OK, this is a project that has been in the making for months. A ton of research and time went into this one…. Its time to debut what I believe is the first ever copy of Jimmy Page's Custom Hiwatt 100!!!.... Before I say another word, let me just get it out there that this is my personal amp and its not for sale and wont be sold by me, not only because I don’t want to but because having the Hiwatt name on it is for my use only and not for resale. Don’t want to screw myself!!!.... Apologies that this post will be so long, but Eric and I have been dying to share all this info with Page fans and it needs to be thorough. Thanks to Eric (Albion) for building this beauty for me!….
MY NEW AMP...
BUT… before we get into this amp, a little history is in order which I think many (including hard-core Page fans) will find VERY SURPRISING!!...... Below is a picture of Jimmy Page’s ACTUAL 100w Hiwatt (one of two) that he used at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970. It showed up at a well known repair shop a few years ago for service.
PAGE'S ACTUAL AMP...
PAGE DIDN'T JUST USE HIS HIWATT FOR A COUPLE GIGS, HE USED IT LIVE FROM AUGUST '69 TO NOVEMBER '71!!!
When you think of Jimmy Page live, you think of Marshall. Well guess what, for nearly two and a half years and a ton of Zep gigs, THE amp primarily used by Jimmy Page live was Hiwatt, NOT Marshall! Ive know for some time now that Page used his custom made Hiwatt in early ’70. But I was surprised to find that it was his amp of choice going back to mid ’69 and all the way to the end of ‘71! And two and a half years is a long time in the early days of Zep… The newly broadcast Paris ’69 has some killer tone, and probably one of my favorite live tones ever is Montreaux, March ’70. I also love the tone in late ’70 (the Blueberry Hill tour) as well as throughout ’71. You can hear variations in his tone during that period…. But the constant throughout is the Hiwatt!
CHECK OUT THESE PIX, (look closely) THEY'RE ALL WITH HIS CUSTOM MADE HIWATT!!!
They'll take you through the years... Check out the 8-70 shot, thats the Hiwatt footswitch he's stepping on!... And you can really see his name clearly in the 4/71 shot...
Notice that beginning with the August ’69 picture, Jimmy’s standard setup was two Marshall stacks (no heads on top) and the two Jimmy Page Hiwatts on a table next to the stacks. He used this setup right through all of 1970 including September (the Blueberry Hill tour!). In only one of these pix (early ’71) do you even see a Marshall at all which was being daisy chained with the Hiwatt. Even by December ’71 he was still using the two Hiwatts although by that time the table is gone. Even though you cant make out the Jimmy Page name on the face panel in all pix, you can tell that it is indeed his custom heads throughout the two years when you notice the positioning of the type on the face panel (not the standard DR103 layout) and the unusual XLR switch input on the left of the front panel… take your time and zoom in on the pix and you’ll see that clearly throughout that two plus year period he was using the Custom Hiwatt 100 ‘Jimmy Page’ amps. So the earliest photo I have found of him using his signtature Hiwatts is the Toronto, August '69 pix. But it may be safe to assume that he actually started using them as early as July 5th because that was the beginning of that American tour and Ive been told of a picture of them in July in Central Park where he has the Hiwatts!……… Im not about to dump my vintage Marshalls, they are killer, but the significance of this is that there was quite a long period of time covering many known bootleg shows that Page was using Hiwatt, not Marshall….
The next important thing to talk about here is that Jimmy’s 100w Hiwatt did not sound like the typical Hiwatt DR103 of the day. Anyone who has played a stock early 100w Hiwatt will tell you that trying to get Royal Albert Hall or Montreaux tones out of one is extremely difficult. Those amps are way clean with a ton of headroom and even played on 10 they don’t seem to have the quality of tone you hear in the Zep recordings. They just don’t break up in the same way. Jimmy’s Hiwatt amp is much closer to typical plexi Marshall. The Hiwatt has a bit more cut and focus, but it still responds very much like a great plexi. Not high gain, but more saturation and softness than a standard DR103. That’s because Page’s circuit was different and not a standard production model at all. Hiwatt offered a few special features for artists and JP’s was very unusual. Only the power supply section is similar to a DR103, and even then there is a small departure from a normal DR103 which Eric included on my amp…
It took a very long time to research and develop my amp but Eric and I were able to copy Page's very closely. We have photos of the inside of his actual amp (which I can’t post here, because they are not ours). And through research and many calls we got all the info and parts we needed to build this amp. A lot of tests were done and various tweaks were tried & employed to get as close as possible to JP’s unique amp. So my amp not only looks the part, but functions and sounds like Page’s!... The unusual circuit design allows for more gain than a standard 100w. Again, not high gain, but more typical of plexi gain and saturation… And my amp includes the bizarre footswitch that plugs into the XLR input on the front panel. The footswitch is simply a volume cut and the amount of cut is controlled by the balance knob. Also it acts as a cathode follower line out too. Meaning that if the amp were tied to another amp at the same time (which Jimmy did a lot), it would allow the balance to drive the other amps input. There are quite a few pictures out there that show this footswitch on the floor that many of us wondered what it was used for…. It’s the Hiwatt footswitch!
But it’s the tone of my amp that’s flooring me. I knew when we started this project, that we would have a cool look-alike amp, but I didn’t know if I was going to want to play the thing! Ive included some soundfiles..…. I can play this amp forever, I love it! In many ways it feels similar to my ’69 plexi, but it has a bit more of a ‘high fidelity’ character which I guess is typical of Hiwatt. Especially when you roll down and play clean. Listen to White Summer from Paris, October ’69 and you’ll hear that warm, fat tone Im talking about…. Played through old basketweaves, it’s a combination to die for!
RECENT BETTER QUALITY SOUNDFILES BELOW!
Eric has a killer home recording studio so I was finally able to record the amp properly. Here's a couple clips of me playing Moby and Eric playing Heartbreaker..... There is also a cool clip of Eric doing a piece of one of his originals where he set up the amp for more of a mid 70s Zep tone..... The guitar used was his Historic '60 reissue with a T-top in the bridge and two basketweave cabs with G12H30s and no attenuator....... Depending on amp settings and whether you use PAF type pickups or T-tops, a wide range of tones can be achieved.... for these files we used a T-top equipped guitar.... Excellent drumming by Mike Parsons and solid bass lines by Michael Turner..... Just give them a few seconds to open when you click on them.....
More 'lo-fi' soundfiles recorded at home with a digital recorder:
We spared no expense when building this amp. Custom made Hiwatt style turret boards are filled with the correct original NOS mustard caps. NOS OEM original tube sockets, NOS UK Cliff jacks and fuse holders were used. Military spec closed pots (like the originals) and high end switches as well. Premium F&T cans with correct tolerances. The wire is solid core throughout like the originals. And the trannies are reverse engineered copies of the original Partridge transformers used on Hiwatts. Eric did an awesome job of following the meticulous layout and work of original Hiwatts. This thing is built like a brick shithouse!
Anyway, hope you got a kick out of this whole thing. For a guy that will be forever associated with Marshall it sure surprised me how much Hiwatt was a big part of Jimmy Page’s history as well…. Thanks again to Eric (albion) for bringing this beast to life, his work on this is the work of a true craftsman!!!...Hat’s off to him! Here are some detailed pix of my Page amp (#JPP001)….
MORE PICTURES OF MY PAGE AMP WILL FOLLOW BELOW...