Jimi Hendrix’s 1961 Epiphone Wilshire

Jimi got this guitar in early 1963, around the time he began performing with King Casuals at Club Del Morocco.

The King Kasuals

Hendrix moved from Clarksville to Nashville sometime around late 1962, after Billy Cox got discharged from the army. In Nashville, the band that the two formed landed a gig at a place called Club Del Morocco. This was Hendrix’s first regular job as a musician, and he likely used the Epiphone for the most part of that era. [Jimi Hendrix and the King Casuals – The Official Biography of Legendary Bassist Billy Cox]

Jimi playing an Epiphone Wilshire guitar.
Jimi playing an Epiphone Wilshire guitar.

Jimi’s Epiphone had a solid-mahogany body finished in red, two P-90 pickups, a black (Tortoiseshell?) pickguard, and dot fretboard inlays. The inlay on the 17th fret appears to cover almost the entire space between the frets. Whether this was a modification, a simple sticker, or something similar, is unknown.

The last thing to point out is that the guitar featured a Vibrola tremolo bridge – which is confusing. Based on GuitarHQ’s model history [Epiphone Wilshire model guitars 1959 to 1970], they fit the tremolo on the models made between 1959 and 1961, and between mid-1962 and 1963. Jimi’s guitar fits the description of the model produced in 1961, which as you might guess – didn’t come with a tremolo.

The explanation for this could be that the guitar was modified, either by the previous owner or by Jimi himself. Or it could be that there was a model in 1961 that featured both the black P90 pickups and the Vibrola tremolo.

Pickguard painted white?

In the book Jimi Hendrix Gear [Jimi Hendrix Gear, Michael Heatley – p.34] there is a story that Jimi allegedly painted the pickguard white at some point. Looking at the photos taken around this era, there is what seems to be an Epiphone with a white pickguard, black P90s, and block inlays (see below)

Young Jimi Hendrix performing with King Casuals circa 1963.
Hendrix with King Casuals.

The important thing to mention here is that it seems, based on the information from the internet, that there was never a production Wilshire with block inlays in the early 60s. Also, the guitar in the photo above seems to be left-handed because it appears that the control knobs are on the bottom side while Jimi is holding it. The Wilshire in the first photo is obviously right-handed.

So, the guitar that Jimi is holding in the second photo above is most likely an Epiphone Crestwood.

This whole pickguard being painted white story is probably just a result of incorrectly identifying the guitar as the same Wilshire that Jimi was seen using in other photos. This is entirely understandable, as we’ve made that same mistake on this exact page until somebody pointed it out as an error.


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