As far as electric guitars, Jimi Hendrix’s main choice was a Fender Stratocaster. He used quite a lot of different ones, but there are a few worth mentioning.
One of them is the early 1960s white Stratocaster – which was allegedly the only guitar Jimi had with him when he first came to England. There’s also a 1963/64 Fiesta Red Stratocaster that he painted and then burned on stage at Monterey Pop Festival. Another one is a black 1968 Stratocaster, the Black Beauty, with a maple neck that was allegedly his favorite. But the most notable of them all was the 1968 white Fender Stratocaster that Jimi used at the Woodstock festival in 1969, on which the current Fender Hendrix Signature model is based on.
Also, worth noting is that Jimi didn’t always use Stratocasters. The truth is, he didn’t get a Stratocaster until 1966. During those early years, he used a variety of different guitars. He had a Danelectro Bronze Standard, an Epiphone Wilshire, and a few different Fender Jazzmasters. To that point, Jimi’s first-ever electric guitar was a 1957 Supro Ozark. That guitar had a white finish, and Jimi used it from around 1959. In his later years, he would also pick up a Gibson Flying V or an SG Custom.
In comparison, his acoustic guitar collection was far more scarce. He was only filmed playing two – a 1960s Zemaitis 12-string, and an Epiphone FT79. He used the Zemaitis during a short video of him playing an acoustic version of “Hear My Train A-Comin’’. The Epiphone was seen on a home video of him playing a cover of Presley’s “Hound Dog”.
Amps – the things were somewhat simpler. Although he did use a few different models, the Marshall JTM45/100 was the amp that Jimi relied on. He also used a few Fender amps. One of them was a Twin-Reverb that he played on with Curtis Knight circa 1966. Another one was Dual-Showman that he used during 1968, and also allegedly to record “Voodoo Child”. He also went through a period during which he used Sunn amps but returned to the Marshalls soon after.
The two main effect pedals that Jimi used were a Vox Wah-Wah, and a Fuzz. He used a variety of different fuzz models, including a Marshall Supa Fuzz, Roger Mayer Axis Fuzz, and Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face. He also experimented with a lot of unusual pedals at the time, such as the Roger Mayer Octavia and a Univox Uni-Vibe.
Be that as it may, Jimi played the Supro with his band The Rocking Kings circa 1959, until it was allegedly stolen from the bandstand at The Birdland Club in 1960.
As a fun trivia – around the time he owned this guitar, Jimi often played at a place in Seattle called The Spanish Castle. Years later, he would write the song Spanish Castle Magic, reminiscing the old days hanging at the ballroom, and trying to get a gig with different bands. At the time he wrote the song, the Spanish Castle was already closed and was eventually demolished in April of 1968.
Once you know the legend of the Wailers at the Castle and the facts of Jimi’s attendance there, the lyrics of his ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ seem haunted by homesick nostalgia. ‘It’s very far away, it takes about half a day/to get there by my ah…dragonfly,’ he sings, in the voice of a kid stranded a couple of continents from home
After some stole his Supro, again with the help from his father, Hendrix bought himself a 1960s Danelectro Bronze Standard guitar, making it his second electric guitar chronologically looking.
However, Hendrix himself stated the Danelectro was actually his first guitar, so it is possible that the Supro was borrowed. After all, he was only photographed playing it one time.
When I was seventeen, I formed this group with some other guys, but they drowned me out. I didn’t know why at first, but after about three months I realized I’d have to get an electric guitar. My first was a Danelectro, which my dad bought for me. Must have busted him for a long time.
Based on photographs, Jimi played this guitar at least on two occasions – at the Pink Poodle Club in Clarksville, TN in mid-1962. The other one at this point no one seems to have an exact date on, but you can see the photo here.
Things are far from established regarding this guitar. Some sources have the above photo dated June 1962, which would be exactly a month before Jimi got discharged from the Army.
Jimi’s Epiphone had a solid-mahogany body finished in red, two P-90 pickups, a black (Tortoiseshell?) pickguard, and dot fretboard inlays. The inlay on the 17th fret appears to cover almost the entire space between the frets. Whether this was a modification, a simple sticker, or something similar, is unknown.
Just before his nine-month gig with The Isley Brothers in 1964, Jimi, at the time known as Jimmy James, got his first Fender guitar. According to Michael Heatley [Jimi Hendrix Gear, by Michael Heatley, p.46], the guitar was a gift from O’Kelly Isley. This was probably just after Jimi joined the band, following his audition in February 1964.
Unfortunately, Jimi played this Fender for a very short time. Allegedly, someone stole it just a couple of months later.
Jimi’s Duo-Sonic was likely from the early to mid-60s. Definitely not older than late 1964 which is when the model went through some major design changes. The guitar had a 22.5-inch short-scale rosewood neck, two single-coil pickups, a fixed bridge, and a white pickguard.
During the latter part of the Isley Brothers tour in late 1964 and the tour with Little Richard in early to mid-1965 Jimi was seen playing a sunburst Fender Jazzmaster). The guitar was also seen in one of Jimi’s earliest TV appearances, in May 1965.
Based on the appearance, this Jazzmaster is from around 1959 to 1964. The pickguard seen on Jimi’s guitar became available on the Jazzmaster model in 1959, and the small headstock as well as the logo, are both from the pre-1964 era. The guitar also appears to have a veneer fretboard, which would decrease the year range to 1959 – 1962. [Vintage Guitars Info’s – Model Information, Jazzmaster] Read More
Jimi was seen playing this guitar during a gig with King Curtis & the Kingpins in May 1966. Given that this is the only time he was ever seen with it, it is possible that the guitar was borrowed. To further point out that that could be the case, note that the strap button was not moved to the bottom as it would be if the Jazzmaster was converted permanently to left-handed playing.
A few things to point out about the guitar – based on the photos, it was likely made before mid-1965. This is based on the fact that Fender started adding white binding around the neck on models made in late 1965. Also, the guitar seems to have the (at that time) new knobs, which were fitted on Jazzmaster from around mid-1965. [GuitarHQ – The Fender Jazzmaster]
This is likely one of the first, if not the first, Stratocaster that Hendrix ever owned. The history behind this guitar is however far from established.
In the book Jimi Hendrix Gear [Jimi Hendrix Gear, p.62] it is noted that Jimi acquired this guitar at Manny’s Music shop in New York, and that actually Carol Shiroky (his girlfriend at the time) bought it for him. It is assumed that he then carried this guitar with him after leaving the US.
However, in Steven Roby’s book “Becoming Jimi Hendrix”, it is mentioned that Jimi broke the guitar after breaking up with Carol. [Becoming Jimi Hendrix; Steven Roby, p.170] This would mean that the guitar was used for a very brief time in New York and that it wasn’t the one that Jimi carried with him to the UK in late 1966.
Based on the photos and the stories from various people, Hendrix only carried one single guitar with him on the plane to the UK in September of 1966. Since he didn’t make a work permit ahead of time, it is suspected that someone else (perhaps Chas Chandler) carried the guitar for him.
By all accounts, it seems that the guitar that Jimi carried with him was a 1964 Fender Stratocaster finished in Olympic White, that might have actually belonged to another guitar icon.
According to Linda Keith, she borrowed this guitar from Keith Richards and gave it to Jimi. She however does not mention whether the guitar was later returned to Keith or not. In the quote below, she also recalls attending a gig of Jimi’s during which he smashed another white Stratocaster. At this time, it is suspected that the Stratocaster was the guitar he received from his girlfriend Carol sometime in early 1966.
The article above first states that possibly a few of his guitars were stolen, but someone is quoted saying a few paragraphs below that only a black Stratocaster had gone missing. It is also mentioned that Jimi didn’t particularly care about the black Strat, and was mainly worried about a white one.
Most of this does make sense. Jimi was seen playing a black Stratocaster a few weeks prior to this, on January 29th at the Seville Theater. Some footage of this gig is still available, but unfortunately, it can’t be posted here due to copyright. There were also photos taken that day by Chris Morphet/Redferns, showing both the black and the white guitar being used by Hendrix.
This guitar was first photographed on February 11th, 1967, at the Blue Moon Club in Cheltenham. It was seen sitting on stage while Hendrix played on a different white Stratocaster, likely the one that came with him from the US. According to one of our visitors (see comments below) the second white guitar was also seen at Bristol Locarno on February 9th.
Unfortunately, none of the photos that seem to exist of this guitar show the headstock. Because of this, one cannot possibly identify the guitar, or determine in which year it was made.
Regarding the story behind it, if one had to guess, it is likely that this guitar replaced the black Stratocaster that was allegedly stolen on the night of February 2nd. What’s interesting though is that starting with March 1967, Hendrix switched to two sunburst Stratocasters, and this second white Stratocaster was nowhere to be seen.
Hendrix was seen using this sunburst Fender Stratocaster starting in late February 1967. Based on what can be concluded from photos and research on his other guitars, it is likely that Hendrix bought this guitar upon returning to London after a short North East tour during which a couple of his guitars went missing.
One of the first gigs that Hendrix did with the sunburst Stratocaster was in Chelmsford on February 25th. Fortunately, a video recording of this gig is still available, although it’ll probably be taken down by whoever owns the rights to it. In the meantime, you can watch it below.
As you might’ve noticed yourself from the above video, there was another sunburst Stratocaster sitting on the stage. At this point, it is suspected that this is the same guitar that Jimi burned at The Astoria on March 1st, 1967.
This is the guitar that Jimi allegedly set on fire at the gig played in The Astoria, London, England, on March 31, 1967. The gig was the first concert of the Walkers Brothers tour, which also featured Cat Stevens and Engelbert Humperdinck.
Unfortunately, not much of the guitar’s history is known. As we discussed in the article about Jimi’s 1963 Fender Stratocaster (Sunburst), he had at least two sunburst Stratocasters in mid-March 1967. The first guitar is the 1963 Strat, while the second one seemed to have been a sort of a backup/disposable guitar, to which Hendrix switched for stunts at the end of the set. Based on photos (explained a few paragraphs below) the alleged Astoria Strat is neither of the two and to our knowledge, no one was successful in finding a photo of Jimi actually using it. This is troubling considering the fact that it was sold in 2008 and dubbed the Astoria Stratocaster – the first guitar that Jimi ever set on fire.
This guitar was put for an auction in 2008, after being kept for more than 40 years by the band’s press officer, Anthony (Tony) Garland. [Scorched Jimi Hendrix guitar sold on Auction – Telegraph] It was sold for £280,000 – which translates to roughly $575,000, to an American collector Daniel Boucher.
This Stratocaster was given to Frank Zappa by Howard Parker – Hendrix’s roadie, at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival. The history of the guitar is however far from established, and some even doubt its legitimacy since until just recently there’s been proof of Jimi only ever burning two guitars in his life – both of which are accounted for.
Well, there was this guy named Howard Parker – they called him ‘H’ – who was Hendrix’s roadie, gofer and general assistant. He stayed at our house for a couple of months in the late ’60s, and he had this guitar which Hendrix had given to him – I thought it was from the Miami concert.
This guitar was first used by Jimi sometime in March 1967, likely on the 30th when the band appeared on the Top of the Pops TV program. All the photos from that day are black and white, unfortunately, so it’s hard to tell the exact color of the body, but it did seem to be finished in a solid color. Likely, it was red, since that would make the most sense based on later photos.
Also, this seemed to have been the only red Strat with a rosewood fretboard that Jimi ever played, and it perfectly matches the Monterey Strat specs, aside of course, from the hand-drawn design. As far as these things go, it’s pretty much a sure thing that this is the guitar that Jimi burned at the Monterey Pop Festival.
This is the second of the two red Fender Stratocasters that Jimi used around May 1967. Based on photos available, it was likely first used at Saville Theatre on May 7th, but it is possible that it was used at an earlier date.
This red Strat was mainly played just during the short European tour in May 1967. By the end of the tour, it developed a crack across the body, from Hendrix smashing it at a gig in Copenhagen on May 21st.
I was playing in Copenhagen, and I got pulled off stage. Everything was going great. I threw my guitar back onto the stage and jumped back after it. When I picked it up there was a great crack down the middle. I just lost my temper and smashed the damn thing to pieces.
The guitar was however seen at a later date, on May 27th (see Hendrix in Deutschland – 27. Mai 1967; Starpalast, Kiel). Based on this, it is possible that it was somehow put together since it is highly unlikely that there would be two identical Strats around this time with a crack across the body.
According to Tappy Wright, Jimi’s roadie, this guitar (Serial Number: L65163) was given to Hendrix by Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones just before the Monterey gig on June 8, 1967.
When I flew across from London to Monterey to bring Jimi over, Brian Jones came with us, as did one of the Animals. As we got there, Jones had the guitar with him and then gave Jimi that Jaguar guitar. […] It’s still in good condition. After Jimi left the guitar with me, I kept the guitar in the main office, so I had it re-strung. It was almost mandatory that you had a guitar lying around the office for the Rock n-Roll junkies. They automatically would pick up the guitar and start playing it. Hilton Valentine, Soft Machine, and other Rock Stars strummed this Fender.
From Tappy Wright’s letter of authenticity
Based on the information given by Tappy, Jimi couldn’t use the guitar right away because it was strung up right-handed. Tappy re-strung it lefty after returning to London, and Jimi used it at Olympic Studios in Barnes, England, sometime in October 1967, to cut Experiencing the Blues and Houndog.
If one was to rank guitars in order of their usage during the some of the most iconic performances of Jimi’s, this black Stratocaster would probably be way up there at least in the top three.
It was first used (probably) at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 18, 1967. During this gig, Hendrix played the guitar on Killing Floor, Foxy Lady, Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, Rock Me Baby, Hey Joe, Can You See Me, and The Wind Cries Mary. At the end of the concert, he switched to a red Stratocaster painted by himself, and then set that guitar on fire after playing a cover of The Troggs’ Wild Thing.
Please note that the section that was previously here – which was about some of the weird details on the guitar, like the placement of the logo – is now removed. The reason for this is that the section was completely based on the alleged Stratocaster that appeared on auction recently, and was proven to be a fake. Thanks Daze in the comments for clearing up the whole thing regarding this.
Jimi started using this guitar upon returning to the US, in July 1967. It was seen on July 2nd at Whisky A Go-Go, and a few days later on the 5th at the Rheingold Central Park Music Festival. From then on it was used on nearly all (probably all of them at least to some extent, but no way to tell for sure) of the US gigs up until Jimi’s return to the UK on August 20th.
Back in the UK, Hendrix continued using this Strat as his main go-to guitar. Among others, it was seen at the Hollywood Bowl, on Aug 18th, at the Olympic Studios in October 1967 [Jimi Hendrix and Noel Redding in a London recording studio, October 1967], and at the Vitus TV Studios, Bussum for the recording of the television show “Hoepla” on November 10th.
The earliest photo of Jimi playing this guitar on stage seems date back to August 15, 1967. [Jimi Hendrix at “Fifth Dimension Club”, Ann Arbor. Michigan] Based on this, it is likely that Jimi purchased it in the US – perhaps sometime in late July when he was staying in New York (Manny’s Music Shop in NYC was a very popular guitar store among rock stars back then).
This, for the time – unusual, Strat was used around late 1967. It was first seen at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on August 18, 1967. Less than ten days later, the guitar was seen once again at the Saville Theater in London.
From then on it was played on a few more occasions, but not nearly as much as Jimi’s main white Strat with white pickguard. This guitar seemed to have been something Jimi would use mainly at the end of the set, for his usual routine of smashing it against a Marshall stack. An example of this can be seen at the Blackpool Opera House on November 25, 1967 – which is also likely the last time this guitar appeared on stage.
There are a few photos of Jimi playing a Fender Jaguar (see comments) in what’s either a dark blue or black finish. It seems that all of the photos were taken on the same day, August 24, 1967, at the Lime Grove Studios for the Top Of The Pops TV show.
The most interesting thing about the guitar is that it was strung for a right-handed player, meaning that it probably didn’t belong to Jimi but was borrowed just for that occasion. Beyond that, the guitar is a mystery. If you happen to come across any mention of it by Jimi or someone close to him, be sure to leave a comment.
This guitar was shown at the EMP (now MoPOP) museum in Seattle during a special Hendrix event. According to the museum’s info, Jimi purchased it at Manny’s Music shop in New York and used it for the recording of Spanish Castle Magic from the Axis: Bold as Love (1967) album.
As far as the specs, the guitar, obviously, has two necks – one with six strings, and other with twelve. The pickups in it (if original) are single-coils, which usually measure up to 13K in output, which is very high compared to Fender pickups which measured around 6k Ohms on the models made in the early 60s.
Jimi was seen using this guitar only on a few occasions, most notably at rehearsals at The Saville Theatre, London on October 8, 1967, at L’Olympia, Paris on October 9, 1967, and in Gothenburg on January 4, 1968.
It is an odd guitar in the sense that it’s the only heavily modified Stratocaster that Hendrix ever was seen playing. Also, if we assume that Hendrix modified the guitar himself, or more precisely had someone modify it for him for some specific reason (something he didn’t like on a standard Strat for example), it would make sense that he would want to keep on using the guitar, but for some reason, he chose not to.
It is also possible that someone wired a separate pickguard and handed it to him, Jimi tried it out in one of his guitars, ended up not liking it, and forgot about the whole thing.
This is the guitar that Jimi switched to from his first 1967 Strat. This second Strat first saw stage light on February 2, 1968, in San Francisco, US. [Jimi Hendrix, backstage at Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, 1968 – Time] In essence, the two guitars were identical, aside from the wear on the old one that by February 1968 became quite extensive (especially around the upper horn of the body). The new guitar did, however, have a small cigarette burn on the headstock, which means that it was probably used even before February.
He used this white Strat for most of 1968, and likely all the way up until the TTG Studio sessions in mid-October that year. Although photos are somewhat scarce, it seems that guitar was played on almost all gigs between February and October, assuming that it was indeed one same guitar and not a few identical ones. Last photos of Hendrix playing this particular guitar that seems to date back to around late October 1968.
1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom (Fillmore West, Miami Pop)
Jimi started using this guitar around April 1968. The earliest photos date to April 5th, 1968 [Newark (Symphony Hall) : 5 avril 1968], which could possibly mean that this is something Jimi acquired at Manny’s Music shop, which is just a 30-minute drive from the Symphony Hall. At that time, the guitar seemed the have been used exclusively on the song Red House, and it seemed to have some sort of a white sticker on the top of the body.
The guitar is currently owned by the Hard Rock Café International and can be seen at their restaurant in Chicago on 63 West Ontario St. According to the info posted on their website, the guitar was produced in 1956. At this time, we have contacted their memorabilia staff about more info on the guitar, but have yet to receive a response.
This guitar was used only once by Jimi, on May 19, 1968, at the Wreck Bar within the Castaways Hotel, in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, after the Miami Pop Festival.
The Miami Pop Festival was originally scheduled as a two-day event, but the second day was canceled due to a thunderstorm, which prompted the performers to gather in the Castaways Hotel to take refuge from the rain and start a jam session.
There’s is only one photograph from that night of Jimi using this guitar [Jimi Hendrix’s 1967 Electric Guild Starfire V – liveauctioneers.com] It is unknown whether Jimi had the guitar with him prior to this, or whether it was something he acquired that night. Also, the story behind the stickers covering the front of the guitar is a mystery.
Be that as it may, the Guild somehow ended up with Jimi’s father, Al, with whom it remained until his death in 2002. After that, we’re guessing it remained within the family until 2017 when it was put up for auction. The starting bid was $140,000.
This guitar is not all that significant at least when compared to some of the others, but it is nonetheless one of the more interesting ones. Jimi used it for a very brief period of time, most likely not much longer than a month.
It was first seen in Zurich, Switzerland at the Monsterkonzert on May 31st of 1968 [see comments below, thanks Chad], and last, in pieces, at the Lagoon Opera House, Salt Lake City on August 30, 1968 [Salt Lake City (Lagoon Opera House) : 30 août 1968]
The most interesting thing about this guitar is certainly the color. From the photos, the finish seems closest to what Fender used to call ‘Blue Ice metallic’. This was a custom finish used on the models made between 1960 and 1969. [Fender Custom Colors: Color Confusion – GuitarHQ] All of the Fender’s custom finishes, of course, originated from the popular car finishes from back in the day.
Hendrix started using this guitar in mid-October 1968, and it represented a shift away from rosewood and towards maple fretboard Stratocasters. Up until this point, almost every guitar that he played had a rosewood fretboard. This is understandable considering the fact that he mostly used early to mid 60s Strats, most of which were shipped with rosewood fretboards, at least up until around mid-1965.
The guitar was one of the two maple neck Stratocasters that Jimi started using around this time – the other one being almost an identical guitar but finished in white. While we’re still researching the possibility of there being two white Strats, there was most likely only one black Stratocaster with a maple neck. This guitar was not only used throughout 1969 but also in 1970 – up until Jimi’s death. In fact, the very last known photos of Jimi show him holding this exact guitar.
The guitar was first seen on stage at the Civic Auditorium in Bakersfield, California on October 26, 1968. [Hendrix concert in Bakersfield the stuff of legend -bakersfield.com] This was right in between the recording sessions at the TTG Studios in Los Angeles, and based on the photos taken by Ron Raffaelli at the studios, the guitar was used there as well (photos should be fairly easy to find with a quick Google search).
This is probably the best-known guitar of Jimi’s. It was used at the Woodstock Festival on August 18, 1969. Before Woodstock however – things are somewhat unclear. It seems that the guitar was used from around the same time as Jimi’s black Strat, around October 1969, but have gone out of rotation sometime in 1969 in favor of a different white Strat that looked nearly identical.
The Woodstock Strat was used probably from late October or early November 1968. Based on the photos available, The Bakersfield Civic Auditorium on October 26th was played on the black Strat and one of the older white Strat with a rosewood fretboard, while the next concert on November 2nd featured a white Strat with a maple neck. One is inclined to assume that this is the Woodstock Strat, although there’s no actual way to prove it. As is often the case with Jimi’s guitars, the only option is to speculate.
This 1967 Gibson SG Custom is most famous for its appearance on the Dick Cavett show on September 9, 1969. The guitar was however first seen in Jimi’s hands around late 1968. More precisely, on November 27, 1968, Rhode Island Auditorium gig seem to be the first one to feature this guitar based on the photos.
From then on the SG popped in occasionally, most likely to be used on tracks such as Red House which in the past he mostly played on humbucker-equipped guitars. Also, in late 1968 and early 1969, Jimi often played Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love, which on some video recordings he played on the SG. Perhaps a nod to Eric who himself likely recorded the track on a Gibson SG (you can read a bit more about it at 1964 Gibson SG Standard ”The Fool”).
It is most likely that Jimi simply liked the lightweight and proportional design of the SG model. The SG can without almost any difficulty be played by a lefty since the body is almost exactly the same on each side. The body is also very lightweight in comparison to the Les Paul Custom model that Jimi was seen playing in mid-1968, and the neck allows for the fingers to reach the highest frets with ease (something he’d surely struggle with on a Stratocaster to an extent).
This is chronologically the second Gibson Flying V that Jimi played in his career. Of the three that he had in total (or at least used publicly), this one is probably the least known and most certainly the least photographed. This, of course, makes it much more difficult to research this guitar properly.
Although some sources claim that Jimi started using the tobacco burst Flying V as early as January 1969, the first photo of Hendrix with the guitar seems to date to May 18, 1969, and was taken backstage at the Madison Square Garden [The not-so-slight return of Jimi Hendrix By Todd Leopold, CNN] Given the assumption that Jimi used the Flying V only for a song or two during a set, it is definitely possible that he used it prior to May 18th, but that it simply wasn’t photographed nor filmed.
The second photo that shows Jimi with the guitar was featured on the cover of Lonnie Youngblood’s album Two Great Experiences Together (see below), which was taken sometime in 1969 (if you know of an exact date, leave a comment).
Jimi used this guitar only two times, both at the Newport Pop Festival in June 1969. Based on the photos and footage available, the guitar was used on both June 20th and June 22nd.
The guitar is one of the weird ones, in a sense that it was without a doubt put together using parts from at least two different guitars. The neck is from a late 1960s Telecaster, while the body is from a Stratocaster. The question is whether any of the parts belonged to one of Jimi’s old guitars, or whether there they were picked up from a guitar store/shop. The chance is that at least the body came from one of Jimi’s white Strats.
According to Larry Lee, this guitar was purchased by him and Hendrix in 1963 when they played in a band called Bob Fisher and the Bonnevilles. When Larry was invited to join Gypsy Sun and the Rainbows in 1969, a week prior to Woodstock, Hendrix allegedly gave it to him since he had no instrument of his – being just recently released from the army.
All this is based on the info provided by the EMP Museum (recently renamed to Museum of Pop Culture) in Seattle, the current owners of the guitar. It is assumed that the info has been originally provided to them by Larry Lee, who sold the guitar through Sotheby’s in 1991.
The interesting thing to point out about this guitar is that it has a Bigsby tailpiece and a replaced neck pickup. The original pickup on a ’55 Les Paul Custom, the Alnico V, has staple pole pieces, while the pickup in Jimi’s/Larry’s Custom looked like a P90. This same type of pickup, of course, was fitted in the bridge position on these models. For photos visit this thread on MyLesPaul forums: Jimi Hendrix’s 1955 Les Paul Custom
The guitar was allegedly a gift from the club owners since Jimi was apparently a frequent visitor and often jammed with other musicians in the club – such as Peter Green, BB King, and Jimmy Creed. This is based on a comment on an online blog about The Grateful Dead, written by a person who was once employed at the club.
Jimi jammed so many other times. We wound up buying him the left-handed white SG that is in some photos out there…Jimi was a regular and he loved the club.
The part about the guitar being a white SG is somewhat confusing, but based on the information that is available, Jimi didn’t have a left-handed SG finished in white. The person who made the comment likely confused this guitar with the other SG that Jimi was often seen playing in late 1968 and in 1969.
Please note that the existence of this guitar is based purely on speculation. It could be that this is the exact same Stratocaster that Jimi used at Woodstock, but for the sake of discussion, it’s perhaps good to keep them separate at this time.
This is the guitar that Jimi was seen using from around April 1970. Up until that point he used a similar white Stratocaster (Woodstock Strat), but photos seem to indicate that a change took place sometime around early 1970, and Jimi swapped to a different Stratocaster. First photos of this second white maple Stratocaster seem to date back to April 25, 1970, and were taken backstage at The Forum, Los Angeles [Los Angeles (LA Forum) : 25 avril 1970]
The hypothesis of there being another white Stratocaster with a maple neck in 1970 is mainly built around one tiny detail – a scratch on the paint on the lower part of the body.
This guitar was purchased by Jimi on July 14, 1970, at Manny’s Music store in New York. Around that time Jimi was spending a lot of time at the Electric Lady Studios, which at that time still wasn’t finished completely. When the studio was opened, on August 26, an opening party was held. According to Noel Redding, Jimi played this exact guitar – however, no photos of the gig exist. (refer to auction page for source)
On August 27th, Jimi flew to London, and most likely left the guitar at the Electric Lady Studios, since it was not seen at any of the gigs played between August 27th and Jimi’s passing on September 18th.
From that point, it’s not exactly clear what happened to the guitar and with whom it ended up. It was signed by Noel Redding at some point, apparently when it was first sold.
This Epiphone (serial number 62262) was purchased by Jimi in 1967 sometime during the JHE US tour, which was the band’s first away from Europe. According to Noel Redding, the guitar was bought second-hand in New York, for about $25, and was brought back to England. [Bonhams: Jimi Hendrix: An Epiphone FT 79 acoustic guitar, 1951]
According to the info posted on Bonham’s auction page, the Epiphone was used extensively by Jimi in London, and many of the arrangements for the new songs were written on it. According to Kathy Etchingham, he mostly used an acoustic when playing and practicing at home.
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”.
There are very few photos of Jimi playing the guitar, which is, of course, understandable since it was used in a more private setting. There is however one video recording of him using the guitar in what appears to be a bedroom, probably filmed around 1969. In the said video, Jimi can be seen playing a cover of Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog to a group of friends.
One of the rare professional video recordings of Jimi with an acoustic guitar shows him playing an unplugged version of the song “Hear My Train A’ Comin'” on a twelve-string guitar. The short footage is a part of the film called “See My Music Talking”, recorded on December 19th, 1967 at the Bruce Fleming’s studio, London.
The guitar that Jimi played in the video was made by a guitar luthier called Antanus Casimere (Tony) Zemaitis, based in London, England. All of the vintage Zemaitis guitars were made by Tony himself, and many of the popular guitarists of that time were seen playing one – including Eric Clapton, Donovan, Ronnie Wood, and Keith Richards. After Tony’s death in 2002, the production of Zemaitis guitars was moved over to Japan.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any info on what happened to the guitar after Jimi’s death. It does, however, seem to be still around, as there are photos of it on a website by David Brewis (now down for some reason).
All that is known about this guitar is that it is currently owned by the Hard Rock Cafe International, and that it can be seen at their restaurant in Amsterdam, Netherlands. According to the Hard Rock Cafe’s info, the guitar was donated to them by Mitch Michell, and it was used during the recording of All Along the Watchtower in 1968. Of course, Jimi was never photographed during the sessions, so there’s no way of confirming this.
As far as identifying the guitar, based to the paper label inside the guitar, this is likely something from the Washburn brand, made by Lyon & Healy from Chicago around the turn of the century (1900). The headstock label, however, reads “Thornward” (thanks Stephen from Vintage Parlor Guitars).
Jimi bought this guitar in 1969 from Manny’s Music shop in New York. The guitar was passed on to Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell after Hendrix’s death, who kept it until 1992 when it was sold through auction.
It was purchased by Jimi in 1968 and kept at home to compose with. He wrote many things on it, including the “Black Guld Suite”. It did get taken to and used in studios in New York and can be heard on The Cry of Love album as well as other sessions.
Mitch Mitchell – letter from the 1992 auction – original source needed
Of course, nothing from this statement can be confirmed since Jimi was never photographed with the guitar, nor did he ever talk about it. But as far as reliable Hendrix sources go, Mitch Mitchell is probably as good as it comes. The statement does make sense, and it is highly likely that Jimi would pick up an acoustic to fool around in the US, similar to what he did with the Epiphone back in the UK.
In 1992 auction, the guitar was sold to Rock Star Guitars [Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 Martin D-45]. Shortly after, Jimi’s Martin was sold to the Experience Music Project in Seattle (or Museum of Pop Culture if we’re going by the more recent name) for an undisclosed sum.
Please note that this article is highly speculative, and it contains stories that have yet to be confirmed.
Jimi’s alleged #2 Martin D-45 ended up with Noel Redding, who kept it in his house in Ireland until his passing in 2003. Chris Dair was at his house around 1998/1999, when he had the opportunity to play Jimi’s D-45. What follows is Chris’ own account of what happened, sent to us by Chris via email.
First of all Noel said “I want to show you something” and then he disappeared and came back with a guitar case and opened it and said “this was Jimi’s” and I just looked at it in amazement, and then he said “would you like to have a go?” and I said “what?”, and he said “would you like to play it?” I can’t remember my answer to that, I must have said yes, because he handed it to me. I could see it was a Martin and had been strung back to right hand. (Viv was sitting across the room from me, Noel’s mother Margaret was also there). I just felt it, it sounded in tune…and then I started to play New Rising Sun…I don’t know why.
I finished playing after a few minutes, turned the guitar towards me and looked at it. Noel then said “why did you play that?”, and I said “I really don’t know”, handed it back and said thank you. That was it, he took it away. It was extraordinary because it’s not a piece I normally play, and usually when you pick up a guitar like that you just doodle around a little.
Chris Dair – via email
The first doubt was that this was Jimi’s Martin which is now at the EMP Museum, but the dates and facts don’t match. It is still possible that he had two different D-45, although this second one seems to be a lot less known and talked about. Nonetheless, it is an interesting story, but not one that can be proven – so take it with a grain of salt.
Jimi seemed to have used this amp around late 1962 / early 1963. It can be seen on a photo of him performing with the King Kasuals. At the time of using this amp, Jimi played what is likely a 1961 Epiphone Wilshire.
In Clarksville we worked for a setup called W & W. Man, they paid us so little that we decided the two W’s stood for “Wicked and Wrong.” […] Then we got in with a club owner who seemed to like us a lot. He bought us some new gear. I had a Silvertone amp, and the others got Fender Bandmasters.
Jimi was seen using this amp in the pre-Experience days. More precisely, photos dating to his Curtis Knight days (late 1965/most of 1966) all seem to show Jimi playing through a Twin Reverb combo amp.
Given that he played the last gig with Curtis in August 1966, and left for the UK in September, it is likely that the amp was either sold prior to the UK trip, or it wasn’t Jimi’s to begin with. Because Jimi’s Twin Reverb wasn’t the only such amp on stage, it is likely that the amps were owned by the band, and that Jimi’s simply got to use it while playing with them.
Allegedly used in the early days with Curtis Knight, circa 1966. It is worth noting here that although some argue that an amp resembling a Supro Thunderbolt was seen on stage behind Jimi on at least one photo, it is very questionable if this actually holds any credibility. The whole theory seemed to have originated from someone’s statement, and then people tried retrospectively finding something that would resemble a Thunderbolt amp on a photo of Jimi.
The problem with this theory, mainly, is that the amp that is on the left edge of the photo below, the one that Jimi’s guitar was likely plugged in and that one that people argue is a Supro amp, has metal corner guards, and controls on the front. Supro Thunderbolt is a very bland looking amp with no metal guards and controls located at the top. The amp on the photo below is more likely a Fender combo.
Allegedly, Jimi first came across a Marshall amp, and tried one himself, while sitting in with Brian Auger’s band Trinity – most likely on September 28, 1966. According to Brian Auger, Jimi turned the amp all the way to 10 and instructed the band to follow him while he played “Hey Joe” – of course leaving everybody in the room (apparently including even Eric Clapton) completely stunned. [11-12-13 Brian Auger Talks of Jimi Hendrix, Marshall amps].
Following this, and Jimi’s discontent with Burns amps that the band was practicing on until then, on October 11, 1966, Jimi and Mitch Mitchell went out to meet Jim Marshall – the founder of Marshall Amplifiers. Apparently, Jim Marshall, who was a drummer himself, already knew Mitch – who had been a pupil of his at some point and had worked at Jim’s store.
On a Saturday afternoon in the autumn of ‘66, a tall, lanky American walked in with Johnny Mitchell—or “Mitch,” as most people knew him. Mitch used to work in my shop as a “Saturday boy,” and he was also one of my top drum students. The fellow who came in with him that day was James Marshall Hendrix, and he quickly became the greatest ambassador Marshall Amplifiers ever had.
I must admit, when Mitch introduced me to Jimi, I immediately thought, “Christ, here we go again—another American wanting something for nothing.” Thankfully, I was dead wrong. The very first thing Jimi said to me was, “I’ve got to use your stuff, but I don’t want anything given to me. I want to pay the full asking price.” That impressed me greatly, but then he added, “I am going to need service wherever I am in the world, though.” My initial reaction was, “Blimey, he’s going to expect me to put an engineer on a plane every time a valve needs replacing. It’s going to cost me a bloody fortune!” Instead, I suggested our staff teach Hendrix’s tech, Gerry Stickells, basic amp servicing skills, such as changing and biasing the valves. He must have been a very good learner, because we were never called on to sort out any problems.
Jim Marshall – original source needed
According to most sources, Jimi purchased two (some claim three) Marshall Super 100 heads, and four cabinets. He was first seen using the amps during the band’s short French tour, that began on October 13, 1966, concluded on October 18, 1966, and featured four shows. The first show on October 13 was also the first time that The Jimi Hendrix Experience ever performed together as a band. From this first tour, and until the end of his life, Jimi would continue using Marshall amps almost exclusively.
The story of how the amp was discovered is pretty interesting. User by the name “tubezarmy” posted on the LetsTalkGuild.com forums that he bought a Thunderbass amp at a pawn shop, and discovered that it had “J H EXP” stenciled on the bottom. Apparently, the person then sent the amp to Weyer (who is known for working on Jimi equipment), who determined that this was the exact same amp that he modified for Jimi in the late 60s.
According to Roger Mayer (with whom one of our visitors had the chance to talk – see comments below), Jimi used a 1967 Sound City 100 Master Volume amp extensively on the Axis album.
Jimi used a single Sound City One Hundred amp (likely the same one from the Axis session) briefly during the latter part of the 1968 North American tour, from around mid-March to April/May (see Miami Pop photos). The amp seemed to have been used together with one of Jimi’s old Marshall JTM 45/100s.
According to Phil Brown, who was the audio engineer during the session, all of the overdubs on All Along the Watchtower were recorded on a Vox AC30
The setup for Hendrix’s electric guitar overdubs was achieved simply by placing a VOX AC30 amplifier in the studio, close to the control room window. We then placed Neumann U67s both close and distant, with an AKG C 12 A close to the amp. (Jimi) was hunched over the amp with his back to the control room window, his head bent low. We tried out numerous guitar ideas and sounds, desk distortion, fuzz box, wah-wah, Leslie cabinet, harmonizing, ADT, phasing, Pultec filtering, repeat echos and backwards effects.
It seems that for a short period of time, around early 1968, Jimi used a few Fender Dual Showman amps for his live gigs. The amps were seen during the show at Fillmore East on February 1, 1968, on the 2nd at Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, and lastly at Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim on February 9, 1968. According to some sources, the amps were supplied by Fender for Jimi to use during the 1968 US tour.
However, during the Anaheim gig on February 2, 1968, a Marshall amp was seen on stage sitting below a Fender Dual Showman, apparently because the two Fenders broke and the band couldn’t finish the set. After the gig, Jimi struck a deal with Buck Munger of Sunn Amps and most likely got rid of the Fenders.
The amplifiers broke down during the first show, resulting in only four numbers being played during the second show. After the show Chas and Jimi were approached by BuckMunger representative for Sunn Amplification who replaced their Fender gear (provided at the start of the tour, but not powerful enough for Jimi’s tastes) with brand new Sunn equipment.
Sometime in early 1968, Hendrix signed an endorsement deal with Sunn amp. Allegedly, he was approached with this idea by Buck Munger (PR, Sunn Amps.) sometime after Monterey Pop Festival.
I went backstage (Monterey Pop Festival), and by the end of the night, I knew what record label he was on. Someone invited me, I think it was Chas Chandler, to a gig in Los Angeles to come and see Jimi and talk about equipment. So I showed up at this gig, it was in Santa Barbara, and had a very quick conversation with Jimi wherein I said “I work for this small company in Oregon, and we make high quality stuff; we use JB Lansing speakers and Dynakit transformers: I had all my little buzz phrases, and I was a musician. He just said, “Hey man, set me up for this gig. It’s down here, this is the date, have all the stuff there and we’ll see what happens.”
Buck Munger, Straight Ahead Magazine 1996
Looking at the tour dates, Jimi played a gig at Robertson Gym, Santa Barbara on February 11, 1968. Interestingly, he was already using Sunn amps at that gig, and Buck Munger is seen in the background monitoring Jimi’s performance. It is likely therefore that Buck and Jimi struck a deal sometime prior to the gig itself, and that this was the first time that Jimi ever used a Sunn amp live.
According to most sources, the actual deal took place after the Anaheim gig on February 2, 1968 – during which both of Jimi’s Fender Dual Showmans allegedly broke, and the band managed to play only four songs.
Hendrix allegedly used this amp during his endorsement deal with Sunn circa 1968. One of these amps recently appeared on an auction over at Reverb.com, paired with 2X15 Cabs with JBL-D140 speakers. The asking price was around $150,000.
Unfortunately, the posting has since been removed and we couldn’t find any additional info about it. In our research, we haven’t come across a photo of Jimi actually using these amps; he mostly seemed to have used Sunn Spectrum II and/or 100s models.
Jimi was seen using this pedal while he played with the Squiers. More specifically, the pedal was seen sitting behind Jimi on a photo taken of him at Cheetah club in New York City sometime in mid-1966.
It’s unknown whether he ever used the pedal aside from this one occasion.
The Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone is one of the first fuzz pedals to become hugely popular. It was first introduced in 1962, designed by recording engineer Glenn Snoddy and WSM-TV engineer Revis V. Hobbs, and manufactured by Gibson, but it didn’t become popular until a few years later. The magic struck when Keith Richard decided to it on “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and the rest is, of course, history.
Please note that although the receipt reads Marshall “Super” Fuzz instead of “Supa”, it is likely that that was just an error from the person who wrote the receipt. There was, however, a pedal sold around the same time with a similar name – the Univox Super Fuzz, but a simple error in writing is a far more likely possibility. Next to that, Jimi was photographed using the Marshall Supa Fuzz just four days after purchasing it – on January 24, 1967, at The Marquee Club.
From the photo above we can see that Jimi’s Supa Fuzz was a 1966 version, or MKI, with control knobs closer together than on the MKII model. This model was based on the Tone Bender MKI circuit, with a modified tone circuit to give the Marshall version a different sound. Interestingly, on this MKI model of the Supa Fuzz, the fuzz was internally fixed at maximum.
Jimi started using this pedal around January 1967, after meeting Roger Mayer – an acoustic engineer working for the British Admiralty who as a hobby designed and built effect pedals for guitars, when they were still virtually unknown.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the functionality of the Octavia pedal, in Roger’s own words Octavia “produces a sound that is an octave higher than the note you are presently playing.” The effect is somewhat subtle, but if you watch a few YouTube videos, you should be able to tell the difference. A good starting point is this ProGuitarShop Demo video.
According to Roger Mayer, he first met Jimi at the Bag O’ Nails club in central London – probably around January 1967. This time frame is important to establish because by that time Jimi had already released Hey Joe, and was about to release Purple Haze and Fire. The tracks were mostly finished, but upon learning about the Octavia, Jimi decided to overdub the solos.
Jimi Hendrix used this effect most famously during the Woodstock festival on August 18, 1969. As far as studio use, the pedal was most famously featured on Machine Gun, but Jimi did use it extensively on other songs as well (see comments below).
The history behind this pedal doesn’t seem to be all that established, as different sources claim different origin stories.
The most commonly accepted version is that this pedal was designed by Japanese audio engineer Fumio Mieda sometime in the mid-1960s, as an attempt to emulate the sound of a rotating Leslie speaker. The pedal was initially designed to work with organs, as Fumio was mainly interested in keyboard instrument. As a little side note, in 1967, Fumio was approached by Tsutomu Katoh, the founder of KORG, for whom he would build the company’s first programmable organ.
Throughout his career, Jimi used a number of different wah pedals. However, it’s often hard to tell which one he was using on a particular occasion because of the low-quality footage on some of the concerts.
Fortunately, on one occasion that perhaps matters the most to some, that is the Woodstock festival in 1969, the type of the wah used is somewhat well established.
According to Dave Weyer, who at the time worked on Jimi’s equipment, the wah pedal that he used that day was a modified Vox V846, made in the Sepulveda factory in California.
Jimi had a box of wah pedals, and I had, over the course of the year, worked on every one. But Jimi’s favorite was the yet-to-be-seen by the public, Sepulveda model with the TDK inductor and the high beta Motorola transistors. It can be identified by the lack of a Vox logo on the front, the relief where the logo was supposed to be glued on, a West Coast sticker on the bottom, and Jimi’s signature on the inside of the casing wall, applied at a difficult angle, but identifiable nonetheless — and, of course, the things he loved the most, the low noise and the sharp sweep, clearly audible in the Woodstock recordings.
According to Roger Mayer, Jimi used the standard Fender 150 set (.010, .013, .015, .026, .032, .038).
We were using the normal one, not the very high radius but definitely curvy. The actual strings we used were not what people would expect. The string gauges would run .010, .013, .015, .026, .032 and .038.
The Fender 150 referred to a complete set sold at the time (late sixties early seventies). In Fender Catalogs From 1953 to 1979 (specifically from 1968) you’ll find the information that Fender branded the set as “Spanish Guitar light gauge Rock ‘N’ Roll”, and that the set included the following strings:
During the Woodstock Festival gig on August 18, 1969, Jimi used a guitar strap with a very unique pattern, catching the eye of many. The strap was made by a company named Ace, who at the time produced a number of different guitar straps with similar designs.
Jimi Woodstock strap was auctioned in 2008 for an undisclosed price (if you happen to come across anything related to the strap post-auction, be sure to leave a comment below).
This seems to be the pick that Jimi used most of the time. Looking through the photos, one can usually notice that he holds a red/black pick in his hand. This is probably Fender’s (more likely) or possibly Manny’s Music (probably used just on occasion), 351 shape celluloid pick.
Although Jimi probably used a number of different picks in his career, a few of them have popped up recently on auctions / at museums. These few should mostly serve just as pointers, which suggest that Jimi simply preferred medium thickness picks, but didn’t seem to have a strong brand or model preferences.
This particular strap (or at least one of them – Jimi could’ve owned several of the same model) was sold recently at an auction for an undisclosed price. It was previously owned by a guy named Darrel Stroot, who apparently got it in 1970 at the Roberts Municipal Stadium.
On June 10, 1970 I went to Evansville, IN to attend a concert. I was located near the stage during the performance. It was a good show. During the show, Jimi’s guitar strap broke. A stage-hand came out to replace it while he was playing; he tossed it onto the stage and the show went on. When the concert ended I went to the stage and asked a stage-hand for the strap; he acknowledged and the strap was mine. The strap has been in my possession since June 1970.