Jimi Hendrix’s 1960s Fender Stratocaster (Telecaster neck, Newport)
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 1960s Telecaster, while the body is from a Stratocaster. The question is whether any of the parts belonged to one of Jimi’s old guitars, or whether there they were picked up from a guitar store. The chance is that at least the body came from one of Jimi’s white Strats.
The Newport Strat Body
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 – the first one being the Woodstock Strat, and the 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’s neck. There is also a 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 each of the options above is 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 looked 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 the only way to track this body down to its 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 Newport Strat Neck
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.