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The Hohner Electrapiano

This Hohner electric piano was Jones' first contribution to the keyboard sounds of Led Zeppelin. Their first track with keyboards was recorded in October 1969, during the making of their first album recording at Olympic Studios near London. This ElectraPiano model is unusual because it was built in the style of a small spinet piano, with a tube amp and four speakers mounted inside. This is a late '60s product of the Hohner electric piano line (not to be confused with RMI's all-electronic ElectraPiano of the same period). Jones preferred recording with the Hohner instead of the popular Rhodes and Wurlitzer pianos, as he liked its stiff keyboard action better. Internally, the ElectraPiano is similar to both these keyboards: It has striking hammers (like the Rhodes) and a vibrating reed to create the sound (like the Wurlitzer). John Paul Jones didn't use the ElectraPiano live; only in the studio. This is because its wooden casing was more like home furniture, and was not too portable. It's sound was not clear live. "It didn't really cut through. Plus, it wasn't really built for road work. It was the sort of thing you'd have in your front room. I think that's what it was designed for," said Jones.

"Stairway To Heaven" is Led Zeppelin's most famous track, and the Hohner piano is played in a supporting role beginning at 2:14. Jones recalls playing directly into the console and using the Hohner for the piano chords with left hand bass. The part is very subtle, a supportive texture underneath the guitar tracks that follows the chord progression.

Following "Stairway To Heaven" on Zeppelin's fourth album is "Misty Mountain Hop", a bouncing heavy rock song that is based around a strong syncopated ElectraPiano riff. The riff continues throughout the song and is heavier sounding than the "Stairway To Heaven" piano, as it was recorded through its amp and speaker, not directly to the console.

Led Zeppelin's most obvious "keyboard" song comes from the Houses of the Holy album. Beginning with a long electric piano instrumental, "No Quarter" was Jones' featured solo section in the live show for many years. The Hohner is processed through an EMS VCS3 synthesizer to create a 'wobbly' sound. In concert, Jones extended the song with lengthy improvisations and duets with Jimmy Page on guitar.

"Down By The Seaside" is another Hohner ElectraPiano song, with Jones playing a traditional country-pop piano arrangement.

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