Welcome to our Jimi Hendrix player study! We kick off with a track that will introduce us to the Hendrix rhythm and lead concept, without having to tackle any real theory. We’ll get to that in later units! Hendrix was the master of seamlessly moving between chords/riffs and lead breaks, which is what we are working on here. For now, let’s dial the gain to 10 and try to get together this awesome guitar track. Check out the first video to get started and click here to check out the Materials Section below to access backing tracks and interactive tab!
Let’s get started with the first two phrases of the track, which we can call lick 1 & 2. The begin with, let’s get ourselves in the correct key and using the right scale shapes. We are predominantly using the E minor pentatonic box one in a low and high position, as you can see here:
Once we have the positions understood, we can walk through the first part of the tab. The riff is all based around the open E minor pentatonic box as well as the E7#9 “Hendrix” chord. For those who have never come across this chord, the reason it is called the Hendrix chord is because it was made famous by the great man! It’s not often you see a 7#9 chord outside of Hendrix tracks! As for the theory, it looks like this:
root, 3rd, 5th, b7th, #9th.
Without the #9 note, this is a simple dominant 7th chord. With the #9 you get an extra edge that really adds tension to the chord! Notice also in the digram that we don’t play the 5th. This is a note we can easily leave out of any chord without an issue.
As for the two licks, they are using the minor pentatonic box 1 up on the 12th fret, and include some pretty quick bits, so make sure to run them slowly first. Also, notice the vibrato and aggressiveness we use as we play through them.
Next up we move into licks based around the low end of the fretboard, and specifically utilising the pentatonic box 1 and 2 in E minor. These shapes are both shown here:
The key thing with all of these licks is to nail the timing! Without that the whole concept of rhythm and lead doesn’t quite come together. So, as you are playing through this, be sure to use a metronome, drum loop or a much slower version of the track to really understand the timing.
Once we have completed all 4 licks, we can lock into the main riff. It starts exactly the same as before, just with an extra riff to replace the licks. This riff is based in pentatonic box 3 in E minor, and uses open strings to add a bit more fluidity and fun to the riff!
For the groove section we are using an E7#9 and going to town on our 16th note strumming! It's a cool synchopated part as it seems to flow in and out of the beat. Here's the strumming pattern (remember the tab is in the Materials Section):
After the low E on the 1st beat, you start your rhythm part on beat 2. From here the easiest way to think about it is “hit crunch crunch”! This means you strum the chord on the first hit, then two muted strums straight after. As long as your right hand is consistently moving in a 16th note pattern (one e and a two e and a three e and a four e and a) then you will just naturally hit the chords on the chord down and up strokes. It takes a bit of getting used to, but a great style to practice if you love Hendrix!
We’re now ready to start putting the whole solo together. There are a couple of really importantthings to remember when piecing an entire solo together. Here’s a checklist for you: