Gear of the Gods: Jimi Hendrix - The Buyer's Guide

Credit cards at the ready folks! We're shopping Hendrix in this edition.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
3

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 Stratocaster

Price: $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-Stack

Price: $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 Stratocaster

Price: $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

Price: $699

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.

Price: $430

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

Price: $500

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.

Pedals

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

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    anders.jorgense
    Again Jimi got stock gear when he arrived in UK september 1966. The next step was getting to work and by chance he meat Roger Mayer who understood Jimi's desire for tone and so the evolution of Jimi's tone with the stock gear took of. As gear was primitive most of the time it could benefit. http://forum.metroamp.com/index.php?sid=aed6ed... By 1969 West Coast Organ And Amp Service got the deal of service the gear while Roger would still do stuff as well. Jimi's tone as it was totally tailor made to keep it going so to dublicate it will never be true. Roger Mayer is the best and most authentic way you can get period besides a 1968 Stratocaster flipped over. Also reproductions of Fuzz Faces, Vox wahs and Marshalls are tame compared to what Jimi had developed in just 2,5 years when listening to the sustain of Woodstock and BOG. That is truth and how it went. Deal with it.
    nowayno
    Everyone understands that many professional guitar players are constantly tweaking their tone and gear with or without the help of outsiders. However, since not all of us can afford the services of Roger Mayer, using the Strats, pedals and Marshalls mentioned in the article are a great place to start. If you play that gear and add some of the Hendrix flair to your playing you are golden.
    anders.jorgense
    Or frustrated with the reissue stuff when you hear the real deal on recordings with your favorite artists. I did already have my Jimi experience in a band being him back in 2003 and to get it in the same ball park the fuzz and wah had to be tweaked. My Crest audio fuzz face made me look at the Dunlop and see where it was at. The Vox wah got a Jimi mod from a website. The Dunlop Jimi? Still got it but seldom using it as it did never reach the moded Vox at all. Sadly it got lost and my current one is stock made in China. I already had 69 pickups and they helped to get the tones somewhat there. They are still in the Stratocaster.
    nowayno
    Yeah, I see your point. Still, this is intended to be a practical guide so an excellent starting point. In my experience, turning tube amps up all the way, including EQs and your playing style will outdo almost anything else you are trying tone-wise. 69 pickups... That's impressive buddy! And kind of ironic given than Roger Mayer himself has said he thinks pick-ups do not make much of a difference and are one of the most overrated parts of a guitar!
    anders.jorgense
    Well the signature Fender '69 which I got installed around 1999 has been my ideal choice for what I wanted so they are still in and sounding great. I read that Mayer stuff but I have a different experience. The 69 pickups were the 3Rd upgrade for pickups so I noticed the difference between them all. My Stratocaster had home build pickups when I traded for it. Then I got some Duncans Duckbuckers for mid and neck. The store had a ss1 vintage for bridge so that became the 2 upgrade and I actually have the sound on a tape so I can hear how it was. Then I found out about the 1969 pickups and as 3 of my heroes used Stratocaster from that time I went for it. First the Crest Audio circa 1988 all stock.
    Second up and alternative to a great sound Fuzz Face. The Gollmer FAT dist. Not really known. Got it in the late '90s new. A Google search leads me to a store in Sweden.
    stefan_771
    Hendrix has to be the most overrated guitarist ever IMO
    K33nbl4d3
    Hendrix experimented. This is just my personal opinion, but I think some of those experiments were incredibly boring, and occasionally even outright bad. That said, I think he struck more often than most of us would on stuff that was absolutely brilliant, and when he did he was years ahead of his time. Songs like Little Wing or his covers of Hey Joe and All Along the Watchtower are brilliant. Moreover, I think to say that he was ahead of his time is more apt for Hendrix than for just about anyone else in rock, because for the next 20 years the majority of influential guitarists and songwriters in rock were naming Hendrix at or near the top of their lists of influences. He was a gifted songwriter, guitarist, singer and performer and that does include technique, even if he couldn't shred diminished arpeggios like some of those who followed him.
    anders.jorgense
    Well could be but he showed ROCK what to do and what you could do. In history he was the only one to change that fact! Eric Clapton? No but soon it was Ritchie Blackmore, Black Sabbath, Budgie, Free, Led Zeppelin, and so forth and so on. Nothing sounded like it before or after.
    pressureproject
    Basically, he showed the musical world to be sloppy and sound horrible. That isn't a knock, but the truth. It just shook people out of their comfort zone. He was a terrible guitar player, by any standards. But, ground breaking...I'd have to say yes.
    franciscanv
    Should have included a fuzz
    selkayann
    They did
    K33nbl4d3
    Even if it doesn't fit in the budget, an option for the "Bedroom warrior" rig would have made sense, since silicon Fuzz Faces (or Big Muffs if you want something beefier) can both be had for very, very little.
    Xomar
    I find the fuzz face pedals leave something to be desired. The Fulltone '69 fuzz is $50 more but it's a worthy investment if you ask me - much more satisfying.
    hefezoke
    [deleted]
    hefezoke · Apr 20, 2016 12:52 PM
    anders.jorgense
    Maybe a bit harsh but the truth needs to be mentioned and guitar players aware to what Jimi actually used if the interest ever comes. It saves time, money and effort to know the truth. I want the Metallica Justice for all tone. Now that took at least a decade to figure out.
    jesse1994
    If you aren't too worried (or are) about volume, get a Class 5. They capture the plexi tone pretty fucking good with the right speakers, and it's fairly cheap.
    wylde1994
    If you're after a strat type guitar but for some reason don't want a Fender...I'd recommend a Luxxtone Chopper w/Motor City pick ups. Also If (for some reason you don't want a Marshall or can't find one) go for a Friedman Brown eye. Dial it in correctly and you'll get the perfect Hendrix sound