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Jimi Hendrix guitar lesson: learn clean chords and psychedelic lead

Jimi Hendrix
(Image credit: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

After our guitar lessons on Eric Clapton, David Gilmour and Steve Ray Vaughan, we conclude our introductions to Strat icons with the greatest of them all. At a time when the Strat was heading out of fashion and Gibson ruled supreme, Jimi Hendrix changed the course of rock history with his inventive exploitation of the Stratocaster’s controls and features. 

Did you know that early Strats came equipped with three-way switches? No? Well Jimi cared little for this minor fact, himself – he’d remove the springs from the switch to create the five-way selector that’s become intrinsic to Fender’s design, offering new sounds in the process.

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Hendrix

(Image credit: Walter Iooss Jr / Getty)

The ultimate Jimi Hendrix lead guitar lesson

Jimi’s reputation as a player is legendary and he’s known for his showmanship and fiery psychedelic lead style. Literally on fire–   e burned a number of his guitars! Still, you can put the matches back in the box for now as we look at some safe, affordable ways to learn his trademark techniques. 

We look at the chordal style you’ll hear on tracks such as Little Wing, Bold As Love and Castles Made Of Sand. Keep one or two fingers free whenever you play a chord – Jimi would frequently add nearby notes to basic chord shapes. We also look at Jimi’s lead style.

Clean rhythms 

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Tab

(Image credit: Future)

Our Jimi-style rhythm example demonstrates the legendary guitarist’s trademark use of the thumb over the neck to fret bass notes, in turn freeing up fingers to play chord

embellishments – such as the second- and third-string phrases shown here. Select the neck/middle position pickups for a bright, chiming clean sound.


Distorted leads 

Click on top right of tab to view in full screen

Tab

(Image credit: Future)

Jimi would flip between bridge, middle and neck pickups for fiery overdriven solos – we’ve opted for the middle position here but do experiment! 

A saturated overdrive tone with a UniVibe style phaser effect gets you a suitable tone. Our lick is based in the E minor pentatonic scale but watch out for brief position shifts to the 10th and 17th frets.

More: learn the ultimate Jimi Hendrix rhythm guitar chord lesson