Riff of the Month, Episode 1

Hi Everyone, my name is Andrew Hooker. I am the founder and owner for Music Lessons Will Travel. Today I am excited to announce the launch of this new website, and to feature the first video entitled, “Riff of the Month”. Each month I will be publishing a video of myself demonstrating a song. I will perform an abbreviated version of the song, and then briefly talk about the techniques and concepts used in order to play the song. In order to teach someone, you must be able to demonstrate what you teach!

“Riff of the Month, Episode 1” we cover one of the biggest rock bands and guitarist of all time, Mr. Jimmy Page of Led Zepplin. The song I chose was “Whole Lotta Love” off of the album Led Zepplin II. I chose this artist and song for a number of reasons. When I was 10 years old, I watched the 1984 Knebworth festival with my brother on T.V. That year, Led Zepplin, played a reunion show. This was my first time ever seeing or hearing this band. I was totally blown away, and knew instantly, the guitar was what I wanted to play. I begged my father for weeks for an electric guitar, and he finally bought me one. “Whole Lotta Love” was the first song I taught myself by ear (because there were no guitar instructors in my tiny town of MS).

As you watch the video, you’ll see the use of slide playing, power chords, minor pentatonic and blues scales, and the heavy use of string bending. The key to playing this song is the proper use of string bending and guitar tone. Led Zepplin was heavily rooted in the blues, and being from Mississippi, the blues is my roots as well. ¬†One of the most over looked aspects of this song is the opening guitar riff. As you slide from the note B on the six string to the note D on the 5th string, it’s critical that you bend the 5th string slightly out of tune while playing the 4th string open. When doing this, you create an interval of a minor 2nd, and that dissonance is what makes this riff sound so cool! Secondly, guitar tone and what amp you use is equally as important. In the early days, Page used a Fender Telecaster, but later he moved to the Gibson Les Paul which he is known for. It’s believed that in the early days he recorded all his guitars on a small Supro combo amp, which is only a 24 watt amp. However, most pictures show him performing with a Marshall stack. Because I was unable to find a Supro amp, I chose to go with a Marshall 1987x 50 watt plexi reissue for this video demonstration.

I hope you have enjoyed this episode of “Riff of the Month”, and I hope this has shed some light on how to play “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zepplin. If you like my teaching and playing style, and want more info on music lessons, give me a call at 615-397-9634.

Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next month!

Keep on Rockin’

Andrew Hooker