Led Zeppelin Guitar Tunings: Alternate Tunings Used By The Band

Jimmy Page is one of the greatest guitarists to ever walk the earth, and over the years Mr. Page used an array of alternate guitar tunings on Led Zeppelin records. Here’s a complete list of ALL OF THEM…


Led Zeppelin didn’t do that many albums. The albums they did do were outstanding, however, despite the band’s career being cut short by the death of their drummer, John Bonham.

Bonham died on September 25, 1980. The band, out of respect and love for their brother, decided to disband shortly thereafter. The final Led Zeppelin album, In Through The Out Door, represented the last collaboration between the original quartet.

Led Zeppelin Guitar Tunings

Over the years, from its first album, Led Zeppelin, to Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin III, IV, and Physical Graffiti, Houses of The Holy and Presence, Jimmy Page used a wide range of alternative tunings.

Most of Led Zeppelin’s classic songs – Whole Lotta Love, Black Dog, Rock & Roll, Stairway To Heaven – are in standard tuning.

But Page liked to experiment with alternate tunings too.

Here’s a complete list of ALL the alternative tunings used by Jimmy Page:

  • CACGCE – BRON-YR-AUR
  • CFCFAF – BRON-YR-AUR STOMP
  • CGCGCE – FRIENDS, HATS OFF TO (ROY) HARPER, POOR TOM
  • DADGAD – BLACK MOUNTAINSIDE, KASHMIR, WHITE SUMMER, SWAN SONG
  • DADGBE – TEN YEARS GONE
  • DGCGCD – THE RAIN SONG
  • DGDGBD – BLACK COUNTRY WOMAN, GOING TO CALIFORNIA, THAT’S THE WAY
  • EACFAC – WHEN THE LEVEE BREAKS
  • EADGBD – TRAVELLING RIVERSIDE BLUES
  • EAEAC#E – IN MY TIME OF DYING
  • EFCFAE – JENNINGS FARM BLUES
  • C#F#C#F#A#C# – WONDERFUL ONE

Why Did Led Zeppelin Break Up?

As with most seminal and iconic bands, there are always plenty of theories and myths about why Led Zeppelin broke up in 1980.

Most of the time, these myths and “theories” are usually fan speculation, bad media reporting, or just complete nonsense.

In the case of Zeppelin, the reason the band called it a day was because of the death of John Bonham.

This is why Led Zeppelin broke up; there was no conspiracy theory, no falling out between Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. The band simply could not continue as it was without Bonham – it just “wouldn’t have been the same”, according to Plant.

Bonzo was the main part of the band. He was the man who made whatever Page and I wrote basically work, by what he held back, by what he didn’t do to the tempos. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who could replace him

Robert Plant

Led Zeppelin Reunion

In the early 2000s, Led Zeppelin did a one off show at Wembley, its first since disbanding in 1989. The band recruited Bonham’s son to play drums in a fitting tribute to the late drummer.

At the time, many thought this was a sign things would progress and we might get some new material. The band practiced together extensively for the gig and, during an Oxford Q&A, Page even admitted that he thought things might progress.

Jimmy Page on Led Zeppelin’s History, Roots & Influences

However, it wasn’t to be. Robert Plant nixed the idea of doing more shows and new material out of respect for his friend. The real Led Zeppelin died with John Bonham, leaving behind one of the best back catalogues in music history.

Here’s how John Bonham’s son described the events leading up to the Led Zeppelin reunion and what happened after the show when rumors of more shows and new material began circulating.

“On the way back I said [to Plant], ‘I’ve got to ask you… are we gonna get the band back together?’” Bonham’s son recalled.

“And he said, ‘I loved your dad way too much. It’s no disrespect to you; You know the stuff better than all of us, and no one else who is alive can play it like you. But it’s not the same. I can’t go out there and fake it. I can’t be a jukebox. I can’t go out there and try to do it that way.”

Considering the amount of money that must have been thrown at the band, taking this kind of stance is beyond commendable. I have so much love for Led Zeppelin in general that when I read the above statement from Plant, I almost teared up.

Plant, Page, and Bonham were the best of friends from around the age of 15. They formed one of the greatest rock bands in history, defining music for years to come, and they left the stage with integrity and grace following the death of their beloved friend, John Bonham.

How many other bands could you see doing this? Turning down tens of millions of dollars to be a “jukebox”? I literally cannot think of any…

Next Up: Metallica’s Guitar Tunings Over The Years…

Richard

Richard has been playing guitar for over a decade and is a huge fan of metal, doom, sludge, and rock music in general – though mostly metal. Having played in bands and worked in studios since the early 2000s, Richard is a massive music production geek, a fan of minimalist recording techniques, and he really likes old-school guitars.

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