So today we are going to learn how to play No Quarter on guitar by rock legends Led Zeppelin. This lesson is going to cover the the main riff and will be pretty short and sweet. However the main riff is awesome and perfect to jam on with a friend and come up with your own ideas. It’s super groovy, moody and cool. No Quarter is a little darker than other Led Zeppelin songs. Way moodier and spacier. Let’s break down this riff!
For the first part you play a B power chord, also called a B5… meaning that this chord only contains a B, the root, and a 5, the 5th degree of the scale. Power chords are not major or minor so you aren’t as limited when writing vocals or leads or anything on top of them. So to play the B5 we put our pointer finger on the 5th string 2nd fret, your ring finger on the 4th string 4th fret, and your pinky right under it on the 3rd string 4th fret. Then we pick and slide this chord over to the 4th fret 5th string, becoming a C#5. When we slide the most important thing is to now pick up your fingers. If you pick up your fingers you will loose the sustain of the notes. So keep the pressure down and treat it like someone pushed your hand over. Just make sure you are very accurate in where you land. After we pick our B5 and slide if over to the C#5 we then strum the C#5 3 times. So pick, slide, strum, strum, strum. We then play all of that twice!
Then we pick our B5 and slide if over to the C#5 one more time but this time we only strum the C#5 once. Then pick the 4th fret 5th string one time only. Which takes us into the second half of the riff! If you are enjoying learning this riff be sure to also check out our lesson on how to play Break on Through by the Doors, for another awesome riff to add to your repertoire.
For the second half we start with this almost turn around/fill part. We pick the 6th string open and then hammer on with our pointer to the 2nd fret. A hammer on means we just slam your finger down, so we pick once but you will hear two notes. So our finger is on the 2nd fret, 6th string which is an F# and then we place our ring finger down on the 4th fret 5th string with our pinky right under on the 4th fret 4th string to make an F#5 chord. After the hammer on we strum the F#5 chord 3 times and then immediately drop our pointer down a string and lift all of our other fingers to make an open E5 chord and strum that once.
Now for our lick! We pick the open 6th string once and hammer onto the 6th string 4th fret. Then we pick the 5th string 2nd fret once and then back to the 6th string 4th fret pick once. Then we do the same thing down a string each. So moving our pointer down to the 4th string 2nd fret and then our ring finger down to the 5th string 4th fret and feel free to add vibrato to that last note. Vibrato is a stylistic technique where we manipulate the pitch by moving the string back and forth around the desired note, we don’t bend it but we move it up and down around that note creating a shaky sound that’s really cool and adds lots of feel and attitude to our playing.
I hope you enjoyed learning how to play No Quarter on the guitar! This riff is simple, cool, and really fun to play! Remember to hold your fingers down on those slides and to play all hammer on and pull offs with lots of confidence. This riff should be played with lots of feel and attitude. And as always most importantly to have fun!