Robert Plant says the keys of Led Zeppelin songs were determined solely by Jimmy Page’s guitar playing

Led Zeppelin
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Every guitarist has their own designated sweet spot on the fretboard. Whether it be the A minor pentatonic box or something more exotic, every player has a comfort zone they immediately gravitate towards as soon as they pick up their electric guitar or acoustic guitar.

Well, according to Robert Plant, Jimmy Page’s go-to spot on the fretboard was anything in the key of E. Not surprising, really, given that Whole Lotta Love, Communication Breakdown and a wealth of other Led Zep songs are all rooted around that open string.

But Page apparently favored it so much that the keys of the band’s tracks – and, consequently, Plant’s vocal parts – were wholly dictated by his guitar playing.

Plant made the admission while in conversation with Rolling Stone Music Now, saying that he often found the high notes in Zeppelin to be particularly challenging, as the songs were geared towards Page’s playing as opposed to his own vocal range.

“In Zeppelin, quite often everything was in E because you got much more out of the bottom of the guitar,” he said. “I should have gone to one of those castrati schools in Northern Italy to try and get it right.”

Safe to say Plant had a totally different experience with Alison Krauss – serial Grammy-winning vocalist – both of whom recently released their second collaborative album and their first since 2007, Raise The Roof.

Reflecting on his first time singing with Krauss, Plant commented, “It was quite weird to actually sit there [with Krauss] and say, ‘Right, here’s a song. What key shall we play it in?’ I’d never thought about what key things should be in.”

Elsewhere in the interview, the pair teased there won’t be another 14 year wait for their next team-up, with Plant adding, “We’ve still got about 6,000 songs. So if it feels good and there’s nothing to stop the flow, once we get on tour, maybe we pull up in some little town somewhere and set up and record.”

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss's Raise The Roof is available now.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.