Jimi Hendrix’s 1963/64 Fender Stratocaster – Monterey Pop Strat
This guitar was first used by Jimi sometime in March 1967, likely on the 30th when the band appeared on the Top of the Pops TV program. All the photos from that day are black and white, unfortunately, so it’s hard to tell the exact color of the body, but it did seem to be finished in a solid color. Likely, it was red, since that would make the most sense based on later photos.
Also, this seemed to have been the only red Strat with a rosewood fretboard that Jimi ever played, and it perfectly matches the Monterey Strat specs, aside of course, from the hand-drawn design. As far as these things go, it’s pretty much a sure thing that this is the guitar that Jimi burned at the Monterey Pop Festival.
The guitar wasn’t used all that much until May 1967. Then, 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.
Interestingly, both of these red Stratocasters shown in the photo above were later decorated by Jimi. The one with the rosewood neck was the Monterey Strat, of course, while the one with the maple neck was the famous Saville Strat.
The Year of Manufacture
Based on what can be concluded from the photos, the Monterey Strat was made in 1963 or early 1964. It has a small headstock with a spaghetti Fender logo, the narrow dot spacing on the 12th fret of the neck, and the pickguard screw layout of the models made later than early 1963. By late 1964, the design of the model changed significantly.
Monterey Pop Festival
As you probably already know, Jimi set this guitar on fire at the end of the Monterey Pop Festival gig, making it probably the best-known guitar that he ever used. 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 the Strat into several pieces and threw them all into the audience. To our knowledge, only one of those pieces is accounted for – and it’s kept safe at the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly EMP) in Seattle.
Fender’s Monterey Strat Replica
It’s perhaps important here to note that Fender released (it seems) several different versions of the Monterey Strat. None of these seem to match the original Monterey Strat exactly but play around some motif.
For example, the more “premium” early tribute models, some of which were acquired by public figures like John Mayer, featured some significant changes. Among those – the design itself was heavily modified, and the Fender logo on the headstock was from the transition era. Apparently, these were very limited, and hand-decorated by Pamelina H.
The more recent and budget-friendly Fender Jimi Hendrix Tribute Stratocaster also deviates from the original design somewhat. While it keeps the original early 60s Strat design of the original guitar, the drawings (prints in this case) are somewhat different.
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