Easy to Follow Led Zeppelin Black Dog Guitar Lesson
In this Guitar Control video lesson instructor Jon McLennan, is going to show you how to play “Black Dog Solo” by Led Zeppelin. This is a great solo and what else would you expect from guitar god, Jimmy Page. Everyone seems to have a Jimmy Page Led Zeppelin phase…that is not a phase because they never seem to get old. And going through the licks in this solo is no exception. Jimmy has a great and unique balance of being knowledgeable all over the fret board with high technical skills, but also just having so much feel and emotion pour out in ever note. In this less Jon is going to break down some of the killer licks used in this awesome solo.
Step 1: Making a Classic Lick Your Own
In this Solo, Page is playing out of the A minor pentatonic scale for the most part. Jon sometimes refers to this scale as the “rock scale” because it’s the scale all the rock players use, behind Jimmy, the band is basically just vamping behind him in a A rock groove. Page has got this lick that starts out on the 7th fret of the 3rd string, he bends up a whole step using his third finger with his middle and pointer helping support the bend. He bends one whole step bending a D note to an E note. Then put your fist finger down and barre it across two strings, the 2nd and 1st string on the 5th fret. After you do that first bend, you then pick the 5th fret 2nd string, then pick the 5th fret 1st string. Then repeat all of that over and over again.
This is an extremely classic blues and rock lick that almost every player does, and has their own take or spin on it. This is just a repetitive figure that you are doing to do over and over, until it becomes really natural. This lick is seriously a classic and it’s amazing to hear it is played by so many guitarists of different styles, genres, and levels.
I mean this lick is coming from Chuck Berry. At the 2:25 minute mark you will see Jon change just the timing and phrasing of this lick just a little bit and see how different it sounds. So it’s very cool to see different guitarists takes of this. Then he also changes the style of rhythm, playing a blues shuffle, still in A, and that also shows you how different it would sound, and how it fits both styles with just a few little tweaks. Page has just taken this lick to the next step. It’s almost like the next generations take.
He took a classic and made it more appropriate to the time period and style of his music and with how music was evolving at that time. Then he adds a few more things to this lick. He reaches over with his ring finger to the 8th fret 2nd string and pulls off to the 5th fret 2nd string. So to refresh from the beginning, he bends the 7th fret up a whole step with his ring finger, then he barres the 2nd and 1st strings on the 5th fret with his pointer and picks them one at a time right after that bend, so bend the 7th fret 3rd string, then pick the 5th fret 2nd string, then pick the 5th fret 1st string, then go to the 8th fret 2nd string with your ring finger and pull off to the 5th fret 2nd string using your pointer finger. That is a really nice variation to this lick and is so Jimmy Page. Every time you hear this Variation you think of him.
This is also a great example in taking something older or classic and making it your own, by adding your own style and feel to it. He repeats that just over and over and locks in with the band. if you are loving these Jimmy Page licks, be sure to check out our other video on how to play repetitive Jimmy Page guitar licks.
Step 2: Coming Out of This Classic Lick
How he gets out of this lick is with a series of descending pull offs. Starting on the 2nd string, Jon uses his ring finger to hold down the 8th fret, then he pulls off to the 5th fret 2nd string. He plays this twice in a row before moving to the 3rd string and placing his ring finger on the 7th fret and pulling off to the 5th fret, doing this twice in a row. Just using the notes in the scale.
Then he goes down to the root on the 4th string 7th fret with your middle finger, and then grabbing the note right under, the 7th fret 3rd string with your ring finger pulling that note off to the 5th fret 3rd string held down by your pointer finger and then slightly bending that note with your pointer finger. Then on the 4th string picking the 7th fret using your ring finger to the 5th fret with your pointer, back to the 7th fret with your ring adding lots of vibrato to that last note and using your middle and pointer fingers to help support it whole you do.
So the way of escaping that repetitive figure is to descend with those pull offs into a taste lick and ending on the root. With lots of vibrato and feel of course, I mean this is a Jimmy Page solo! Pretty cool little move there!
Recap: Easy to Follow Led Zeppelin Black Dog Guitar Lesson
I hope you enjoyed learning how to play “Black Dog Solo”. This is a great lesson to get started learning how to play licks in the style of guitar hero Jimmy Page and learning how to take a super classic lick and make it your own. Jimmy was able to take a lick that came ahead of him and revamp it and give it a totally different sound with an instantly distinct Jimmy Page flavor to it. And that is the goal! So use this lesson not only as a nice start into lead playing but also as a lesson on how to be creative and think outside the box! Remember to play this lick slow before you play it fast.