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How To Play The Lemon Song
Today we are going to go over how to play “The Lemon Song” by Led Zeppelin. We’re going to go over the main riff and a small lead. This riff is super cool and groovy. It has a very classic blues sound mixed with that Led Zeppelin attitude. All the fills are killer and the solo is very cool too. Let’s break them down!
Step 1: Dissecting The Main Riff
Learning how to play the “Lemon Song” main riff is fairly simply because the first part of the riff stays constant through the whole time, with some variations added at the end. So let’s break down this main part first and then we can go over those! First we pick the open 6th string twice, then we go to the 6th string 4th fret and pick it twice, then to the 6th string 5th fret, and same thing, we pick it twice. Then to the 6th string 7th fret but this time we only pick it once and then we pick the open 6th string again, just once. So this entire part we just went over is all on the 6th string. Then we play the “Hendrix chord” it has this name because he made it popular! I’m sure you recognize it from “Purple Haze” or a ton of other songs. To play this chord we start by placing our middle finger down on the 7th fret 5th string, E. Then we take our pointer and put it on the 6th fret 4th string, our ring finger also goes on the 7th fret but the 3rd string, right under our middle finger, and last but not least, our pinky goes on the 8th fret 2nd string.
Now that we have all of our fingers down, we strum down, then we mute the guitar with both hands by karate chopping the strings with your picking hand and at the same time just lifting the chord shape slightly so its just touching the strings, not pressing them down, with your fretting hand. We do this twice. So all of this happens every time. And now we get to the variations. If you are enjoying learning this song, be sure to check out our lesson, how to play Rock N Roll by Led Zeppelin, for another awesome Zeppelin song to add to your repertoire.
The first time through the riff we of course play all of this, and then we end it by just adding one more strum of the Hendrix chord. We do this for the first and last time. So variation one and four. For the second variation we bar and kind of make an open A Major shape on the 12th fret, so holding down the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings all with our pointer finger. First I’m just going to pick just the 4th string, then I’m going to strum all of them, remember we are keeping this barred shape the whole time. Then I place my ring finger on the 14th fret 5th string the strum from the 4th string to the 2nd still holding that bar with our pointer, three times.
The third variation is the hardest! Its challenging because the position is a little awkward. WE start with an open on the 3rd string, then we hammer- on on the 3rd string to the second fret and hammer-on again to the 4th fret, all on the 3rd string, using our pointer finger on the 2nd fret and our ring finger on the 4th. Then we are going to drop our middle finger to the 2nd string 3rd fret, and this is kind of the hard part. Then back to 3rd string pulling off now, 4th fret to the 2nd to zero. Then pulling off the 2nd fret to open on the 4th string. And that’s it! It’s not too tricky but I would recommend slowing it down to make sure you have the pattern right before speeding it up since it isn’t totally usual. This takes us to our last variation, the fourth, which is the same as the first! So just hitting the Hendrix chord one extra time.
Step 2: The Lead
We start our lick by bending a whole step on the on 15th fret 2nd string. While the bend is in the air we pick three times and on the last time we also bring our bend down. Then we pick the 12th fret 2nd string twice, straight to the 14th fret on the 3rd string once to the 12th fret on the 3rd string once, and end this phrase by picking the 14th fret on the 4th string once. For the next part we stay on the 4th string and we chromatically play the 12th, 13th, and 14th frets. Chromatic means notes right next to each other. Then we drop our pointer to the 3rd string 12th fret, back to the 14th fret on the 4th string with our ring finger, and then back to to the 12th fret with our pointer but this time on the 4th string. And I am alternate picking all of that which means I’m switching back and forth between picking down, and picking up. Then we end this lead with almost a response to that last part.
Now we go to the 5th string and play chromatically the 12th fret, 13th and 14th frets all on the 5th string and then drop down to the 4th string 12th fret with our pointer and then end on the 14th fret 5th string with vibrato and then slide down. And that’s the entire lead!
Recap: How To Play The Lemon Song
I hope you enjoyed learning how to play “The Lemon Song” by Led Zeppelin. This song is super fun and has a few pretty challenging parts. So whether you are just starting to learn some lead techniques or have been playing for a while, it’s a good one to learn! Jimmy Page always has a lot of cool interesting licks and phrases he throws in and always with tons and tons of feel. So slow these parts down and then work them up, and you’ll be jamming along in no time!