The Legend Equipments

Fender Stratocaster

Hendrix owned and used a variety of guitars during his career. His guitar of choice however, and the instrument that became most associated with him, was the Fender Stratocaster, or "Strat". He bought his first Stratocaster in 1965 and thereafter used it almost exclusively for his stage performances and recordings.

Hendrix's emergence coincided with the lifting of post-war import restrictions (imposed in many British Commonwealth countries), which made the instrument much more available, and after its initial popularizers Buddy Holly and Hank B. Marvin, Hendrix arguably did more than any other player to make the Stratocaster the biggest-selling electric guitar in history. Before his arrival in the UK, most top players used Gibson and Rickenbacker models. After Hendrix, many leading guitarists including Jeff Beck, Ritchie Blackmore and Eric Clapton switched to the Stratocaster. Hendrix bought dozens of Strats and gave many away as gifts, including one to ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons, although a former ZZ Top roadie claimed this was one of Gibbons' many made-up stories to the press. Many others were stolen, and a few were destroyed during his notorious guitar-burning finales. One formerly sunburst Strat which was mutilated by Hendrix at the 1968 Miami Pop Festival was given to Frank Zappa by a Hendrix roadie. Zappa had it hanging on a wall in his basement for years. He posed for the cover of Guitar Player Magazine holding this instrument, and recent news and an image of the refurbished instrument are available in the August 2006 issue of Guitar Player. In 1969, Hendrix met film director Edmund Darris in front of the Baby Grand Night Club where Hendrix was to meet with Albert King. Hendrix gave Edmund Darris tips on how to tune cross Spanish and how to play guitar. Edmund Darris went on to become a great guitarist because of this meeting.

The Strat's easy action and narrow neck were also ideally suited to Hendrix's evolving style and enhanced his tremendous dexterity: Hendrix's hands were large enough to fret across all six strings with his thumb, and he could play lead and rhythm parts simultaneously. Another remarkable fact about Hendrix is that he was left-handed, yet used right-handed guitars, playing them upside-down but re-strung for playing left-handed, so that the heavier strings were in their standard position at the top of the neck. He preferred this layout because the tremolo arm and volume and tone controls were more easily accessible above the strings, but it also had an important effect on the sound of his guitar: because of the stagger of the pickups' pole pieces, his lowest string had a bright sound while his highest string had a mellow sound—the opposite of the Strat's intended design. This effect was exaggerated by the slant of the Strat's bridge pickup.

A new Stratocaster model (with a wide headstock) was launched in late 1968, and as the cohesion of the Experience began to deteriorate, Hendrix wished to vary his playing and his repertoire with this new design. Choosing Stratocasters with a light-tone maple fretboard (giving a "brighter" sound than the "darker" rosewood), he wanted to balance the high-power play with further versatility and velocity, so in early 1969, he opted for heavy-gauge strings which he combined with a tuning lowered a half-step from normal pitch, a technique which he picked up from Albert King in 1966. This enhanced the possibilities offered by the interlaced rhythm and solos during the Olmstead Studios sessions of April 1969. Later on tour, this stringing caused the drawback of more frequent losses in tuning after pushing down (or pulling) the tremolo bar; Hendrix would often ask the audience for a "minute to tune up" several times during the same concert.

In addition to Fender Stratocasters, Hendrix was also photographed playing Fender Jaguars, Gretsch Corvette, Duosonics and Jazzmasters, and Gibson Les Paul Customs and SGs (and in his pre- solo career, he was seen with an Ibanez Rhythm Guitar, very similar to today's Ibanez Jetking[19]). Jimi used a white Gibson SG Custom for his performance on the Dick Cavett show in the summer of 1969, and the Isle of Wight film shows him playing a Gibson Flying V. While Jimi owned a number of Flying Vs throughout his career (included a black model with hand-painted designs by Hendrix), the Flying V used at the Isle of Wight was a unique left-handed guitar. Custom ordered from Gibson, Jimi's example featured gold hardware, a bound fingerboard and "split-diamond" fret markers that were not found on other 60s-era Flying Vs.
December 4, 2006, one of Hendrix's custom 1968 Fender Stratocaster guitars with a sunburst design was sold at a Christie's auction for USD$168,000.
Amplifiers and effects

Hendrix was a catalyst in the development of modern guitar amplification and guitar effects. His high-energy stage act and the blistering volume at which he played required robust and powerful amplifiers. For the first few months of his touring career he used Vox and Fender amplifiers, but he soon found that they could not stand up to the rigors of an Experience show. Hendrix soon discovered a new range of high-powered guitar amps being made by London audio engineer Jim Marshall and they proved perfect for his needs. Along with the Strat, the Marshall stack and Marshall amplifiers were crucial in shaping his heavily overdriven sound, enabling him to master the creative use of feedback as a musical effect, and his exclusive use of this brand soon made it the most popular amplifier in rock music.

The sound of Hendrix's recordings seemed to have progressively changed from the "sharp edge" of 1966 and 1967 to the warmer sounds of 1969 and 1970. The first two albums were recorded in England with his British-made Marshall amps operating at 240 volts/50 Hertz. He then recorded in the US (beginning in May 1968 on Electric Ladyland), under 110 volts/60 Hertz.[citation needed] The evolution in the Stratocasters used (pre-1968 versus post-1968 models) may have contributed to this change as well. Weather conditions may also have had an effect on his amps: the warm sound of Woodstock contrasts to the "edgy" sound of the Isle of Wight recordings. Hendrix also constantly looked for new guitar effects. He was one of the first guitarists to move past simple gimmickry and to exploit the full expressive possibilities of electronic effects such as the wah-wah pedal. He had a fruitful association with engineer Roger Mayer and made extensive use of several Mayer devices, including the Axis fuzz unit, the Octavia octave doubler, and especially the UniVibe, designed to electronically simulate the modulation effects of the Leslie speaker. He also used an Arbiter Fuzz Face for a time. It should be noted that while Jimi never used an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, he did try out prototypes before he died and the tone of the pedal was modeled after Hendrix's tone.

The Hendrix sound combined high volume and high power, feedback manipulation, and a range of cutting-edge guitar effects, especially the UniVibe-Octavia combination, which can be heard to full effect on the Band of Gypsys' live version of "Machine Gun." He was also known for his trick playing, which included playing with only his right (fretting) hand, using his teeth or playing behind his back, although he soon grew tired of audience demands to perform these tricks.

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Jimmi Hendrix

Steve Vai