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osoz

So is Jimmy Page a 'sloppy' player?

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I think it would be useful to add this quote to this thread, because it partly explains why people ever started bandying around the word 'sloppy' in connection with his playing:

“Terrible. Really sloppy. I'm just totally uneducated. An illiterate guitarist, really. But it doesn't make any difference because now and then something good will come through.”—Jimmy Page defining himself as a guitarist, from Melody Maker Sept. 1974

When Page said this he was being self-deprecating to some extent (he is English, after all). That is an exaggeratedly negative self-assessment.

As has been said earlier, the imprecisions and limitations of his style were hardly unusual in the time-frame when his style was formed - i.e. the mid-60s to early 70s. Rock guitar was considerably less technical back then. But they are an important part of his style. I think most rock guitarists would give their right arm to be 'sloppy' if it meant they came up with the solos and riffs which Page came up with.

Some of what people might perceive as 'sloppy' is actually timing. Page's classic solos often play 'late' on the beat. I've been a professional guitar teacher for 35 years and everyone whoever came to me and played the studio Stairway to Heaven solo never got it right even when they had all the notes in the right place - why? Because they never get his late timing. They play it right on the beat, with a kind of 'oh this is easy' attitude. To really play it you've got to make it sound like its an almost impossible struggle to get the notes out - a good example would be the solo on 'I'm Gonna Crawl' where he really weights a lot of the phrases by playing late. It sounds fantastic, of course.

The earlier observations about the change from wrist to 'scrubbing' are very true.

Page's tragedy as a musician is that he could not escape the persona he created for himself in the mid-70s - the problem was, who would want to? But then the band ended, and he could not find a vehicle in which to place that persona. Jimmy Page was the person who never left Led Zep. Jones and Plant did not allow their musician impulse and creativity to be so restricted by a persona, hence the diversity of their solo careers. Page has always been reluctant to do anything musically which might be perceived as 'not very Jimmy Page' as defined by that persona. Hence the archivist role, and the attempts to play Zep songs again in various formats and bands.

Sorry this has gone on a bit ..

Fantastic post - thanks!

I would just add that this specific question has been a corollary to the question of whether Mr. Page suffers from some type nerve/tendon damage to his hands - all speculative mind you, I can't buy into one of the prevailing theories that it was just a case of him being junked out of his mind from 1975-1984(ish). There are loads of great guitar players who found comfort from the white nurse that remained or post recovery regained their playing chops. Perhaps in his case it was a cumulative effect of not being a particularly disciplined player (not a bad thing IMO), the drugs/drink and some sort of physical injury - a bit like having a guy who rarely runs, has a bad knee and is a chain smoker is then asked why he can't a run a mile in less than 7 minutes :)

Edited by journeytoroom101

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Heroin affects people differently though, some seem to thrive on it, for a while at least, for others it is a a pretty quick slippery slope into ill health. I think it depends a lot on the person and what goes with it, plenty of booze probably wasn't helping, I can't play hardly at all after just a few pints of bitter - though it has to be said I still like to try to.

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As a player of 30+ years when I first started playing in 83' the only live Zep I ever heard was TSRTS and listening to NQ & D&C or the Stairway solo all I could think was how any human could play an instrument so brilliantly. Yet i also noticed on other songs him sounding like he really either did not give a shit, let's get on to D&C, or he was just chill in the groove.

Anyway, I started in classical playing trumpet in jr. High in 79', classical & jazz only with an occasional Chicago, Chuck Mangioni, or Alpert tune thrown in for good measure. After years of conductors and teachers screaming, "allegro, allegro, tempo is dragging" or after playing a Bizet composition flawlessly, having the instructor say, "you were flat on the C at the beginning of the second movement" I figured fuck that. After all if Chopin & Beethoven could improvise fro time to time, why not me? No song is sacrosanct, they are ALL up to the individual's interpretation. So, I got out of classical, dropped the trumpet, picked up the guitar and began playing music with feel...the blues. Blues is still my all time favorite genre.

I have said it before and I will say it again: I can go to ANY town and find a 12 year old guitar phenom who will hand Vai or Satriani their ass on guitar without so much as raising a sweat, however I have NEVER met a 12 year old or even 18 year old guitarist who could phrase like Page. I don't care how proficient someone is, without feel it is meaningless, and that is a very, very hard line to walk.

this is a great point, and also the reason why I could listen to jimmy page play for 10 minutes no matter how many times he messed up, but It takes me 2 minutes to get bored of any vai or satriani solo Edited by Wtlb71

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How do people think he came up with the phrasing?

I can hear plenty of the standard blues licks on the recordings, so that was listening to old recordings, but they are often strung together with some very individual runs and ideas. One suggestion I heard years back for coming up with lead breaks was to base it on speech patterns (I guess similar in concept to 'call and response'), interesting one to think about, though I could just accept it is because he's a genius on the guitar.

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^^^ Speech patterns...interesting and makes sense to me. I often wonder what Jimmy is saying with his guitar, there are definitely deep lyrics there. This may not have been what you meant, but I do think Jimmy speaks volumes with his guitar. As others have stated, I am not a fan of guitarists that just play fast and with no emotion (even if they are technically proficient), it sounds like noise to me. However, I could listen to Jimmy on the guitar all day long.

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That is EXACTLY how I think of it!!!! Bode Miller is my fav skier to watch, there are plenty of skiers who are more technical but none are as great as Bode to watch because he just goes for it every time no matter how he is feeling or how the conditions are on the mountain. Sometimes he looks for his own line down the mountain and it goes down in the history books, and other times his guess of what might work misses out but who gives a fuck? It's exciting to watch. Ayrton Senna was my fav driver in F1 because like Bode Miller and Jimmy Page he did his own thing. I will take Jimmy Page over Steve Vai or Joe Satriannie every single time because Jimmy plays with his soul.

Agreed. Jimmy never "phoned in it" and as a result, he's always interesting to watch as he is right there in the moment putting everything into it. Take the Knebworth shows as an example; he is wringing with sweat from the sheer effort of trying to coax the riffs out of his Les Paul (or maybe it was the heroin, but still) did Clapton EVER sweat? I don't think so. Personally, I want to see the agony and ecstasy on the face of my guitar hero. I don't want to see them smugly hitting every note perfectly.

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This may seem irrelevant, but to really play like Page , you just can't have more than a .009 set on your guitar. There are so many solos

With fast playing interspersed with 2 step bends with wide vibrato, etc, etc,. The phrasing thing is still absolutely a feel thing, but I prefer

.011 on my guitars , and most players will rip their skin and nails off trying to play an hour set of Zep with heavy jamming. In fact Page

Usually used a .008 set, just in 77' was it .009's. But I agree that nobody phrases like Page when he's on; I have many versions of

The live STH solo that are even better and more dramatic and emotional than the original.

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I heard he was known to use .008 but moved up a place with the high e replaced with a violin string I doubt though if that was a constant thing. I have been using .008 whilst working on the solos recently which helps. That's the physical side covered, but coming up with the phrasing in the first place is what makes his work unique. At first I was getting my fingers ripped to bits using thin strings but I just went back to putting in a couple of hours a day on acoustics to cure that.

Edited by osoz

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As a non- musician I cant speak to specific technique but to me Page was the best when he was at his zenith...I do not detect "sloppiness" to my ears...just my opinion Going slightly OT i am disappointed at the amount of "Plant cant sing and plays hillbilly music" and "Page is a sloppy cradle robber" amount of posts...These are the guys many of us grew up with It is a like a soundtrack to our lives Just cuz I am not into the companion discs does not mean it invalidates their worth to others. I respect what each of the 3 do and am just happy they are alive and out there. Does not mean people can't express themselves but do any of us know enough to definitively state something is actually bad or sloppy with any kind of authority. They did not get to be the greatest band in many of our worlds by being hacks or lacking musical/vocal gifts.

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I caught part of a radio interview on a documentary today where Jimmy stated he did not want to do 40 takes to make it perfect, it was all about capturing the moment. What he did want was the music to stand the test of time, I think he got his wish.

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One thing no one has ever really mentioned on a forum is how slick much of Page's playing is on ITTOD. I really dig much of the solos

here, simply because it's another side of Jimmy. But to tell you the truth, when Page did the thing with the Crowes, I didn't like it all

That much because the format meant everybody was sort of on a leash. And Page to my ears should be taking chances, playing

Kamikaze,, basically sounding unpredictable. Jimmy is sloppy but he has PROVEN that if required, he CAN do the flawless solo.

I'm Gonna Crawl.......perfect.

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One thing no one has ever really mentioned on a forum is how slick much of Page's playing is on ITTOD. I really dig much of the solos

here, simply because it's another side of Jimmy. But to tell you the truth, when Page did the thing with the Crowes, I didn't like it all

That much because the format meant everybody was sort of on a leash. And Page to my ears should be taking chances, playing

Kamikaze,, basically sounding unpredictable. Jimmy is sloppy but he has PROVEN that if required, he CAN do the flawless solo.

I'm Gonna Crawl.......perfect.

I wouldn't call his playing slick on ITTOD (although the album sounds slick)but delightfully loose.That solo on IGC is probably the highlight of the album.The sound of the guitar is a killer,a rough vavle overdrive sound with the vintage Les Paul(i think!)guitar,something which is missing a lot from to days processed sounds.I think the term delightfully loose describes Pages playing perfectly,or should that be 'tight but loose'

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The reason so many young kids are playing that way is because of Guitar Hero and other digital programmers.I played along to garage band and found myself stagnating as opposed to a live drummer/bassist.Also there has been so much advancement in technology with guitar equipment that kids are getting more involved with that than actually music.Also guitar magazines are filled music tabs and free cds transcribing every technical nuance of Satriani,Malmsteen,Petrucci and those ridiculous guys out of Dragonforce.Very rarely does it mention anything about feel,emotion.When I was a kid I just had a cheap guitar and an old homemade amp,but I tried to get the most out of what i had.Nowadays kids have got loop stations and other gizmos doing the work for them.Perhaps i'm just grumpy old man

Well, has nothing to do with age or being grumpy. It's just plain true.

It's a good thing, that I see kids/teens these days joining bandcoaching projects. However, it's amazing what kind of gear these kids have.

They own guitars, amps and other gear I will certaintly not have the money for..... I own a G&L ASAT Bluesboy semi hollow (basically a Tele Thinline), a Yamaha Pacifica and an Ovation Celebrity, My amp is a Fender Mustang 1. Off course I would love to own incredible vintage gear, but even this working girl can't pay for that........

The Ovation used to belong to my stepbrother, I've had the Yamaha since my teens and only recently purchased the G&L

OK, so my gear is not the best of the best. I think one of the things with truly making music, is making the most of the instrumentation you actually have or can afford.

Kids/teens today hardly learn to play with emotion/feel, it's all about showing off expensive gear (their parents must truly make plenty of money I guess, ugh...) and playing at lightning speed.........

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From how i see it, hear it, i agree that page was noticeably sloppy in 77 and 80. His touring career playin zep songs though, goes from 68 to 2000, with great post zep years in 88, 98 and humbly sharing guitar spots w the black crowes guitarists in 99, 2k for a presentation of zep songs with an actual guitar army sound. One has to look at his whole career. My gosh, to me, this is a subject where it shows how quick it is to judge anything or anybody...not here, but in the broader music fan community. To me pages 88 tour, shows how he just simply was nervous for the atlantic 40th, as he said he was and is not a live tv type of artist. When we look back to the late 60s and 70s and see the advent of rock music being performed, presented on larger stages, stadium rock, tv, movie/woodstock. Artists with seemingly total confidence, like hendrix, or talent like jim morrison, were supposedly all playin music and creating music, under the influence of drugs, alcohol and inspiration. As far as 77 and 80 tours go for jimmy page, i just think the drugs were hurting him at that point, like a cycle of long term drug use. In the studio, page was always effective with zep, all the way up to the 78 sessions. Apparently he was drinking in 88 and 98, so that goes against the drinking arguments, about that effecting page's live music. Just 2cents.

For anyone who shuts of the stereo, while listening to a 77 or 80 show because of page's sloppy playin, (i have) listen to some 88 or 98 shows.

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Well, has nothing to do with age or being grumpy. It's just plain true.

It's a good thing, that I see kids/teens these days joining bandcoaching projects. However, it's amazing what kind of gear these kids have.

They own guitars, amps and other gear I will certaintly not have the money for..... I own a G&L ASAT Bluesboy semi hollow (basically a Tele Thinline), a Yamaha Pacifica and an Ovation Celebrity, My amp is a Fender Mustang 1. Off course I would love to own incredible vintage gear, but even this working girl can't pay for that........

The Ovation used to belong to my stepbrother, I've had the Yamaha since my teens and only recently purchased the G&L

OK, so my gear is not the best of the best. I think one of the things with truly making music, is making the most of the instrumentation you actually have or can afford.

Kids/teens today hardly learn to play with emotion/feel, it's all about showing off expensive gear (their parents must truly make plenty of money I guess, ugh...) and playing at lightning speed.........

Hey I own a Pacifica and a Mustang 2 but I do have other gear as well as you can see by my avatar.Back in the 70s when i was learning the cheap gear was crap but us kids felt like a million dollars.Gibsons and Fenders were way out of price range.There was this snobbery that you were'nt a proper musician unless you owned a Fender or Gibson,or maybe Ibanez,but only just.Kids are damn lucky with all this new gear but i just wish they would learn or at least learn a bit of old school stuff.I filled in on bass at short notice fr someor young guys for a gig and i suggested All Along the Watch tower.They didn't know it,had heard of Hendrix but only just,never heard of Bob Dylan.They werei about 20-22 and ended up playing 20 Foo Fighters songs that night

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I have to really comment on this. If you are limited to spending only $100 for a electric, you may well be screwed because at this level

Most guitars have bad fretwork, serious tuning issues, and weak/mismatched pickups. These are things that truthfully can impair your

Playing. If you can possibly. Go up to $300 or $400, you can no doubt buy any number of Fender's that are gig worthy. Also these days

There are plenty of digital/solid state amps for $150 to $200 that may have effects and sound fine. If you possibly can, when you go

Shopping for a guitar, try to bring an experienced player or someone that sets up their own guitar. If need be , buy the person lunch

Or give them $10, whatever. This will avoid you buying a nightmare. And don't be fooled by expensive gear.....if you want to sound

Like Jimmy Page, for example, learn 10 of his solos by ear or have a teacher show them to you. You could buy a $3000 Les Paul

And a $2000 Marshall Amp and unless you actually learn a artist's style or solos, you are not closer to playing like them just because

You have their gear. If you only have $200 for a gtr and amp, than I admit your equipment may hinder you.

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Maybe we should change the thread title since it's no longer about Jimmy.

I like monkeys, long strolls on the beach, and David Cronenberg movies while hanging out with artistic lesbians in a coffee house with beat poetry...

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With budget guitars, I would recommend Epiphone copies, my Epiphone Les Paul is at least as good if not better than my Gibson SG. The main difference is I could have bought 5 Epiphone guitars for the same price of the SG. The SG does do Kashmir and IMTOD very well though, but it needs some work to finish the fret ends really which for a not very cheap guitar sucks. No problems like that with the Epiphone.

I still play a budget Jackson PS-2 from the '90s most days, cheap guitars are OK if one isn't scared to set them up and experiment with them. I put a genuine Floyd Rose tremolo on it instead of the poor quality copy it came with and it is adequate for most lead playing. Amp wise I use a Spider Jam - I get the tones I want out of one amp with built in effects. For reference it is not true either that all guitars sound the same through the Line 6 Spider amps, the tone is preserved despite many people claiming it is not.

Had the delight of playing BD yesterday along with the cut-back version on the deluxe CD - frantic and physical were the words that came to mind about Jimmy's playing on the studio track, which neatly brings us back on topic.

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I have always considered Jimmy Page's guitar playing to be an art form.

Given that this thread is a discussion of his 'sloppiness' as a guitarist, the following quotes by famous Victorian Art critique John Ruskin, came to mind:

"All great art is the work of the whole living creature, body and soul and chiefly of the soul" -- The Stones of Venice I (1851)

"The picture which has the nobler and more numerous ideas, however awkwardly expressed, is a greater and better picture than that which has the less noble and less numerous ideas, however beautifully expressed" -- Modern Painters I (1843)

"Men were not intended to work with the accuracy of tools, to be precise and perfect in all their actions" -- The Stones of Venice II (1853)

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Maybe we should change the thread title since it's no longer about Jimmy.

Yes back to jimmy, I did go off there.I always found his acoustic work very intricate ,save for Hats off to R.H.but that's ment to be messy.And Born Yr Air of PG is a fine piece of fingerpicking.I was giving Candy Store Rock a spin and there is some great riffing in there and wish the tone and playing could have been applied to Hot Dog(yes I know I am going on about that again).There are times when Page is really spot on like Ten Years Gone,Stairway and Song Remains(on the companion disc,a revelation)but seemingly falls in a heap on certain unmentionable tracks.I remember when I bought TSRTS my third Zep lp where the title track sounded like an unholy mess and then it segues into The Rain Song which shows some delicate intricate stuff.I suppose that's what's keeps us on our toes wih him .

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I have said it before and I must say it again.....I am no central authority, but although Jimmy is overall certainly a sloppy player, there

are so many exceptions that you almost need a new word invented for Jimmy. I mean, there are so many shows from 69' -73'

Where Jimmy is very fluent and has tremendous technique. Jimmy from the start was occasionally sloppy, but this tag I think

Mainly started more from 75'-77', and from that point there can be no doubt that he sometimes played almost amateur-like or his

Fingers were not working in concert. I agree as well with some of the post'ers who say that played at the right time, sloppy

Playing totally has it's place. Many of the broader blues players played like this, and it is totally boring IMO to listen to perfectly

Placed blues solos without some rough edges or unpredictability. As great as Clapton is, IMO even his best stuff is a bit

Predictable. Much rather hear Page, even if it's 1980 or drugged out ARMS shows.

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I've always found Clapton kind of dull all too studied and sanitised for my ears. Have to be honest that I initially posted the question because it was something I had seen said over and over. I think I understand better now what people meant by it, or at least the relevance of the 'sloppy' term to my own study of jimmy's playing.

Edited by osoz

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I knew I wasn't alone. The only time clapton really wowed me was in a few songs songs from Cream and that one track with Blind Faith CFMWH its really the only song he sings well. I was into Clapton before I found Zeppelin. Got into Jeff Beck and Jimmy about the same time and then it was see ya later Clapton.The only other 2 guitarists to hang on were Tony Iommi and Jimi Hendrix.

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