New Song: Hey Joe for Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, and Singing

Posted on May 7, 2019

Let’s play this iconic rock tune! You’ll notice it uses a simple 4-bar structure that repeats throughout the song. But, it keeps building and changing throughout thanks to the masterful use of intensity and dynamics (loud vs soft). Even though the underlying chords stay the same, the guitar/bass/drums improvise freely around that structure, and never really play the same thing twice. It’s amazing musicianship, worth a careful listen! “Hey Joe” is available in Yousician for Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, and Singing.

Hey Joe for Guitar
by: James Neilson, Music Education Designer for Guitar

In the cowboy chords exercise (level 3) you’ll play the underlying chord progression: C G D A E. Once you’ve got the chord progression under your fingers, try to focus on matching the intensity of the music – fairly quiet at first, and gradually getting louder throughout the song.

The main rhythm exercise (level 6) captures the main rhythm guitar part – it’s simplified compared to the recorded guitar part, but you could play this at a jam and it would sound great. Notice the repeating bass-strum pattern, where you hit the root note (lowest note) of each chord, before strumming it.

The full rhythm exercise (level 10) follows the recorded rhythm guitar, which is a goldmine of iconic rhythm ideas! It’s very tricky to learn because nothing repeats exactly (since the parts were originally improvised), but you’ll notice similar riffs and patterns that emerge. Feel free to try to fret notes on the low E-string with your thumb – it’s a common technique in this style if your thumb is long enough.

The full rhythm & lead exercise (level 10) combines the iconic rhythm guitar parts with the equally iconic guitar solo – it’s a real challenge, but a great choice to add to your repertoire! The solo uses the E minor pentatonic scale, with classic bends and double stops. It might seem strange to use the E minor pentatonic in a song with an E major chord, but this is a very common approach in blues/rock, as it adds a gritty minor darkness to balance the bright major sound.

Hey Joe for Bass
by: Vellu Halkosalmi, Music Education Designer for Bass and Ukulele

The basic bass exercise (level 2) focuses on solid timing and playing in the third position of the fretboard. Play the notes on the 3rd fret using your index finger, and notes on the 5th fret using your ring finger. Timingwise, listen to the drums carefully and try to land your notes tightly together with the kick drum.

With the intermediate bass exercise (level 4) you will be playing all the important notes of the bassline. As usual with basslines, locking in with the drums is your first priority here. Also, this song is a good one to practice those one-finger-per-fret fingerings at the spots where guitar and bass play chromatic ascending lines in unison.

The full bass exercise (level 8) includes the full bassline with all the bells and whistles. Although the song is simple and the bassline repeats itself quite a bit, look out for all the little rhythmic changes along with the piece. This bassline is a great example of how to make a simple bassline an interesting one by variation.

Hey Joe for Ukulele
by: Vellu Halkosalmi, Music Education Designer for Bass and Ukulele

The chords exercise (level 6) works as a platform to try out playing more freely around the 4-bar structure of the song. The rhythm is written just on the beats on purpose, so you can experiment with strumming more than what’s written in. You’ll notice that only every 3rd bar of the pattern (E7 chord) has the rhythm written out so that you can join the unison rhythm there, elsewhere keep your ears open and go by what you hear and feel.

Hey Joe for Singing
by: Arttu Juntunen, Music Education Designer for Piano and Singing

This song has a lot of intensity and power in the vocals. This doesn’t mean that you have to sing it extremely loud. Instead, try to keep the phrases equal in volume and focused from start to finish.