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Author Topic: Relearning Stairway To Heaven  (Read 1105 times)

SeilerBird

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Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« on: April 11, 2018, 11:21:30 AM »
Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin was released in late 1971. Sometime during 1972 I obtained a copy of the sheet music (rock sheet music was very rare at this point) and proceeded to learn it. I don't know how long it took me to learn it because I was terrible at reading sheet music (and still am), I can read it but not at performing speed, but I am guessing about a week. It is an extremely simple piece to play, it sounds great, it is a classic, and it really gets the chicks, so it has become almost automatic for all beginning rock guitarists to learn the piece. Which is why Wayne's World featured a sign in the music store 'No Stairway To Heaven'. Well it became my party piece. Whenever friends or relatives would want me to play I would invariably get to playing STH. The hard part to play was the guitar solo and the rhythm behind it at the same time. I could not do that so I began singing the solo while playing the rhythm. For my family they were usually drinking when I preformed so I would sing the solo the funniest way possible and it really cracked them up, especially my brother. Of course if they would have heard it solo they would have brought out the pitch forks and torches. The last group I was in played the song in a slightly different form (singing the Gilligan's Island theme to the instrumentation of STH) and I played it on stage many times.

So lately I decided to try playing it on the ukulele and I am having nothing but problems. STH feels like it was written on the uke. The famous intro is played on the top four strings of a guitar which are the same four strings that is on a uke. So in theory it should be much easier to play on a uke since you don't have play the first three chords as barre chords, they are in the open position on a uke. A uke is one fourth higher than a guitar. So you remove the barre and slide down a few frets and it is the same thing. However after the first three chords you play a D chord. My problems start when trying to switch to that D chord. My fingers automatically go to a D chord on the uke which is a G chord. Trying to convince my fingers to go to the real D chord has proved very tough. I have been working on it for the last week and I still can't get it right. No problem if I am playing it slowing and thinking about it, but if I try and play it on automatic pilot so I can sing I mess it up.

There are several other places where the exact same thing happens with different chords. I am also having real tough time with the G to F# pull-off that occurs in the 12th measure. On a guitar you play a normal D chord except your little finger is playing the high G and then immediately pulling off to the F#. There are only about a million songs that use this move because it is so easy and sounds so good. That is why they put it in there in the first place. However on a uke it is an extremely difficult move to make. The fret spacing is way too small to make it easy. So I am trying to find a way to fake it through there to make it come out alright. There is a lady, Cynthia Lin, who has STH lessons on the uke on YouTube but she dumbs down the entire song to make it easier for beginners to be able to play the song and I don't like playing it her way.

But it is a lot of fun because it sounds great on my 8 string since it sounds better having a low G instead of a high G like most normal ukes have and the 8 string has both.

Sheet music:
https://www.songsterr.com/a/wsa/led-zeppelin-stairway-to-heaven-tab-s27t1

Stairway To Gilligan's Island:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_vZF6_ChElTQUNZSzBhTDZsS0E/view?usp=sharing
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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Tom

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2018, 12:49:43 PM »
Looks like fun. I don't normally try to pick my 8-string, but I have a 4-string uke with a low-G. Lots of tutorials and chord charts online, so I might give it a try.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2018, 12:51:15 PM »
It is really good for your confidence level because once you can play just the opening it will impress people to no end. Just don't tell them it is easy.  ;)
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2018, 01:14:09 PM »
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2017 shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/y0HbMU5KYa2hx02E3
My portfolio:
https://goo.gl/photos/Cx4SaYhGfYFShSty7
My Grand Canyon shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Nc1AT8tQp25wJwfm1

Tom

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2018, 01:55:37 PM »
Thanks. Tabs aren't my thing.
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Tom

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2018, 06:06:55 PM »
Quote from: Tom
... I have a 4-string uke with a low-G.

I lied; My 4-string has a high-G. I went ahead and started picking my 8-string Kala. Looks like it will work OK to learn the intro to this song.
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Tom

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2018, 04:49:15 PM »
I have the intro to STH down, but at low speed. Trying to increase speed. This exercise taught me to pick my 8-string Kala for the first time.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2018, 05:15:10 PM »
Good for you Tom. I went to two uke classes on Saturday and at the first one the teacher attempted to teach the class the opening to STH. He was teaching it the wrong way but I did not correct him. He was using the picking pattern taught by Cynthia Lin which sounds good but is not correct. But it doesn't matter which pattern you pick with you will always get everyone's attention when you start playing STH.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2017 shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/y0HbMU5KYa2hx02E3
My portfolio:
https://goo.gl/photos/Cx4SaYhGfYFShSty7
My Grand Canyon shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Nc1AT8tQp25wJwfm1

Tom

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2018, 05:18:30 PM »
Thanks Tom, and thanks for introducing us (me) to STH.

Quote
it doesn't matter which pattern you pick with you will always get everyone's attention when you start playing STH.

Maybe when I get a little faster.
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

SeilerBird

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2018, 05:30:22 PM »
Thanks Tom, and thanks for introducing us (me) to STH.
You are welcome.  Thank you for introducing me to the ukulele.

BTW if you succeed in learning the entire finger picking section and get to the solo it becomes brain dead easy. Just the Am-G-F-G chord progression repeated endlessly.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2017 shots:
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My portfolio:
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SeilerBird

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2018, 08:41:21 PM »
I have a tip for you to make playing one little thing a bit easier. In the fourth and eighth measure there is a G-Am-Am that is not picked but strummed. It is not easy to switch from a G to an Am as quickly as is necessary to keep it in time. So what I do is play the G on a down strum and then release my fingers from the fret board and move my index finger to the Am on the G string. But what I do is after the G down strum I do an up strum but only strum the C, E and A string and then by then my finger is on the Am chord and I do a down stroke on all four strings. So it is down up down strumming 4, 3 and 4 strings. It is easier to do than to explain it. I have finally got my muscle memory down so I am playing the right chords now in the intro. I have the first page down pretty good now I need to start on page two which is probably the hardest part of the song.
I would like to apologize to anyone I have not yet offended. Please be patient and I will get to you shortly.
Favorite 2017 shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/y0HbMU5KYa2hx02E3
My portfolio:
https://goo.gl/photos/Cx4SaYhGfYFShSty7
My Grand Canyon shots:
https://photos.app.goo.gl/Nc1AT8tQp25wJwfm1

Tom

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Re: Relearning Stairway To Heaven
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2018, 02:08:07 PM »
Thanks Tom. Just coming up for air, and I'll give that a try.
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