Jimi Hendrix’s 1963/64 Fender Stratocaster – Monterey Pop Strataccess_time First seen circa 1967
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 wasn’t used all that much until May 1967. During the short European tour that spanned throughout that month, Jimi was seen alternating between this guitar, and another red Stratocaster with a maple neck. Photos of both guitars can be seen here – iltasanomat.fi; These pictures were forgotten for decades – Jimi Hendrix’s only concert in Finland in 1967 (this site is in Finnish, scroll down for the photo).
The Year of Manufacture
Based on what can be concluded from the photos, the guitar was made in 1963 or early 1964. It has a small headstock with spaghetti Fender logo, the narrow dot spacing on the 12th fret of the neck, and pickguard screw layout of the models made later than early 1963. By late 1964, the design on the model changed significantly.
Is this the Monterey Strat?
Based on what we have gathered, it is highly likely that this is the same guitar that Jimi decorated himself and then set on fire at the end of the Monterey Pop Festival gig on June 8, 1967. Contrary to Fender’s specification on their Monterey Tribute Stratocaster, the guitar that Jimi played at the festival wasn’t made in 1965. For some reason, unknown to us, Fender printed a transition logo on their model.
Jimi’s guitar (as you can see yourself on these photos), has a spaghetti style logo. This design is typical to the models made some time before Fender changed management to CBS in early 1965. According to GuitarHQ Fender model history, all guitars made before early 1964 have this particular logo design. Fender also made another mistake/deviation from the original design. The big flower on the top horn is bright red on the Fender Tribute model, while Jimi seemed to have painted his pink.
Ironically, the less expensive Monterey Stratocaster model that Fender sells nowadays actually styles a proper spaghetti logo.
As a note — although this is pretty clear from the photos linked above, we’d still prefer to find a high-resolution photo that shows the headstock of Jimi’s Monterey Stratocaster in more detail. If you happen to come across one, be sure to send it to us. Next to that, please note that at this point, we are unable to confirm this theory beyond reasonable doubt (the red Strat also being the Monterey Strat). But just for the sake of simplicity, we will not separate them into two different sections.
Monterey Pop Festival
As you probably already know, Jimi set this guitar on fire at the end of the Monterey Pop Festival gig. Worth noting is that he used a different guitar throughout the concert, and switched to this guitar just prior to playing the last song of the set – The Troggs’ Wild Thing.
After setting the guitar on fire, he smashed it into several pieces, and threw them all into the audience. To our knowledge, only one of those piece is accounted for – and it’s kept safe at the Museum of Pop Culture (formertly EMP) in Seattle.