Watch the Rifi Hendrix: 5 online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Guitar Cubed
Compositionally speaking, Guitar 1 just repeats what the bass line is doing. While that may sound like something simple, in actuality you’re starting to build a harmonic assault vehicle. Remember, bass and guitar are separated by an octave so when you’re playing the same notes in the same neck locations as the bass you’re bringing forth an intervallic element; and a powerful one at that. This two-part harmony will be further enriched into a nuclear weapon when Guitar 2 and 3 enter the fold.
As for those pitch inflections mentioned in the previous segment’s text; this is all part of phrasing. First, check out what the riff sounds like sans string wiggling as I demo a sample starting at 0:29. It’s some pretty dry stuff and should give a newfound appreciation for the subtle, yet colossally important technique. There’s also instances where you should follow my lead and NOT apply any pitch mods. Such is the case in bars 10 and 12 where in the tail end of the IV chord riff the chromatic walk up to the b7th of G (F) is left to be played as is and played with downstroke vigor. Another phrasing component that gives Guitar 1 character is the placement of palm mutes. In-between the b3rds (F) in the 1st bar is a palm muted 5th string, 5th fret D on the upbeat of 1. The same rhythmic chunk is played at beats 3 and 4 and has the same palm mute treatment. The idea as a whole is carried over to the IV chord in bars 9 and 11 and of course at bars 13 and 15 during the reiteration of the I chord riff.
A big part of the Hendrix element rests in the major arpeggios in Guitars 1 & 2. It’s not so much the use of major arps as much as it is the fingering and phrasing of them. Think Manic Depression for the arp first heard in bar 3, which is repeated three more times in bars 5, 7, and 9; and think back to Castles Made of Sand for the IV chord version in bars 10 and 12. Whether these arpeggio approaches are played on the 6th and 5th strings (as they are in Guitar 1) or the 5th and 4th strings, it’s all about fretting the root with the 1st finger and then using the 3rd finger to slide into the 3rd of the arp from a whole step below (the major 2nd of the given arpeggio) and then immediately fret the 5th on the higher adjacent string.
Be sure not to miss the slight change to the first two bar riff on it’s fourth go around at bar 8 where the previously 5th fretted A is now played as an open A. This is done to afford you the best possible chance to make the jump to the 5th fret G on the 4th string as smooth as possible. If it ends up feeling better than the original method, play it that way the whole time, though you may lose the girth the low E string’s A gives you.