Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 Fender Stratocaster (Woodstock)

access_time First seen circa 1968

This is probably the best-known guitar of Jimi’s. It was used at the Woodstock Festival on August 18, 1969. Before Woodstock however – things are somewhat fuzzy. It seems that the guitar was used from around the same time as the black Strat, around October 1969, but have gone out of rotation sometime in 1969 in favor of a different white Strat that looked nearly identical.

The Woodstock Strat was used probably from late October or early November 1968. Based on the photos available, The Bakersfield Civic Auditorium on October 26th was played on the black Strat and the old white Strat with the rosewood fretboard, while the next concert on November 2nd featured a white Strat with a maple neck. One is inclined to assume that this is the Woodstock Strat, although there’s no actual way to prove it. As is often case with Jimi’s guitars, the only option is to speculate.

Embed from Getty Images

All the gigs played from November 1968 to August 1969, were played on either the black Strat, the white Strat, or occasionally a few different Gibson guitars. The white Strat seems to have been used most extensively during the 1969 North American tour, which included the performance at the Woodstock Festival. It probably continued being used in 1970, but this is where all the fuzziness starts.

The Woodstock Strat in 1970

The white guitar that Jimi used from around April 1970 had a notch on the body, clearly visible on photos against the plain white color of the guitar. The Strat that was used during Woodstock didn’t have this notch, but that doesn’t mean much since Woodstock obviously took place in August 1969, and more than a half of year of use would allow for a few scratches to form on the body.

This is a still from a concert played at the Berkeley Community Theatre on May 30, 1970. The scratch is clearly visible on the edge of the body. For more images of the scratch see this gallery.

The thing that is confusing is that the Woodstock Strat is accounted for, and it’s currently sitting in the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly EMP Museum) in Seattle. It has no notches where they are supposed to be. However, given how strong the line of ownership is behind the Woodstock Strat, there’s no reason to assume that it’s a fake. The only logical explanation is that there were two identical white maple neck Stratocasters in 1970.

On the subject of the legitimacy of the guitar – a note from a different auction of one of Jimi’s guitars reads that two guitars were found in the Electric Lady studios by Jimi’s management around the time of his death – a sunburst Stratocaster that was the subject of the auction, and a white maple Stratocaster with the serial number 240981 (same as the EMP Strat) [Jimi Hendrix Rock and Pop Memorabilia – Christie’s] This confirms that the EMP Strat did, in fact, belong to Jimi, but it raises the question of why the guitar wasn’t used almost at all in 1970. Perhaps Jimi left it in Electric Lady Studios in late 1969/1970 when he was in New York playing Fillmore East and never bothered to pick it back.

The Woodstock Stratocaster on display

The Woodstock Stratocaster on display at the Museum of Pop Culture/EMP. Photo by: Justin Masterson/Flickr

This does, however, change some things. It means that the Woodstock Strat was not used on concerts from April 1970 and until Jimi’s death. It is often mentioned in various articles and books that the Woodstock Strat was used on the last Experience concert at the Open Air Love & Peace Festival in Fehmarn, Germany on September 6, 1970. All the photos from the gig show the white Strat with the notch on the body, meaning that it couldn’t have been the Woodstock Strat for reasons already established (see this photo of Jimi at the Open Air Love & Peace Festival and compare it to the one above, of his Woodstock Strat).

Woodstock Strat at the EMP Museum (left) and the Strat used at Woodstock in 1968 (right). The wood grain does seem to match quite well, meaning that the EMP Strat is likely the real deal.

The Woodstock Strat on Auction

Corbin from IconicAxes has done a great job of telling the story behind the auction of this guitar. We recommend reading it since it also contains a full transcript of Mitch Mitchell’s letter of provenance provided to Sotheby’s (the auction house). [Jimi Hendrix’s “Woodstock” Fender Stratocaster – IconicAxes]

In short, the guitar was given to Mitch Mitchell at some point in 1970 by Hendrix, who kept it in his possession until 1991. At that point, it was sold through auction for £198,000 to Gabriele Ansaloni, Italian TV host, and music critic. The guitar was sold once again after only two years to Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder for an undisclosed amount. From that point on, the Woodstock Strat is kept safe at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, founded by Allen in 2000.

What’s worth noting is that around the time Jimi started using this guitar, he also started placing cigars in between the strings and the headstocks while playing, and while the cigarettes were often forgotten and burned all the way to the filter, they created burn marks on the headstock. Today however, those burn marks are gone, but the damage done to the lacquer can clearly still be seen.
Embed from Getty Images

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Continue browsing, or go subdirectory_arrow_leftBack to Jimi Hendrix Gear Page
access_time 1969

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 […]

access_time 1959

1957 Supro Ozark 1560s

This was Hendrix’s first ever electric guitar. According to some sources [Jimi Hendrix Gear, by Michael Heatley, p.9], he got it from his father who bought it in the Myers Music Shop in Seattle in 1959 for $89. According to others [Becoming Jimi Hendrix, Steven Rody], this story is connected to his second electric guitar, a Danelectro. Be that as it may, Jimi played the Supro with his band The Rocking Kings […]

access_time 1960

1960s Danelectro Bronze Standard

After his Supro was stolen, with the help from father Hendrix bought this Danelectro which he later nick-named “Betty Jean” after his girlfriend at the time, Betty Jean Morgan. [Jimi Hendrix Gear, by Michael Heatley, p.28] The guitar was allegedly originally green, but Hendrix himself painted it several times from red to purple, and back to green at some point. [Becoming Jimi Hendrix, Steven Rody] However, the earliest photo of […]

access_time 1966

1964 Fender Stratocaster (Linda)

Based on the photos and the stories from various people, Hendrix only carried one single guitar with him on the plane to the UK in September 1966. Since he didn’t make a work permit ahead of time, it is suspected that someone else (perhaps Chas Chandler) carried the guitar for him. By all accounts, it seems that the guitar that Jimi carried with him was a 1964 Fender Stratocaster finished in […]

access_time 1966

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 […]

access_time 1968

1968 Fender Stratocaster (Black)

Hendrix started using this guitar in mid-October 1968, and it represented a shift away from rosewood and towards maple neck Stratocasters. Up until this point, almost every guitar that he played had a rosewood fretboard. This is understandable considering the fact that he mostly used early to mid 60s Strats, most of which were shipped with rosewood fretboards, at least up until around mid-1965. The guitar was one of the two maple […]

access_time 1962

1961 Epiphone Wilshire

After coming back from the Army in 1962 Hendrix acquired an Epiphone Wilshire. It is assumed that this was from the money he made playing with the Danelectro, which as previously noted, was indeed borrowed from a friend in the army. Jimi used the guitar in the early days of King Casuals – a band that began performing in Nashville by November 1962. The Wilshire can be seen on photos taken at the Club […]

access_time 1967

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 […]

access_time 1968

1967 Gibson SG Custom

This 1967 Gibson SG Custom is most famous for its appearance on the Dick Cavett show on September 9, 1969. The guitar was however first seen in Jimi’s hands around late 1968. More precisely, November 28, 1968, Rhode Island Auditorium gig seem to be the first one to feature this guitar based on the photos. From then on the SG popped in occasionally, most likely to be used on tracks such as ‘Red […]

access_time 1967

1963/64 Fender Stratocaster (Monterey Pop)

This guitar first appeared sometime in March 1967, likely on the 30th when the band appeared on Top of the Pops TV programme. All the photos from that day are black and white, unfortunately, but the guitar does seem the be finished in a solid color. Definitely darker than white, and lighter than pure black, but it’s impossible to tell exactly whether it was red or not. Regardless, the guitar […]

Interested in other artists? Check out GroundGuitar's subdirectory_arrow_rightGear Page