JIMI HENDRIX
Before tackling this course, you should be comfortable with all the material from Hoodoo Baby

Congrats for making it to unit 2! Now we’re really going to start diving into the theory behind Hendrix’s chord playing. There are two elements we need to establish, the first is what scales you use with which chords, and the second is giving you some cool licks to use to get you started. These will be your tools to work with that will allow you to develop this style even further. Click here to check out the Materials Section below to access the interactive tab of our demonstration song The Snow Screams Lucy!

     

Lesson 6: E Shape & Box 2 & 3

Let’s kick off with Hendrix’s favoured major chord shape, the E shape CAGED chord. This chord needs no introduction, but for those of you who play it as a barre chord shapes, we will be altering that to develop our Hendrix style. Whenever you play this shape, you can play the pentatonic box 2 underneath it, and box 3 to the right of it. Let’s have a look at those shapes:

But, why?!

For those of you asking why this is the case, let’s just break it down a little more. Essentially, Hendrix’s approach is simply to consider each chord it’s own little island. Rather than consider the chords a part of the overall key, and use notes from the key to play over them, he takes each of them as it’s own root and entity, separate to the key.

So, for example, if he plays an A major chord he will play an A major pentatonic scale. If he plays a G major chord, a G major pentatonic scale and so on. Even if these two chords were the 4th and 5th degree in the key of D major, he’d still keep them separate. This beautiful simplification allows us to simply attribute one shape to a chord and always be able to rely on it. How cool is that?

Lick One

In this lick we are using the B major chord and the B major pentatonic scale shapes. It is so important to understand that you just need to transpose everything at the same time. It’s super easy once you get the hang of it!

Click on the tab icon to see the lick tabbed out in our super cool interactive tab player (this will allow you to slow down the tab and play along with the lick). Alternatively, just click play to hear the lick:


Lesson 7: A Shape & Box 5 & 1

Now for the second major chord shape Hendrix loves to use, the A shape CAGED chord. Alongside the strict A shape, he also uses the G shape with the major third in the root. This is a great trick, and sounds so awesome! Whenever you play this shape, you can play the pentatonic box 5 underneath it, and box 1 to the right of it. Let’s have a look at those shapes:

Lick Two

In this lick we are using the E major chord and the E major pentatonic scale shapes. It is so important to understand that you just need to transpose everything at the same time. It’s super easy once you get the hang of it!

Click on the tab icon to see the lick from this video tabbed out in our super cool interactive tab player (this will allow you to slow down the tab and play along with the lick). Alternatively, just click play to hear the lick:


Lesson 8: "The Snow Screams Lucy" (Pt1)

Let’s take the two licks we have learnt and apply them to a mini track in a Hendrix style. The most important thing to note is how we can break up the lick to fit into a variety of examples. Sometimes you can use the whole lick, other times it’s just one beat of it. This is our focus when learning this track. In this lesson we will tackle the ‘A’ section of the track.

Remember that the theory is identical as the previous lessons. When you are on the A shape chord you can use that pentatonic box 5 and 1 to improvise, then when on the E shape chord you can use the box 2. Try to bear this in mind as you play through the first section!

Click on the tab icon to see the song tabbed out in our super cool interactive tab player (this will allow you to slow down the tab and play along with the lick). Alternatively, just click play to hear it:


Lesson 9: "The Snow Screams Lucy" (Pt2)

In this lesson we will tackle the ‘B’ section of the track. This is shown in the tab below, and we now move up to the higher end of the fretboard. Once again we utilise the licks and CAGED shapes we have learnt, and break them down to work in different bar lengths and timings.

Click on the tab icon to see the song tabbed out in our super cool interactive tab player (this will allow you to slow down the tab and play along with the lick). Alternatively, just click play to hear it:


Lesson 10: Improvising

In this final lesson of the unit we look at how to take the core ideas, and add your own flavour too them. We run through a variety of ideas, but here are the top things to remember:

  • 1. Lay down the main groove first, and get a good feel for it before trying to add any licks. The licks come second.
  • 2. Once you have a solid rhythm foundation, try adding one or two licks, quite sparsely to the track. Don’t over-do-it at this point, we want to keep the rhythm grounded.
  • 3. As you get more confident, you can start to explore more licks in more places, and before you know it, you’re starting to sound like Hendrix!
  • 4. Finally, above all else, remember that this is a rhythm part! Don’t fly off with an across the neck lead part in the space of 2 beats... Keep it simple, but keep it rhythmical.

Materials: Backing Tracks

Below are the materials for this group of lessons. You can listen to the licks and song as an mp3 or go straight to the interactive tab of our demonstration song "The Snow Screams Lucy".


Ready to move on? Remember to check out every lesson in this unit first – then try the next unit...

Minor Licks & Chords

We are now ready to add the minor chord to our rhythm and lead playing. We’re specifically working with Hendrix’s favourite shapes, and he very much roots in two chords, the E and A shape minor CAGED chords.