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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
Website: http://www.steinway.com/
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.)

Photos

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

Resources and Information:

http://www.geocities.com/~jpjkeys (defunct)
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This Month in
Led Zeppelin History

August xx, 1968 - Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham hold their first rehearsals in Gerrard Street, London
August xx, 1968 - Page, Grant and Chris Dreja go see Robert Plant perform at a Birmingham Teachers College. Page invites Plant to his Pangbourne house and offers him the vocalist position
August xx, 1969 - Peter Grant starts enforcing the 90/10 split in favor of the band
August 31, 1969 - The third US tour ends at the Texas International Festival in Dallas
August xx, 1970 - Zeppelin earn no less than $25,000 per show
August 17, 1970 - Page completes mixing of the Led Zeppelin III in Memphis
August 19, 1971 - The seventh North American tour opens in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
August xx, 1972 - Jimmy Page purchases Plumpton Manor in Sussex
August xx, 1973 - Jimmy starts arranging ideas for the next album
August xx, 1974 - Film maker Peter Clifton has the band re-enact scenes at Shepperton Studios
August 31, 1974 - John Paul Jones appears with David Gilmour and Steve Broughton as Roy Harper’s backing band for the night
August 04, 1975 - Robert Plant and his family are seriously injured as their car veers off the road on the island of Rhodes
August 08, 1975 - Rehearsal for Zeppelin’s Eleventh North American tour postponed after Robert is involved in a serious car accident
August xx, 1976 - Arrangements are made to show the upcoming Zep film in theaters
August xx, 1976 - Jimmy Page finishes mixing the soundtrack for the movie The Song Remains The Same
August 14, 1977 - Jimmy jams with Ron Wood at a charity golf tournament for underprivileged children
August xx, 1978 - Robert plays with Dr. Feelgood and Phil Carson in Ibiza, Spain while on holiday
August 11, 1979 - Led Zeppelin perform a second show at Knebworth due to overwhelming ticket demands
August xx, 1980 - Jimmy moves into his new Windsor home, which was purchased from Michael Caine
August 14, 2009 - It Might Get Loud opened in select theatres in NY, WA & CA.
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