How to Play The Ocean by Led Zeppelin

In these lessons I will demonstrate of how to play Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean" from their Houses of the Holy album.

Learning how to play The Ocean shouldn't be too difficult for any intermediate level guitarist or above. Even the solos remain quite simple without any major technical hurdles.

In the first lesson video I will demonstrate how to play all the riffs and chords found within "The Ocean". The opening riff is instantly recognizable by just about every rock music fan on the planet.

That opening riff is the main riff used throughout the entire song as well. Most of the riff is based around an A minor pentatonic scale along with the C major arpeggio. Make sure you pay close attention to the quick hammer-ons at the beginning of the riff. Remember, the first note of the hammer-on is simply a ghost note and you should just barely hear it.

From there we have the verse section which contains mostly simple major chords played in a very simple right hand rhythmic pattern.

The only other part found in the 1st video lesson is the harmony guitar part. I try to simplify it a bit in the lesson in order to combine the most essential parts of the harmony on one guitar yet retain the sound of the recorded version as close as possible. This section requires you to play mostly double-stops but shouldn't be too much of a challenge.

In the second video lesson I will demonstrate how to play the entire main guitar solo. That solo starts off with a couple unison bends followed by a couple of stock blues licks.

After those licks we encounter a tricky slide lick that goes up and down the fretboard very quickly. That lick will need to be practiced very slowly in order to get the feel of the distance of the quick shifts into your muscle memory before attempting to play it at full speed.

From there we have some oblique bends and a bunch bluesy licks to finish out the solo. Overall I don't think this particular solo will be too overly challenging for a guitarist with at least an intermediate level of ability.

The lesson for the outro section and solo will go live in a few days. 🙂


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How to Play The Ocean by Led Zeppelin - Riffs & Chords

The Ocean Guitar Lesson Pt.2 - Main Solo

The Ocean Guitar Lesson Pt.3 - Outro Solo


  1. Daniel Packman on March 29, 2015 at 9:52 am

    In June I will have played guitar for 2 years. Is there an amount of time, in your opinion, that someone has to have played guitar to reach an intermediate level?

    • Carl Brown on March 30, 2015 at 7:41 pm

      Not really, everyone is different. Plus what is intermediate to some is advanced to others. As long as you are making progress that is all that really matters. 🙂

  2. Brian Keesler on June 16, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    I must tell you since I began playing guitar this January people would come to the house see my beautiful blue Les Paul and would say wow you play the guitar? The it comes the question I know is in the way ? Sooo what songs can you play? Then follows my cumbersome awkward response ” Well none really, I have spent all this time learning multiple scales trying to perfect them, I have been working right and left hand picking drills, practing my legato and so on.” Sooo you don’t know any songs??? So I finally stepped up and with your help I have finally got this song down solos and all(not perfectly mind you ) but I can play through. This was a huge challenge for me as being such a noob and I knew it going in and to your credit I would not have been able,to without your help.?? Thanks as always Carl.?

    • Carl Brown on June 18, 2016 at 10:01 am

      Thanks for the message Brian. Learning “The Ocean” as your first song was pretty daunting I bet.

      Glad you pulled it off, now more songs will come easier and easier to you. 🙂

  3. Bryan Samuelson on July 17, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    hi carl.. so I’ve been playing abt 3 yrs. I’m practicing a lot. you’re the best. I’m curious if you could maybe teach going to California? I hv no idea what it costs you to do a video, & i don’t want to insult anyone, but I’ll donate $100 if you teach it. your the only video instructor I trust. thank you for what I’ve learned so far! Bryan from Houston

    • Carl Brown on July 19, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      Hey Bryan thanks for the offer of support!

      I have been having some issues with my Led Zeppelin lessons lately. Their publishers are muting or blocking a bunch of my videos of them which make me a little uneasy to do more of their stuff. Going to California was literally the next in line before they started blocking the videos this past spring. Hopefully I will be able to get to work on it soon. 🙂

      • Bryan Samuelson on July 24, 2017 at 7:47 pm

        I will keep my word. I know about the rain song. I got 90% of the lesson b4 it was deleted. you are the best and in grateful. I just finished gdbye blue sky. thank you.

  4. Michael Stagg on November 8, 2019 at 11:16 pm

    Hey Carl. Great videos man. I have been checking them out for a while. I was curious about some general theory for this song. I use the chord wheel often to try and find some deeper insight into songs. Going by that it would seem that most of the chords are in the diatonic structure for G major, but using the primary V which is A instead of the secondary ii which is A minor. So it would seem the song is in G major, but I see a lot of places that say it’s in the key of A. The chords then used in the song are not in the triangular diatonic structure for the key of A, but rather exist like I said in G. It would be cool if you could shed some light on this? I understand the riff and solos are in A minor pentatonic / C major arpeggio which seems to make sense if the song is in G. Thanks!

    • Michael Stagg on November 9, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      So looking at the song a bit more here it seems like it starts out in G and then ends in A after a key change for the final section?

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