the three lowest strings with a
plectrum, while grabbing the upper strings
with his middle, ring, and pinkie fingers. Feel
free to play this, and other examples, completely
fingerstyle if that’s most comfortable.
So with that said, realign your strings to
C6 tuning—C, A, C, G, C, E [low to high],
hammer on to the 3rd fret of the fifth string
while strumming all six, and vibe on the
coolest-sounding C chord you’ve ever heard
for Ex. 2a. Page is all over this tuning on
“Poor Tom,” “Bron-Yr-Aur,” and “Friends,”
and the Middle-Eastern mojo of the latter
track is evoked by the sliding octave shapes
against droning fifths in Ex. 2b.
Epic in scope and grandeur, “The Rain
Song” isn’t purely acoustic, but supporting
the myriad multi-tracked layers of majesty
is an intricate steel-string framework.
Although he played the song on electric
guitar in concert with Led Zeppelin, on subsequent
tours with Zep frontman Robert
Plant in the ’90s, Page regularly performed
the song sans solidbody. Retune to D, G,
C, G, C, D [low to high] and play through
Ex. 5, which spotlights the song’s austere
climax. Here, however, I chose to end with
the more robust G voicing Page substituted
in concert for the original recording’s G5.
For our last example, Ex. 6, let’s return
to standard tuning, E, A, D, G, B, E [low
to high]. The triplet and sextuplets hammer-
ons and pull-offs, are similar to Page’s
sprightly intro figure on “Over the Hills
and Far Away.” The big-stretch G chord
(with your pinkie reaching for the B note
on the 7th fret of the first string) is my
way of replicating the song’s lush 6- and
12-string layers, but the cleverly-voiced C
and Bb6 chords in the fourth bar are pure JP.
The most enduring image of Jimmy Page
may well be that of a Les Paul-toting, violin
bow-wielding sonic wizard, but when he
did break out his Martin D-28, the magic
conjured was no less potent!
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