date_range 1966

Jimi Hendrix’s 1960s Fender Stratocaster (Carol)

This is likely one of the first, if not -the- first, Stratocaster that Hendrix ever owned. The history behind this guitar is however far from established.

The Origins

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. It is assumed that he then carried this guitar with him after leaving the US.

However, in Steven Roby’s book “Becoming Jimi Hendrix”, it is mentioned that Jimi broke the guitar after breaking up with Carol. [Becoming Jimi Hendrix; Steven Roby, p.170] This would mean that the guitar was used for a very brief time in New York, and that it wasn’t the one that Jimi carried with him to the UK in late 1966.

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 —

Linda Keith supplies another white Stratocaster to Hendrix

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 the time, so she borrowed him a white Fender Stratocaster. Also to note, according to her, Jimi smashed a different guitar later on during a gig of his that she attended at Cafe Au Go-Go in New York’s Village.

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 remembered for.

It still seems somewhat unlikely though that Jimi would trash a good guitar this early on in his career. The money was certainly still tight at this point. For now anyway, we assume that this was the end of the first white Fender Stratocaster that Jimi owned himself, and the beginning of the second.

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