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Want to rip like Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page? We
show you how!
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Shred Zeppelin: How to Play Like Jimmy Page
Soloing Strategies: Jimmy Page
Posted 04/14/2012 at 11:30am | by Tom Kolb
Truly a guitar god, Jimmy Page is one of the
most captivating soloists the rock world has
ever known. 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. Let's check out some
of his most electrifying licks.
The Licks
Fig.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. Practice the phrase with various picking strategies,
including raking (all downstrokes), a down-down-up pattern, and hybrid picking (pick and fingers).
Fig. 1B features a 16th-note variation 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. Page uses
this approach in the opening measures of his solo on “Good Times Bad Times” (from Led Zeppelin).
Fig.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” (Led Zeppelin).
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–f3–4– 5–f7) pentatonic scales. Fig. 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 (Led Zeppelin IV,
a.k.a. ZOSO).
Consistent picking direction is the key for getting this one up to speed (try up-down or down-down).
Fig. 2B mixes triplets with straight 16ths in a hammer-on/pull-off flurry of E minor pentatonic notes.
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Fig.2C mixes A major (A–B–C#–E–F#) and A minor (A–C–D–E–G) pentatonics in the same pattern
Page uses to cap his solo on “Heartbreaker” (Led Zeppelin II). Fig. 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.
Page's lines are also peppered with scale sequences. Fig. 3A is a pull-off-fueled, groups-of-three
sequence that cascades down the E minor pentatonic scale in 12th position. Page fires off a similar
line in the outro solo of “Good Times Bad Times” (Led Zeppelin). Fig. 3B is a six-note sequence
that travels up the neck via the A minor pentatonic scale. This one's a bit trickier, as it employs
hammer-ons, pulloffs, and slides. Work through both examples slowly, gradually increasing the
tempo as you master the moves.
Page employs plenty of string bending in his solos. Fig. 4A demonstrates unison bends, as heard at
the end of “Stairway to Heaven.” For the first two dyads, keep your 1st finger fixed on the 1st string;
and, with your 4th finger, bend the 2nd string to match the pitch of the 1st string. Use your 3rd finger
for the 3rd-string bends. Fig. 4B shows Page's superhuman over-bends (“The Lemon Song” and
“Whole Lotta Love” [Led Zeppelin II]). Such bends take some muscle, so give the string a good
yank-just don't hurt yourself.
Fig. 4C shows Page's pedal steel-influenced bends as heard in “Over the Hills and Far Away”
(Houses of the Holy) and “All My Love” (In Through the Out Door). Keep your 4th finger fixed on the
1st string while you bend the 2nd string with your 3rd finger. Fig. 4D is an example of Page's
behind-the-nut bends in “Heartbreaker.” As you hammer on and pull off the notes with your fret
hand, reach behind the nut and push down on the 3rd string with your pickhand fingers.
Page also shows a penchant for pulling off to open strings. Fig.5A features A minor pentatonic-
derived pull-offs similar to the ones in “Heartbreaker.” Fig. 5B is a sequenced minor-pentatonic-pull-
off-fest that he used in “Whole Lotta Love.”
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Although he was a flashy soloist, Page could turn a slow-blues phrase like no other. Fig.6A is
inspired by his opening lick in “Since I've Been Loving You” (Led Zeppelin III). Fig. 6B speeds
things up a bit with an E blues scale (add major 7th) (E–G–A–Bb–B–D–D#) line like the one in “The
Lemon Song.”
The Solo
The 20-bar, riff-driven solo [Fig.7] is based largely on an A5 chord. The only change occurs in
measures 13-16, where C Lydian harmonies (Dadd4/C and C) modulate to E Mixolydian chords
(D/E and E5). The feel is hard rock with a funk undercurrent.
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The solo opens with the lead guitar mirroring the main riff-an open-position A5 chord vamp
interspersed with G and C notes. This continues for several measures before segueing to an open
string-fueled A Dorian (A–B–C–D–E–F#–G) lick inspired by the opening riff of “Over the Hills and
Far Away.” At measure 5, the solo begins in earnest with a gradual 3rd-string bend that spans two
and a half steps (five frets!). If your guitar is sporting heavy strings, you may want to opt for a whole-
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Jimmy Page
Discusses His New
Solo Album,
'Outrider,' and More in
1988 Guitar World
Interview, Part 1
Shred Zeppelin: How
to Play Like Jimmy
Page
Soloing Strategies:
Randy Rhoads
Jimmy Page
Launches Official
Website,
JimmyPage.com,
Today
Artists:
Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin
Topics:
Jimmy Page, Led Zeppelin, Soloing Strategies, Soloing
Strategies, Lessons
3
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step bend, from B to C#. Next comes a squirrelly A blues (A–C–D–Eb–E–G) lick that leans heavily
on the f5th (Eb). This is followed by a pair of quirky oblique bends: the first is a half-step bend from
F# to G, which results in a major 2nd (G–A) rub between the 2nd and 1st strings; the second is
similar, but the rub is even closer this time, with the bend producing a minor 2nd (F#–G) between
the top string pair. For both moves, make sure you let the two notes ring together through the
release of each bend.
Measures 8–11 provide rhythmic and melodic space with a sequence of quarternote unison bends
culled from the A minor pentatonic scale. The rapid-fire phrase in measure 12 is inspired by the
opening licks from the “Whole Lotta Love” solo. Fueled by pull-offs and slides down the 3rd string, it
begins with the A blues scale (pickup notes), segues to A Dorian, and culminates in A minor
pentatonic notes. Put the phrase together bit by bit and you'll begin to understand the sequential
patterns at work.
The Dadd4/C–C changes in measures 13–14 call to mind the unique harmonies of songs like
“Dancing Days” and “The Ocean.” Here, the lead guitar plays a pair of melodic motifs drawn from
the C Lydian mode (C–D–E–F#–G–A–B) and decorated with 3rdstring bends and slides. Measure
15 brings D/E–E5 chord changes, and the melodic motif reaches its conclusion on the 4th string
with a bend-and-release move (F#–G–F#) resolving to E. What follows is sort of a backwards
version of the pull-off licks in “Whole Lotta Love.” View this as an open-position E blues-scale
pattern that segues to a 3rdposition E minor pentatonic line, which in turn yields to A major
pentatonic notes around 5th position.
Measure 17 marks the return of the main riff with a bluesy, stuttering series of prebent C notes in a
triplet rhythm. Measure 18 contains a gradual whole-step bend from C to D, and the solo goes out
with a couple of classic phrases lifted from “Communication Breakdown” and “Stairway to Heaven.”
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pearlj10
April 17, 2012 at 3:17pm
These are great!! Can you guys add an audio file or do a video so I can be sure I'm playing it right.
Thanks.
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floodone
April 14, 2012 at 8:36pm
I am glad that you guys sent me this email. This will help with the solo that I need for learning the
blues at the guitar school. I have only this week to practice these lessons. Jimmy Page is one of the
greatest guitar players that I gotten the pleasure to meet in person, six years ago.
Sincerely,
Flood
gibsonlover69
October 06, 2008 at 5:11pm
jimmy page rocks my socks! Sweet lessons
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