How to Do Jimi Hendrix Style Riffs Using 3 Tricks

Hey, guys. It’s Claude Johnson and today is Friday.
Thank God it’s Friday. Friday happens to be Hawaiian
shirt day here in the office. So I’ve got my Hawaiian
short on and that’s cool.

Now, today I want to show you some Jimi Hendrix
style riffs. And of course no one can play like
Jimi, but I can show you a couple tricks that you
can use to incorporate into your playing. The riff
I was just playing was an example. Let me break
down what I’m doing here.

That riff I was just playing was basically based
around an A minor 7 chord. The way I’m fingering
this is I’m using my thumb. This was one of the
things that Hendrix liked to do. He used to hook
his thumb around the top of the fret board to get
these bass notes. Now, a lot of jazz players will
tell you not to play an A minor 7 that way, but
Hendrix liked to do it and it’s very simple and
very easy and very effective.

This E minor 7, I got my thumb on the low E string
on the 5th fret and then I’m playing the 5th fret
of the D and G strings. You can either finger this
with just using your first finger to bar or you can
just get your middle finger on the D string, ring
finger on the G string, whatever feels more comfortable
and sounds better to you.

Now, with this riff another thing that I’m doing is
I’m hitting the bass note separate from the chord.
Hendrix liked to do this in songs like “Purple Haze”,
also “Foxy Lady”. You can do the same thing here.
Instead of just playing the chord, you can hit it
twice like that or just once. It’s very effective.
Very simple, very effective way to make your riffs
more musical.

The next thing is this little percussive rake.
All you do is put your hands across the strings
without actually fretting. You can even just
lift-off a little bit off the chord. But I find
that putting your fingers across gives you a more
clean strum sound.

Watch where your picking hand is, because you can
get a lot of kind of harmonics that you don’t want
to get if you’re hitting right over the pickup or
at the wrong place. You kind of want to find a dead
spot on purpose. See, that doesn’t sound… So take
your time and actually — you can find a really nice
sounding strum and you can really hone your technique
with that.

When you’re playing the chord you might want to switch
where your picking hand is going and just really pay
attention to the subtleties and take your time to get
a good sound.

So those are three tricks that Hendrix used: the thumb,
the bass note and the rhythm rakes that you can throw
into your progressions. One other thing I was doing with
this little example, you start off in one key and then
you can go down to like, you know, go down to another
key and it just kind of modulates around. It’s a simple
way to do it.

Also, I was doing — after I played the G I went down
to F sharp, just the base not by itself. Don’t be afraid
to do that. There’s no chord so it’s… And then when I
went down to the F natural, I’m playing like a dominant 7.
So instead of this shape, which would be all on the first
fret, I move my ring finger up to the 2nd fret. That’s
just another cool little shape for you.

One other thing is you can throw-in some pentatonic licks.
Hendrix used simple scales like pentatonics. They work great.
Feel free to play around with this. It’s a great exercise
just playing this riff and then play like licks from A pentatonic.

All right, so thanks for watching. Have a great weekend and if
you don’t already have my course “Killer Guitar Control Secrets”
I invite you to check it out. I really think you’re going to love it.
You can find out more at So go check
it out right now and thanks again for watching. I’ll catch you next time.

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