Jimi Hendrix is the greatest guitar player of all time. That statement can rile up some people, but if you dissect Hendrix’s guitar sorcery and understand the complete lack of context he had to draw from in order to achieve his magic, you’ll agree with me.
Today, it’s nearly impossible to imagine inventing a completely new style of guitar playing, and it's harder still to invent one that could (and would) influence nearly every person to pick up the ax after you. Nobody has accomplished this feat on a grander scale than Jimi.
His success was the result of using his natural gifts and unique creativity in harmony. Take his physical trait of giant freakin’ hands, for example. This caused Hendrix to develop what I call the “claw grip” for his fretting hand. This ergonomic oddity became the conduit for the habits Hendrix developed in rhythm and lead guitar. This method naturally opened the door for a new and revolutionary kind of rhythm guitar playing based completely on triads, whether Hendrix realized it or not.
The guy played the guitar like a pianist plays the piano.
In this lesson, I’ll reveal how similar Jimi’s rhythm and lead guitar habits were, and if you’re interested in the full breakdown of the music theory behind these chord shapes and voicings, I explain triads in depth in Guitar Super System. With the ability to create such a distinct sound, it’s easy to see how the rest of Jimi’s habits were formed: his eccentric bends, rambunctious tones and fluency in the language of music in general.
I’ve read multiple accounts from people close to Hendrix who insist he was a shy, timid guy. It was only when the lights went down and the amps began to hum that he would transform into the picture of rock ‘n roll lore we all envision. Much like his guitar playing, he had multiple sides to his personality. I regret not being alive to see Hendrix in person, but I can assure you his message is still felt and received, loud and clear.
Tyler Larson is the founder of the guitar-centric brand Music is Win. His insightful, uncomplicated guitar lessons and gear demonstrations along with entertaining, satirical content about life as a musician receive tens of millions of video views per month across social media. Tyler is also the creator of the extremely popular online guitar learning platform, Guitar Super System. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Tyler has been teaching guitar for over a decade and operates a production studio in Nashville, TN.