Jimi Hendrix’s 1960s Fender Stratocaster (Modified)

access_time First seen circa 1967

Jimi was seen using this guitar only on a few occasions, most notably at rehearsals at The Saville Theatre, London on October 8, 1967, at L’Olympia, Paris on October 9, 1967, and in Gothenburg on January 4, 1968.

It is an odd guitar in a sense that it’s the only heavily modified Stratocaster that Hendrix ever was seen playing. Also, if we assume that Hendrix modified the guitar himself, or more precisely had someone modify it for him for some specific reason (something he didn’t like on a standard Strat for example), it would make sense that he would want to keep on using the guitar, but for some reason, he chose not to.

It is also possible that someone wired a separate pickguard and handed it to him, Jimi tried it out in one of his guitars, ended up not liking it and forgot about the whole thing.

To further build upon this theory – there is at least one guitar that could’ve served as a donor to this modified pickguard – a white early to mid-1960s Stratocaster with a Tortoiseshell pickguard that Jimi was seen playing just a day prior, at the Saville Theatre, London on October 8, 1967. In theory, he could’ve swapped the pickguard on that guitar, and went back to the old one after realizing that the modified one wasn’t working out for him.

Jimi Hendrix at the Saville Theater on October 8, 1967
Jimi Hendrix at the Saville Theater on October 8, 1967. He is seen playing a white Strat with a large headstock, while the odd one with the dark pickguard is sitting in the back. Photo credit: Miki Slingsby

Of course, there is also a chance that this is a completely separate guitar, perhaps one that Jimi trashed at a prior concert, and that one of his roadies pieced together and wired in a weird way for Hendrix to try out.

The Mods

The mods on this guitar seemed to have been pretty simple. Basically, the only thing that seems to be different from a stock Stratocaster is that instead of a single 3-way switch, there are three separate toggle switches, which most likely served as on/off switches for each pickup. Wired this way, each pickup is controlled separately, which allows for some unorthodox pickup configurations. For example, Jimi could use all three pickups at the same time, or only the bridge and the neck pickup – which he couldn’t do with a stock 3-way switch.

Jimi playing the modified Stratocaster at L’Olympia, Paris on October 9, 1967. Photo source: GitarreBass.de

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