How To Play Like Hendrix

If there’s one guitarist that the legions of players out there really want to become like, it’s probably Jimi.

Sure there’s Van Halen, Satriani, Vai, and tons of others but almost everyone who picks up the guitar has at least stepped into his arena.

My first riff on a wah pedal was Voodoo Child, one of my first semi-complicated riffs was Purple Haze, and the true test of my abilities came when I attempted Little Wing.

A lot of this info will be coming from an article I read about Jimi, but here’s the highlights of how to start playing like him.


Start using his chords!

The E7#9, the add9 that looks like xx3213, and also the twisted 5577xx powerchord alteration.

Jimi’s music has lots of chords that few guitarists have even dared to use on their own!

However, in order to do this properly, you’ll probably have to learn a lot about chord progressions.

Of course you can just start plugging these into your riffs and putting them together, but most of the time they’ll be based off of harmonies based in major and minor keys (as does lots of music).

Then you’ll learn a little bit about how to harmonize melodies, and fill in the gaps…..


Rhythm & Lead guitar is blended seamlessly into many of Jimi’s songs, and in order to play like him you’ll have to understand when to play rhythm and when to play lead.

Of course, it can all be simplified to just “play lead when you’re not singing” but that’s too simple.

Jimi played lead when he was singing, rhythm lines when he was playing lead, and many parts blended both together using basslines and such.

Check out songs like “Wait Until Tomorrow”, “Machine Gun”, and “The Wind Cries Mary” for examples.

When you understand how he’s using the principles of harmony, which are the principles of chords and scales, to make these sounds then you’ve got the same powers to do so too!

In case you need a refresher on guitar music theory, I suggest you visit the link just provided….

R&B roots

One technique I’ll go into a little bit of depth on is his R&B chord style.

Basically you take basic chord shapes like your barre chords, and add suspended tones and notes from the pentatonic scale to it.

That’s easy, but the hard part is making catchy little melodies and phrases that complement the rest of the song.

Basically it just takes practice, and learning as much of Jimi’s style helps.

And after you learn his stuff, you can use this for other styles of music and other chords and scales.

Want to use diminished chords and exotic scales? Do it! In fact that’s a pretty good idea..


Finally, the part about playing guitar that so many guitarists overlook is the importance of the chord progression.

Anyone can put together chords, but turning them into a support for a great melody or solo is what we’re probably more interested in.

As I’ve been saying before though, the more you know about putting chords together, the more you’ll know about your fretboard and what to play at each bar.
And that’s it! Want more? Then check out this great jimi hendrix guitar lesson.