Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rock Mandolin: Going To California

As we wrap up this week’s feature of rock mandolin, I had a choice of two songs from “Led Zeppelin IV”: “Battle of Evermore” and “Going to California.” While I like Sandy Denny’s participation on the former, I believe that the mandolin parts on “Going to California” are better. While Jimmy Page played mandolin on “Battle of Evermore,” it is bassist John Paul Jones that lends his mandolin talents to “Going to California.” Since the mandolin belonged to him, it is only fitting the Jones be featured.

Early pictures of Jones show him playing a no-name mandolin; however, he later purchased a Fender acoustic when the band went on tour in America supporting “Led Zeppelin IV” in 1972.While I don't think it is one, it looks similar to the construction found with Hofner mandolins; however, Hofners typically sported curved teardrop shaped F-holes. This one doesn't.  Since that time, Jones has owned a plethora of mandolins.

Today, Jones sports an unusual triple necked mando configuration that has mandolin, octave mandolin, and 8-string bass mandobass necks. Typically, mandobasses only sport four strings, but this instrument is set up like an 8-string electric bass with octave strings in the courses with bass strings. The Mason Brothers produced this odd beauty.

It is also noteworthy to mention that Jimmy Page is using a double dropped D tuning on his acoustic guitar. From low to high, this tuning is DADGBD. I’ve used this on occasion and it is nice cross between standard tuning (EADGBE) and open D (DADF#AD). It allows a certain amount of standard guitar technique with a high drone and the low bass note. It is perfect for songs that are primarily in D like “Going to California.”  By the way, John Bonham does not appear on this cut.

This is the last in our seven-day series for the second week of the month. I hoped you liked this thematic set. Next month, we’ll look at the electric 12-string guitar as a featured instrument. I have a number of cuts already planned.

1 comment:

  1. The first mandolin Jones was seen playing in concert in 1970 and 1971 was an acoustic Martin model. that instrument can be heard on the officially released BBC recording from 1971. In the fall of 1971 he used a solidbody Framus electric. I've never been able to identify the one you have pictured above, which used only during the February tour of Austalia and New Zealand. For the US tour in 1972 he used a 4 string solidbody Fender electric, he has never performed with a Fender acoustic model. After that '72 US tour, Zep dropped the acoustic set for awhile, when they brought it back for the 5 Earls Court shows in London in 1975 Jones played an electric Harmony H35 model. And then for the 1977 US tour he played the Manson triple-neck acoustic (mandolin, 6-string, 12-sting), though as far as I recall he never actually played the mandolin neck.