Jimi Hendrix’s 1967 Gibson Flying V (Hand-painted)
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 shortly 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).
The Flying V in Studio
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 all 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.