Posted on September 24, 2010


First things first I can’t say how much I dig Facebook.  September 18th marked the 40th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix’s death.  What grinds my gears is I heard NOTHING about it in popular news.  That is where Facebook saved the day.  Many fellow musicians posted some great YouTube links, tributes and first-hand accounts of Hendrix.  Why should have that made the news?  Instead of celebrating the legacy of a musician as influential as Jimi, let’s all make ourselves dumber by keeping tabs on what overpaid has-been is now judging American Idol or what color Lindsey Lohan’s parole bracelet is.

To help keep Jimi fresh, I’ve written out 5 practical, easy riffs you can apply to your playing.

The Jimi Chord
If you’re like me, you first learned the E7#9 chord while learning “Foxy Lady”.  For many people, that chord brings them right back to Hendrix.  The chord is commonly referred to as “The Jimi Chord”  How to apply it to your playing:  The 7#9 has a distinct tone because it has both a major and a minor 3rd off of the root in it.  Throw it in as your V chord in a 12 bar blues.

It Was A Stratocaster With A Whammy Bar
Jimi wasn’t the first to use it, the whammy bar has been on guitars since the 50s.  Guys like Dick Dale and Chet Atkins used them, but Jimi sure helped define the whammy.  Here’s the intro to “Stone Free” using harmonics at the 12th fret outlining the E7 chord with some subtle vibrato of the bar.  For an extreme whammy example, look up “Third Stone From The Sun”

Walking Bass
In the end of “Hey Joe” Jimi does a text book definition of a walking bassline using chromatics landing on the root of the chord on beats 1 and 3.

Power Chords Made of Sand
In the intro to “Castles Made Of Sand” Jimi takes a power chord up an octave and throws the 9th on top.  Take THAT power chord!

Thumbing My Way
If you read or watch any documentaries on Hendrix you may learn too much information finding out that Jimi has really big….HANDS.  Um yeah, Anyway, Jimi often played bar chords by wrapping his thumb over the top of the fretboard to fret the root of the chord.  That frees up the fingers to add more fills and suspensions of the chord.  I only notated a typical suspended 4, but experiment by adding 9ths and 6ths etc.

Hope this adds to your playing, thanks for reading!  -Billy

Currently Listening To: Brian Bromberg “Bromberg Plays Hendrix”

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