Think Jimi Hendrix and gear and the first instrument that springs to mind is the Fender Stratocaster. That was his main squeeze, the one he consecrated with fire, and when we think Woodstock, the image of him with his Olympic White Strat, curly guitar cable hooking him up to a phalanx of Marshall stacks.
But there were other electric guitars in his life. And on occasion, as and when he’d take the volume down to play some blues, some acoustics, too. Here, we’ll take a quick run through of what might Hendrix might have considered his blues guitar rig – gear for those occasions in which the pounding high-volume psychedelia of the Uni-Vibe would be too LSD for a I-IV-V progression.
1951 Epiphone FT 79
Hendrix owned this for nearly three years, longer than any other guitar, picking it up in New York shortly after his Monterey Pop appearance. The unclear but footage is he appears to use it for a version of Hound Dog in one of only two known videos of him playing an acoustic guitar.
1960s Zemaitis 12-string
The mesmerizing acoustic performance of Hear My Train A Comin’ that opens Blues employed this hand-built model by luthier Tony Zemaitis. It’s tuned down to C standard for that Leadbelly-style recording. Little else is known about it, but some wood shavings purportedly from the guitar sold at auction for £90 in 2019.
Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face
The secret of many of Jimi’s sought-after clean tones, such as the Voodoo Chile intro, is that he left his Fuzz Face on and rolled off his guitar volume. The Fuzz Face cleans up beautifully and adds a unique sparkle to the sound. Both germanium and silicon fuzzes work.
Fender Dual Showman
Multiple sources, including producer Eddie Kramer, agree Hendrix recorded with Fender amps, notably on Voodoo Chile. Sadly, Kramer has told the same story about several amps, also mentioning Bassmans and Twins.
The Dual Showman appeared on stage with Jimi though, notably at Monterey and on his 1968 US tour. Jimi’s early Marshall JTM45s also used a modified Fender circuit.
Gibson Flying V
Despite his love of the Strat, Jimi would often reach for the Flying V in his bluesiest moments. Red House and Catfish Blues in particular almost always came from the Flying V. Jimi was a fan of fellow left-hander Albert King, and replaced him as the V’s most famous exponent.