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By Rhys Lett

Little Wing – VCE Music Performance Solo Guitar

Little Wing is an iconic guitar piece. Jimi Hendrix changed the way rock guitar was played. Not only was his lead guitar work influential. His approach to rhythm guitar was unique. Little Wing will provide you techniques commonly used by Hendrix in many of his songs. These styles have also been influential on other guitarists. The song Under the Bridge by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers as one example. Under the Bridge is also found in the VCE Music Performance guitar exam song list.

Little Wing is in the Rhythm Work category of the VCE Music Performance solo guitar exam. You must perform at least one song from this section in your exam. The song list can be found by following this link.

For assistance with VCE Music contact the Eastern Suburbs School of Music via the contact form on the right of this page or by calling Rhys on 0421 705 150.

Little Wing – Equipment

Jimi Hendrix used a Fender Stratocaster guitar for this song. This has single coil pickups. This is not as important as your amp sound for this particular song. Any guitar with a good neck pickup sound will be appropriate.

It is important to have a smooth clean tone set on your amp. An overdrive pedal will be used to perform the solo at the end of the song.


wind cries mary, little wing

Little Wing – Structure

Intro – the legendary chord solo begins Little Wing. This iconic guitar piece is a prime exhibit of the Hendrix rhythm style. Hendrix would set the harmony by playing the chord on beat one of the bar. He would then improvise using scale notes and chord tones for the remainder of the bar. This make each verse of Little Wing a solo to learn.

Verse 1  – the chord sequence is the same as the intro. We have a new set of improvisations over these chords. Learn the scale associated with each chord to understand how Hendrix mixes chord and scale.

Verse 2 – as per verse 1 with new set of improvisation to learn. You should start to understand how similar concepts are being applied.

Solo – move to the bridge pickup of the guitar and add some overdrive to enhance the single notes. The song fades out after the guitar solo.

Little Wing – Techniques

Little Wing is a challenging piece. The rhythm guitar style is unlike most guitar based songs. You will be learning how to improvise around the chord changes. Usually a guitar stays on one chord and applies a strumming pattern to that chord. For this song learn:

  • Barre chords on the 6th and 5th string.
  • scales of the chords performed in the verse sequence.
  • string bends in the solo.
  • E minor pentatonic on the 6th string.