Those first three chords in the intro. I can always tell when improv people use them and I have not heard them in other songs. What are they called and what is the theory behind them?

  • Technical point: not hearing them in any other songs does not allow us to conclude that they don't appear in any other songs. Have you looked for tab or sheet music and found none? – Todd Wilcox Dec 7 '16 at 13:37
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    People who downvote and don't leave a comment are not helping. I do think this is a interesting enough chord question. – Neil Meyer Dec 7 '16 at 18:06
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    I didn't downvote but I do find the question confusing. A) they are not unusual chords so you are definitely hearing them in other songs whether you know it or not. B) what exactly are you asking for? The name of the chords? Did you find sheet music for it and the chord spellings didn't make sense or could you not find any music at all or did you not even try to find the music? – Todd Wilcox Dec 7 '16 at 20:59
  • Ok, I may have overestimated how interesting these chords were, they did sound unique to me. – Neil Meyer Dec 8 '16 at 11:15

The other answers give what a "normal guitarist" would traditionally describe them as, but they are a shorthand for...I don't know the specific names, possibly xAdd4.

Basically there are two sets of 3 "walk-ups". The first form is where you barre all 6, and then place a finger +2 frets from the barre on the D string. You want to strum at least the top 3 strings (E,A,D strings). This is what people call the "Eb-E-F"

The second set of three is where you barre all 6, and then hammer-on at +2 frets on the A string for each of the three. You want to skip the low E string on the strum and strum at least the A,D,G strings

Here is a video that shows how to play the outro as Jimi played it at Monterey: note that the person in the video is referring to the abbreviated names of the chords:

Jimi seems to favor a mix of C-ish and A-ish forms played as if he is playing slide guitar, but even when you "know" how to play his songs, when you look at his handwork, it is still somewhat confusing.

  • "the chorderator" website suggests these two chord forms are, at least at the ninth fret: {C#madd4, F#7sus2/C#, E6no5add2/C#} and {C#madd4, F#7sus2/C#, E6no5add2/C#} – Yorik Dec 7 '16 at 17:37
  • That shows you the pure brilliance of the man (Jimi that is.) – Neil Meyer Dec 7 '16 at 18:05
  • oops, I pasted the same chord list for both! Anyway, the guy in the video does a good job of it, but the thing about Jimi, for me, isn't his genius or even his showmanship, but his completely relaxed way he does all this stuff. In most movies, they focus on Jimi's face (unfortunately for people who want to see the chords), but while he sings, the music is going over the place and he never looks and never struggles and you forget he is also playing the lead and rhythm. – Yorik Dec 7 '16 at 18:25
  • E A and D are usually referred to as the bottom strings - lower in pitch. – Tim Dec 7 '16 at 20:51
  • which is why I qualified it. As a self-taught person, I usually think of the high e as lower, since it is closer to the ground. Also, see the video, low e is at the top. I don't have a problem with the other description of course. I am fully aware that people tend to use other ways to describe it, but I personally know people who describe it the same way as me. See also "inverted Y-axis" – Yorik Dec 7 '16 at 20:59

It is Eb>E>F, although it probably is D>Eb>E on Jimi's guitar, as he often tunes a semitone lower than concert.Having said that, the lowest note (root, later on) sounds open, which means he may well have tuned UP a semitone for this one.Think the first three are 'power chords', with no 3. The next part is similar, but with a resolved sus 2 on each.

It's not that common, but I've used it in improv a few times in other stuff.

It's what's called chromatic, and is very basic.It involves the use of a borrowed chord from the parallel minor, up a semitone to become an unusual leading tone, not really, but with every note a semitone away from resolving to the root, it might as well be!

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    Shows you how much mystique there is about the man. He can just take chromaticisms and you have your head blown away thinking it is the weirdest jazz chords you have ever heard. – Neil Meyer Dec 7 '16 at 13:57
  • If he tunes his guitar a semitone down, then sounding pitch is lower than played pitch, so he plays E F F#. Which makes sense (lowest note being E). – Rosie F Dec 7 '16 at 15:39
  • @RosieF - what I meant is the low open string I hear on a I chord is representing where he played it. The chromatic intro doesn't use an open string for the 1st chord, it comes in an octave higher, and later there's the open bottom string for the root, 5 or 6 bars in. A more intriguing question could be - what was Jimi's guitar tuned to? But that is out of the site's remit. – Tim Dec 7 '16 at 15:45

Going by ear it sounds like Eb major - E major - F major.

Correct me if I'm wrong the song might be in Eb major. The F major is a lydian borrow and the E major is a passing chord.

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    You are wrong, I'm afraid! The key of the song is definitely F major. – TonyK Dec 7 '16 at 19:12
  • The key is concert F major, but that has no direct relationship unless we know exactly how Jimi's guitar was tuned. – Tim Dec 8 '16 at 11:40

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