Take your time when learning this part. We want each note to ring out clearly.
We have four different chord formations here. Each formation lasts for half a measure or, in other words, 2 beats. We want each chord to ring out, so let each note that you pick ring out with the other notes in the chord formation.
For the first chord formation, place your 1st finger on the 5th fret and barre the D, G, B, and high E strings, then use your 3rd finger to fret the 7th fret of the D. Hold your 1st finger there as you’ll use it for the next 2 chord formations.
On the 3rd beat of the first measure, you’ll use your 3rd finger on the 7th fret of the high E string and your 2nd finger on the 6th fret of the D string. Yep, your 1st finger should still be barred across the D, G, B, and high E strings at the 5th fret.
In the 2nd measure, we have our 1st finger still barred across the 5th fret. The only other thing to do here is to fret the 8th fret of the high E string with our 4th finger (pinky). Make sure you have a strong barre here so that the chord rings together cleanly when fingerpicked.
In the 2nd half of the 2nd measure, we’ll shift our barre down from the 5th fret to the 2nd fret. Use the 3rd finger to fret the 4th fret of your D string and your 2nd finger to fret the 3rd fret of the B string.
How To Get It To Sound Good…
Obviously, the short answer is “a lot of practice”, but if you develop bad habits you’ll be practicing it wrong.
A few key points:
- Let it ring throughout. Each chord change will break the cycle but each individual chord formation should have all notes ringing together.0
- Make sure you have quick clean changes from chord formation to chord formation. Pay special attention to the switch from the 5th fret barre to the 2nd fret that’s found in the 2nd measure.
- Don’t overplay it. Don’t attack the strings, just be easy. Play it softly. It’s a ballad for goodness sakes.
In this lesson, we’ll learn the 2nd half of the intro riff that we started in our previous lesson.
If you had trouble with the previous lesson, rest assured, the two measures from this half are actually easier than the previous 2 measures. That’s good news, right?
In the first measure. we’ll be forming a Fmaj7 chord. Use your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the D, 2nd finger for the 2nd fret of the G, and 1st finger for the 1st fret of the B string. The high E will be picked open. This chord formation lasts the entire measure, too. The picking pattern is slightly different, too.
Now, it’s time to put it together! Practice playing both parts together.
This intro from Stairway To Heaven has been the butt of a few jokes over the years because it seemed that every time you went to the music shop someone would be hunched overplaying it.
Maybe you’ll remember the scene from the movie “Wayne’s World”:
Changing To The Interlude…
The tail end of the riff changes when leading into the interlude. It’s just a two-note walk (A and B note) into what will be a C in the next measure (not shown).
This interlude is easier to play than the main riff that we’ve already learned. There are two variations. In the first, the basic chord progression is C, D, Fmaj7, Am, C, G, D:
In the variation, in the last 2 measures, the chord progression is slightly altered with the G being replaced by D and it ends on Fmaj7:
Here’s a look at how you might want to fingerpick it: