To celebrate the release of the new Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster guitar, we've put together a guide to all the best Jimi Hendrix-related gear you can get your hands on!
Picture the scene. One cold night in October 1966, an unknown by the name Jimi Hendrix attends a Cream gig at the Central London Polytechnic and asks if he could jam with the band. No one had ever jammed with Cream, then one of the hottest bands in the UK, consisting of three consummate masters of their respective crafts: Ginger Baker (drums), Jack Bruce (bass) and, of course, Eric Clapton, who was then considered the best guitarist in Britain, having revolutionized guitar playing with his performance on John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers' "Beano" album ( which inspired people to graffiti "Clapton Is God" on the streets of London!)
That night, Hendrix came onstage and ripped into a version of blues classic "Killing Floor". He outplayed and upstaged Cream with his guitar antics, and literally blew Eric Clapton offstage, who left in shock and asked Jimi's manager: "Is he always that f***ing good?" The answer was, of course, yes, and since that night Jimi's been rightly considered The Greatest Guitarist Ever, a title that very much still stands today, almost 50 years later!
Was Hendrix Really The Greatest Guitarist Ever?
Sometimes, some people still argue that "Hendrix wasn't that great". But that's a bit disingenuous: we've been used to his music for 50 years now, and that's plenty of time for guitarists to try and copy his sound, his technique... many professional players have been playing guitar for longer than Jimi spent on this Earth! But while a few players may be able to exactly copy what Hendrix played, they're still just copying!
Hendrix was a creative genius, and when he was around, everyone knew he was special: from bands such as The Beatles and the Stones, to the press and music fans alike. It's quite hard for us today to imagine quite what a musical tsunami he was - but that's why we still talk about him, and why his guitar playing still inspires!
New Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster!
The new Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster signature guitar comes in Olympic White (very Woodstock!) and in Black. This is a fitting tribute to the genius and, if it doesn't make you automatically as good as Hendrix, well, it certainly goes a long way in helping you and getting his tone!
The guitar is also a very cool, high-spec model in its own right, whether you're crazy about Jimi or not: it has a vintage feel, and some great features such as C-shape neck, 1965-style pickups and much more. For under £700, this guitar is also fantastic value for money!
How To Sound Like Hendrix: Choosing The Gear
Hendrix was one of the pioneers in using an array of FX pedals to create his own sound. He was a master at using three basic effects - fuzz, modulation and wah - to create a rich and very musical sound. His setup was more effects-driven than most other guitarists at the time, but much leaner than the setup of the majority of modern guitarists today! It's interesting to wonder which effects he'd be using if he was still alive today...
Hendrix and his engineer Roger Meyer would mod and experiment with different Fuzz Faces, always in search of that perfect sound! Eventually, Meyer also developed the Octavio, a fuzz based on the Fuzz Face, but with an added octave up sound, which was used in some solos.
You can never be Jimi... but you can use him as an inspiration to forge your own style!
Because Hendrix and Meyer were constantly modding his guitars and pedals, it's very hard for anyone to own a perfect replica of his setup at any one time... but that's not the point! The point is, like massive Hendrix fan Stevie Ray Vaughan did, to use Jimi Hendrix and his gear as an inspiration, as a starting point to find your own sound and style! So, alongside the new Fender Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster, here's all the Hendrix-related FX pedals for sale at PMT:
Fuzz Face, from £87.99
Vox Wah, from £49.99
Korg NuVibe, £369
Electro-Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz, £69
Other UniVibe-style Pedals, from £95
Hendrix In The Studio
Like other psychedelic acts from the era, Jimi Hendrix's recordings also feature many other effects in the studio, besides his guitar pedals. He used tape delays, backwards delays and plate reverb a lot. The TC Electronics range of delay and reverb pedals could be a great choice if you want to reproduce some of his sounds.
Another detail not everyone knows, is that Hendrix also had his own peculiar selection of string gauges, according to Roger Meyer:
"The string gauges would run .010, .013, .015, .026, .032 and .038. The big difference there is that you're using the .015 for the third, because if you use the .017 for the third, the actual sound of the guitar is very G-heavy. The electrical output of the strings is dependent on the square of the diameter; if you square all the diameters and look at them, you can get much more of an idea about the balance of the guitar.
"You should always remember that, because many, many times people use a set of strings that are completely imbalanced and they just don't sound that good. Most people would say a .010 to .013 is the correct jump. And the .015 is much better for the G than a .017. An .015 squares out at .225 and .017 is 289. So you're going to get 28 percent more output just with a two-pound different in string size."