Guitar World Year in Review: The Top 10 Guitar Lessons of 2013
10. Shred Zeppelin: How to Play Like Jimmy Page by Jimmy Brown
Though he's mostly revered for his huge-sounding, eternally cool riffs, inventive altered tunings, acoustic fingerpicking masterpieces and otherworldly, ambient soundscapes, Jimmy Page also is one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock.
That his solos in such Led Zeppelin classics as "Good Times, Bad Times," "Heartbreaker," "Rock And Roll" and "Stairway To Heaven" are so firmly etched in two generations of guitarists' memories is testimony to his compositional and improvisational genius.
In this lesson, we'll examine the main technical elements and improvisational approaches that characterize Page's soloing style, and we'll look at some of his signature licks.
The Smear Box
Jimmy relies heavily on the minor pentatonic "box" pattern illustrated in FIGURE 1 for many of his licks, using mostly the top three or four strings. When he does go down to the bottom string, he'll shift positions with his middle or ring finger on the 5th string, as indicated here.
FIGURE 2 shows this fretboard pattern in the key of E with the root note E falling on the top and bottom strings at the 12th fret. Using this visual pattern as a template, Jimmy will often begin a phrase by playing the Chuck Berry-influenced "smear" motif shown in FIGURE 3 in the key of E.
This lick begins with a whole-step bend on the G string from the fourth up to the fifth (A to B). The bend is executed with either the ring or middle finger while the index-finger barres the root-fifth doublestop on the top two strings.
Page utilizes this smear motif as a springboard to dive into blazing E minor pentatonic speed licks like those shown in FIGURES 4-6. As you play through these figures, notice the use of pull-offs on the top three strings, as well as whole-step bends, such as from the minor third up to the fourth (G to A) on the 1st string at the 15th fret. You can hear Jimmy playing licks along these lines in his solos in "Good Times, Bad Times" (1:30), "Dazed and Confused" (3:52), "The Lemon Song" (1:51) and "Communication Breakdown."