In this weeks video lesson, we’re going to be taking a look at one of the most challenging Led Zeppelin bass riffs, “The Immigrant Song,” one of John Paul Jones’ most impressive bass lines!

The Immigrant Song

“The Immigrant Song” and is one of the most requested lessons for the TalkingBass channel. As many of you Zeppelin fans will know, it’s the scales that cause the problem!

Main Riff

For this section, we are playing an octave pattern in F# which has an instantly recognisable syncopation to it. The problem you’re likely to have here is not the fretting hand, it’s the picking hand.

John Paul Jones actually played this live with a pick, which can cause a whole host of problems if you’re not used to this technique, as it’s the string skipping that can be very tricky.

If you’re going to play this finger style like me, then find a pattern that works for you and stick to it to avoid getting finger twisted!

The Scale Section!

These are all Mixolydian Scales, what’s the Mixolydian scale I hear you ask? Well it’s the fifth mode of the Major scale and is played just like a Majors scale except with a flattened 7th. You can see more on this scale in the next section below.

Once you have the Mixolydian scale under your fingers, you just play this from A, B and C to give you that crazy run Jones plays. You play each scale ascending twice until you get to C where you play it three times with a chromatic passing note towards the end of the phrase.

The three things you need to pay special attention to here are the fretting hand, picking hand and the coordination of both. Take your time and build up in speed only when you’re comfortable, also watch your positioning and keep your hands nice and relaxed. Tensing up will kill your speed and can lead to injury.

The Mixolydian Scale

Here’s an example of a typical Mixolydian scale, this example is a C Mixolydian so you can clearly see and hear the flattened 7th degree that gives this scale its distinctive sound.

Backing Tracks


102 bpm


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