If you're still salivating over the vintage guitar goodness of our recent Jimi Hendrix column and looking to turn that lust into a purchase, fear not! This week, we've put together a Hendrix gear buyer's guide to help you emulate the rig of the guitar great.
We decided to restrict ourselves to one guitar, one amp and pedals on this one, for reasons of practicality and budget. Much as we loved Hendrix's psychedelic Flying V, sticking with Strats was a no-brainer, given that they're the most used and iconic of his instruments.
There are three price points in this feature. "Money to Burn," for the big spenders out there, "Gig Rig," for those live players on a tighter budget, and "Bedroom Warrior," which is geared towards beginner, or stay-at-home players. We've set a budget for each of these, as you'll see in the respective sections.
With the exception of the Vintage V6, which we found new on eBay, and the Master Vintage Strat which comes direct from Make N' Music, all of the prices are either taken from Musician's Friend or Amazon. For sake of ease, we've stuck to new purchases here. Obviously, if you shop around and buy used, you can make your budget go a bit further.
So without further ado, let's go shopping. Credit cards at the ready folks!
Money to Burn (Budget: $10,000)
Guitar: Fender Custom Shop Make N' Music Master Vintage Player Series 1969 StratocasterPrice: $3,900
When it comes to high-end, Hendrix emulating guitar purchases, you've got a couple of options. Surprisingly, there isn't a Fender Made in America Jimi Hendrix signature model on the market at the moment, but if you trawl eBay, you can find a couple of Hendrix axes from years gone by.
One that stands out is the bizarre 1997 Fender Jimi Hendrix Tribute Stratocaster. When the company produced their first Hendrix inspired model, they decided to make a guitar that emulated Hendrix's unique setup for a right-handed player. So what you get is basically a left-handed Strat flipped upside down. Given the suggestion that some of Hendrix's sound came from the reversed body, especially on the higher strings, we can see the logic. What we don't get is why Fender stuck mirror image versions of all the logos on the headstock. Given the theme of the guitar, that makes no sense, and it looks really ugly. Still, if you're interested, they intermittently turn up on eBay, usually for upwards of $2000.
For our money though, the best big-budget, Jimi-emulating Strat purchase is Fender Custom Shop Make N' Music Master Vintage Player Series 1969 Stratocaster. Given that Hendrix's guitars were pretty much always stock, a spot-on replica of a late-1960s era instrument is, in our opinion, a good bet. Hell, for the authentic Hendrix touch, you could even buy a left/right handed instrument, switch out the nut and string it upside down. That way, you get all the (supposed) tonal advantages, and none of the silly mirrored headstock business of the Tribute.
Amp: Marshall JTM45 and 1960TV Tube Guitar Half-StackPrice: $3,100
Back in 2006, Marshall put out a JTM 45 Super 100 Jimi Hendrix signature amp, modeled on the head and cabs that Hendrix used. It's a beautiful, pretty much spot on replica of the guitarist's backline. It's also bloody expensive. As it was a limited edition, you won't get one new. They intermittently come up on eBay, but you can expect to pay upwards of $5,000 for the head and two cabs.
Buying new, your best bet is a Marshall JTM45 reissue with a 1960TV cab. A faithful reproduction of the original Marshall amp, it sounds suitably Hendrix-y, especially in combination with a good Strat. It also takes up a lot less room than the Super 100 JH, which is useful if you're playing at home.
Gig Rig (Budget: $2000)
Guitar: Fender Jimi Hendrix MIM StratocasterPrice: $899
While Fender don't offer a Made in America JH signature model at the moment, their Mexican model is a pretty sweet deal. This one features a right-handed body fitted with a left handed neck (without the mirrored headstock of the Voodoo), so you get a semblance of the Hendrix setup without having to get to grips with a reversed body. This one plays lovely, and the American Vintage 65 pick-ups are great for emulating Hendrix tones. For sub $1000, it's a bargain
Amp: Marshall DSL40C
The DSL40 gets mentioned a lot in this column, and with good reason. It's the best amp that Marshall have put out in years. Great for gigging, this one gets the classic Marshall tone for much cheaper than you'd expect. Some have commented that the DSL40 sounds a bit modern for classic rock tones, but in our experience, it's plenty versatile, and you can get a great Plexi vibe with a bit of tweaking.
We've gone for the limited edition Marshall DSL40C here. It's the same amp as the DSL40 at the same price, but we felt that the vintage design of this model was more evocative of the JTM45 that Jimi played.
Bedroom Warrior (Budget: < $1000)
Guitar: Vintage V6JMH Iconic Reissue Jimmy H.
Vintage gets a lot of love in this column, and for good reason. The company's ability to manufacture great, signature-emulating guitars and sell them at a lower-than expected price gets them points in our book. As with the AFD Paradise 100 we praised in our Slash article a while back, the V6JMH really hits above its weight in terms of playability, build quality and components. We still can't quite believe the amount of guitar you get for the price.
Amp: Marshall DSLW5C
We've gone with the DSL40's 5 Watt little brother here, basically for the same reasons as the DSL40. You're probably not going to be able to gig with this one, but for bedroom playing, it's the nads. Once again, we've gone for the limited edition classic finish for the authentic vintage vibe.
For both "Money to Burn" and "Gig Rig" price ranges, we'd recommend going with the Jimi Hendrix JH1D Wah ($140), the Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face ($150) and the Dunlop M68 Uni-vibe ($130). They're all fine replicas of the pedals used by the man himself and do a great job of emulating his classic sound.
If you're following our bedroom warrior sub < $1000 budget, you've not got a lot of wiggle room when it comes to pedals. Fortunately, you've got just enough left in the bank to pick-up a VOX V845 Classic Wah Pedal at $70. Guess that fuzz pedal will have to wait.
By Alec Plowman