Little Wing – Learn Double Stops


Today we will learn the intro to Jimi Hendrix’ famous Little Wing.  A lot of people have done excellent and not-so-excellent covers of this masterpiece.  This lesson will focus specifically on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s version of the song.  I personally believe the intro is a lot easier to play than Hendrix’.  After you get this version down, make sure to check out Hendrix’ too.  Combine aspects of both that you like and make the song your own.

The Versions For You To Hear and Play Along

SRV’s Little Wing (what we will learn)

Hendrix’ Little Wing (not what we will learn)

What’s A Double Stop?

A double stop is a technique used by string instrument players, where they sound two strings, and therefore two notes at the same time.  Its kind of like a mini chord.  The technique was adapted to the guitar and Jimi Hendrix is famous for his rhythm guitar parts that use double stops.  You can hear it on songs such as The Wind Cries Mary, Bold as Love, and obviously Little Wing. An example of a double stop is shown below:

e-------------
B-------------
G----5h7p5----
D----5h7p5----
A-------------
E-------------

Notice how two strings are played at the same time.  That’s basically what a double stop is.  The same goes for playing three notes at a time. In that case it is called a triple stop though.

Finally, The Song

First off, if you want to play along with the Youtube song, make sure you tune down a half step.  I got this tab from Ultimate-Guitar.  Its a little sloppy and hard to read in a couple places.  I’d tried to correct some mistakes and formating errors. The tab is too long to split up into segments.  So what I will do is post the whole thing below.  Open that up and follow along as I explain each measure.

Little Wing

 Measure 1- Mute some of the lower strings and strike them with a down stroke. On the way back up with the pick, catch the notes at the 12th fret and slide down the neck with your fretting hand.

Measure 2- Hit the open 6th string after the slide down.  Lightly lay your fretting hand across the fretboard to mute the strings and strike twice (down, up).  Next there are some double stops at the 5th position.

Measure 3- Through out the song there are bass notes on the 6th string, such as the G (6th string, 3rd fret) in this measure.  If you can’t reach them with other fingers, try fretting them with your thumb.  It’s definitely not good technique so don’t use it in a lot of other applications.  But in this instance it very Hendrixy.  Some more double stops at the 3rd position.

Measure 4-  Remember to try the thumb on the A if you can’t reach.  More double stops at 5th position.

Measure 5- Double stops at 5th position.

Measure 6- Once again, use the thumb on the 6th string in you can’t reach. The 7, 6, 5 can be tough at first if you don’t reach the thumb over. The double stops in this measure are very cool.  There’s a little bend at the 2nd string, 10th fret. Make sure you practice that part. It sounds very cool.

Measure 7-  Double stops at 5th position.  This should get your hammer-oning in shape.

Measure 8- This is probably the toughest part of the intro. Once again, remember the thumb if you have trouble.  Now for the chords.  If you look, all of the chords have the same basic shape.  So once you fret the first chord don’t change your hand at all. Just slide the shape around.  Use your ring finger on the 4th string, middle on 3rd, index on 2nd, pinky on 1st.  You will need a strong pinky to pull this off.  If you can’t, check out my lesson on pinky strengthening exercises.

Measure 9- Double stops at 3rd and 5th positions

Measure 10- Double stops at 7th position

That’s it. You’re done. Cool Song.

If you have any questions and comments please email me at mdguitarteacher@gmail.com.

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2 Responses

  1. cool song and easy to play guitar

  2. hi, I came upon your blog via google. I agree with you about hendrix’s version. I recently did a video lesson on youtube, if you have time , please check it out, I’d like your opinion. .

    nice blog, btw.

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