried it along with the recording, it just worked. My band mates think it’s the closest they’ve ever heard anyone do it.
I'm sure it works for you and yes I agree there are ways to kind of play it in standard tuning as well.

But Jimmy Page is on record stating he slowed the recording down a half a step. Open G gets you to what you hear on the album.

On his 12 string, what you hear is him mostly playing the open 5th string(s) tuned to G pulling off the 3rd fret.
 

Ken Whisler

Member
Messages
591
I'm sure it works for you and yes I agree there are ways to kind of play it in standard tuning as well.

But Jimmy Page is on record stating he slowed the recording down a half a step. Open G gets you to what you hear on the album.

On his 12 string, what you hear is him mostly playing the open 5th string(s) tuned to G pulling off the 3rd fret.
No disrespect to Jimmy, but half step puts G to F#. The recording is clearly in F.

The 5th string gives a lower octave of the root that simply is not there in the recording. Either Jimmy had ridiculously good control of his rh that he could repeatedly hit just the octave string on the 5th, or he played the tonic riff on the 3rd string.

I’ve seen Tony Katana do it, and in my opinion he came closer than anyone. Found this video, and the times the camera focused on Tony, he never left the top 4 strings. That’d make how the 5th and 6th strings are tuned a moot point. This one is also in F:


I have a 12. I’d be happy to try it your way and mine, record it, and put the results up on SoundCloud for a blind test. Might be a day or 2, but I’m game. You?
 

BigDar

Member
Messages
393
Just got back from seeing Robert Plant and the Shapeshifters last night (in Moorhead MN of all places). They opened with this. Just epic....
 

zep41

Member
Messages
3,061
No disrespect to Jimmy, but half step puts G to F#. The recording is clearly in F.

The 5th string gives a lower octave of the root that simply is not there in the recording. Either Jimmy had ridiculously good control of his rh that he could repeatedly hit just the octave string on the 5th, or he played the tonic riff on the 3rd string.

I’ve seen Tony Katana do it, and in my opinion he came closer than anyone. Found this video, and the times the camera focused on Tony, he never left the top 4 strings. That’d make how the 5th and 6th strings are tuned a moot point. This one is also in F:


I have a 12. I’d be happy to try it your way and mine, record it, and put the results up on SoundCloud for a blind test. Might be a day or 2, but I’m game. You?
Your video never shows Tony or his fingers when he's playing the main riff. Only the parts where he is playing the top 4 with slide or the unaccompanied breakdown part.

That being said, I wonder if there's a way to ask Tony what tuning he uses because it sounds great.

I would be curious to see what your doing though as I'm sure it works and sounds good. Of course feel free to post a video.
 

Ken Whisler

Member
Messages
591
Your video never shows Tony or his fingers when he's playing the main riff. Only the parts where he is playing the top 4 with slide or the unaccompanied breakdown part.

That being said, I wonder if there's a way to ask Tony what tuning he uses because it sounds great.

I would be curious to see what your doing though as I'm sure it works and sounds good. Of course feel free to post a video.
Right @The 3:14 Mark is a brief shot of his rh on the main riff. Looks like the 3rd string to me.
 

ellis dee

Member
Messages
2,342
I’ve played it since the album came out, as a kid I tried to do it in standard tuning because we didn’t know anything about open tunings at the time. I agree with you on the 12, but not everyone has a 12 laying around. And since Page pretty much stays on the upper 4 strings, an open G tuned down another whole step will work. But the studio version is in F. I do have a Dano that stays in G except for Levee. G is too high for our singer. He can sing it like the record in F, and I can play it like the record in F. G tuning down a whole step throws a low C in the equation that is not there.
I don’t remember where I got the idea to tune to FAcfac, but the first time I tried it along with the recording, it just worked. My band mates think it’s the closest they’ve ever heard anyone do it.
Bb harmonica, fits like a glove. cross harp...
 




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