What Is And What Should Never Be Guitar Lesson – Led Zeppelin

Released in 1969 on Led Zeppelin II, "What Is And What Should Never Be" quickly became known as one of Led Zeppelin's most psychedelic songs.

In this What Is And What Should Never Be guitar lesson, I will show you how to play all the chords, riffs and solos found in this great Led Zeppelin classic.

The two opening chords along with Robert Plant's phased vocals create a very dreamlike effect. That serenity is shattered very quickly though with Jimmy Page's Les Paul fueled bombastic guitar riff.

In fact, this track marks one of the first times that Jimmy Page recorded with his soon-to-become trademark Gibson Les Paul.

Within this huge sounding riff lies a repeating rhythmic pattern. Make sure you follow the video lesson closely as I point out this pattern. After you have the pattern down it is as simple as playing it on each of the descending chords.

The very end of the song contains an iconic Led Zeppelin riff that starts out a cappella. This riff is then joined by the full band shortly thereafter. This closing riff uses some very Hendrix inspired chord voicings that are played with a lot of power! Try to get the timing of those chords precise! That can be difficult to do when there is so much space between the chord hits.

In the second video lesson I will show you how to play Jimmy Page's slide guitar solo.

Just like the rest of "What Is And What Should Never Be", the guitar solo starts out very serene then launches into a very heavy rock feel. The solo then returns to it's dreamlike state for the very end.

This Jimmy Page guitar solo is simply put, masterfully composed, fitting the underlying guitar riffs perfectly.

So have fun sinking your teeth into this Led Zeppelin classic! It is a true masterpiece.. 🙂


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What Is And What Should Never Be Guitar Lesson Pt.1 - Chords

What Is And What Should Never Be Guitar Lesson Pt.2 - Solo


  1. Harald Stokke on May 12, 2016 at 1:16 am

    great lesson carl have you ever considered to do guitar slide lessons

    • Carl Brown on May 15, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      I don’t play much slide myself, just occasionally during a song lesson that requires it. Because of that, it is usually the last thing I think of when creating a new lesson. 🙂

      • Wesley Pepper on January 28, 2021 at 5:05 pm

        Great Zep lessons would love to see Custard Pie or anything from Physical Graffiti ! TY in advance !

  2. Kenneth Hettinger on September 18, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Another awesome Zeppelin Lesson Thanks Carl !!!

  3. Rob Schaller on January 22, 2019 at 6:14 am

    Any chance you can show us how to play When the levy breaks?

    • Wesley Pepper on March 7, 2023 at 7:52 pm

      I agree with Rob S. This would be fun to play!!

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