December 12, 2023

Hendrix hooks & Root 5 chord

Hey! It’s time for a swim and we’re jumping in at the deep end so grab your water wings…

Today we’re going to have a look at a couple of Jimi Hendrix techniques courtesy of Song Pond tv that combine slides with hammer ons and pull offs. That might actually sound complicated but in fact is a simple and approachable way to build a much more “lyrical” and expressive approach to simple chord shapes.  I’m also going to take this opportunity to introduce you to some basic aspects of music theory.

In this lesson Ben shows you how to play these techniques on top of the ROOT FIVE chord but you can take the basic idea anywhere you want and experiment with different chord shapes.

The reason this chord is called a root five is because it contains only the ROOT note and a note a FIFTH interval above it. To build a MAJOR CHORD we take the FIRST, the THIRD and the FIFTH notes of the D Major SCALE – in this context we would use a D an F# and a A to build a Dmajor chord.
In today’s example we are breaking down a D major chord (D F# A) and removing the third –  the F# to play a DIAD, a two note chord.  The chord will be made up of only D and A, the 1st and 5th  therefore making it neither major nor minor but modal.

Here is a diagram to help explain that relationship.


Roman Numerals are conventionally used to identify each chord within any given key; so starting with a D we also play the fifth, an A. If this is beginning to sound a little like rocket science rather than music DONT PANIC; all will become clear in due time. For the moment, study the diagram and try to understand how the interrelationships between the scale, the chords and the fretted notes work. If it seems a little complex and confusing DONT PANIC; it’s just a small step forward on the route to greater understanding and don’t put yourself under any pressure!

On Hendrix’ second sophomore album Axis:Bold as Love Jimi takes the compositional skills first illuminated on Wind Cries Mary into a new dimension with an increasing emphasis upon lyricism over the acid soaked rock of his first release. Songs such as Castles made of Sand, the exceptional title cut, Bold as Love and the inspirational love song Little Wing bear testament to this progression away from rock simplicity towards lyrical complexity.

“Little Wing” is played using the unique chord/melody guitar style that Hendrix developed during his early career in rhythm and blues bands with Little Richard, Curtis Knight and the Isley brothers. In this style, the guitar sounds as though it is playing two parts. This is done by simultaneously playing complementary notes, often parts of chords, to create a melodic effect. The beginning of these techniques are shown here below, by Ben.

I would just like to add that if you would like to play the sliding, legato Hendrix chord you can even drop a note and simply play it this way – it resonates just a little bit more!


This is the chord heard at the end of Castles Made of Sand! GROOVY!
If you`re interested in working your way through Jimi Hendrix’ classic song Little Wing, which perfectly embodies and encapsulates the full breadth of this style and approach to lyricism then have a look at our SONG POND site.

Cheers everybody!

Jake Edwards.

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