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Learn To Play Stairway To Heaven

Updated on September 30, 2014

Play Stairway To Heaven

Have you been wondering how to play Stairway to Heaven? I am often asked that question. Stairway To Heaven is THE iconic rock song. So much so that Stairway to Heaven has been nearly played to death by guitar buyers in music stores worldwide.


Written in the heyday of progressive rock, Stairway to Heaven has everything - melody, harmony, power and tranquility. From its tingly start with recorders and acoustic guitar to its powerful finish it demonstrates how great a progressive rock band Led Zeppelin were. Jimmy Page was already an accomplished guitar player and session guitarist before he put the band Led Zeppelin together and this song demonstrates his grasp of a variety of styles and techniques.


The solo to Stairway to Heaven, great as it is, was "winged" according to Page and is, I believe, only the first or perhaps second take. These days is is common to record dozens of "takes" in the recording studio and even cut and paste between them. Not necessary for someone of Page's ability and creativity!

The lyrics of Stairway to Heaven are legendary, mystic, and have received all sorts of "hidden meaning" interpretations over the years, including one about playing it backwards to hear "satanic messages" (actually, any record played backwards sounds pretty satanic). Stairway to Heaven is possibly the most played rock riff next to Smoke on the water, it is one of those "never play in a music store" tunes as a result - and wouldn't you just love to play it? Well, this page will show you the chord and scale shapes you need and lead you to official music and TABs of the most played progressive rock song ever - Stairway to Heaven!

Intro photo is my own guitar, taken by me. Please do not copy.

Jimmy Page - Composer of Stairway to Heaven - Amazing Rock Guitarist Jimmy Page

Led Zeppelin and Jimmy Page - The best of hard rock!

I grew up with this music and it is still as popular as ever! That says something!

Stairway to Heaven Chords on Flickr

See more guitar photos and graphics here.

I am adding these chords because the Photo Gallery is not working well at present. You can see them here, plus other guitar photos and graphics I have uploaded recently.

Stairway to Heaven Intro - A minor in fifth position

A minor in 5th position. Pick the strings individually, 4, 3, 2, then 1. Remember guitar strings number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 from the thinnest to the thickest.

E with added 4th

E with added 4th, pluck string 4 and string 1 together, then 3, 2, then 1 This is a major chord with an added 4th, but sounds really poignant! Jimmy Page knows his harmony!

A minor, fifth position, with melody note C

Tricky because it involves picking two strings simultaneously - but you CAN do it! The third chord is another version of A minor in 5th position, the third is doubled by the little finger on high C, again pluck strings 1 and 4, then 3, 2, then 1

D major

Again, a simple D chord, but you must pluck strings 1 and 4, then 3, 2, then 1

F major 7th

Fifth chord of Stairway to Heaven, a slightly different picking pattern here! Chord 5 is F major seventh, pluck 1 and 4 together, then 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4

Plucked G chord

You only play this G chord once. You need to pluck three strings, 6, 3 and 2, simultaneously with thumb, index and middle fingers.

Plucked A minor chord

A simple A minor chord, but picked as above with thumb plucking string 5, index and middle fingers plucking 3 and 2.

Alfred Led Zeppelin Ultimate Play Along Bass Volume 2 with 2 CD's
Alfred Led Zeppelin Ultimate Play Along Bass Volume 2 with 2 CD's

Don't forget rock needs bass too! This would make a superb gift for a bass player who loves Led Zeppelin.

 

Stairway to Heaven - Intro Chords

Next I will show you the intro chords in diagram form. The first three are played in 5th position and the first finger needs to cover strings 1, and 3. The next 4 are easier to play.

Alfred Led Zeppelin Box Set I-V Guitar Tab Platinum Edition Books
Alfred Led Zeppelin Box Set I-V Guitar Tab Platinum Edition Books

A gift for real Led Zepp fans, so you can play every single song!

 

Chords for Stairway to Heaven - how to play the Intro for Stairway to Heaven - Intro Chord Diagrams for Stairway to Heaven

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The second chord for Stairway to Heaven,, pluck string 4 and string 1 together, then 3, 2, then 1 This is a major chord with an added 4th, but sounds really poignant! Jimmy Page knows his harmony!The third chord is another version of A minor in 5th position, the third is doubled by the little finger on high C,  again pluck strings 1 and 4, then 3, 2, then 1Chord 4 is a simple D major, pluck 1 and 4 together, then 3, 2, then 1 How can a simple chord sound so magical? That is one of Jimmy Page's secrets!Chord 5 is F major seventh, an open position jazz chord which is very simple to play, pluck 1 and 4 together, then 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4For the picked G, pluck strings 6, 3 an 2 at the same time with your fingers and thumb just once, this is quite tricky as you have to use two fingers and thumb.Finally, the plucked A minor in 1st position, pluck strings 5, 3 and 2 all together with fingers and thumb twice. There is a lovely sliding riff that follows which you can check out in the TAB or in the music books I suggest (I don't TAB or upload coThe first chord for Stairway to Heaven.  A minor in 5th position. Pick the strings individually, 4, 3, 2, then 1. Remember guitar strings number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 from the thinnest to the thickest.
The second chord for Stairway to Heaven,, pluck string 4 and string 1 together, then 3, 2, then 1 This is a major chord with an added 4th, but sounds really poignant! Jimmy Page knows his harmony!
The second chord for Stairway to Heaven,, pluck string 4 and string 1 together, then 3, 2, then 1 This is a major chord with an added 4th, but sounds really poignant! Jimmy Page knows his harmony!
The third chord is another version of A minor in 5th position, the third is doubled by the little finger on high C,  again pluck strings 1 and 4, then 3, 2, then 1
The third chord is another version of A minor in 5th position, the third is doubled by the little finger on high C, again pluck strings 1 and 4, then 3, 2, then 1
Chord 4 is a simple D major, pluck 1 and 4 together, then 3, 2, then 1 How can a simple chord sound so magical? That is one of Jimmy Page's secrets!
Chord 4 is a simple D major, pluck 1 and 4 together, then 3, 2, then 1 How can a simple chord sound so magical? That is one of Jimmy Page's secrets!
Chord 5 is F major seventh, an open position jazz chord which is very simple to play, pluck 1 and 4 together, then 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4
Chord 5 is F major seventh, an open position jazz chord which is very simple to play, pluck 1 and 4 together, then 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4
For the picked G, pluck strings 6, 3 an 2 at the same time with your fingers and thumb just once, this is quite tricky as you have to use two fingers and thumb.
For the picked G, pluck strings 6, 3 an 2 at the same time with your fingers and thumb just once, this is quite tricky as you have to use two fingers and thumb.
Finally, the plucked A minor in 1st position, pluck strings 5, 3 and 2 all together with fingers and thumb twice. There is a lovely sliding riff that follows which you can check out in the TAB or in the music books I suggest (I don't TAB or upload co
Finally, the plucked A minor in 1st position, pluck strings 5, 3 and 2 all together with fingers and thumb twice. There is a lovely sliding riff that follows which you can check out in the TAB or in the music books I suggest (I don't TAB or upload co
The first chord for Stairway to Heaven.  A minor in 5th position. Pick the strings individually, 4, 3, 2, then 1. Remember guitar strings number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 from the thinnest to the thickest.
The first chord for Stairway to Heaven. A minor in 5th position. Pick the strings individually, 4, 3, 2, then 1. Remember guitar strings number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 from the thinnest to the thickest.

Watch to see how to play Stairway to Heaven - Guitar. harp and piano versions too....

Watch Led Zeppelin play Stairway to Heaven, or to see how to play it yourself. These are fun.

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Stairway To Heaven for Concert band

Plus String Orchestral Arrangements for Stairway to Heaven

Yes, as I said, EVERYONE wants to play Stairway to Heaven - it a a beautiful piece of music and Stairway to Heaven is not just for guitarists.

Here are some orchestral and concert band versions of Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin:

Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven Music Book

Composed by Led Zeppelin scoring for Concert Band; Score & Parts, instruments: Score; 120 pages

I am glad you visited my page on how to play Stairway to Heaven and I hope you have found it helpful. Please tell your friends about it and thank you for visiting!

Can You play Stairway to Heaven? - Has my page helped you learn Stairway to Heaven?

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    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 5 years ago

      Great lens on a forever classic song. I'll have to show this to my son, I'm sure he will use it to learn to play.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      Countryluthier 4 years ago

      No, sadly I cannot play that awesome tune but it is on my bucket list. At one time over 10 years ago, I could ht the first few bars pretty decently but that has changed. Blessed

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      I would enjoy being able to play this iconic song. Thanks for all of these great resources. Appreciated!

    • profile image

      grannysage 3 years ago

      I just saw a video of Kennedy Center Honors where Led Zeppelin (the surviving members) were being honored. The Wilson sisters from Heart played and sang Stairway to Heaven. It was awesome.

    • LisaMarieGabriel profile image
      Author

      Lisa Marie Gabriel 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      @grannysage: It is a truly awesome song! Thanks for visiting! :)

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      I can play most of the song, haven't yet taken the time to learn all of it. Beautiful guitar work, Jimmy Page is amazing. I read an interview with him where he said that usually for solos on his albums it was one take, and he would rarely do a second take. He liked it to sound like you were listening to him live in concert.

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