Jimi Hendrix is one of the most influential guitarists of the last half century.
Undoubtedly most professional electric guitarists would cite him as a major innovator who inspired and drove them to excel on their own.
His songs have also inspired guitar students of all levels and ages to learn his songs, licks, and riffs, not to mention his ability to improvise.
This set of electric lessons, all done by Max Rich includes five of his most iconic songs.
Lesson 1: All Along The Watchtower
All Along The Watchtower is a great song from Jimi Hendrix's album "Jimi Hendrix Experience" released in 1968. This song used to be my morning wake up jam when I was about 13. I'd wake up every morning and put on the Ultimate Experience album and this was the intro track that I would play along with on the guitar before going to school. It has a great split between chord playing and lead playing so you get to do a bit of everything. There's not a lot of single note riffs or motifs that define the melody of this song like most. Instead, the hook is made up of a chord change that's made up of large six string chords. You have to have a really loose style of playing to mimic Hendrix because he had a knack for keeping his picking hand very loose which gave him his great laid back sound. It's also a great example of musical simplicity in your playing. The notes in the solo are relatively simple choices, but the phrasing used with them is very unique. Hendrix would play similarly to how he sang and would give his solos a vocal and emotive quality that really stood out for how expressive it was. In this solo, you'll use a lot of string bends and fast licks with 16th note runs in the pentatonic position. Hendrix also had a great way of using double stops to create tensions and emphasize certain chords, which I'll cover in this lesson.
Lesson 2: Fire
Fire is a really cool song from Jimi Hendrix's album "Are You Experienced" released in 1967. This one's really cool because it uses several different songwriting and playing techniques. There's extensive use of dead notes in the beginning riff that helps to flesh out the rhythm and establish a swaying groove that moves back and forth, also utilizing the space between the notes to great effect. In the verse, there's mostly drums and a vocal melody, using the space in between to fill it in with B.B. King style licks. Even throughout the bridge, the playing is very sparse, mostly consisting of long extended chords that create a base for him to sing over. The licks that he plays in this song are also very minimal in their note choices, getting their phrasing and emotion from the note bends, which he gave a unique vocal quality using long bends and slides.
Lesson 3: Hey Joe
Hey Joe is a standard rock song that appears on Jimi Hendrix's album "The Jimi Hendrix Experience" released in 2000. I like this song because it has this great unison country-influenced slide where you slide the seventh note into the root at the same time as playing an open root. This goes into a unison double stop and then into an E minor pentatonic lick that brings you up into the main motif of the song that could take a little practice to get down. On the other hand, the chord changes are pretty simple in a C G D A pattern. Hendrix makes these interesting by breaking them up and playing them in his unique rhythmic style. His ability to phrase things like a piano player would, using a combination single notes, double, and triple stops to really tie things together in his unique approach to playing the guitar. The solo is very vocal and based around pentatonic patterns and a blues rock influence where you emphasize the bent notes on the phrase and the rest are fillers for the target note.
Lesson 4: Little Wing
Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix is one of the most well played songs in rock guitar history, released on "Axis: Bold As Love" in 1967. It's a great song with a wide dynamic range that mostly uses diatonic chords in E minor, but the way that the chords blend together creates a great foundation for an improvised free flowing guitar to play on top. Hendrix displays his versatility on this song by using a lot of lesser used techniques, like wrapping this thumb around the neck to play low notes while playing higher notes with his fingers. He also uses double and triple stops as a main idea in the song, which is atypical of most guitarists. His guitar parts in this song in particular are more harmonic and rhythmic geared as opposed to playing the melody, since there's so many chord changes. He had to outline most of these chords on the guitar because the band didn't have a keyboard player. This also gave him the challenge and ability to play the chords over his own solo, playing both the accompaniment and lead part at the same time with a unique sliding style, while using the upper note for melody. There's a lot to practice in this one, so lets get started!
Lesson 5: Purple Haze
Purple Haze is a hugely popular Jimi Hendrix song, released as a single on his album "Are You Experienced" in 1967. Like many other guitar players, this was one of the first Hendrix songs I ever tired learning because of its powerful opening lick. The cool thing about the opening is that it uses a flat fifth otherwise known as a tritone. Tritones are the most dissonant sound in western music, and Hendrix was all about creating an atmosphere or musical environment. Using a tritone gave him a great way to create a hectic and tense feeling in the intro. Just a fun fact, tritones used to actually be banned for several hundred years in Europe because they were said to conjure the devil with its sound, and at the time music was played for the church. The licks used in this song are fairly simplistic, revolving around a sort of pentatonic shape that moves diagonally across the fretboard instead of straight up and down or simply changing strings.