If you’re an avid guitarist, then you probably know Jimi Hendrix and his influence in the music world. He was a genius guy who became an inspiration for many guitarists.
Who is Jimi Hendrix?
Jimi Hendrix is among the most popular musicians with a great contribution. He became well-known for revolutionizing the guitar. Though people often remember him for his provocative lead work and solos, this rhythmic playing style seemed no less influential and innovative.
Like the scientists who have a new planet or species named after themselves, Jimi is a legend in the music world. He created a chord and named it after him. It is the Hendrix Chord.
The Hendrix Chord – What Is It?
The classical Hendrix Chord is the popular E7#9 since Jimi changed a semitone flat on his recordings. When he plays this chord, he normally allows the low-open E string to ring over that amplifies its sound.
Like other chords on the guitar, you may imply this popular chord in many ways. It is a great shape the Hendrix Chord because you can easily move it up to 12 frets. Both shapes are audible in Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Cold Shot. This is among the various musical descendants of Hendrix.
In terms of this shape, one may find it to be something easier, comfortable, and faster to barre the top 2 notes with his finger. Both 7#9 shapes are moveable. Hence, you can use them in playing the 7#9 chord. You can do this by just moving it going to your preferred note – simply like what you do with a barre chord.
How Jimi Hendrix Styled His Music
He used some studio tools to get the best effect. Jimi consistently innovated things as he put them. He cannot reproduce those “sounds in his mind” until he and his buddies developed another technique.
Most of the standard effects used in electric guitars have a connection with Jimi. One of these is the wah-wah or the foot pedal that allows extremely fast changes in the tone. Jimi created the popular slide guitar accompanying the strong reverb/echo solo from the song “All Along the Watchtower” by using the Zippo cigarette lighter on the side.
Furthermore, Jimi tried and experimented with new techniques by using various guitar models. He was left-handed, but that didn’t stop him from taking a right-handed guitar. He even turned the instrument up and down after he re-stringed it from low to high E.
A right-handed guitarist can also do it by obtaining the voodoo Stratocaster or re-stringing it like what Jimi did. You can also play with the settings of your amp.
Hendrix also thumbed the bass notes while his other fingers manage the rhythm. His thumb glid on the string and often used the whammy bar.
He was a stylist in each word. Hendrix started learning and mastering his licks from those guitar players he admired. He also strived to get into his own soul and applied the lessons in creating a sound that will make him proud.
He was never that good at playing cleanly as he also tends to be lazy. Despite that, he had the talent and uniqueness as a guitar player. He also often used fingerpicking or physical picking grouping. He picked some strings using his pick while doing fingerpicking with other strings of his guitar to make more noise that he likes.
In learning his licks, you have to know and learn different playback devices that will let you slow down the musical passage. This will help you find each note that you need to play. Take note that Jimi usually plays different notes together that makes each note hard to identify. This is not impossible to do, though.
When you find the chords and notes, start playing along with Jimi’s tunes and feel them. You can also try playing the tunes alone.
Moreover, you also need to determine how Jimi and other artists used innovation so they can overcome the obstacles. You may learn to play the songs with similar notes like Jimi’s notes, but in another technique that suits the scenario.
Van Halen and Aerosmith tune the guitar down in a ½ step. It will loosen the strings and alter the sound. Likewise, the capo bar will change the tuning through lifting all the strings in the same step but not making them tighter.
Playing the “Other” Hendrix Chord
Of all musical contributions known, the one of Jimi Hendrix was the finest and ever-popular. His “Hendrix Chord” has been remaining as a hot topic in the music world.
The E7#9 became widely known when he used it in the “Purple Haze” R&B, and Jazz guitarists used this chord extensively. The Beatles also featured it several years ago on their “Taxman”. But, the situation changed when Jimi use it. He inspired all other guitarists of the recent generations in a wide array of styles.
Below is an illustration of the most popular “Hendrix Chord”, showing how to finger it. However, many others, including Hendrix, often use the alternative voicing shown in example 2. Take note that #9 is an enharmonic equivalent of minor 3rd. Hence, you can see the chord as a great fingering comprising of the flat 7, root, and the minor and major 3rds.
This minor/major ambiguity is making the cord perfectly suitable for blues while used as an alternative for V chord in the key. It may help to change the jazzy feel into a turnaround.
While there are several articles written regarding the 7#9 and how Jimi used it, there was an overlooked chord voice that has been prominently featured in the works of Hendrix. It is the sus2 chord shown in the illustration below.
You have to finger the chord in the exact way Jimi played it. To do it, you need to use your thumb and fret the root of low E string while doing a ring finger fret on your D string, the index fret on your B string, and a pink grab on your high E string. Mute the A string by using the tips of your ring fingers and thumb. Also, you should do the same with the G string using your ring finger’s underside and the tip of your index finger.
Because the chord was a sus without a 3rd, you can move it around across the given key and maintain the fingering. Jimi will often glide the chord around within a line to further emphasize the open and airy qualities.
The illustration below is the Hendrix-inspired line. It demonstrates the versatility of the chord in a key.
One more thing that you can do to make the most of the eccentric fingering of Hendrix chord shape will be easing off the mute on the G string. Then, let it ring out while moving around the chord.
A next illustration is a group of the chord’s great sounding positions that depend on the open G string. Feel free to give them a try. Do not hesitate to experiment and have more fun.
Tips in Playing the Guitar Like Jimi Hendrix
If you’re a novice, then you have to learn how to use your thumb on your fretboard. Jimi was using his right hand’s thumb as the moving baseline while chording. This technique helps avoid the barre chord and allows you to move your other fingers. Hendrix played arpeggios by using pull-offs and hammer-on.
It also lets you add some open strings within the closed chords like the F major. Here, Jimi used his thumb as well for improved support while playing his vibratos and bends and for blocking the bass string while playing the chord.
Of course, you need to learn and master the art of playing the guitar the way Jimi Hendrix did. So, it’s time to learn more about the Hendrix chord and how to perform it. The E7#9 is the dominant 7th chord that has increased the 9th. The “Purple Haze” was a great example to show how to play it. You are free to move this pattern across the fretboard by using various rhythms.
It’s important to play the accompaniments in the arpeggio. Then, you can also use the pentatonic scales. Hendrix did not only challenge the chords, but he also played them in the arpeggio with the ornaments. You can do it by using pull-offs and hammers.
Lastly, you need to be wiser when choosing a piece of equipment. Ask yourself. Which guitar should you use? Playing on the Stratocaster electric guitar is suitable even when Jimi played with other models. You can try finding more information about this on the web. When it comes to effect pedals, you have to gather more information regarding his pedalboard.
Playing the guitar by using the Hendrix Chord will be a great experience for every guitarist, especially to the experienced ones. Now that you already know how this popular chord goes, it’s time to grab your guitar and give it a try.