As guitarists, many of us are fans of the late, great Jimi Hendrix, who has influenced players in all genres of music, including jazz.
While Hendrix left a legacy as one of the greatest rock improvisers of all time, he also left his stamp on the harmonic side of the instrument, including a chord that bears his name.
Taken from the song “Purple Haze,” and spelling out an E7#9 voicing, this chord has become synonymous with Hendrix’s playing and is even referred to simply as the “Hendrix Chord” by many players.
In this lesson, we’ll be taking a look at how you can take the Hendrix Chord and apply it to your jazz guitar comping phrases, slightly altering this classic shape to give it a jazzy feel along the way.
Jazzy Jimmy Hendrix Chords
Here are four chord shapes to check out on your guitar, the first being the classic “Hendrix Chord,” E7#9, with the next three being jazzy variations of this important voicing. The first jazzy shape simply takes off the root, creating the commonly used “rootless” voicing for this chord.
The second shape keeps the root off and adds the 5th on the first string to produce a four-note rootless chord. Finally, the third shape uses the b13 note on top of the chord, producing an E7#9b13 rootless chord based on the original Hendrix Chord shape.
Try working these shapes out on the guitar first, to get your fingers around them, and then move on to the comping examples below where these shapes are applied to practical, musical situations.
Jazzy Hendrix Chord Example 1
To help you take these shapes off the page and onto the fretboard, here are three examples of minor ii-V-I progressions with the Hendrix chord used to outline the V7alt chord in each progression. The first example uses a common chord riff that works between the rootless 7#9 and 7b9 chords based off of the original Hendrix chord shape.
As well, there is an AmMaj7 shape, G#-C-E, used over Am7, another common jazz choice in this type of progression.
Jazzy Hendrix Chord Example 2
The next example brings the four-note shape to the same progression, with the 5th on top of the chord, using a common jazz rhythm pattern to solidify the changes.
Jazzy Hendrix Chord Example 3
Lastly, here is a cool sounding comping pattern that mixes both the four-note 7#9b13 and 7#9 shapes together, which provides movement to the line as you move from the V7alt to the Im7 chord in this minor ii-V-I progression.
Once you've worked out these three comping examples, try to come up with three or more examples of your own using the Hendrix chord and its variations as the basis for your V7alt chords.
From there, try comping over your favorite jazz tune and use the Hendrix chord and its variations every time you see a V7 chord in the changes, allowing you to bring these chord shapes to a jam situation in your studies.
Matt Warnock is the owner of mattwarnockguitar.com, a free website that provides hundreds of lessons and resources designed to help guitarists of all experience levels meet their practice and performance goals. Matt lives in the U.K., where he teaches Skype guitar students all over the world, and is an examiner for the London College of Music (Registry of Guitar Tutors).