Jimi Hendrix’s Marshall Super 100 JTM45/100

Allegedly, Jimi first came across a Marshall amp, and tried one himself, while sitting in with Brian Auger’s band Trinity – most likely on September 28, 1966. According to Brian Auger, Jimi turned the amp all the way to 10 and instructed the band to follow him while he played “Hey Joe” – of course leaving everybody in the room (apparently including even Eric Clapton) completely stunned. [11-12-13 Brian Auger Talks of Jimi Hendrix, Marshall amps].

Following this, and Jimi’s discontent with Burns amps that the band was practicing on until then, on October 11, 1966, Jimi and Mitch Mitchell went out to meet Jim Marshall – the founder of Marshall Amplifiers. Apparently, Jim Marshall, who was a drummer himself, already knew Mitch – who had been a pupil of his at some point and had worked at Jim’s store.

On a Saturday afternoon in the autumn of ‘66, a tall, lanky American walked in with Johnny Mitchell—or “Mitch,” as most people knew him. Mitch used to work in my shop as a “Saturday boy,” and he was also one of my top drum students. The fellow who came in with him that day was James Marshall Hendrix, and he quickly became the greatest ambassador Marshall Amplifiers ever had.

I must admit, when Mitch introduced me to Jimi, I immediately thought, “Christ, here we go again—another American wanting something for nothing.” Thankfully, I was dead wrong. The very first thing Jimi said to me was, “I’ve got to use your stuff, but I don’t want anything given to me. I want to pay the full asking price.” That impressed me greatly, but then he added, “I am going to need service wherever I am in the world, though.” My initial reaction was, “Blimey, he’s going to expect me to put an engineer on a plane every time a valve needs replacing. It’s going to cost me a bloody fortune!” Instead, I suggested our staff teach Hendrix’s tech, Gerry Stickells, basic amp servicing skills, such as changing and biasing the valves. He must have been a very good learner, because we were never called on to sort out any problems.

Jim Marshall – original source needed

According to most sources, Jimi purchased two (some claim three) Marshall Super 100 heads, and four cabinets. He was first seen using the amps during the band’s short French tour, that began on October 13, 1966, concluded on October 18, 1966, and featured four shows. The first show on October 13 was also the first time that The Jimi Hendrix Experience ever performed together as a band. From this first tour, and until the end of his life, Jimi would continue using Marshall amps almost exclusively.

I really like my old Marshall tube amps, because when it’s working properly there’s nothing can beat it, nothing In the whole world. It looks like two refrigerators hooked together.

Are You Experienced Studio Sessions

Considering that the band’s debut album Are You Experienced? was recorded over a span of five months, from late October 1966 through early April 1967, it’s pretty hard to determine which equipment exactly Jimi used during all those sessions. Furthermore, the album was recorded at three different studios, including De Lane Lea Studios, CBS, and Olympic, and although it is likely that Jimi carried his Marshall stack around to all those locations, it is also possible that he played through some of the amps that were owned by the studios.

Nevertheless, the first song that the band recorded for the album, Hey Joe, was recorded on October 23, at De Lane Lea Studios, and Jimi definitely used his Marshall stack – at least according to Chas Chandler.

Jimi threw a tantrum because I wouldn’t let him play guitar loud enough … He was playing a Marshall twin stack, and it was so loud in the studio that we were picking up various rattles and noises.

McDermott, John (2009). Ultimate Hendrix: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Live Concerts and Sessions

A Marshall Super 100 was most likely also used the next the bend entered De Lane Lea Studios on November 2nd and recorded Stone Free (the first song that Jimi composed for Experience, and did so in a single day) and a demo version of ‘Can You See Me, as well as during the sessions at CBS Studios, where parts of Foxy Lady, Can You See Me, Love Or Confusion, 3rd Stone From The Sun, and Red House were recorded.

Later that evening (December 13, 1966), the band had a recording session at CBS Studios. Jimi brought along four Marshall cabinets and told engineer Mike Ross, “Stick a microphone eight feet away, and it will sound great.” It did sound great, Ross observed, “but it was the loudest thing I ever heard in that studio. It was painful on your ears.”

Jimi Hendrix in London, 1966, Jas Obrecht Music Archive

In fact, it is likely that Jimi used the Marshall Super 100 exclusively in the studio until February 3, 1967, when the band booked time at Olympic Studios, and Eddie Kramer came into the equation.  At this point, there is some discussion on whether Jimi used a Fender Twin Reverb on the track ‘Wind Cries Mary’.

On Tour

The Marshall Super 100 amps were used on tour by Hendrix from the time he acquired them, in October 1966, to around early 1968, when he was offered to play on Sunn amps as a part of an endorsement deal. It is unknown whether he used the exact same amps from the very beginning, or whether he bought new ones along the line, but the important thing is that they were always Marshal Super 100s.

It is important to note here that one of Jimi’s original Marshall Super 100 JTM45/100s (Serial No. 7026) appeared on auction somewhat recently, and people have successfully, by comparing photographs, matched it to the amp that Jimi used at Monterey on June 8, 1967, and at the Royal Albert Hall (see photo below), on November 14, 1967. This fact, combined with the fact that the amp internally looks like something that came out of the Marshall factory in 1966, could mean that Hendrix used this amp all along – from the very first concerts in France, and during the recording of ‘Are You Experienced?’ in London.

This amp has been examined by experts at Marshall who have confirmed that the design of the amp is consistent with others built by Marshall between 1966 and 1967. In addition, the nature of the components suggests that this was likely to be one of the first Marshall amps that Hendrix ever owned and could have been one of three Marshall amps purchased by the Jimi Hendrix Experience on 11 October, 1966.

SALE 5397 Popular Culture: Rock & Pop Memorabilia, A 1966 Marshall Super Lead 100 Watt amplifier head
Jimi Hendrix’s Marshall JTM45/100. Photo source: Christie’s.

This theory also goes along well with what Jim Marshall said – that he explained to Gerry Stickells the basic amp servicing skills, and that the company was never called on to sort out any problems. Garry himself also said that the band initially only had four Marshall Super 100s PAs (initially only two), and sometimes used those even for guitar amps – if those didn’t work for some reason (tubes going bad being the most often one).

We had two pieces in the beginning, and then we bought two more. And ordinary Marshall amplifiers. (100W “PA” model with four dual inputs with individual volume controls for each, and a set of tone controls similar to those on guitar amplifiers, eds. Note.) We just put it on the floor, curled up until it became feedback, and backed off a little. And it was our backup guitar amplifier also, on the guitar amplifier and we just took the PA amplifier to guitar and drove the song through it with … We had no other reserve gadgets either, just a few drivers, and a bunch of tubes. Sometimes we had to tell Jimi to keep talking to the crowd for a while, while we changed the tubes in the guitar amplifier because they did not last long, only one, or one and a half shows, perhaps, where they KT66 deuce.

Hendrix special – Gerry Stickells – fuzz.se (aricle in Swedish)


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