Play blues like Jimi Hendrix

Delve into Hendrix’s offbeat blues style

Image 1 of 5 Tab Play blues like Jimi Hendrix
Lick 3: Towards the end of this lick the guitar's vibrato unit comes into play; not only where I use it to dip the solo's final notes, but also in the way that bending the third string makes the second string go slightly flat. You'll hear this quirk of the Stratocaster in many of Jimi's solos. It doesn't offend me at all; it's simply a guitar and a guitarist in action, and what's wrong with that?
© Neville Marten
Image 2 of 5 Tab Play blues like Jimi Hendrix
Lick 1: Here we follow the descending intro chords (essentially the four-bar turnaround of the verse) with 6ths. To sound anything like Hendrix, make sure you wobble the third and first strings quite stridently throughout - hold your hand firm and apply vibrato simultaneously to both. If you like, use the whammy bar instead.
© Neville Marten
Image 3 of 5 Tab Play blues like Jimi Hendrix
Lick 2: Jimi loved the power that he gained from this move - you'll hear it in many of his songs, including All Along The Watchtower. Simply bend the third string by a tone, until it makes the same note as that on the second string two frets down: hit both strings together for a wonderfully thick sound. Don't worry too much about tuning: attitude is your best mate here!
© Neville Marten
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Image 5 of 5 Tab Play blues like Jimi Hendrix
Lick 1: part 2
© Neville Marten

Here we look at Jimi's more up-tempo style, rather than the more familiar slow blues he loved to play live.

Hendrix was a blues natural, but his blues playing was often very spacey; he would push and pull the timing far across the beats, adding long, flowing notes and repeating fl urries and trills that sometimes bore little relation to a specific count.

This example provides enough space to include plenty of Hendrix-isms. Hendrix was great at the dynamics of a solo. He knew how to build in tension and release: in most Hendrix solos you'll find him at the top of the neck, down the bottom, changing from neck to bridge pickup and altering the density of his notes from slow and lingering to pretty rapid for his day.

The gear

Jimi didn't always use a Fender Stratocaster on stage. In fact for blues he often favoured his Gibson Flying V or SG. For this track we played an Eric Johnson Signature Strat (switching from bridge to neck pickup), through the 'Jimi' setting with added distortion pedal on a Vox Tonelab. Don't go too mad with treble or overdrive, and add some spacey echo to taste.

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