In The Style of Joe Walsh

By Miguel Ángel Ariza

If a couple of weeks ago we entered into the acoustic sound of the Eagles to talk about Glenn Frey’s guitars this week we have to talk about the electric sound of that band and celebrate with these lines the birthday of the guy who gave them the ‘rocker punch’ that the Angelenos needed to finally take over the charts. The one in charge of raising the volume potentiometers of the Eagles was called Joe Walsh, and he is our protagonist today.       

When Joe Walsh joined the Eagles in 1975, he was already a rock star thanks to his work in bands like James Gang and had even tasted success among rock audiences with his solo albums. In addition, his personal merits in that first stage of his career are not limited only to his songs but he has to take much of the responsibility for helping forge two rock sounds that are authentic references of British rock of the late 60s and the early 70s: the sound of Led Zeppelin and the sound of the Who

In 1969 it was Joe Walsh who brought to Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, in person, the 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard that would change the course of Planet Earth. They had met on tour and become good friends, and Page told Walsh that he was looking for a new sound (remember that at that time what we were listening to with Led Zeppelin was mainly the sound of a Fender Telecaster) and that he wanted to try a Les Paul. Walsh had two so he kept his favorite and the other one he took to his friend Jimmy Page who turned it into his 'Number one' – first to enjoy himself and then afterwards… the rest of the planet.

As if that were not enough, another of his friends, Pete Townshend, also went to Walsh in search of sonic advice for his new recordings. The leader of the Who was using a Gibson SG in his live performances, plugged into a handful of Hiwatt amps, and the American replied by putting in his hands a 1959 Gretsch 6120 and the Fender Bandmaster that would end up being the main protagonists of the eternal work entitled Who's Next. 

We can never be sufficiently grateful to Joe Walsh for advising his friends so well ... 

That said, it's time to talk a little about his guitars. He began his career with a Fender Telecaster that he used to plug directly into a Fender Champ Blackface. That is the sound we can hear in songs that marked the style of his first albums like Funk # 49. 

But he was always an avid buyer of guitars so it is possible that he has touched at some point in his life all the models that you can think of. Mind you, do not think of him as a collector but as a pioneer in the personal modification and adjustment of his guitars. He was one of the first guitarists to begin to alter the magnets of the pickups, to remove their covers looking for more output, to lower the neck... always looking for his desired tone and comfort in moving his fingers across the fretboard.      

In the Eagles some of his most characteristic solos like Hotel California are also played with a Fender Telecaster, leaving Don Felder with the humbucker tone of the Les Paul, but there are many guitars that he used and continued using with the Los Angeles band like for example the Rickenbacker 230 that he used for the slide parts. For many years he has been an endorser of the Carvin brand and in recent times we can almost always see him playing some of the most spectacular models of the German brand Duesenberg. We have had the opportunity to try some of their models and we can attest to the quality of these guitars; their designs, their finishes, the sound that the pickups make and even the bomb-proof vibrato system are some of the things for which this brand is little by little getting known for among many of the great artists of our times. Joe Walsh even has his own signature model with this brand: the Duesenberg Alliance Series Joe Walsh.

And if all this is not enough, we should conclude by saying that although our friend Peter Frampton was the one who imposed its use throughout the world: the first authentic guitarist in history to use a Talk Box live was Joe Walsh. He still has the first model that Bob Heil made for him and that he would later show the author of Show Me the Way how to use. 

As you can see we could dedicate a weekly article to talk about Joe Walsh and it would take months to talk about everything we want. He was a pioneer, a rock star before the Eagles, a devil of a guitarist who has collaborated with the greatest, a living legend who has in his possession some of the most remembered solos and riffs of all time ... In short, an eagle that keeps flying high.