Ever since electric guitars were first invented back in the ’50s, there have been hundreds of guitar players who have all been considered to be the masters of their art. However, there is one man who probably isn’t the most technically proficient guitar player who ever lived, but that one man is considered to be the best guitar player who ever walked the earth.
If you haven’t guessed it by now, we are talking about none other than Jimi Hendrix. There are numerous reasons why we make this claim along with thousands of other music critics.
His way of handling electric guitar was simply unique at the time. He was a lefty, but he insisted on playing a right handed guitar. This seemingly inconvenient method of playing allowed him to have a pretty distinctive sound. That sound combined with his own take on standard blues boxes is what made him one of the elite, one of the best guitarists in history of rock music. Today we are going to go over the gear he used during his career, and talk about the technical aspect of his style.
Jimi Hendrix Guitar Setup
The most obvious thing anyone watching Hendrix perform for the first time would notice, are his guitars. As we have mentioned before, he always used the right handed models which he played inverted. Not only did he achieve a unique tone that way, but the whole performance looked completely amazing as well.
Those who have spent some time going over the footage of his live shows, have probably noticed that he almost exclusively used a Fender Stratocaster. That is true for the most part, however he used a variety of other guitars. Let’s go over some of the most notable models in his collection.
Believe it or not, Jimi’s metaphorical guitar rack was full of a variety of guitar models, some of whom were not often seen in his hands. We will talk about his Strats later, but for now lets start with his very first electric guitar. The model in question is a very elusive 1957 Supro Ozark 1560s.
This was a pretty cheap and rather unusual electric guitar which was gifted to Jimi by his father back in 1959. As fate would have it, Hendrix only got to play this guitar for a year or so before it was stolen after one of his early performances. Next guitar he got was 1960s Danelectro Bronze Standard. This was a replacement for the stolen guitar.
Later on he got into Strats, but before that time, he owned some Epiphones and a Fender Duo-Sonic.
His Strats start out with the 1964 model he got in New York City circa 1966. That was the moment he fell in love with this specific model. The guitar was white with a rosewood fretboard, which is something Hendrix would go on to abandon completely later on in his career.
His 1965 Strat is among the more notable guitars he ever played simply because it was the first one he burned during one of his performances. This unusual practice would become his signature thing.
Check out PlayRockZone kicking out some Little Wing. Hear that sound?
The most important guitar to ever be played by Hendrix is the 1968 Fender Stratocaster. This was Jimi’s favorite guitar, and the one he played the most. It was a black Strat with a maple fretboard. It’s been said that he played this very Strat the night of his death. Current whereabouts of this Strat are still unknown.
Check out EddieVegas in this video showing off the ’68 Strat.
Jimi Hendrix’ Favorite Amps
In terms of amps, Hendrix was a pretty straightforward type of guy. During his early days, Hendrix was very much involved with Silvertone Twin Twelves, Supro Thunderbolts, and finally the legendary Fender Twin Reverb. Later on in his career, Hendrix became a huge Plexi fan.
Take a look at this Silvertone 1484 Twin Twelve, with playing courtesy of Rocket Music.
And here is ProGuitarShop Demos with a demo of the Supro S6420+ Thunderbolt. Behold!
He went through a huge number of Marshall Plexis which included a variety of models. Among the most notable Plexi amps we could find is the JTM45 and 1959 Super Lead. Both of these amps have that trademark vintage Marshall tone which many guitar players around the world still love to this day. Hendrix knew how to push those tubes to the point of breaking, which did happen more than several times during his performances.
Here’s Guitar Gear Demos with a great demo of the Marshall JTM45 1965 Plexi Vintage ORIGINAL Guitar Amp!
And here’s Brigado70 playing the Marshall 1959 Superlead with his Gibson Les Paul.
Jimi’s Preferred Guitar Effects Pedals
Effects pedals are not something Hendrix is known for too widely. All in all, there are five pedals that he used, with two of those being different Vox wah pedals. With that said, he did love one single pedal which he based his whole tone upon. That is non other than the legendary Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face.
Here’s Graemey demonstrating the power of the pedal.
Hendrix carried this thing with him just about everywhere he went. He is also one of the reasons why this particular pedal became so popular in later years. Today, Fuzz Face is made by Dunlop and it represents a very true copy of the original one Hendrix used.
There is no simple way to describe just what Jimi Hendrix has done for the evolution of rock music. His skill, tone and overall charisma drove millions of peoples for decades, and chances are he will have that same effect on fans of hard sound far into the future. The gear he used to achieve his impressive sound is nothing too special. For the most part, it’s a somewhat standard combination of guitars and amps with a sprinkle of thick fuzz. The core of his characteristic tone lies within the way he played the guitar, how he made it scream.
Replicating his sound is not too hard, especially with the abundance of equipment we have today and the fact that he kept everything simple. However, those subtleties he was the master of, those are going to take a lot of skill and knowledge to get down correctly. The list of gear we showed you here represents the most important equipment he Hendrix used during his brief career.
In some ways, you could definitely scale down his whole setup to a vintage Fender Stratocaster, a Marshall Plexi and a that Fuzz Face pedal. That’s exactly what kind of guy Hendrix was.