Classic Chords #3 – The Hendrix Chord

There’s one chord every wannabe rock guitar hero has to figure out at some point…we all listen to Jimi Hendrix, we all marvel at what he’s doing with that Fender Stratocaster, whether plucking it with his teeth or setting it on fire. But, what is it he’s doing exactly to get that E-major power chord that is something like a dominant 7th instead of a no-third, but has a little bit of funky extra hidden behind all that disortion. Well, it’s the pinkie finger on the B-string at the 9th fret that gives it the unique Hendrix flavour. Anyone could play the dominant 7th, he adds a sharp-9th.


Here’s a little sample of me attempting to do something akin to Hendrix on Purple Haze where this proto-funk rock chord features prominently

These #9 (sharp 9) chords are all over the place. There’s one at the bridge between chorus and next verse in Pink Floyd’s “Breathe”, where the chords modulate from the G major back to an E minor via D#9 and Db9 (it’s also in “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”). The bridge in the Kula Shaker version of the Joe South song “Hush” first recorded by Billy Joe Royal, then Deep Purple and Gotthard has a C#9 (same shape but with secod finger on the C at the third fret on your A string. It’s also on The Beatles’ “Taxman”, Pixies “Here Comes Your Man”, and “Boogie Nights” by Heatwave.

Intriguingly, Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” also builds on the Hendrix chord in a funky way and easily segues into Purple Haze, viz:

More Classic Guitar Chords here.