Skip to main content

Weekend riff: The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Purple Haze (intro)

Try your hand at pentatonic shapes 3 and 4 in this classic Hendrix riff

Based on minor pentatonic shapes 3 and 4, this classic Hendrix riff is a great opportunity to get out of the 'shape 1' minor pentatonic mindset and explore new areas of the fretboard. If the concept of minor pentatonic shapes is new to you, here's the basic idea:

Play the E minor pentatonic scale (E G A B D) starting on the E root note on the open sixth string, playing two notes per string. That's E and G on the sixth string; A and B on the fifth string, and so on up to the first string. This is shape 1. To play shape 2 simply move your fret hand up to the 3rd fret and play G and A on the sixth string, B and D on the fifth string, E and G on the fourth string, once again continuing to the first string.

There are five shapes to learn, each starting on the sixth string on one of the five notes of the scale. Each shape will enable you to play riffs and licks that are less practical within the other shapes, so it is worth learning all five.

Although we can't imagine Jimi ever intended 'Purple Haze' to be a pentatonic workout, the riff certainly lends itself to a little improvisation so why not experiment around the basic idea and improve your pentatonic riffing?

Click here to download the 'Purple Haze' preset for the Peavey Vypyr VIP-2

'Purple Haze'
© 1967 The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Tutor: Steve Allsworth
Videographer: Martin Holmes

Check back every Friday at 16:00 (UK time) for a new riff

Buy a copy of Total Guitar here: