James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix (born Johnny Allen Hendrix; November 27, 1942 – September 18, 1970) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter. Despite a relatively brief mainstream career spanning four years, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music”.
In the early years Hendrix played mostly cheaper guitar like the Epiphone Wilshire and Supro Ozark. Towards the mid 1960s he started using Fenders, starting with a 1959 Fender Duo-sonic which he played with Isley Brothers. In the summer of 1966 he bought his first Stratocaster with the help of his girlfriend, and it quickly became his signature guitar. His favorite guitar was a black 1968 Stratocaster with maple neck. Towards the later part of his career Hendrix started using different guitars, including some Gibson Flying Vs and Les Paul Customs.
Hendrix played mostly right-handed models, even though he was left-handed – which played a role in the way his guitars ended up sounding, and left an overall impression on the listeners. Important to note is that the string placement was correct for a left hand player with the low E on top. This of course reversed the length of the strings behind the nut, affected the tone on the slanted bridge pickup, and affected the tone of each string since the single-coil pickups usually had staggered pole-pieces – each of them set to a different height in order to balance the inconsistencies in individual string volume on guitars.
This was Hendrix’s first ever electric guitar. According to some sources [Jimi Hendrix Gear, by Michael Heatley, p.9] he got it from his father who bought it in the Myers Music Shop in Seattle in 1959 for $89. According to other [Becoming Jimi Hendrix, Steven Rody] this story is connected to his second electric guitar, a Danelectro.
Be that as it may, Jimi played the Supro with his band The Rocking Kings circa 1959, until it was stolen from the bandstand at The Birdland Club in 1960.
Unfortunately the guitar itself is one of the more obscure models with very little of its history being known today. It was made by a company called Valco, which also produced instruments sold under brands such as Airline, Oahu, and National.
Jimi’s guitar featured white finish and a very simple circuitry powering a single pickup placed in the bridge position. If you’re more curious about the details and the insides of the guitar, we recommend watching a YouTube video displaying a restoration of an identical model to Jimi’s – Restoration of a 1957-1959 Supro Ozark 1560s.
After his Supro was stolen, with the help from father Hendrix bought this Danelectro which he later nick-named “Betty Jean” after his girlfriend at the time, Betty Jean Morgan. [Jimi Hendrix Gear, by Michael Heatley, p.28]
The guitar was allegedly originally green, but Hendrix himself painted it several times from red, to purple, and back to green at some point. [Becoming Jimi Hendrix, Steven Rody]
However, the earliest photo of him holding the guitar shows young Hendrix wearing a red sport coat and standing by a red car. The guitar, however, seems to be copper-colored one. This was the standard finish on this particular model, and we haven’t been able to confirm whether green was even an option at that time.
Although initially thought to be a single-pickup model, a closer inspection of the photo above reveals that the guitar actually has two pickups. The photo dates to Hendrix’s Army days (circa 1961), which means that he carried the guitar together with him into the Army – although it looks like he removed the pickguard and added some decals to the lower portion of the body.
This is also confirmed in the book Starting At Zero: His Own Story. In one of the letters Jimi sent to his father during the army days, he specifically asks for the guitar to be sent to him, noting that it’s still at Betty’s (his girlfriend) house. Sometime later, he ends up selling the guitar to a guy in army. After being discharged in July 1962, he borrows the guitar back in order to make enough money playing around clubs to go back home.
Please note that the period between 1962 and 1966 is very hard to research properly due to not only lack of photos in general, but lack of photos with correct dating. Although there are numerous sources available online describing a timeline of events between those years (we’ve used EarlyHendix.com Timeline), there’s a lack of a good a source with organized photo galleries that would immensely make the research of Hendrix’s early guitars much easier.
Due to this, please note that some of the dates mentioned below could possibly completely wrong. If you happen to notice such a mistake, please be sure to use our contact form to let us know about the error.
After coming back from the Army in 1962 Hendrix acquired an Epiphone Wilshire. It is assumed that this was from the money he made playing with the Danelectro, which as previously noted, was indeed borrowed from a friend in the army.
Jimi used the guitar in the early days of King Casuals – a band that began performing in Nashville by November, 1962. The Wilshire can be seen on photos taken at the Club Del Morocco [Jimi Hendrix and the King Casuals – The Official Biography of Legendary Bassist Billy Cox]
Jimi’s Epiphone had a solid-mahogany body finished in red, two P-90 pickups, a black (possibly Tortoiseshell?) pickguard, and dot fretboard inlays. Interestingly, the inlay on the 17th frets seems to have been modified as it appears to cover almost the whole space between the frets. Whether this was indeed a modification, or just a simple sticker or something similar, is unfortunately something we haven’t been able to figure out.
The last thing to point out is that the guitar featured a Vibrola tremolo bridge – which is somewhat confusing. Based on GuitarHQ’s model history [Epiphone Wilshire model guitars 1959 to 1970], the tremolo was fitted on the models made between 1959-1961, and between mid-1962 and 1963. Jimi’s guitar fits the description of the model produced in 1961, which as you might guess – didn’t come with a tremolo.
The possible explanation to all this is that the guitar was modified, either by the previous owner or by Jimi himself, or that simply there was a model in 1961 that featured both the black P90 pickups and the Vibrola tremolo.
In the book Jimi Hendrix Gear [Jimi Hendrix Gear, Michael Heatley – p.34] it is mentioned that Jimi allegedly painted the pickguard white at some point. Looking at the photos taken around this era, there is indeed what seems to be a Wilshire with a white pickguard, black P90s, and surprisingly – block inlays! [Jimi Hendrix with the King Kasuals, Christmas 1962]
The thing to mention here is that there has never been a Wilshire with block inlays in the early 60s, so it seems that Jimi did in fact paint not only the pickguard, but also the inlays. The exact way in which this could’ve been done is something we’re having problems figuring out. Surely, a layer of white paint would come of in no time with strings constantly rubbing against it, and carving out the fretboard and installing the block inlays the way it would’ve been done at the factory seems very unlikely.
The photo that shows Jimi’s Wilshire with white pickguard and block inlays dates to late 1962 , which means that all the other photos with the WIlshire featuring dot inlays and black pickguard were taken at a later date (to remind you, King Kasuals started performing in November 1962).
This would then obviously mean that if Hendrix had painted his Epiphone pickguard and (presumably) the block inlays, he would’ve done so early on, meaning that the paint had come by the time the rest of the photos were taken. This goes somewhat well with what was said previously, but it is important to point out that it’s only a theory. The true history of this guitar is likely to remain unknown given how much time had passed, and how very few people would have an answer to some of these questions.
Just before his nine-month gig with the Isley Brothers in 1964 Hendrix (at the time known as Jimmy James) acquired 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. We assume this was just after Jimi was accepted to the band following his audition in February 1964.
Jimi’s Duo-Sonic was likely made sometime between early to mid 60s – definitely before late 1964 when the model went through some major design changes. It featured a 22.5 inch scale rosewood neck which was introduced in 1959 on this particular model, two single-coil pickups, fixed bridge, and a white pickguard. The finish is something we’ve been stuck on because it looks as though it’s lighter than the usual finish that was common on these guitars.
If you look at Jimi’s guitar [Jimi Hendrix with the Duo-Sonic circa 1964] (note that this is a photo of a band called The Turkords which toured with the Isley Brothers) you’ll notice that his guitar appears to be almost white. The problem is that the white color only became available with the Duo-Sonic II introduced in mid to late 1964.
This second version (chronologically looking this was actually the third) of the Duo-Sonic also featured numerous other changes to the original design, including the metal plate beneath the volume/tone controls, slightly different body and headstock shape, and different control layout altogether among others. All these changes made the old and the new model very distinguishable from each other, so there is not doubt that Jimi’s guitar was in fact the old model.
There is a small chance that Jimi’s guitar was one of the extremely rare Duo-Sonic that left the factory with custom finishes. Such guitars resurface very rarely nowadays but there are example of Duo-Sonics that left the factory as early as 1962 with a finish other than light brown (official name for this finish appears to have been “Desert Sand”). One of these Duo-Sonics was recently sold over at Vintage&Rare [Fender / Duo Sonic / 1962 / Candy Apple Red / Guitar]
Another possible theory, and the one we’re most inclined to go along with, is that the guitar was indeed light brown but appeared to be white on the photos. If you compare this finish to Gibson’s ‘TV yellow’, which was intentional designed to appear white on black and white cameras, you’ll see that this is indeed plausible.
If you have ever seen early black and white television footage from the 1940’s and 50’s, you have probably noticed that white objects often appear unnaturally bright, “blown out”, haloed, or blurry. To mitigate this problem, legendary inventor, guitarist, and TV star Les Paul (for whom the Gibson Les Paul® line of guitars is named) suggested a wheat-colored guitar finish. The color would appear white in live television broadcasts , but because it wasn’t actually white it wouldn’t overwhelm the cameras under bright lights. [TV Yellow – The Faded Origin of a Classic Guitar Color by Aaron Cheney, Warmoth.com]
So even if Fender didn’t intentionally design the finish in a way Gibson did on their guitars, it is true that thing that weren’t necessarily white appeared to be so if looked through a lens of and old black and white camera. If you consider the fact that the photos of Jimi with the guitar were also taken during a stage performance, where there would obviously be many light sources pointing directly at it, it is not that hard to see this theory as plausible.
Based on the photos available, at some point Jimi installed what looks like a VMA-1 tremolo on this guitar. Interesting thing to note is that the same tremolo model was fitted on the 60s Epiphone models, so it is possible that Jimi himself fitted the tremolo on the Duo-Sonic from his old Wilshire.
The main mystery regarding this guitar begins with the recent auction and the photos of the guitar in its most current state. The thing is, one would expect that the guitar would have screw holes left from the tremolo that was once fitted on it, but that is certainly not that case with the guitar that appeared on the auction. You can see some of the photos of the guitar taken in 2010 over at MusicRadar – Jimi Hendrix guitar auction.
So given that the guitar that was auctioned off doesn’t appear to be refinished (which would of course cover up the holes), and that Michael Heatley [Jimi Hendrix Gear, by Michael Heatley, p.46] notes that the guitar was stolen from Jimi in March/April 1964 – the Duo-Sonic that Jimi used in early 1964 and the Duo-Sonic that was auctioned off in 2010 are very likely two different guitars.
Since the guitar that was auctioned off in 2010 quite possibly is not the one that Jimi was seen playing during his tenure with the Isley Brothers, where does that guitar fit in then? Is it just another Duo-Sonic that Jimi happened to own at that time that he was never photographed with, or is there something else at play?
The website of the auction house that was behind the sale is unfortunately offline, but we’ve been able to dig up a part of the info that was posted on the sales page. It is perhaps worth noting that reason being the website being offline is that the auction house was found guilty of fraud in 2014. [Cameo Auctioneers found guilty of fraud – BBC.com]
Jimi had at one stage fitted his Duo-Sonic with an EpiPhone (Maestro) Vibrato unit but had later taken it off. The rumor is that this guitar went missing whilst on tour in the USA but contrary to this Jimi just tired of using it and it was put away for a while and resurfaced years later in Chas Chandler’s London studio. Chas Chandler discovered and managed Jim,and later sold the guitar in 1982 for £400 to Rod Weinberg, who in 1983 reunited the Animals for a world tour.
So given the recent news regarding the auction house, is it possible that there was some foul at play regarding the sale?
They do mention that the guitar was fitted with a tremolo, but do not explain the absence of the holes on the guitars that they were selling (at least not in their online post). Furthermore, Chas Chandler who is named as the person from which the guitar originates from died in 1996, which makes to whole line of ownership somewhat less credible – unless of course he signed a letter of authenticity when he first sold the guitar to Rod Weinberg.
In any case, making assumption is fine, but only as long as we remember that they are just that. Nothing stated previously is to be taken as a fact, at least not until we’re able to get a tangible proof. Given that the guitar was sold for $246,000, we assume a proper research was done prior to the sale. We also assume more details regarding the guitar’s history were available to the potential buyers, one of them perhaps explaining the absence of the screw holes.
During the later part of the Isley Brothers tour in late 1964 and during the tour with Little Richard in early to mid 1965 Jimi was seen playing a sunburst Fender Jazzmaster (a quick Google Image search should give you a few results). The guitar was also seen on one of Jimi’s earliest TV appearances, in May 1965.
Based on the appearance, this Jazzmaster was made sometime between 1959 and 1964. The celluloid tortoise pickguard seen on Jimi’s guitar was introduced on the Jazzmaster model in 1959, and the small headstock as well as the logo style present on the guitar are both representative of the pre-1964 era. Lastly, the guitar also appears to have a veneer rosewood fretboard, which would decrease the year range even further since the change from the slab to veneer happened in 1962. [Vintage Guitars Info’s – Model Information, Jazzmaster]
Unfortunately, no photo shows the fretboard from such perspective that would make any conclusion certain, so this is something not yet confirmed. If you happen to come across a photo of Jimi playing the Jazzmaster circa 1964/65 with a good angle on the top of the fretboard, be sure to send it to us.
Jimi was seen playing this guitar on a photo taken at the Hejaz Grotto Hall in July 1965 with the Isley Brothers (we can’t put up the picture due to copyright, buy Googling it should give you a few results). This was of course after he left Little Richard, and joined the Isley Brothers for the second time.
Another photo of him with the guitar was taken later that year with Joey Dee and the Starliters. [joeydee.com – Hendrix Close-up] According to a letter Jimi sent to his father, he played with Joey around November 1965.
From then on, the guitar essentially disappears. Hendrix moves on to a white Jazzmaster which he was seen using with King Curtis, and a sunburst Duo-Sonic he used with Curtis Knight.
Jimi was seen playing this guitar on couple of gigs he did with Curtis Knight in late 1965/early 1966. This guitar was apparently a gift from Knight [Jimi Hendrix Gear, by Michael Heatley, p.48]. It is likely that Jimi pawned it sometime prior to leaving for London in late 1966.
Beside this, we haven’t been able to find any details about that guitar, so if you happen to know anything please contact us.
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.
The only interesting thing to say about this guitar is that it was likely made between 1964 and 1966. As we previously noted, Fender changed the shape of the headstock on many models, including the Jazzmaster, in late 1964. Given that the photo was taken in 1966, the guitar obviously must have been made between the two dates.
Last couple of months that Hendrix spent in the US in 1966 are very hard to research properly. We could find only a few photos of him holding a white Fender Stratocaster, so it is likely that this served as his main axe during the last couple of gigs in the US.
This is likely one of the first, if not the first, Stratocaster that Hendrix ever owned. The history behind this guitar is however not that well established.
In the book Jimi Hendrix Gear [Jimi Hendrix Gear, p.62] it is noted that Jimi acquired this guitar at the Manny’s Music shop in New York, and that actually Carol Shiroky (his girlfriend at the time) bought it for him.
However, in Steven Roby’s book Becoming Jimi Hendrix, is 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.
To note – both of these stories are second-hand knowledge, and at this time we have no way of proving any of this info. They do however make sense, especially considering the following —
There’s a story of Linda Keith borrowing one of Keith Richard’s guitars to Jimi sometime in 1966. As she is quoted saying, Jimi’s guitar was at a pawn shop at time, so she borrowed him a white Fender Stratocaster. According to her, Jimi smashed a different guitar during one of the gigs she attended.
It was the night he smashed up a white guitar, I was beside myself. I’d lent him a guitar belonging to my boyfriend and there he was smashing one up on stage! I was absolutely livid with Jimi because to me that’s the most un-cool thing to do. [How I helped to make Jimi Hendrix a rock’n’roll star – The Observer, September 2014]
Taking this info and building upon what was stated previously, it seems possible that Hendrix smashed his first white Stratocaster at the very gig that Linda Keith attended. Knowing that he had a backup guitar from Linda, this perhaps gave Hendrix the freedom to get rid of Carol’s guitar, while also making a scene that he would be remember for.
It still seems somewhat unlikely thought that Jimi would trash a good guitar this early on in his career. The money was certainly still tight at this point. For now anyways, we assume that this was the end of the first white Fender Stratocaster that Jimi owned himself, and the beginning of the second.
Based on the photos and the stories from various people, Hendrix only carried a one single guitar with him on the plane to the UK. 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. You can read what we’ve gathered about this guitar below.
According to Linda Keith’s story (you can read a quote from her in the section above) she borrowed this guitar from Keith Richards and gave it to Jimi. She does not mention however whether the guitar was later returned or not.
Kathy Etchingham, who became Jimi’s girlfriend after his arrival to London, mentioned in her book Through Gypsy Eyes an anecdote about this guitar that might help clear things up.
Kathy and Jimi were staying a hotel when Linda walked into their room, grabbed the guitar, and left. Fortunately, the next day Jimi ended up smoothing the things out with Linda and somehow he got the guitar back. He told Kathy that Linda had bought the guitar for him, but some suspected it was Keith’s.
There were rumors that it was one of Keith’s guitars which she passed on to him, but Jimi said she had bought the guitar in New York just before he came to London. Now I guess we’ll never know. [Through Gypsy Eyes, Kathy Etchingham]
So it does seem that even back then there were rumors that this was Keith’s guitar, and Linda’s recent interview [How I helped to make Jimi Hendrix a rock’n’roll star – The Observer, September 2014] confirms that. Also, Keith Richard himself mentioned this story in his autobiography, although most of what he remembers came from Linda anyways.
In her enthusiasm, during a long evening with Jimi, as she tells it, she gave him a Fender Stratocaster of mine that was in my hotel room. And then, so Linda says, she also picked up a copy of a demo I had of Tim Rose singing a song called “Hey Joe.” And took that round to Roberta Goldstein’s, where Jimi was, and played it to him. This is rock-and-roll history. [Keith Richards, James Fox; Life]
Given that this is the only guitar that Jimi carried with him to London, he likely used to for all the early gigs/stand ins with other bands.
He was also seen using it during the short French Tour that lasted from October 13, to October 18, 1966. The four shows played were the first official gigs of the newly formed The Jimi Hendrix Experience. For now, we unfortunately can’t feature any photos until we establish who owns the rights to them.
On October 23rd, the trio recorded “Hey Joe” at London’s DeLane Lea Studios. [Jimi Hendrix in London, 1966 – Jas Obrecht Music Archive] Jimi was most likely using this exact guitar for the recording.
Following this, the guitar was seen at the Big Apple Club in Germany gig in early November, Bag O’ Nails pub in London later that same month, and both of the band’s TV appearances in December 1966. To remind you, the Jimi Hendrix Experience recorded a tape for Ready Steady Go TV show on the 13th, and Top Of The Pops on the 29th. [JIMI HENDRIX TIMELINE, September 1966 – September 1970]
Given that the songs “Foxy Lady”, “Can You See Me”, “Love Or Confusion”, “3rd Stone From The Sun”, and “Red House”, were all recorded right after the Ready Steady Go gig on the 13th, it is most likely that this white Stratocaster was used for all of them. That alone makes this perhaps one of the most important and most significant guitars that Jimi ever owned.
By March 1967 this guitar was nowhere to be seen. By that time Jimi had made a switch to a sunburst early 60s Stratocaster instead.
The white guitar was last seen on the February 22nd, 1967, at The Roundhouse, London. For most of the gig Jimi played on the sunburst Strat, but on a few of the photos the white Strat was seen sitting in the background. Photos can be seen over at Roundhouse website [In Picutres: Jimi Hendrix in 1967 – Roundhouse.co.uk]
According to the story shared on the Roundhouse website, one of Jimi’s guitar was stolen after the concert. Based on the fact that from then on he continued using the sunburst, while the white Strat basically disappeared, we assume that this was the cause of it.
So as it appears, the white Fender Stratocaster – the only guitar that Jimi had with him when he moved to London, was stolen from him in Februar 1967. As far as we know, the guitar never resurfaced again.
According to some sources, Hendrix played a Fender Stratocaster on the night of February 2nd, 1967. The guitar was black, and it was stolen right after the gig at the Imperial Hotel in Darlington, County Durham [‘I bought missing Jimi Hendrix guitar for £20’ – The Northern Echo]
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.
The white guitar that he cared about was of course the one we mentioned previously – the one guitar he carried with him from the US.
Most of this does make sense. Jimi was seen playing a black Stratocaster few weeks prior to this, on the January 29th at the Seville Theater. Some footage of this gig is still available, but unfortunately we can’t post 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.
Stories about guitars being stolen from Hendrix are a common occurrence, and we suspect that many of them are basically just people falsely remembering stuff. The story of the Darlington Stratocaster does however sound plausible, especially considering that fact that a black guitar went thought Jimi’s hands prior to this date.
According to the article listed in the first paragraph, a musician named Tony Carrington bought the guitar at one point for $20, and soon sold it to someone else, saying it played quite badly. He noted that the person who sold him the guitar claimed he got it from Hendrix, and that the Strat was now re-painted red.
It was horrible. It had been used and abused and was not in a pristine condition. It could well have been the guitar that Hendrix knocked about. It did not even sound good. It was a dog as guitars go. [‘I bought missing Jimi Hendrix guitar for £20’ – The Northern Echo]
The story of Jimi’s stolen guitar has been re-told from generation to generation, and it seem to have developed into a local legend. Some people in Darlington apparently believe that the guitar is still around, and are even actively asking the current owner to return the guitar [Return Jimi Hendrix’s guitar and we’ll set up a music foundation’ – tribute band’s amnesty offer]
We will not go any deeper into this as it is obvious that authenticating the guitar would be nearly impossible. However unlikely, if it ever reappears, we’ll update this article.
This guitar was first seen on February 11th, at the Blue Moon club in Cheltenham. It was photographed sitting on stage while Hendrix played on a different white Stratocaster, likely the one that came with him from the US. Photos and addition info about the gig can be read over at GloucestershireLive website [It was 50 years ago today Jimi Hendrix came to town to play – Robin Brooks]
Unfortunately, none of the photos that we found of this guitar show the headstock. Because of this, we cannot possibly identify the guitar, or determine in what year it was made (the photo that we used here is not an actual photo of the guitar)
If we’re to guess, it is likely that this guitar replaced the black Stratocaster that was allegedly stolen on the night of the February 2nd. What’s interesting thought is that starting with March, Hendrix switched to two sunburst Stratocasters, and this second white Stratocaster was nowhere to be seen.
There is a possibility that it remained at his house for safe-keeping (Hendrix did after all like white guitars at this time), and that this is the same guitar that Hendrix used towards late 1967. That guitar was also white with rosewood fretboard, and featured a large headstock (more details later on in this list).
The second possibility is that the guitar was stolen or went missing at some point between mid February and early March, and that was the end of it.
If you happen to come across a photo of this second white Stratocaster from late February or early March, please be sure to forward it to us.
Hendrix was seen using this sunburst Fender Stratocaster starting with late February 1967. Based what we discussed previously, 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 we suspect it will 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 we suspect that this is the same guitar that Jimi burned The Astoria on March 1st. At the same time though, we have no way to prove it.
Based on the photos (many are available on Getty Images), the guitar has a veneer fretboard. This means that the Rosewood is arched on the bottom end and thinner in profile in comparison to the slab fretboard used up until around mid 1962.
Second thing to point out that the layout of the screws on the pickguard is identical to those on the models made from early 1963. Prior the this, the screw between the middle and the neck pickup was more or less exactly on the half point. In early 1963 it was moved closer to the middle pickup. [GuitarHQ – Vintage Stratocaster Info]
Lastly, the guitar has the old “spaghetti” logo on the headstock, which narrows the date of manufacture to between early and mid 1963. In late 1963, the letters on the logo became thicker (now known as the “transition” logo).
Something we unfortunately couldn’t do is figure out the serial number. There are quite a few high-resolution photos available of this guitar, most of them taken at the Star Club on 18th March 1967 in Hamburg, Germany by Gunter Zint. None unfortunately shows the headstock in such detail that would allow the serial number to be read.
Jimi was seen using this guitar (or one identical to it – no way of proving it was one guitar all along) all throughout March 1967. Most notably, the guitar was used at the Marque Club on March 2nd, which later aired on German TV program “Beatclub”, and at the Star-Club in Hamburg between 17th and the 19th.
The guitar was also likely used during the infamous gig at the Astoria theater, during which Hendrix burned a guitar on stage for the first time. This however, was not the particular Stratocaster that was burned that night – meaning that Hendrix most likely switched guitars prior to the stunt.
If you look at a photo taken at the opening night of the Walker tour [JIMI HENDRIX backstage at Finsbury Park Astoria on 31 March 1967 – Alamy], pay attention to how all the saddles are set up. The top five are pretty much all in line, while the bottom E saddle is almost hanging on the side.
Now take a look at photo of Jimi’s 1963 Fender Stratocaster taken at the Star Club, Hamburg on 18th March 1967 [Jimi Hendrix switching guitars, Star Club – Getty]. The saddles are set the exact same way. The scratch marks also seem to match, although the more recent photo shows way more wear. This is obviously due heavy use (and abuse) on stage.
This is of course not certain, but we haven’t been able to find any other guitars from around this period (or any other for that matter) that has the saddles set up in the exact same way.
The guitar that Hendrix burned at the Astoria Theater could be the second Stratocaster in the Star Club photo, since there was less than two weeks between the two gigs. More on this in the section dedicated to the Astoria Strat.
Unfortunately, there are not that many photos from the 1967 Walkers Brothers tour. On a few of the that are available online, Jimi does seem to be playing on a sunburst Stratocaster, but any attempt of identification is futile due to very poor quality of the photos.
What could potentially give us a closure to the story of the 1963 Stratocaster is a video taken on May 11th, 1967 in Issy-les-Moulineaux (Paris suburb).
The guitar that Jimi is seen using during the gig is most certainly an early 60s Strat, now showing some pretty extensive wear. You can clearly spot the spaghetti logo on the headstock, and all of the other details that we talked about when we determined the date of manufacture of this guitar.
Also, some of the wear does look exactly the same as on the photo taken at the Astoria. Particularly pay attention the two marks right next to the input jack, and marks around the bridge area (we probably do a more precise visual comparison sometime in the future). Based on this, there is a possibility that this is still the exact same guitar that Jimi used from early February. Perhaps he took a liking to this particular Strat, and continued using it despite the obvious wear.
Interesting to point out is also the black tone knob and the pickup switch (both changed from the original white). It may be a sign that Jimi worked on customizing the guitar in some way.
Be that as it may, the guitar disappeared from mid May 1967 onward, and Jimi started using a couple of red Fender Stratocasters instead.
This is the guitar that Jimi allegedly set on fire at the gig played in The Astoria, London, England, on March 31st 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 section above, Jimi had (at least) two sunburst Stratocasters in mid March 1967. [Jimi Hendrix switching guitars, Star Club, 18th March 1967 – Getty] The first guitar is the one we talked about in the section above, 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.
To our knowledge, this guitar was never seen in Jimi’s hands in March 1967, and the whole story around is based on a statement from Tony Garland, JHE’s PR manager,and of course the same guy who actually sold the guitar on auction in 2008. As said previously, Jimi was seen using two sunburst Strats in March that year. Based on the photos available, both were early sixties models with spaghetti logos, while the alleged Astoria Strat is a mid 60s model styling a transition logo. For photo comparison see [Did Jimi Hendrix actually burn a guitar at the Miami Pop Festival?]
The photos of the two Strat linked above were taken at the Star-Club, Hamburg in mid March, while the Astoria gig was played on the 31st. Unfortunately only photos taken on the night of 31st were from before the concert, and show Jimi holding one of two sunburst Strats [Jimi Hendrix backstage at the opening night of the Walker Brothers tour – Alamy] This tells us that Jimi did use one of the early sixties sunburst Strats for the gig, but it does not tell us whether that was the guitar he burned or not.
However, since Jimi used both of the early sixties sunburst Strats at the Star-Club, it seems that the second Strat – the one with a good amount of scratches on the body, would make for a perfect candidate to be sacrificed at the Astoria Theater.
This is of course only a theory, but given the evidence, it is far more likely that that was guitar that ended up being burned at the Astoria, as opposed to what appears to be almost a brand new mid sixties Strat which was never before seen in Jimi’s hands. You’re welcome to investigate for yourself, but from the info that we’ve been able to gather, the whole story behind this alleged Astoria Strat is based on Tony Garland’s statement (which in itself has some holes as discussed below).
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.
The unknown part of the story is how exactly the guitar got into Tony’s hands. Based on the story told by the media, the guitar was with Noel for some time before being picked up by Tony. The official info from the auction itself does not seem to be available anywhere online. If you happen to come across it, or have it in your own collection, we’d really appreciate if you would send it to us (use contact form at the bottom of this page).
Some of the parts of the Astoria Strat story can be pieced together from the statements of few different people who were there to see it with their own eyes. According to Chas Chandler for instance, the Strat ended up with Tito Burns (band’s promoter) after the Astoria gig.
I can remember Tito Burns shaking his fist at me and saying, ‘You can’t get away with this. This wasn’t an accident. I’ll have you prosecuted.’ He took the charred guitar away with him as evidence. [Tito Burns – Independent]
Hendrix himself more or less confirmed this story in his autobiography/collection of letters and interviews.
The flaming guitar thing I did was all rigged.[…] I remember the promoter, who was in on the trick, kept screaming at me and shaking his first, shoutin’. [..] Meanwhile he was concealing the evidence for me under his coat – my burned up guitar that all the police and firemen were looking for. [Starting At Zero: His Own Story]
Tony Garland stated that he was also present during the gig, and that he was in charge of getting the lighter fluid.
They said they were going to burn it – so I nipped round the corner to buy some Ronson lighter fuel. It sounds ludicrous – but they were fairly ludicrous days. [Jimi Hendrix’s PR Reveals Truth About First Guitar Burning]
However, according to Keith Altham (author, journalist) who sat with the band backstage that night, the person responsible for getting the lighter fluid was Gerry Stickells. At that time, Garry was Jimi’s roadie and the person taking care of his guitars and equipment.
Chas and Jimi were asking me about what they could do to make the headlines at their gig […] Jimi mumbled “Maybe I could smash up an elephant” , to which I replied “It’s a pity you can’t set fire to your guitar”. There was silence for a moment then Chas said “Garry, go out and get some Lighter fluid”. [The History of the NME by Pat Long]
Of course, people’s memories are not something you can build a solid case on, but it does appear that the only person to mention Tony Garland’s involvement in the story of the Astoria Strat is Tony himself.
Perhaps there’s something we’re missing, and perhaps Tony explained all of the irregularities to the people directly involved in the auction of the guitar, but the story does seem shaky. Next to that, there’s almost a perfect candidate for the Astoria Strat – the guitar given to Frank Zappa in May 1968.
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 there’s proof of Jimi only ever burning two guitars in his life – both of which are now accounted for (actually only one of them beyond reasonable doubt, but more on this later).
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. [The Famous Zappa/Hendrix Burnt Guitar – FeelNumb]
Although it is pretty much impossible from today’s perspective to figure out the actual story behind the Hendrix/Zappa Strat, we’ll at least try to debunk some of the myths. We will not deal with the timeline after the guitar came into Frank’s and Dweezil’s hands, so if you’re interested in that part of the story, we recommend watching interview with Dweezil below.
The first and most common myth about this guitar is that it was burned by Jimi at the Miami Pop Festival on May 18, 1968. This rumor probably originated from an interview that Frank Zappa gave to Guitar Player magazine in 1977.
The neck was cracked off, the body was all fired, and the pickups were blistered and bubbled. A lot of people thought I had Hendrix’s guitar from Monterey, but it was from Miami; the one at Monterey was white and this one is sunburst. [Guitar Player magazine, January 1977]
We’ve contacted Ken Davidoff, who took photographs of both shows at the Miami Pop Festival, and he was kind enough to confirm to us that Jimi did not burn a guitar that day (you can visit Ken’s website for photos and prints from The Miami Pop Festival). This was also confirmed by one of our visitors, Robb Murchison, who attended the concert.
If the guitar was indeed burned that day, one would expect that that there would be photos of it, and certainly at least some talk about it. Some people who were present at the festival do claim that Jimi burned (or at least tried to) a guitar that day [Did Jimi Hendrix actually burn a guitar at the Miami Pop Festival?], but they are vert rare.
If by any chance any of you attended the festival, and you have any comments on the subject, please do so using our contact form. We are curious to find out what actually happened, and why the stories differentiate.
Interesting to note here is that there were two sunburst Strats with Jimi on stage at the Miami Pop (see Ken Davidoff’s website for photos), so it is at least confirmed that Jimi used sunbursts around this time – but it doesn’t tell us much beyond that.
The second myth is that the Hendrix/Zappa Strat was the same one that Jimi burned at the Astoria Theater on March 31st 1967. Some go as far as to say that the Astoria Strat has been restored and then burned again at the Miami Pop Festival, which was more than a year later.
All of the Hendrix archivists and all of the books are pointing to the fact that it was originally burnt in ’67 at the Astoria and was restored and burnt again in Miami [Ted Owen, of Cooper Owen auctioneers for BBC News]
The trouble with this theory is that there’s already a different Stratocaster that went through auction as the actual Astoria guitar. Luckily for the proponents of the Zappa/Astoria theory, that guitar is far from fully authenticated which leaves a lot of space for speculation and theory crafting.
On a first though the theory does seem like a stretch. Astoria gig was played on March 31st 1967, and between that and the Miami Pop when the guitar was given to Zappa, Jimi had traveled twice to the US, and did numerous tours across Europe and the UK. There’s no reason to even suspect that all this time he had the Astoria Strat stashed someplace. By that time, a new guitar was not a luxury for Jimi, and no doubt he would just buy a new Strat in the US, before caring enough to carry his old scorched Astoria Strat with him across the ocean from the UK.
But things get more interesting the deeper dig. A discussion held over at the Steve Hoffman music forums [Did Jimi Hendrix actually burn a guitar at the Miami Pop Festival? – post by Purple Jim] revealed that there’s a pretty good chance that the guitar given to Zappa is indeed the same exact guitar that Jimi burned in Astoria on March 31st 1967.
Most of this is based on the comparison of the scratches on the body of the Zappa Strat and the Strat that Jimi was seen using at the Star-Club couple of weeks before Astoria. To remind you, this battered Strat was one of the two early sixties sunburst Strats that Jimi was seen using in March 1967, and given that he was photographed with one of those guitars prior to the Astoria gig, many assume the that other guitar was the one that was burned that night (you can read more about the two Strats in the 1965 Fender Stratocaster (Astoria Strat) section).
So even though the scratches match pretty well on both front and the back of the body (see Steve Hoffman music forums thread linked couple of paragraphs above for photos of the front), one can not help but wonder how the guitar went from London (March 1967) to Miami (May 1968).
Howard Parker, who gave the guitar to Frank Zappa, worked for Hendrix during the summer of 1968. [Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child by David Henderson, p. 234] To our knowledge, he did not work for him at the time of the Astoria gig. Instead, Gerry Stickells seemed to have been the person taking care of Jimi’s guitars
Some piece of the story are known, as we already noted in the section about the alleged Astoria Strat sold on auction in 2008. For instance, according to Chas Chandler, the guy who hid the guitar after the Astoria gig was Tito Burns.
I can remember Tito Burns shaking his fist at me and saying, ‘You can’t get away with this. This wasn’t an accident. I’ll have you prosecuted.’ He took the charred guitar away with him as evidence. [Tito Burns – Independent]
It seems that the guitar was given back to Hendrix shorty after the gig, since he mentioned in an interview given in mid April:
I was on my knees at the time and the guitar had kept giving me slight electric shocks and shorting out. When it burst into flames, I was kinda shocked, and that’s why I just ran off. That guitar is completely ruined—I guess I’ll hang it on my bedroom wall as a memento. [Jimi Hendrix Injured On Tour, Disc and Music Echo, April 13, 1967]
This is unfortunately where the guitar loses all trace, so there’s a huge gap in the story between the point the Astoria Strat got back into Jimi’s hands and the point it reached Howard’s. It’s hard to think of a scenario in which a scorched Strat ends up being dragged across the ocean from London to Miami, after more than a year had passed since Hendrix had set it on fire. One would expect that Jimi would simply get rid of it, or leave it in his apartment like he stated in the interview, but apparently that’s not what actually happened.
Although there seems to be no way to actually authenticate this guitar as being the actual Astoria Strat, perhaps it doesn’t hurt to at least speculate at other possibilities. The Strat was given to Zappa on May 18, 1968, and prior to this, Hendrix played at the Fillmore East in New York on May 10th. Prior to that, he played more than fifty gigs from the point of setting the foot in the US in February 1967.
In theory, the Strat could’ve been burned and trashed at any of those gigs, and then been picked up by Howard Parker after the set. Unfortunately, there no photos to confirm that Jimi had indeed burn a guitar around that time period, nor does anyone (at least not anyone credible and close to Jimi) remember him doing such a thing.
The only person who could possibly authenticate this guitar, and tell the story behind it is the same person who gave it to Frank, Howard Parker. Unfortunately Parker went missing in the 70s and no one had ever heard a work from him since.
The guitar was put on auction in May 2002 by Dweezil Zappa (Frank’s son) who hoped it would fetch a million dollars. After it failed to sell (it reached to bid of $500,000 [Hendrix’s flaming guitar fails to sell – BBC News]) it was put up for auction once again in September for a lowered price. For the second time the guitar failed to reach the asking price, and to our knowledge it is still with Dweezil.
This guitar first appeared sometime in March 1967, likely on the 30th when the band appeared on Top of the Pops TV programme. All the photos from that day are black and white unfortunately, but the guitar does seem the be finished in a solid color. Definitely darker than white, and lighter than pure black, but it’s impossible to tell exactly whether it was red or not.
Regardless, the guitar wasn’t used all that much until May 1967. During the short European tour that spanned throughout that month, Jimi was seen alternating between this guitar, and another red Stratocaster with a maple neck. Photos of both guitars can be seen here – iltasanomat.fi; These pictures were forgotten for decades – Jimi Hendrix’s only concert in Finland in 1967 (this site is in Finnish, scroll down for the photo).
Based on what can be concluded from the photos, the guitar was made in 1963 or early 1964. It has a small headstock with spaghetti Fender logo, the narrow dot spacing on the 12th fret of the neck, and pickguard screw layout of the models made later than early 1963. By late 1964, the design on the model changed significantly.
Based on what we have gathered, it is highly likely that this is the same guitar that Jimi decorated himself, and then set on fire at the end of the Monterey Pop Festival gig. Contrary to Fender’s specification on their Monterey Tribute Stratocaster, the guitar that Jimi played at the festival wasn’t made in 1965. For some reason, unknown to us, Fender printed a transition logo on their model.
Jimi’s guitar (as you can see yourself on these photos), has a spaghetti style logo. This design is typical to the models made some time before Fender changed management to CBS in early 1965. According to GuitarHQ Fender model history, all guitars made before early 1964 have this particular logo design.
Fender also made another mistake/deviation from the original design. The big flower on the top horn is bright red on the Fender Tribute model, while Jimi seemed to have painted his pink.
As a note — although this is pretty clear from the photos linked above, we’d still prefer to find a high resolution photo that shows the headstock of Jimi’s Monterey Stratocaster in more detail. If you happen to come across one, be sure to send it to us. Next to that, please note that at this point, we are unable to confirm this theory beyond reasonable doubt (the red Strat also being the Monterey Strat). But just for the sake of simplicity, we will not separate them into two different sections.
As you probably already know, Jimi set this guitar on fire at the end of the Monterey Pop Festival gig. Worth noting is that he used a different guitar throughout the concert, and switched to this guitar just prior to playing the last song of the set – The Troggs’ Wild Thing.
After setting the guitar on fire, he smashed it into several pieces, and threw them all into the audience. To our knowledge, only one of those piece is accounted for – and it’s kept safe at the Museum of Pop Culture (formertly EMP) in Seattle.
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 on an earlier date.
The 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 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. [Startin at Zero: His Own Story – Jimi Hendrix]
The red Strat 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.
Based on the photos, the guitar sported a transition style logo, and it had a small headstock. This means that that it was made before late 1965, most likely sometime in 1964.
By that time, almost all of the guitars were shipped with rosewood fretboards, although Jimi’s Strat had a maple one. At the time, this option was available for special orders, so overall – these guitars are pretty unique and hard to come by nowadays.
Interesting to note that this is the first ever maple neck Stratocaster that Jimi was seen playing. Until he pickup this Strat, he was exclusively using rosewood Strats, although later on in his career he leaned more towards maple necks.
Although the Monterey Pop Stratocaster is definitely the better known of the two guitars hand painted by Hendrix, the Seville Strat was chronologically looking the first one. It was finished by June 4th, 1967, when Jimi took it on stage at the Seville Theater. This was a sort of a farewell concert because Hendrix had to leave London due to his work visa expiring.
Hendrix painted the guitar with white paint partially on the front, and completely on the back of the body. Also on the back he wrote a poem, reading —
May this be love or just confusion
Born out of frustration
of not being able to make true physical
love to the universal gypsie queen of
true, free expressed music
My darling guitar, please rest in peace.
The front was decorated with Jimi’s own design, similar in style to the one on the Monterey Pop Stratocaster. A view of the front also reveals that the guitar was originally painted in a darker shade of red – officially known as the Candy Apple Red finish by Fender.
Also note that the guitar was split at the exact place where the crack was seen on the photos taken on May 27th in Germany (link to them is available couple of paragraphs above). This detail, as well as the color of the body, and the fact that the Seville guitar had a maple neck, pretty much confirms that this is actually the same guitar.
According to witnesses (no actual recording of the gig exists) Hendrix destroyed this guitar at the end of the second set (the band played two shows that day). At this time, we don’t know the story of how the body parts were collected after the concert, and kept safe to this day.
This is one of the more interesting guitars from Jimi’s collection. It was first used (to our knowledge, not necessarily correct) at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 18, 1967. During this gig, Hendrix played this guitar for the most part, but switched to a red Stratocaster painted by himself, and then set that guitar on fire at the end of the set.
What’s interesting in particular about this black Stratocaster is that has some really unique details to it. For instance, the logo is definitely something from the transition era, but the placement of it is rather unusual.
As you might know, in early 1965 Fender changed ownership and some design changes were introduced on their guitars. One of them is the design of the logo itself, which changed to a much thicker font with gold letters and black outline – easily distinguishable from the old version.
The second major change was the shape of the headstock, but this didn’t happen until late 1965. In the period between mid 1964 and late 1965 (known as the transition period) the specs on Fender models were somewhat inconstant. Jimi’s black Stratocaster for instance has a small headstock, but (at that time) the new style logo.
However, the placement of the logo on Jimi’s guitar is much closer to the end of the headstock, and lower in comparison to the string guide than what can be seen on other guitars from this period. An explanation for this might simply be Fender’s inconsistency. For example, see this vintage Fender Stratocaster neck from 1965 on Reverb.com made in May that year, and compare it to this 1965 Fender Stratocaster CAR made two months later in June. The position of the logo is slightly different.
Even so, both of those guitars have the four patent numbers below the logo, while Jimi’s guitar doesn’t (we’re working on getting some photos that we can post right here, in the meantime you can Google them). This could be due to them rubbing off over the span of five decades, or perhaps there’s something more to this story (a replacement neck?).
Based on photos available, most notably, Hendrix used this guitar at Fillmore West on June 25th and at Whisky A Go Go on July 2nd. From then on, it was probably used during the Monkees tour, but due to lack of photos it’s hard to say to what extent.
In 2012, Jimi’s black Strat appeared on auction via Fame Bureau auctioneers (photos can be seen at Jimi Hendrix owned & played guitar – Liveauctoneers). According to the official info, the Strat was given to Jimi’s record company Anim Limited at some point, where it fell into the hands of James ‘Tappy’ Wright (Hendrix road manager). The guitar remained in Tappy’s hands until 2012.
We are working on getting our hands on a copy of James “Tappy” Wright’s book “Rock Roadie”, since there’s likely to be at least some mention of the guitar in there. If you by any chance happen to already own a copy, and wouldn’t mind citing a couple of sentences for us, shoot us an email.
This guitar is often referred to as one of Jimi’s favorites. Based on what is known about the guitar, how long it was used, and how long it took for it to get replaced with another guitar, this seems unlikely.
By July 1967 Jimi was already using a different white Stratocaster over the black one, and given how often these changes happened (moving from one guitar to another), it is even unlikely that Jimi had a favorite guitar at that time. Perhaps he preferred using one guitar over the other, but having a clear favorite, something he would treasure, is very unlikely.
Even the assumption that he switched from the black Strat before setting fire to the red one at the Monterey doesn’t make much sense. The Monterey Strat was likely painted for that purpose to begin with – same story as the Seville Strat that he destroyed shortly before Monterey. Even if he didn’t plan on setting it on fire beforehand, he most likely planned on at least destroying it.
According to what’s commonly accepted as a true story, he decided upon setting the red Strat on fire only after seeing The Who destroy their equipment. Since simply destroying your guitar on stage was old news at Monterey, setting it on fire would certainly make a bigger of a spectacle.
This is the third guitar that Jimi used at the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967. At this point, we don’t know basically anything at all about the guitar, except what can be concluded from the footage itself. It was finished in sunburst, it had a rosewood neck, and it had a large headstock – meaning that it was most likely made in 1966 or 1967.
If we had to guess, we’d say that this is probably something Hendrix picked up upon returning to the US. Also – based on the year of manufacture, it was possibly brand new.
Jimi started using this guitar upon returning to the US, in July 1967. It was seen on the 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. (Photo by Bruce Fleming/Getty Images)], and at the Vitus TV Studios, Bussum for the recording of the television show “Hoepla” on November 10th.
By mid November 1967 Jimi seemed to have acquired couple of more white Strats. Both can be seen at the Blackpool Opera House on November 25th. On the photo below, Hendix is seen playing a different white Strat with what appears to be a dark-colored pickguard. Two additional white Strats (one of them being the one he switched from, or the main one) can be sitting in the background.
The third white Strat (one sitting behind the first one in the background, with its back turned) is at this time a mystery. It could’ve been just another Part-caster, or it could’ve just as likely been another large headstock rosewood Strat identical to the first one. If true, that would of course mean that possibly Hendrix used more than just one white Strat all this time. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll ignore the third Strat, and focus on the first one (the wear on the body does seem to confirm that one same Strat was used from mid 1967 to mid 1968, but when it comes to Hendrix – it’s always hard to tell anything for sure).
The second guitar, or the one with the dark pickguard, is most likely a 1964 Olympic White Stratocaster that we’ll talk about later on in this list.
The main white Strat continued being used throughout January 1968, and can be easily distinguishable on photos from any other guitar based on the wear on the inside of the upper horn (first seen on the photos linked above taken at the Olympic Studios in late 1967). Most notably, the Strat was seen on the photos taken at the L’Olympia, Paris on January 29th [Jimi Hendrix Backstage at Olympia, Photo by Elisabeth Andanson/Sygma], and at the Filmore West, San Francisco, on February 1st.
On February 2nd, 1968, Jimi is photographed playing almost an identical guitar – minus all the wear. [Jimi Hendrix, backstage at Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, 1968 – Time] We assume that at this point he decided that the old white Strat had enough of a run, and opted for an upgrade. Whatever the reason, all the gigs from then on are played on the new white Strat. The old guitar is gone missing (destroyed, stolen, or simply put away – who knows…).
The earliest photo of Jimi playing this guitar on stage that we have been able to find dates 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).
From late August 1967, and Jimi’s return to the UK, the Gibson became one of his main go-to guitars. It was seen on numerous occasions either being used, or sitting on stage while Jimi was playing his white Stratocaster. It can be seen on photos taken during the short European tour in early September 1967 (Germany, Sweden), the famous backstage photos with Jeremy Thorpe at the The Royal Festival Hall on September 25th [Jeremy Thorpe with Jimi Hendrix after concert by The Jimi Hendrix Experience at Royal Festival Hall guitar tuxcedo jewellery MSI – Alamy], and on the French TV programme “Dim Dam Dom” filmed sometime in mid October (video below).
The 1967 Gibson Flying V continued being used until the end of 1967, and into 1968. By March 1968 however, the guitar was out of the rotation it seems, and Jimi went back to playing Stratocasters exclusively (eventually he picked up a Gibson Les Paul Custom instead).
As far as we know, there’s no real proof that Hendrix used this Flying V on any of the songs in the studio. Electric Ladyland was recorded during the time Hendrix had the guitar, but just based on the sound, it is likely that they were done on a Strat. The possibility of it being used on the record is still there, of course.
There are some rumors that “All Along the Watchtower” was recorded on this guitar, but again – no real proof behind it. The best we could find is a story from Kathy Etchingham, who said that Jimi had brought the wrong guitar to the recording, and sent Kathy back to the apartment to pick up a different one [Through Gypsy Eyes, Kathy Etchingham] (no mention of the model, or anything at all really about the guitar unfortunately). The only person who would probably know the answer to this is Dave Mason (who played the twelve string acoustic on the track), but we can’t find any mention of the subject from him.
The guitar was owned at some point by RockStarGuitars, but it recently changed owners. According to the info posted on their website (see Jimi Hendrix’s 1967 Gibson Flying V – RockStarGuitars) the guitar was given by Jimi to Mick Cox in 1969, and after changing hands a few times, it ended up with Rock Stars Guitars founder David Brewis.
Important to note that the current finish on the guitar is not the original done by Jimi himself, but a restoration done by an artist commissioned by Brewis.
This, for the time – unusual, Strat was used around late 1967. To our knowledge 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.
What’s unusual about the guitar is the combination of the specs. While there have been a good number of white Strats in the early 60s, there were very few shipped with tortoise shell pickguard. Nowadays, these guitars are an extreme rarity. Year 1964, which we assume is when Jimi’s guitar was made, is the year that many consider to have produced the best Stratocasters. According to Reverb’s price guide, a regular Olympic white 1964 Stratocaster is valued between $14,000 — $19,000. Of course, Jimi paid a fraction of that when he bought the guitar, presumably in 1967.
Please note the the photo above was likely taken on the August 27, 1967, and not on October 8, 1967 as it reads on the website. Hendrix played at the Saville Theater on both dates, and Miki Slingsby took photos at both of them, but comparing clothes and stage setup, the photos were likely not taken on the same date. You can compare the differences yourself by going through each of the galleries available at mikislingsby.com.
The guitar was seen on a few more occasions, but it wasn’t used nearly as much as the main white Strat. It seemed to have been something Jimi would used mainly on the end of the set, for his usual routine of smashing it against the Marshall stack. An example of this can be seen at the Blackpool Opera House on November 25, 1967 – which is also the last time the guitar appeared on stage, again – to our knowledge.
A guitar identical in appearance to this one appeared on auction in 2011. The official auction page on Christie’s website states that the guitar was actually owned by Gary Boyle of the Brian Auger Trinity, and borrowed to Hendrix on few occasions between 1966-1967. Jimi allegedly used it on some very early London gigs at The Scotch of St James,The Bag O’ Nails Club, and Speakeasy.
We haven’t been really to confirm that Jimi used a white Stratocaster with tortoise shell pickguard that early on. On all of the photos available from around late 1966 he is seen playing a white Stratocaster with a white pickguard, which we explained at the beginning of this list is most likely the same guitar he carried with him from the US. What seems most logical is that Jimi used Gary Boyle’s guitar on the few occasions on which he didn’t happen to carry his own guitar (sit-ins with other bands), so that guitar wasn’t really something that Jimi used on a regular basis.
Nonetheless, anything that went through Jimi’s hands is bound to be sold on an auction at an increased price. This guitar was sold for $14,126 – which is actually what you’d expect from any 1964 Strat (perhaps not one with a replacement neck, which this one was – according to Christie’s listing). It ended up being sold to the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver, where it can now be seen on display.
From all this information it can be somewhat safe to conclude that these are two completely different guitars. One belonged to Gary Boyle, and was borrowed to Hendrix on a few occasions in late 1966/early 1967. The other one belonged to Jimi himself and was used on tour in late 1967.
This however didn’t stop whoever put Gary’s guitar on display to also add a photo of the second Strat right next to it, perhaps assuming that the guitar on the photo is the exact same one on the display. The photo seen in the display box shows Hendrix backstage at the Hollywood Bowl, in August 1967, therefore it couldn’t be Gary’s guitar. Hendrix was back in the US, and at that point had more than enough money to buy a guitar of his own. It’s just a very strange coincidence which hopefully makes more sense now.
There are a few photos of Jimi playing a Fender Jaguar in what’s either a dark blue, or black finish. To our knowledge, all of the photos were taken on August 24, 1967 at the Lime Grove Studios for “Top Of The Pops”.
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 forward it to us.
This guitar was shown at the EMP museum 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” in late 1967.
Unfortunately, beyond what was stated by the EMP, we couldn’t find anything else about the guitar. As far as the specs, the guitar had two necks – one with six strings, and other with twelve. The pickups in it (if original) were 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 early 60s.
This is the guitar that Jimi switched to from his first 1967 Strat (mentioned a few sections above). The 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 makes it easier to identify on other concerts.
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 we’ve been able to find date back to around late October 1968.
Most notable gigs played on this guitar include The Fillmore East on May 10th [Jimi Hendrix performing at the Fillmore East (Photo by Frank Mastropolo/Corbis via Getty Images)] and Miami Pop Festival on May 18th (for a full list of gigs and your own research visit JIMI HENDRIX TIMELINE September 1966 – September 1970). The Miami Pop Strat does not however have the cigarette burn on the headstock, so it is possibly that that was a different guitar.
Important to note that during this whole period Jimi was also using a few different guitars alongside the white Strat. These include the Les Paul Custom (seen at both Miami Pop and Fillmore East), and an unknown numbers of sunburst Strats that were most likely used for destruction at the end of the set (two of them seen on Miami Pop – one being a hard-tail. See Ken Davidoff’s website for photos from Miami Pop Festival). For the sake of simplicity, and admittedly having no way to properly research all those random Strats, we’ll leave them out of the list for the time being.
Electric Ladyland was recorded around the same time that Hendrix played this Strat as his main, so it is likely that the guitar ended up being used on the album. More precisely, all the work that was done between April and August 1968 at the Record Plant Studio in New York was probably done on the Strat at least to some extent. This is based on a presumption that Hendrix did in fact have a favorite guitar to play on (there must be a the reason why he stuck with it basically throughout the whole year), as opposed to him using whatever was available at the time in the studio.
To our knowledge, this guitar was only used on couple of gigs in March/April 1968. It was first seen at the University Of Toledo Fieldhouse on March 30th [Toledo (University Of Toledo Fieldhouse) : 30 mars 1968], and last on April 5th at the Symphony Hall in Newark [Newark (Symphony Hall) : 5 avril 1968].
This Jazzmaster is apparently currently owned by the actor Steven Seagal. He was interviewed in the January 2006 issue of Vintage Guitar Magazine on the subject, and stated that he acquired the guitar from Tappy Wright (Hendrix’s roadie).
I bought that guitar from Tappy Wright, who was his roadie. That Jazzmaster is a 100 percent authentic. I’ve got pictures of Hendrix with it. He played it in 1966 and 67. Hendrix wrote in a journal somewhere that he got it for recording. Apparently, Seymour Duncan was with him the day he bought it – someplace like Manny’s in New York City. I showed the Jazzmaster to Seymour and he remembered it. [Guitar collection of Steven Seagal; Vintage Guitar Magazine, January 2006 – steven-seagal.net]
Few things to note – as said, we haven’t been able to find any photos of Jimi with this Jazzmaster aside from the few taken in April 1968, so we can’t confirm Mr Seagal’s statement that he used it in 1966/67. Even without any photos to confirm it, it does seem unlikely, since in late 1966 and early 1967 Jimi mostly used just one guitar – the white Strat that he carried with him from the US.
Jimi did own another identical Jazzmaster early on, and this might lead to some confusion, but even so – this was before he even set foot in the UK. All of the known photos of that Jazzmaster are from mid to late 1965. Even if they were one guitar, which is highly unlikely given how much time had passed (1965 to 1968), the dates are way off from Seagal’s 1966/67.
The later part of the quote is somewhat plausible though. Jimi was in New York on March 17th, so he could’ve went to Manny’s for a resupply. Although the earliest known photo of the guitar dates to March 30th, there’s no way of knowing whether Jimi actually used the guitar between the two dates. The lack of photos does not indicate that he did not use it during this period, but without them this is all just speculation (as is often the case when it comes to Jimi’s guitars).
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 the Manny’s Music shop, which is just a 30 minute drive from the Symphony Hall. The guitar seemed the have been used exclusively on the song “Red House”.
The guitar was most famously used at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East venue in New York on May 10, 1968 [Jimi Hendrix performing at the Fillmore East (Photo by Frank Mastropolo/Corbis via Getty Images)], and at the Miami Pop Festival on May 18th. Aside from these two, Hendrix apparently hasn’t really played the Les Paul Custom that much, since we have been able to spot it only on a handful of gigs around this same period.
The guitar is currently owned by the Hard Rock Cafe 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 made in 1956. At this time, we have inquired their memorabilia staff about more info on the guitar.
Jimi was seen using this guitar only on one occasion, on May 31 1968 at the Hallenstadion, Zurich. [‘Monster-Konzert’, Hallenstadion, Zurich. (30/05/1968)] Based on the photos this was some sort of a jam session/sit in, so it is most likely that guitar didn’t even belong to him, and was just something sitting around the stage.
This guitar is not all the significant when compared to the other, but it is nonetheless one of the more interesting ones. Jimi used it for a very brief period of time, from what we’ve gather not longer than a month. It was first seen at the Municipal Auditorium, Shreveport on July 31, 1968 [Shreveport (Municipal Auditorium) : 31 juillet 1968], 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
As an be seen on the photos taken in Salt Lake City on August 30, 1968, Jimi smashed the guitar at some point of the concert. The headstock was pretty much split in half, and a crack formed across the whole body – likely rendering the guitar unusable and unfixable.
Hendrix started using this guitar in mid October 1968, and it represented a shift away from rosewood and towards maple neck 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).
From then on the black Strat was seen most notably on the TV show “A Happening For Lulu” in January 1969, Royal Albert Hall in February, Madison Square Garden in New York in May, Fillmore East in December, and Atlanta Pop Festival in July 1970 – just to name a few. To cut the long story short, from late 1968 to Jimi’s last gig in September 1970 it was either this black Stratocaster, or a different white one – aside from few occasions when he picked up a Gibson.
The guitar was made in 1968, or three years later after CBS acquired Fender. Guitars made around this period are usually regarded as less desirable, since CBS introduced some changes to the model that many did not approve of. The 1968 Fender Stratocaster came with a re-designed Fender logo and the headstock. The new logo featured much thicker lettering in black with gold outline (as opposed to gold with black outline used in the transition period between 1964 and 1968), and the headstock became larger in size in order to make space for the new logo.
Jimi’s black Strat had a two-piece maple neck. This means that it was made from two pieces of maple (fretboard and the body of the neck), glued together after the truss rod was installed in between them. In comparison, the original 50s Stratocasters had a one-piece maple neck, with a walnut “skunk stripe” on the back. This piece of walnut filled the hole that allowed the truss rod to be installed.
Third thing to point out is that Jimi’s guitar had “F” style tuning machines instead of the Kluson tuners used on the models from previous years. The new tuners were not made by Fender, but by Schaller.
Interesting to note is that looking at the photos of this guitar from a chronological standpoint, one can notice the slow increase of the burn mark on the headstock. It seems that in 1968 Hendrix started placing cigars in between the strings and the headstocks while playing, and while the cigarettes were often forgotten and burned all the way to the filter, they created burn marks on the headstock.
In our research, we haven’t been able to find one photo that shows the black Strat without the burn marks, or with less burn marks when compared to an earlier photo. This means that likely there was only one black 1968 Fender Stratocaster that Jimi used from 1968 to 1970, making it one of the most long used guitars overall.
The guitar was used all the way until the last gig that the Experience played together, at The Isle Of Fehmarn on September 6,1970. During the concert, Jimi was mostly playing the white Stratocaster, although there are also photo of him playing the black one. Also, as noted previously, this is likely the last guitar that Hendrix ever laid his hands on, since it was seen on the photos taken just a day before his death.
After Jimi died, the guitar ended up with Monika Dannemann – his girlfriend at the time in whose apartment at the Samarkand Hotel, Notting Hill Gate, Jimi spent his last hours. [Monika Dannemann with the Jimi Hendrix Black Stratocaster – GettyImages] The Strat remained in Monika’s possession until her death in 1996. Based on the fact that Monika was married to Uli Jon Roth of the Scorpions at the time of her death, most seem to assume that Jimi’s guitar is now with Roth. To our knowledge, Uli had not made a comment on this, so it remains only a speculation.
This is probably the best known guitar of Jimi’s. It was used at the Woodstock Festival on August 16, 1969. Before Woodstock however – things are somewhat fuzzy. It seems that the guitar was used from around the same time as the black Strat, 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 the old white Strat with the rosewood fret board, 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 case with Jimi’s guitars, the only option is to speculate.
All the gigs played from November 1968 to August 1969, were played on either the black Strat, the white Strat, or occasionally a few different Gibson guitars. The white Strat seems to have been used most extensively during the 1969 North American tour, which included the performance at the Woodstock Festival. It probably continued being used in 1970, but this is where all the fuzziness starts.
The white guitar that Jimi used from around April 1970 had a notch on the body, clearly visible on photos against the plain white color of the guitar. The Strat that was used during Woodstock didn’t have this notch, but that doesn’t mean much since Woodstock obviously took place in August 1969, and more than a half of year of use would allow for a few scratches to form on the body.
The thing that is confusing is that the Woodstock Strat is accounted for, and it’s currently sitting in the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly EMP Museum) in Seattle. It has no notches where they are supposed to be. However, given how strong the line of ownership is behind the Woodstock Strat, there’s no reason to assume that it’s a fake. Only logical explanation is that there were two identical white maple neck Stratocasters in 1970.
On the subject of the legitimacy of the guitar – a note from a different auction of one of Jimi’s guitars reads that two guitars were found in the Electric Lady studios by Jimi’s management around the time of his death – a sunburst Stratocaster that was the subject of the auction, and a white maple Stratocaster with the serial number 240981 (same as the EMP Strat) [Jimi Hendrix Rock and Pop Memorabilia – Christie’s] This confirms that the EMP Strat did in fact belong to Jimi, but it raises the question of why the guitar wasn’t used almost at all in 1970. Perhaps Jimi left it in Electric Lady Studios in late 1969/1970 when he was in New York playing Fillmore East, and never bothered to pick it back.
This does however changes some things. It means that the Woodstock Strat was not used on concerts from April 1970 and until Jimi’s death. It is often mentioned in various articles and books that the Woodstock Strat was used on the last Experience concert at the Open Air Love & Peace Festival in Fehmarn, Germany on September 6, 1970. All the photos from the gig show the white Strat with the notch on the body, meaning that it couldn’t have been the Woodstock Strat for reasons already established.
Corbin from IconicAxes has done a great job of telling the story behind the auction of this guitar. We recommend reading it, since it also contains a full transcript of Mitch Mitchell’s letter of provenance provided to Sotheby’s (the auction house). [Jimi Hendrix’s “Woodstock” Fender Stratocaster – IconicAxes]
In short, the guitar was given to Mitch Mitchell at some point in 1970 by Hendrix, who kept it in his possession until 1991. At that point it was sold through auction for £198,000 to Gabriele Ansaloni, Italian TV host and music critic. The guitar was sold once again after only two years to Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder for an undisclosed amount. From that point on, the Woodstock Strat is kept safe at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, founded by Allen in 2000.
This 1967 Gibson SG Custom is most famous for its appearance on the Dick Cavet show on September 9, 1969. The guitar was however first seen in Jimi’s hands around late 1968. More precisely, November 28, 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 the proportional design of the SG model. The SG can be without almost any difficulty be played by a lefty since the body is almost exactly the same on each side. The body is very light weight in comparison the 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).
Jimi SG was made in 1967, and features a mahogany body and neck finished in white, which faded to light yellow over the decades. The guitar is equipped with three humbuckers, which are all much more powerful and beefier than the usual set of single-coil pickups that Jimi played through on his Stratocasters.
What makes this model “Custom” is of course the diamond shaped inlay and binding on the headstock, as well as the pearl block fretboars inlays, and gold plated hardware. The Custom SGs and Les Pauls are both top-of-the-line models with all the bells and whistles, costing considerably more than the Standard versions of each. Nowadays however, most collectiblee Les Pauls and SGs are actually vintage Standard models – early 60s SGs and late 50s Les Paul Standards.
Jimi’s SG, being made in 1967, had a large white pick guard which surrounded all the pickups and extended to the top portion of the body. The design on the earlier models was somewhat different. The pickguard was only covering the bottom portion of the guitar, and each of the pickups had an individual plastic cover.
The guitar is currently owned by the Hard Rock Cafe International. [From The Hard Rock Vault – Jimi Hendrix Guitars] Unfortunately, at this time, we haven’t been able to find the background story behind the auction of the guitar, and who was the previous owner. If you happen to come across something on the subject, be sure to forward it to us.
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 the 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 60s 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. The chance is that at least the body came from one of Jimi’s white Strats.
The body of the Newport Strat likely belonged to one of Jimi’s older guitars. Prior to the Newport gig, Jimi usually played either the black maple Strat or the white maple Strat. He also played at least one white rosewood Strat in mid 1969.
The Newport Strat could be a third maple Strat that Jimi played in 1969/70 – first one being the Woodstock Strat, and second one being the one with a scratch on the body (we’ve discussed this second Strat one section below) – or it could be one of the older 1967 rosewood Strat fitted with a Telecaster neck. There is also possibility that this is the same maple neck Strat that Jimi used prior to Newport, but with a replacement neck. Lastly, this could also be a completely different guitar, never played by Hendrix before.
Although all of the above are somewhat plausible, there are few hints that could point toward the right direction. The body of the guitar that was used at the Newport had two scratches on the paint just below the bridge. We’ve looking through photos of the white maple Strat that Jimi used around this time (presumably the same guitar that was used on Woodstock), but we haven’t been able to find any scratches on that guitar – meaning that this likely wasn’t it.
So essentially only way to track this body down to it’s original neck is to find which of the white guitars that Jimi used prior to June 1969 had those exact scratches. We’ve tried, but fell short. If you happen to be more successful, be sure let us know. You can find a few decent photos showing the scratches on the Newport Strat with a quick Google search.
The neck on the Newport Strat is definitely from a Telecaster. Based on the skunk stripe on the back of the neck, it was made no earlier than 1969, when Fender went back to one piece construction. [Vintage Fender Model info – GuitarHQ] From this it can be somewhat safe to assume that the neck was brand new.
Guitar Player magazine published an article in the Fall 2003 special issue on Hendrix, in which Neal Moser – a Hollywood luthier, talked about a guitar that he fixed for Jimi. According to him, some Hendrix roadies came with the guitar to his shop and asked for a neck replacement since Jimi broke the original at a gig.
The neck was broken, and they wanted a replacement. Of course, Fender didn’t have any at the time, but they did have some Tele necks. We got one, and I modified the butt to fit the Strat body. That guitar ended up in a collage on the Hendrix in the West album. [Guitar Player Magazine, Fall 2003 – Master Series / Jimi Hendrix]
Based on Neal’s description, this must’ve been the Newport Strat. The neck was indeed brand new replacement part from Fender, while the body was one of Jimi’s older ones.
This is 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 that we’ve been able to find dates back 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.
Be that as it may, this definitely seems like something that Jimi didn’t heat up to for one reason or another. If you compare it to the older 1967 black Flying V – that guitar was used extensively in late 1967 alongside his main go-to, a white Strat. Even the black Flying V that came in 1970 (left-handed) was seen on numerous occasions, while the tobacco burst was basically only spotted on one occasion (perhaps there’s more, but we haven’t been been able to find any other photos).
The guitar is apparently currently owned by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, and it can be seen at the company’s casino in Las Vegas. [Gibson Flying V – Zachary R. Fjestad, Larry Meiners; p.23] If any of you by any chance happen to walk by it, please snap a photo and send it to us. We’ve tried finding one online, but nothing pops up – which is a bit weird given how many photos there are of Jimi’s other two Flying Vs.
To our knowledge this guitar was only used on one gig, at the Ungano’s club in New York in January 1970 [Jimi with Elvin Bishop – Unganos Club, New York City 1969/70] If you happen to come across any other photo of Hendrix with the guitar, please be sure to send it to us.
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 are in some photos out there….Jimi was a regular and he loved the club. [February 12, 1970 Ungano’s, New York, NY 210 West 70th Street The Grateful Dead – LOST LIVE DEAD]
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 to the other SG that Jimi was often seen playing in late 1968 and in 1969.
The SG that was seen on the photos taken at the Ungano’s club in New York was a Custom with walnut finish, three pickups, and a white “batwing” pickguard. We don’t have the numbers of how many of these left handed SG Customs were made in late 60s, but they are probably extremely rare. Even the regular right handed models made in 1969 with these exact specs usually go for no less than $10,000. If a 1968/69 left handed SG Custom in walnut ever comes up on sale, the chance of it being Jimi’s wouldn’t be so slim.
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 that we’ve been able to find date back to April 25, 1970, and were taken backstage at The Forum, Los Angeles [Los Angeles (LA Forum) : 25 avril 1970]
The case 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 scratch is visible on the guitar that was used from around April 1970 and until Jimi’s last concert in September, but it cannot be on the Strat that was used on Woodstock – neither on the photos taken in 1969, nor on those taken recently. To remind you, the Woodstock Strat is accounted for and is currently owned by the Museum of Pop Culture (EMP Museum).
One thing that is admittedly weird about this “new” white Start is that it had the cigar burn marks on the headstock even on the earliest photos. These marks are also present on the Woodstock Strat and on Jimi’s black Strat, but they developed over time, and were not present on the guitar when Jimi first started using them.
This could indicate that perhaps this second Strat was used alongside the Woodstock Strat even in 1969, giving the time for the burn marks to develop. Given that the guitars are identical to each other, it would be difficult to differentiate them on the photos. Furthermore, the burn marks would develop on the exact same spot, since Jimi would either place his cigar sitting beneath the strings parallel to frets, or resting on the string tree (this pattern is visible on both the Woodstock Strat and on the black Strat).
So based on all this, it is nearly impossible to figure out the exact story behind this guitar. It is fairly safe to say thought, based on the scratch on the body, that there was indeed a second white Stratocaster in 1970. And from that, it only follows that most (if not all) of the gigs played until September 1970, during which Jimi was seen using a white Strat, were played on this guitar and not on the Woodstock Strat. We’ve gone through photos, and scratch seems to be always there – from LA Forum in April all the way to the Isle Of Fehmarn in September.
Although Jimi was no stranger to Flying Vs, this was the only one specifically made for left-hand use. The guitar was first seen on May 8, 1970 at the University Of Oklahoma Field House, Norman [Norman (Field House, University Of Oklahoma) : 8 mai 1970 [Premier concert]] From the on it was used a number of times until Jimi’s death, most famously of course at The Isle Of Wight on August 30th.
Jimi’s left-handed Flying V was finished in plain black, and featured a white pickguard, gold-plated hardware, and a Vibrola tremolo. The guitar also had some unique features, such as the fully bound neck with split diamond inlays, as opposed to simple dot inlays that were standard on models made around this period. Next to that, it also had a plain black truss rod cover reading “Custom”, identical in shape to the truss rod covers installed on Les Paul Customs.
Lastly, the Gibson logo on Jimi’s Flying V was inlayed on the headstock, while the standard models all had the logo printed on the truss rod cover. Based on all this, and also coming from few different sources, the guitar was likely a custom ordered by Jimi himself or something Gibson built specifically for him – with or without his knowledge.
According to Walter Carter, author and a Gibson historian, the serial number on the guitar (849476) was not logged into Gibson’s shipping registry in 1969, but other models made in that year did have serial numbers close to Jimi’s. From this, it is assumed that Jimi’s guitar was made in late 1969, but because of the custom feature was not finished early to mid 1970 when it was shipped to Hendrix. [Gibson Flying V – Zachary R. Fjestad, Larry Meiners; p.23]
The guitar is currently owned by the Hard Rock International (see video below, skip to 3:15 minute mark). According to some sources, the previous owner was Eric Barrett – Jimi’s road manager.
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 owned 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. We assume that the info has been original provided to them by Larry Lee, who sold the guitar through Sotheby’s in 1991. For photos visit this thread on MyLesPaul forums: Jimi Hendrix’s 1955 Les Paul Custom
Interesting thing to point about this guitar is that it featured a Bigsby Vibrola 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. The same type of a pickup, of course, was fitted in the bridge position on these models.
There are some things in Larry’s story that don’t seem quite right. First is the part where Hendrix keeps this guitar for six years from 1963 to 1969, all the while not using it once during any of the performances. Also to remind you, it has been reported that he only traveled with one single guitar to the UK, so the possibility of him having this Les Paul Custom stored someplace, even home in the US, is extremely unlikely.
It is important to note at this point that Jimi did use a Les Paul Custom in early to mid 1968, but that most certainty was not this guitar. Not to having very different specs, that Les Paul is also accounted for and can be seen at the Hard Rock Cafe & Restaurant in Chicago.
So although there’s no reason to doubt the latter part of the story, where Hendrix gives it to Lee so he’d have a guitar to use with the Gypsy Sun, the former just makes no sense. First of all, why would the guitar end up with Jimi in 1963 when they both allegedly purchased it together? And even if that really happened, where was it for those six years? Why did Hendrix swap from one guitar to another in 1964 and 1965, at times even forced to pawn them because he was broke, but he never once picked up the Les Paul?
Everything below this is a part of the old version of the list, and will eventually be completely rewritten.
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 the 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” [Kathy Etchingham – Bonhams: Jimi Hendrix: An Epiphone FT 79 acoustic guitar, 1951]
There are very few photos of Jimi playing the guitar, which is of course understandable since it was used in a more private setting. What’s more interesting is that there’s an actual video recording of him using the guitar backstage at the Royal Albert Hall on February 18, 1969. In the said video, Jimi can be seen playing a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” to a group of friends.
The Epiphone remained with Hendrix until March 1970, when he gave it to Alan Parker. Alan was a session musician, who at the time played guitar in a band called band Blue Mink. It remained with Alan until 2016, when it was sold through Bonham’s auction house for £209,000 (around $270,000).
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 Kieth Richards. After Tony’s death in 2002, the production of Zemaitis guitar was moved over to Japan.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find out 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 [Zemaitis Restorations – Hendrix 1960]
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 we have no way of confirming this.
The exact model of the guitar is something we’re struggling with. If you know a thing or two about vintage parlor guitars, and happen to know which model this is, please be sure to contact us. You can see high resolution photo of it by clicking on the Flickr link below the photo.
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 one of the best out there. The statemant 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.
Jimi’s #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.
Our 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.
Of course, thanks to Chris Dair for being kind enough to let us share this info publicly. Chris has his own website and YouTube channel, on which we puts some of his stuff. We highly recommend you give it a listen!
– Silvertone Twin Twelve
Used circa 1963.
– Supro S6420 Thunderbolt
Used in the early days with Little Richard and The Isley Brothers.
– Fender Twin Reverb
Used from around ‘1965 through 1966. Year later Hendrix signed a contract with Sunn who supplied him with whatever he needed.
– Sunn Coliseum 100W
Hendrix used the Coliseum head with 100-F cabinets loaded with one JBL D-130 in the bottom, a JBL model L-E 100-S driver horn on the top.
– Fender Dual Showman
First used for the Experience tour that began in 1968, along with couple of Marshals and Sunn amps. He soon got tired of Sunn and ended their contract. From then on he started using Marshalls almost exclusively.
– 1966-1967 Marshall JTM45/100
Seen on some gigs played in 1967/68, including the one at Monterrey Pop Festival. It is highly possible that Hendrix used these amps on the “Are You Experienced” album as well.
– 1968-1969 Marshall 1959 Super Leads
In the height of his career Jimi was usually seen playing through Marshall plexis. Some say that he went through around hundred Marshall amps prior to his death. He usually paired three 100w heads together with six cabinets underneath. The cabinets that he used were usually fitted with Celestion G12H speakers and G12Ms towards the latter part of his career.
* Marshall made Signature Series hand-wired Super 100JH amp, which is based upon one of the amps that belonged to Jimi.
– Marshall Supa Fuzz
There is a scan of a receipt from a Sound City music store in London from January 1967 showing that Jimi purchased a Marshall Supa Fuzz. [The Jimi Hendrix Experience, collection of original Sound City receipts 1966 – 1967] This receipt was recently auctioned off, alongside another receipt for a for Fender Telecaster Bass for Noel Redding.
– Univox Uni-Vibe
Jimi Hendrix used this effect quite frequently since it came out in 1968. The box has two effects built-in, vibrato and chorus, and a separate footpedal which controls the speed of the rotating speaker effect.
– Roger Mayer Octavia Fuzz
Jimi started using this effect around 1967, and at the time it was a prototype pedal, with just few people using it. Jimi used it to record the solo on “Purple Haze”. Roger Mayer still makes this pedal, but with slightly different design, and also Dunlop recently made a similar pedal named Jimi Hendrix Octavio Effect.
– Vox V846 Wah
His main Wah pedal.
– Vox V848 Clyde McCoy Wah
Used in the later years. One of these pedals was auctioned off in 2008 for $11,000.
– Jimi (most often) used Fender Rock ‘N’ Roll light-gauge strings (.010, .013, .015, .026, .032 and .038.)
– Jimi used whatever medium gauge pick he had, and it’s been reported that Experience carried thousands of picks on their tours.
– Jimi usually used whatever he thought looks good with his outfit. On one of his most famous gigs at the Woodstock, he used a strap with a very unique design, copies of which are nowadays sold by few different manufacturers.