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Steinway B-211 Drawing Room Grand Piano
John Paul Jones & Robert Plant, Stairway To Heaven, July 17, 1977, The Forum, Inglewood, California
General Specs
Keys: 88
Pedals: 88
Finish: Ebony High Polish
Dimensions: 6'11"L x 4'10"W, 760 lbs.
Years Used: 1970 - 1977
For the 1975 Earls Court dates, John Paul Jones decided to add a real piano on stage. Jones' own Steinway B-211 Drawing Room Grand Piano was chosen, which is a common instrument for both pop and classical artists. Steinway, the most recognized name in classical pianos, has a long history. Known for their excellent tone and construction, the Steinway has become one of the most widely distributed piano makes, and thus a common choice for touring professionals since service and parts are available in most cities.

Having a real acoustic piano allowed for a truer sound, but also created new problems with tone, feedback, and tuning. To prevent microphonic feedback, a Helpinstall Model 175 6-channel pickup system was used. The Helpinstall system was very common in the 1970s and used a long magnetic pickup to sense string vibration, like on a guitar. However John Paul Jones felt that the Steinway was "never right" during the tour. He was constantly plagued by sound and mechanical problems. "I had such a terrible time... always looking over my shoulder and shouting 'turn it up! Turn it down!'' It's hard to play when you're shouting instructions," Jones recalls.

For the tour in 1977, Led Zeppelin hired a new keyboard technician named Ed Kolakowski, who had worked preparing live pianos for many artists (including classical pianist Artur Rubenstein and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney). Kolakowski spent a great deal of time preparing Jones' piano setup and monitors, and Jones felt the piano was "spot on" every night. One of the unusual requirements was the making of a special leg for the piano: As the standard leg spacing would not accomodate the bass pedals underneath, Kolakowski designed a special leg machined of aluminum that would replace the wooden leg and thus allow the extra space for the bass pedals.

John Paul Jones used a Steinway piano in the studio for many of their albums. His piano work is very standard, but effective. He explains, "Piano is close to my heart, but I had some bad experiences with lessons and I wouldn't go near it for a long time." Piano appears on The Rain Song, Friends, Hot Dog, South Bound Saurez, and Darlene. (The piano on Rock and Roll and Boogie With Stu was played by Ian "Stu" Stewart.)


Steinway B-211 Drawing Room Grand Piano
Led Zeppelin, Trampled Underfoot, May 23, 1975, Earls Court Exhibition Centre, London, England
Steinway B-211 Drawing Room Grand Piano
Led Zeppelin, The Song Remains The Same, ca. 1977
Steinway B-211 Drawing Room Grand Piano
John Paul Jones' home studio, ca. 1999

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