Jimi Hendrix is someone who, for one reason or another, we didn’t often see playing acoustic guitars. Obviously, the late 60s were all about electrics, and there were usually no cameras around to film the rare impromptu acoustic gigs that Jimi’s friends surely had the honor to attend.
Jimi also left us way too early, so there wasn’t even any time for him to start exploring other sounds beyond electric. Here, of course, I’m drawing a comparison with Jimi’s contemporary, Eric Clapton, who in his later years began using acoustics more and more. Perhaps Jimi too would follow the same steps.
Anyways, when doing research on Jimi’s guitar for his Gear Page, I realized that there are only two recorded occasions of Jimi playing an acoustic. I decided to look a bit deeper into each, and figure out at least some background story behind them.
Jimi Hendrix Playing “Hear My Train a-Comin'” on a Zemantis 12-String
This is without a doubt the better known of the two recordings. Based on the info available, it was filmed by Peter Neal on December 19, 1967. At that time, Neal was working on a short film documentary about the band, titled Experience a.k.a. See My Music Talking.
According to Wikipedia, who lists the book Ultimate Hendrix as the source, the filming took at Bruce Fleming’s London studio, at which the band was previously photographed for the British album cover for Are You Experienced.
In the footage, Jimi is seen playing a Zemaitis 12-string guitar that was tuned down two whole steps. The guitar was hand-made by a guitar luthier Antanus Casimere (Tony) Zemaitis, based in London, England.
Jimi Hendrix Playing Elvis’ “Hound Dog” on an Epiphone FT79
This second film I honestly couldn’t find anything about (if you do, please leave a comment below). It seems to be a case of someone picking up a camera, probably because realizing that something amazing is about to happen.
We see Jimi surrounded by (mostly) girls, one of which is apparently thirsty and in need of some acid – at least according to a guy sitting somewhere behind the camera. The joke is lost on me, but according to the group, it was funny.
Jimi is seen playing an Epiphone in this video, model FT79. This guitar was, at least according to Jimi’s girlfriend Kathy, among his favorites.
Jimi used it for almost everything he composed in this country, as he didn’t use an amp until the move to Brook Street, and in any case Chas would never have allowed it in case we disturbed the neighbors because we’d upset them in Montague Square and Chas didn’t want to be chucked out of a second flat. Jimi would pick up and then play the acoustic, then pick up a Strat and play that unplugged, listening to it without an amp. He constantly played it to work out riffs and song arrangements including his own version of Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower”Kathy Etchingham – Bonhams: Jimi Hendrix: An Epiphone FT 79 acoustic guitar, 1951
Also, upon stumbling upon the above quote from Kathy, I’m suspecting that this is her just in front of Jimi with red hair. Based on that, this could’ve possibly been filmed in their Mayfair flat in London, around late 1968 or early 1969.
To learn more about Jimi’s acoustic guitars, and other guitar and equipment that he used, check our Jimi Hendrix Gear Page.