Jimi Hendrix’s 1965/66 Fender Stratocaster (Black, Monterey)

If one was to rank guitars in order of their usage during the some of the most iconic performances of Jimi’s, this black Stratocaster would probably be way up there at least in the top three.

It was first used (probably) at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 18, 1967. During this gig, Hendrix played the guitar on Killing Floor, Foxy Lady, Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, Rock Me Baby, Hey Joe, Can You See Me, and The Wind Cries Mary. At the end of the concert, he switched to a red Stratocaster painted by himself, and then set that guitar on fire after playing a cover of The Troggs’ Wild Thing.

Hendrix with the black Strat, Monterey
Hendrix with the black Strat at the Monterey Pop Festival. Source: YouTube Screencap

Please note that the section that was previously here – which was about some of the weird details on the guitar, like the placement of the logo – is now removed. The reason for this is that the section was completely based on the alleged Stratocaster that appeared on auction recently, and was proven to be a fake. Thanks Daze in the comments for clearing up the whole thing regarding this.

Post-Monterey

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, as pointed out by Monty Ray on the Zappa Strat page, the guitar was used at the Ambassador Hotel on October 4th, 1967, where it was set on fire at the end of the concert. This makes it the third Stratocaster ever burned by Jimi.

The strat at the Ambassador Theatre was a black strat, and almost certainly the same black strat Jimi used at Monterey. The body of the strat he burned and smashed at the Ambassador was left with the management there, and Jimi signed it.

Monty Ray

Black Monterey Strat was Jimi’s Favorite?

This guitar is sometimes 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 – the same story as the Saville 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 for a bigger spectacle.

Black Strat on Auction

In 2012, a 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.

According to Tappy, this was the same black Stratocaster that Jimi played at Monterey.

Jimi’s black Stratocaster photographed for the auction. Photo source: independent.co.uk

As a side note, if you happen to own a copy of James “Tappy” Wright’s book “Rock Roadie”, and wouldn’t mind citing a couple of sentences, in case there’s any mention of the guitar there, shoot us an email.

The Controversy

More recently, this same guitar has been featured in one of Paul David’s videos on YouTube, which raised some controversy. Following that, another YouTuber, CGS (Mike Milton), put out a video pointing out all the inconsistencies about the guitar and basically proving that there’s a high chance that this might be a fake.

The video is embedded below, and you can learn about all the details there. It would be unfair for the people who figured this out to just copy-paste everything here.

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Charlie Kenimer
Charlie Kenimer
3 years ago

Dumb thought here, but there’s a couple inconsistent things with this guitar and Jimi. It’s worn in all the spots a right hand player would wear it, please note the belt rash and the elbow rub through. There’s no pick wear above the pickguard, where his others are worn through. It’s strung like a lefty, but that would worry me as a buyer combined with the lack of labels below the Fender label. See the below photo for further evidence…

https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/jimi-hendrixs-1965-fender-stratocaster-guitar-shows-its-news-photo/82641083

Dan
Dan
3 years ago

Yes, I’d agree on the inconsistencies. I guess they could be explained if someone else, someone right-handed, played the guitar after Jimi – however, I’m not aware if Tappy ever said something about that specifically. But based on the wear, I’d just have to guess that has to be the case, and that the strings were installed upside down just for the purpose of the auction.

Chris James
Chris James
11 months ago

The black Monterey Strat was first seen 2 weeks before Monterey at the Saville Theatre gig on June 4, 1967, which he famously opened the show with Sgt Pepper. Based on photos I’ve seen over the years, it looks like he used this guitar until mid July. There are photos out there of Jimi with that black Strat from a mid July Forest Hills show he did opening for the monkees. I guess it then fell out of the rotation and into Tappy Wright’s hands.

On a side note, the odd decal placement was fairly common on ‘65 Strats. Thanks for the work you do. It’s a great site. Cheers.

Giacomo Galeno
Giacomo Galeno
5 months ago

Here you have a nice video by Paul Davids https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_lCxHJ6Gh8

Daze
Daze
5 months ago

The inconsistencies of the “Fender” logo on this Stratocaster is because Fender used a logo “With Synchronized Tremolo” and four patent No’s below it on guitars (bodies and necks) with factory installed tremolo. Guitars without tremolo ie. hardtail Strats did not not have those extras on the decal.

Jimi’s black Strat at Monterey
DID HAVE the “With Synchronized Tremolo” and patent no’s. Watch any of songs from the film.

The Strat purported to be that guitar does not.

The “Fender” logo appears closer to the non tuning machine side of the headstock for that reason. The above details are not part of the decal.
The “auction guitar” would never have left the Fullerton factory as it appears in the auction photos. The neck is from a non tremolo hardtail Stratocaster.
The body is a tremolo body.

The auction guitar is not the guitar Jimi played at Monterey

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
3 months ago

This guitar is a fraud…I knew Tappy Wright closely and if he had Jimi’s famous Monterey guitar in his possession when Mitch Mitchell got a quarter million for the Woodstock Stratocaster in 1991 you can bet your bottom that he would have sold it then…Recently British guitar authenticator Mike Milton did a close up analysis of this Stratocaster compared to the sharpest images of the Monterey Strat and proved the paint damage on the original did not match the damage on this guitar…Milton found intact undamaged paint in spots on this guitar that had clear damage on the original…Guitars cannot repair or re-paint themselves so that is proof it is not the Monterey guitar…Milton also compared the sharpest photos of the neck and showed the wood grains are visibly different so therefore it is not the same neck either (which explains the decal discrepancy)…Another researcher found that Jimi burned and then smashed a black Stratocaster with rosewood neck at the Ambassador Theater in Washington DC 2 months after Monterey…There is only one photo of Jimi smashing that guitar at the Ambassador and it shows the same red guitar strap Jimi used with that guitar at Monterey…We can safely conclude this guitar has been discredited…