How to Play Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin

Check out this free lesson from Guitar Control instructor Jon MacLennan on How to Play Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Be sure to get the free tabs so you can easily follow along with How to Play Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin.

How to Play Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin


Hey how’s it going this is Jon MacLennan, I hope you’re doing fantastic and welcome to this video lesson. I’m here today with and today’s lesson is on a song called the Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin and it’s a master class in rock guitar playing. We’re gonna break down the entire song so don’t forget to click the link below so you can get the tab that goes along with this video lesson. Alright well make sure you’re in tune and let’s zoom in and break it down the Immigrant Song.

Immigrant Song Main Riff

The main riff of Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin sounds like this… super-powerful riff and really all it is, is an octave, it’s an F sharp note and then it’s also an F sharp note an octave higher and octaves are really cool things they can help you in a lot of ways.

As a guitar player for instance, let’s say that you are familiar with the notes on the lower strings maybe their names, you know E and F sharp G and maybe, not so much on some of the higher strings, so you can use octaves. Let’s say I didn’t know what note this was I could make the shape of an octave from the song and it’ll immediately tell me that this note is this note and so maybe I know okay that’s at the fifth fret that’s an A so is this. So we can make those connections in this song, the Immigrant Song better.

The way that I do that is I play the second fret and then I skip a string and play the fourth fret and octaves are all over and all kinds of music you know whether it’s like classic rock, if you do this in Zeppelin you know Foo Fighters, you even hear it in guys like Wes Montgomery jazz players that do things like that. So if this is an octave we also have that as well, so anything on the first string is the same on the sixth string.

So I’m going to play this note three times and then I’m gonna move up to that fourth fret high octave, play it once and then shoot back down to the low octave and then I play that again; so it’s three high octave once then twice down here. Now when I come back from the high octave so that notes a little bit staccato, so it’d be what that is I just kind of disconnected a little short and disconnected, so the first ones are held…

Now what’s gonna help you is the right hand picking that I’m doing. So basically I’m going down then down up and down… believe it or not, that’s it, that’s a two beat… Let’s do it together, it’s nice and slow… I use my first finger pinkie that seems easy for me, it’s comfortable on my hand. So now one thing that really makes this riff is the fact that even though I just broke it down for you and showed it to you; the picking of it, it’s basically like a strum but you have to really mute the strings.

So the idea is like I’ll give you just kind of in this style… So what I’m doing is I’m strumming all the strings, but I’m only letting one note come through. So the way that you do that is you dampen. So for instance like let’s say that I played this note here on the second fret of the fourth string. I’m gonna give the strings and you hear the sound, its so you get that percussive, but really my first finger is playing this one note, it’s arcing to the side and muting all the other strings, strings one through three and then it’s also coming up and just lightly touching this string to mute it and then my thumbs over the top and doing that so and then in between I might even close my hand down and do this like as if I was just, you know playing clicks; so that’s the technique that you have to use to really get the sound and I’ll show you the difference.

Okay here’s just playing the straight riff without doing this technique and now with the technique… so that’s a pretty big difference you know and it kind of goes from just sounding like a guitarist practicing in a bedroom to some stadium ready epic rock guitar playing. So practice that and again in my mind I’m not following that same pattern, but almost thinking like a strumming pattern. Here’s it is; down, down, down, down, now what if we just held like an F sharp minor, that’s like my hand is doing. I don’t have to go through every string, but I have to approach it like this… so that’s how you play the main riff. Nice work so you’re feeling good with that first section. Let’s move on to the next part of How to Play Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. Let’s take a look at the verse.

The Verse

We come out of the main riff and we play an A chord it sounds like this… that’s just open fifth string and then one finger like this, not like an acoustic guitar player, but like one finger Jimmy Page style. Then you play an A chord, so then same thing again, one, two, three, okay, so basically chords and then the riff kind of going back and forth and then it looks like the riff goes five times and then you play the A and then you’re back to the E and then you go into the chorus.

The Chorus

Okay so the chorus for Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin sounds like this… back to the riff. Now my favorite part is the very end and it’s where I remember hearing this thing, what the heck is that sound, and then when I transcribed it, I figured it out. So basically the idea is you do the riff and then you play a C9 chord, which is starting from the fifth string; three, two, three and it’s just like this in your face sound. I think it’s because it’s a tritone away from the root, so it’s like just this… it’s so dissonant being a tritone away, but it sounds amazing. Then he doubles it up and then when it ends, it just goes…


That’s how you play the Immigrant Song. Thank you so much for watching How to Play Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin. I really hope this video lesson helps you out and inspires you and makes you want to pick up the guitar and play more every day. For more information click on the link below and check out some of the courses available at Don’t forget to subscribe.

I’m Jon MacLennan. Thanks for watching How to Play Immigrant Song by Led Zeppelin, we’ll see you next time.

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