Jimi Hendrix’s Ultimate Solo Guitar Lesson
We watched The rhythmic technique of Jimi Hendrix in our previous lesson, we now turn to his other notable strengths as a pioneering rock blues performer.
We’re going to be focusing on Jimi’s lead techniques individually as there is a lot of ground to cover here – and it’s great to learn!
1. Jimi’s strings curves
Learn to master the most expressive lead techniques with three of Jimi’s favorite approaches.
elbows in unison
Check out the solos in All Along The Watchtower and you’ll hear Jimi’s unison bends (two notes of the same pitch played at the same time – one with a string bend and one with a fretted note). You can play fast and accurately, so you don’t hear much of the upward turn, or you can pull the turn away creating dissonance along the way. It’s yours!
Jimi loved this technique and used it in so many songs, perhaps most notably Foxey Lady. When you reach the top of the turn, hit the string with your pick to mute the note and create the staccato effect. Follow the next note with a quick BB King style vibrato, rotating your wrist rather than just moving your fretting finger.
Catch the turn
This delicate technique is a registered trademark of Jimi consisting of two rope bends: a standard bend followed by a pre-bend on an adjacent rope, which is then released.
Simply roll your second finger across from the second string to “catch” the third. The course of the first turn should automatically push the third rope into a turn.
2. Hybrid techniques
Some of Jimi’s more extreme sounds have come from mixing different techniques together – with great effect!
Pentatonic trill and dive
Simply tap your whammy bar while performing a trill with hammers and pull-ups on the 12th and 15th frets of the second string to achieve that interesting ambulance siren-style Doppler effect. For more extreme sounds, try it on the third string, which has lower tension.
Legato and slides
Jimi was so ahead of his time with his legato technique. His style spawned the fluid technique of many players including Richie Blackmore and Joe Satriani (and many modern shredders too) with this very idea.
Slides and drone
Jimi’s psychedelic and Indian influences can be heard in ideas like this. The low E is used as a constant drone in the background while the octaves spell out the notes of the E Dorian scale (EF # G a BC # D).
Rhythm / lead crossover
This example combines a Foxey Lady style chord set with more technical fast paced pentatonic ideas in 14th position. Use all available pull-offs to increase the speed of the final lick. you may want to lean up and down in one motion in the last bar.
3. Hendrix’s shock bar techniques
Diving Bomb Trill
This is one of Jimi’s most extreme techniques and follows on from the idea of the pentatonic trill. This works especially well on the fourth and third strings, but you should experiment all over the neck.
Simply trill with hammers and pulls between the 12th fret and the open note on your string of choice as you dip the whammy bar.
Classic Jimi Dive
Unlike EVH’s single-note dive bombs with Van Halen, Jimi tended to favor the use of multiple strings for a wilder, out-of-tune sound that is not far from a demented car engine.
Slide your hand up the shaft, then spray spray in a smooth, continuous motion.
4. Harmonic Scoops
5. Play on feeling: in and out of time
Speed up or slow down – it’s up to you to play this free time however you want. There isn’t really a rule here – it’s all about the “feel”.
Just speed up and slow down this repeated phrase as you see fit. Eventually, you’ll hit beats that line up with the beat of the accompanying music. This is a trick that jimi often used in her improvised solos.
6. Jimi’s wah techniques
Get your groove on with this three-step look at Jimi’s wah style
wah voodoo child
The wah movement here keeps time on the quarter note, as if you were tapping your foot in time. The trick is to develop the independence of your foot, so that it does not follow the other rhythms that you play with your hands.
Baby cry effect
The faster eighth note wah rhythm can be done on anything but tends to work best on single notes. This way you’ll really hear the classic “crying baby” effect that helped name the original Dunlop pedal. The faster wah action makes it much easier to play while standing.
Following notes wah
This vocal-like effect is ideal on cleaner sounds, where you can follow individual focused notes rather than just moving in a constant rhythm. It’s a lot harder and harder on the foot and ankle, so you can try this at a slower tempo initially.