Jimmy Page: Inside His Most Famous Led Zeppelin Riffs | TAB + AUDIO

March 16, 2017
PHOTO: Richard E. Aaron | Getty Images
 
Jimmy Page is one of the most captivating soloists the rock world has seen. Daring, spontaneous, melodic, bluesy, diverse, flashy, breathtaking and, yes, sloppy—all are adjectives befitting his singular style. And while Page may occasionally crash and burn, the next moment he’s sure to be soaring to unprecedented heights once again.

In this lesson, we’ll investigate some of his most electrifying licks and the techniques behind them, then wrap things up with a solo that incorporates everything.

THE LICKS
FIGURE 1A contains the basic blues phrase that Page used to launch many a killer lick. You’d be hard-pressed to find an early Zeppelin rocker—“Good Times Bad Times,” “Communication Breakdown,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “The Lemon Song” and “Moby Dick,” to name a handful—that doesn’t feature this move in one permutation or another.
 
 
FIGURE 1A
 
Practice the phrase with various picking strategies, including raking (all downstrokes), a down-down-up pattern and hybrid picking (pick and fingers).

FIGURE 1B features a 16th-note variant on the same lick. Note the rhythmic displacement here—the accents now fall on shifting parts of the measure, rather than always on the downbeat. Pages uses this approach in the opening measures of his solo on “Good Times Bad Times,” from Led Zeppelin.
 
 
FIGURE 1B
 
FIGURE 1C reverts to a triplet feel and adds 2nd-string pull-offs. This phrase recalls the one Page cycles in the double-time section of “Dazed and Confused,” also from Led Zeppelin.
 
 
FIGURE 1C
 
Throughout Page’s diverse solos, there is one common thread: thematic repetition. While some themes appear as extended melodic phrases (as in the opening bars of “Black Dog,” “Over the Hills and Far Away” and “Achilles Last Stand”), many come in the form of cycled adjacent-string licks carved from major (1-2-3-5-6) and minor (1-b3-4-5-b7) pentatonic scales.

FIGURE 2A is an E minor pentatonic-based (E-G-A-B-D) sextuplet figure played on the top string pair. Perhaps the most famous example of this lick comes at the end of the “Stairway to Heaven” solo, on Led Zeppelin IV. Consistent picking direction is the key for getting this one up to speed (try up-down or down-down).
 
 
FIGURE 2A
 
FIGURE 2B mixes triplets with straight 16ths in a hammer-on/pull-off flurry of E minor pentatonic notes.
 
 
FIGURE 2B
 
FIGURE 2C mixes A major (A—BC#-E-F#) and A minor (A—C-D-E-G) pentatonics in the the same pattern Pages uses to cap his solo on “Heartbreaker, from Led Zeppelin II.
 
 
FIGURE 2C
 
FIGURE 2D is pure A minor pentatonic. Listen for this one in the stop-time section of ”Rock and Roll” (Led Zeppelin IV). Picking down-down here should make for the best outcome.
 
 
FIGURE 2D


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