Jimi Hendrix is one of the best known names in the guitar world. You don’t need to look far to find traces of his influence. Chances are, if you’ve picked up the guitar in the last 50 years, you’re probably inspired by Hendrix in some capacity.
For a guitar player that stretched so wide with his musical abilities he used a remarkably simple rig. One of the most talked about moments was the Woodstock performance in 1969. This show was highly talked about for many reasons. It was the closing night of the Woodstock festival and Hendrix did not actually take to the stage with his band until 9am Monday morning. They were supposed to close the Sunday night at midnight but things overran and the band took to the stage in the early morning light to a crowd of over 200,000.
In this article we will explore that rig and see just what gear he was using at this particular show.
- Vox V846 Wah
- Dallas Arbiter Fuzzface
- Univox UniVibe
Vox V846 Wah
When you think of Hendrix, you often think of the wah. Many of his finest guitar moments we coloured with his trusty Vox wah. Hendrix was always seen with a wah on the floor in front of him, but on this particular occasion it was the Vox V846 pedal that he used. While original units from the era fetch a premium online, Vox offer a modern equivalent, the V846-HW which will get you in that Woodstock tonal ballpark.
Dallas Arbiter Fuzzface
Hendrix was a known Fuzzface user. He almost always had one in this rig but the Fuzzface that made an appearance at Woodstock has raised many questions on guitar forums across the world. The model he used at Woodstock was red with white knobs. The actual circuit of this was a modified Roger Mayer fuzz circuit. Mayer used to modify all of Hendrix’s pedals from 1967 onwards. This fuzz has been recreated by Dunlop and is available in a smaller housing. The original was in the full sized “landmine” style casing and was only run on battery power.
The UniVibe was designed to fulfil the needs of the guitar player who wanted a Leslie style tone without carrying a full sized Leslie Speaker around on tour. He used the UniVibe at Woodstock for one of his most talked about guitar moments, his early morning rendition of Star Spangled Banner.
Jimi Hendrix was often seen with a Fender Stratocaster in his hands. At various other occasions through his career other guitars, such as the Gibson Flying V, made appearances. For the Woodstock show, there was one single, iconic Hendrix guitar that he used. His 1968 Fender Stratocaster in Olympic White.
1968 Fender Stratocaster
Any iconic images of Hendrix all show him holding a Stratocaster. Woodstock is no exception. He used his 1968 Olympic White Fender Stratocaster for the whole performance. The guitar was a right handed Fender that Jimi played upside down, restrung for left handed use. He used light gauge Fender “Rock n Roll” strings (Thought to be an 8 gauge on top), tuned down a half step to Eb.
Hendrix’s unique tone is often partly attributed to his use of a right handed guitar played upside down. The bridge pickup on a Stratocaster is angled so that the low strings have less treble and the high strings have more. By flipping the guitar upside down and stringing it backwards, the effect of this is reversed, giving the low strings more attack and the high strings a warmer tone.
Amplifiers and Cabinets
- Marshall Superlead Plexi Heads with Matching 4×12 Cabinets
Marshall Superlead Plexi Heads with 4×12 Cabinets
For the Woodstock performance Hendrix used a pair of Marshall Superlead heads, both driving a pair of 4×12 Marshall speaker cabinets. Hendrix preferred the sound of Celestion Greenback speakers in his cabinets.
Hendrix would have kept his EQ’s fairly flat with the mid and treble on 5 but he did prefer to boost the bass usually to around 7 or 8 to warm up the lows slightly. Hendrix got his clean tone by rolling back the volume on his guitar. When the guitar volume is on 10, the amps natural overdrive would be heard.