As most people know, Hendrix was taken from us at the age of 27 in 1970. Imagine what he could have done had he had more time to play and explore his music through guitar.
This article isn’t about Jimi’s life though. It’s about what kind of guitar he played and what sort of gear and pedals he played through. If you want to be as good at guitar as Jimi Hendrix you’ll need to practice loads. But having some of the same gear will also help.
What Kind Of Guitar Did Jimi Hendrix Play?
Jimi was most famous for (usually) playing a Fender Stratocaster. He was most comfortable playing left handed and would (usually) just flip a right handed guitar upside down and re-string it to suit left handed playing. And that’s the iconic Jimi Hendrix look: playing left handed on an upside guitar.
I put “usually” in the last paragraph because I’ve read stories of the years of Hendrix impressing people by being able to play right handed as well. I’ve heard that while he was best playing left handed with the strings in the right order, he could also just flip a guitar over and play left handed with the strings upside down. Same goes for right handed. Perhaps that’s a bit of Hendrix mythology, but perhaps he was just that good.
One thing to note about playing a Stratocaster upside down and re-strung is that the bridge pickup on a standard Strat is slanted so the portion for the pickup for the bass is further from the bridge than the portion of the bridge for the treble. Strung the “right way,” this gives a brighter sound to the treble while mellowing out the bass. Of course this was opposite on Henrix’s upside down Stratocaster.
Although Hendrix was well known for playing a Fender Stratocaster, he’s not famous for a specific one in particular. Perhaps the white Stratocaster that he played at Woodstock is his most famous one, but he wasn’t as particular about things like a player like Stevie Ray Vaughan was.
In addition to the Strat, Jimi was also noted to have played a Gibson Flying V, a Les Paul, and an SG. He also played other models by Fender like the Jazzmaster and Jaguar.
The guy would play anything.
What Kind Of Amp Did Jimi Hendrix Play?
Jimi Hendrix was best known for playing Marshall amplifiers, specifically the Marshall Super Lead, which he had three of. Before finding Marshall when he moved to the UK, Hendrix was mostly using a Fender Twin Reverb amp, but this when he was playing in a backup band and was a lot less well known.
Jimi liked things loud and would usually crank everything up: volume, gain, tone, you name it.
Beyond all the effects pedals that Hendrix used, he got a lot of his tone and sound out of his Marshall Amps pushed to the max. So that’s a good start if you want to sound like Jimi. It’s also a good way to piss off the neighbours.
What Effects Pedals Did Jimi Hendrix Use?
He used quite a few, but, beyond his generally heavy and overdriven tone, Hendrix is quite famous for his use of a wah-wah pedal, which featured prominently in Voodoo Child (Slight Return).
For distortion, Hendrix preferred a Fuzz Face, which is also used by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Pete Townshend, and Duane Allman. So it’s a pretty popular pedal!
Another prominent pedal that Hendrix used was the Octavia, which is designed to an octave to the guitar signal and generally fatten the sound. This pedal was actually designed specifically for Hendrix. So, at the time, this was unique to Jimi’s playing.
And finally, Hendrix also used a Uni-Vibe, which is used to create chorus and vibrato effects.
And that’s it! Only four pedals, which doesn’t seem like much considering all the sounds he got out of the guitar. It’s surprising that he didn’t even use an overdrive pedal regularly, but, considering how he pushed his Marshall amps, he was likely getting his overdrive naturally through his amp.
And That’s Jimi Hendrix’s Gear
On reflection, Jimi’s gear seems relatively basic by today’s standards, but it goes to show how much talent he had. He pushed the guitar as far as it could go and then went even furth, creating sounds that are often very standard today.
As I mentioned, if you want to sound like Jimi, go ahead and practice a lot. But get some of the gear too. It will help you with tone and maybe even give you some confidence.