Playing Like Hendrix

This is a guide to sounding and playing like Hendrix.

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Ultimate Guitar
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Okay, well I'm sure you all want to sound and play like the great master himself, Jimi Hendrix. While there is no guaranteed way (since Jimi is impossible to duplicate) I can get you pretty close.

The Sound

Jimi Hendrix took the electric guitar to new heights and did things no one before him did. Being an experimenter, instead of having a left handed guitar, he took a right handed guitar and restringed it so that the low e string was now the longest string. This would give him a very unique tone. Right handed players can get that tone either by restringing a lefty or getting the Voodoo Stratocaster.

And also, get an 100-watt Marshall amplifier, Jimi often tinkered with his settings, but if you have enough distortion and angle your pickups towards the amp, it should create hendrix-like feedback.

The Effects

Jimi's most famous effect is the wah, and you should get a Clyde Mccoy Vox wah (which Jimi used) or a Dunlop Hendrix pedal, both work fairly well and if you run it through fuzz/octavia you can get feedback at certain settings, giving you a star spangled banner like sound.

His second most used effect is the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz face, which is the basis for songs like foxy lady or purple haze. He also uses a Roger mayer Octavia which makes his notes sound one octave higher and a Univibe, which emulates the leslie rotating speaker. Both of these can be seen in his rendition of the star spangled banner as well as "Machine Gun".

Alternatively, you could also go for the Digitech Jimi Hendrix Pedal, which gives you all the effects of the above and then some. While not as good as using the effects seperately, it does a good job of emulating hendrix. The effects include "Purple Haze" "Foxey Lady" "All Along The Watchtower" "Wind Cries Mary" "Star Spangled Banner" "Voodoo Child" and "Little Wing".

Playing Like Jimi

While it is hard to duplicate Jimi's playing, he often utilizes arpeggios, barre chords, inverse chords and double stops in his improvisation. The song Little Wing is a great example of this. It also shows how Hendrix thumbs his bass notes as a melody while using the rest of his fingers for rhythm.

He also tends to fly all over the place...as in Voodoo Child He makes transitions from the 15th fret back down to the 2nd so keep practicin making those position changes.

He also has many sound tricks, for example sliding the thumb along the low e string back and forth creates an almost 'humping sound' (Hendrix is notorious for making sexual innuendos with his guitar), and he'll also use the back of his hand to slide along the guitar (you can see this at monterey). Since his controls were right beneath his hand, he was often very accomplished at volume swells (turning the volume knob up and down, as seen in Foxey Lady). And a technique called pickup sweeping where he switches his pickup selector switch back and forth to create a variation in sound (turn the middle pickup tone to 0 for greater effect). Also his heavy usage of the whammy bar is notorious so just fool around with that once in a while.

Lastly, for those of you who like to show off, playing behind the head, legs, back, etc. is not really that hard, just practice those tricks.

Keep practicing swinging your guitar behind your head, between your legs (keep your balance) and behind your back and you will gradually get used to it. Playing with your teeth also requires practice, but its easier to use just the bottom teeth and pick the D,G and B strings as the rest are relatively hard to pick. Gradually you will find yourself doing sumersaults over the stage, sliding along the front of the guitar with your arm, and lighting your guitar on fire just like Jimi did at monterey.

Thats all I can offer for now, Jimi Hendrix was primarily a blues and psychadelic rock player. I suggest playing Purple Haze to start off with and then move to advanced songs such as All along the watchtower or Bold As Love (try playing that while singing).

I just practice Woodstock improvision everyday and playing like Hendrix comes second nature to me. Everyone should appreciate and learn from Hendrix.

-Gofishus

50 comments sorted by best / new / date

    dimebag7
    Hendrix was special because his style was all his own. Find your own style and you might be a legend, imitate jimi's, and you're just another follower.-5.15-whofan i agree very much so but you can still use soem of the tech he used just dont do what he always does.
    Hendrixisbetter
    right on man. Don't feel bad gofishus because just like at the guitar, most poeple trying to explain bout or playing like hendrix will sound inadequate. Ohhh.. Don't you think hendrix's music should have a new adjective in the dictionary?
    L.A. Woman
    hehe :p it's not very unlikely that the acid f*cked him up so much that he could think of such crazy brilliant stuff to play.
    SGeerdes2112
    this article is terrible. 100 watt marshalls? how vague, you didnt even mention what model he used. It seems like you didnt research the way he played at all and you assumed most of these facts. You didnt even state what a hendrixism is, you dont even know what a hendrixism do you?
    johnmalkin
    Very good article! Although I strugle to see the point of trying to play exactly the same as Hendrix did because a) he was a legend at his OWN songs, and b) you would have no originality of your own. But I guess if your playing to a crowd as a Hendrix-remake, then thats fine. Great article, please write more!
    local_hippy
    i think we shod'nt play like a cd player copying people.. when ur learnt then u should create out of ur own style.. good article though
    Hendrixisbetter
    Good Article, but like many of my fellow hendrix fans, i have to say an article cannot bring you even close to the music jimi hendrix gave us. Oh and **** all the pople that say acid ****ed him up. yes he did take it, but pick your head out of your ass dude. His music can take you to a place farther than where an acid trip can get you. Hendrix is the greatest thing to happen to the guitar and you all know. Spread the wealth and joy of Jimi's music, and be yourself. Hendrix is untouchable, and he always will be.
    Hendrixisbetter
    Good Article, but like many of my fellow hendrix fans, i have to say an article cannot bring you even close to the music jimi hendrix gave us. Oh and **** all the pople that say acid ****ed him up. yes he did take it, but pick your head out of your ass dude. His music can take you to a place farther than where an acid trip can get you. Hendrix is the greatest thing to happen to the guitar and you all know. Spread the wealth and joy of Jimi's music, and be yourself. Hendrix is untouchable, and he always will be.
    Hendrixisbetter
    1 More thing. About the teeth playing. I've been a hendrix fan for years now, and im not sure but i think that he played with his top teeth. Also tip: it is easier to play with your top teeth.
    Jarrett Moore
    i thought it was a good article, but when you said he would brush the back of his hand across the strings, what he was actually doing is tuning the guitar. he would jump to the tuny dealys(the peg things, dam thats embarrasing i don't even know what their called) and twist them back to keep it relatively in tune and then slide along the stings back to his place. only with a lot of style and good sound.
    newcomer
    man...if playing Hendrix comes second nature to you, then why don't we all know your name...eh. and for those who say that acid didn't f*ck him up...sorry to say it, but it kinda did, you have heard 'Star Spangled Banner' right; he used to put the sh!t in his headband so that when he'd sweat it would kick in, and not just one or two tabs either (who blesses acid by the way). I'm not positive, but didn't he die from overdose? and if playing between your lags, behind your head, behind your back, and flippin' around is so easy, how come I can't do it. don't try to teach us about the man. Lenny Kravitz sucks, who's the one comparing that guy to Jimi? Finnaly; I'm curious what you people think, was Stevie RAy Vaughan justified in covering Jimi's tunes, i think he was... and I agree with Hendrixisbetter, except the acid thing, it helped him create what no one else could even dream, but it did f*ck with his brain.
    Hendrixisbetter
    yea..ur right, he did use acid and the side-effects were showing, BUT he was still level headed and pretty normal in person
    Hendrixisbetter
    Yeah.... the other thing. If hendrix's tricks are so easy, how come the only one i've got down is the teeth playing. I'd like for you to send me a video of you playing and then we'll see if it comes 2nd nature to you....
    newcomer
    Hendrixisbetter says he can play with his teeth... I believe him, but this goofish or whatever the f*ck says he can play all over, can you play with your feet too man? What's the name of your band, and you must have a couple albums, I'd buy them... Depends if you're full of shit or not though.
    5:15_Whofan
    i love stevie's rendition of Voodoo Chile in response to newcomer's querie. That was kind of pointless. Hendrix was special because his style was all his own. Find your own style and you might be a legend, imitate jimi's, and you're just another follower.
    trey-col89
    All you have to do to play like Hendrix is play so sloppily that no one can decipher the notes you're playing.
    capogotmytongue
    C3_Rocka wrote: Really? I thought you said no-one can play like him. Make your mind up.
    no-one can play exactly like him, but you can get pretty close.
    The Konztranata
    Vague, not technical, nor does it lend inspirational guidance. My suggestion is listen to Hendrix, then do something of your own, and eventually you will realise that the style you will develop is unique to you. By listening to grass roots blues artists religiously, and with obvious natural talent and a lot of practice, Hendrix developed his own amazing and unique style. Maybe some day, they will be writing an article on how to play like you!!!
    chea_man
    i love hendrix. but people need to quit saying his style was all his own. he ripped so much off of buddy guy that it will blow your mind. that being said, i am a huge hendrix fan
    Metal_Mania_89
    Hendrix was too unique to even begin to explain what he does, so why even try? Dont get me wrong, this is a good article, but this doesnt begin to explain how to perform like Hendrix. Besides, he left out acid...
    Gofishus
    this is just a guideline. I'm not forcing anyone to imitate jimi, nor did i say that you could sound exactly like him.
    Tarzan_man
    Interesting, needed alot more on his style and tecniques. The stage tricks should be an afterthought on an acticle like this. But all in all, Good write-up.
    SuperAnalytical
    4th Nice and concise, clear and effective. A follow up would probably be needed for how to play like Kurt Cobain haha. Try literally jumping into a solo on your knees and leaning back far enough to not be able to see the frets/markers, that would be interesting for poser n00bs to try.
    DaveGilmour1189
    just to set the record he used a vox fuzz pedal and a crybaby wah. Also telling how to play like hendrix is like telling an artist how to paint like Michalangelo. He can created F---ing melodies using just feedback. Also telling how to play in the ways he did is easier said than done.
    kevinm4435
    Not the greatest, but do I HAVE to get a 100-watt Marshall to sound like Jimi? I think not.
    Hendrix4ever
    only 5 out of 10 because it only really described what gear he used. To truly teach how to play like Hendrix, you should have listed some techniques he commonly used, modes that are similar to what he played (Hendrix could never read a note but there are some modes that sound Hendrix-esqe), and how to synchronize the wah and whammy to emulate the sound that Hendrix utilized.
    catempire
    Maybe talk a bit more about amp settings. Also, nobody wants to sound exactly like Hendrix do they? It's a bit unoriginal.
    altronataku
    the key to playing like hendrix is sliding up into notes, having a lot of vibratos, and using the thumb to play the root notes in bar chords.
    Gilmour_Rocks
    applax:
    lenny kravitz must have read this article he has made career of trying to be like Jimi
    i'm a dick, but I know that Lenny modle his playing on Eric clapton you fruit!!!
    frigginjerk
    if it's so easy to play like hendrix that it can be explained in under 2000 words, then why can't EVERYONE play like that?
    stringmagician
    dont try to do anything Hendrix does, i heard a remake of foxey lady yesterday... i cried and then knocked someone out
    C3_Rocka
    I just practice Woodstock improvision everyday and playing like Hendrix comes second nature to me. Everyone should appreciate and learn from Hendrix.
    Really? I thought you said no-one can play like him. Make your mind up.
    applax
    lenny kravitz must have read this article he has made career of trying to be like Jimi
    BigFatSandwich
    why do people feel the need to say 1st!!! or 2nd!!! or 13th!!! we know what number you are... we don't care.
    GuitarJunkie
    yea umm, he didn't use a clyde mcoy vox wah...i have seen a wah pedal that hendrix used...and it was definately and 847 vox
    pinheadslts75
    no one should ever try to imitate jimi. it'll end up sounding like hilary duff covering old Black Sabbath songs
    1942JIMI
    Thx for that ! I will practice these tips and tricks and hopefully play like Hendrix ASAP lol