Wanna sound like Jimi Hendrix on guitar? Here’s all the gear you’ll need (and tips on how to do it on the cheap)…
Jimi Hendrix is a legend. One of the greats. For many, Hendrix is The GOAT. We’re big fans of his playing here at ELECTRIKJAM, especially his role in popularising fuzz which helped bands like Black Sabbath get that doom-soaked sound.
Hendrix had a sound too, a tone that was unmistakable. He achieved this through his playing style, of course, but Jimi had a few go-to gear preferences that helped craft his iconic sound and overall tone.
This guide will show you what you’ll need to sound like Jimi Hendrix, how he did it back in the day, and how you can do the same without breaking the bank.
Overview of Hendrix’s Style
Jimi Hendrix is widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music.
His approach to the guitar involved a combination of blues, rock, R&B, and jazz influences, merged with an unparalleled level of creativity and innovation.
Hendrix’s use of guitar effects, feedback, and recording techniques contributed to his unique sound, which remains a benchmark for guitarists aiming to capture his essence.
Hendrix is most synonymous with the Fender Stratocaster. He predominantly played right-handed models flipped upside down to accommodate his left-handed playing, inadvertently affecting the guitar’s tone.
The reverse stringing and the upside-down placement of the bridge pickup contributed to his unique sound.
The reversed headstock altered the string tension, providing a slinkier feel on the higher strings and tighter tension on the lower strings, aiding Hendrix’s signature bends and vibratos.
Reversed Bridge Pickup
Flipping the Stratocaster also reversed the bridge pickup’s angle, enhancing the treble response on the lower strings and softening the higher strings’ tone, contributing to Hendrix’s distinctive sound.
Modern Fender Jimi Hendrix Signature Stratocasters replicate these unique characteristics, including the reversed headstock and bridge pickup, allowing players to get closer to Hendrix’s tone.
But you shouldn’t really be a stickler for these kind of details. It’s overkill. You also don’t need to break the bank with a high-end Fender Strat model, either – if cash is tight.
You can get much the same tonal qualities loved by Hendrix with one of Fender’s Squier Strat models. The Squier Bullet Strat is bloody brilliant, extremely affordable, and sounds great out the box.
Hendrix’s amplifier of choice was the Marshall Super Lead, a 100-watt valve amp head.
He often used multiple units in tandem for his live performances, contributing to his loud, overdriven sound.
The Marshall amplifiers’ ability to produce a creamy, saturated distortion at high volumes was crucial to achieving Hendrix’s signature tone.
Now, these aren’t cheap and you’ll struggle to find one in your local guitar store but you can create a very similar sound using software with programs like STL AmpHub.
If you’re on a budget, using an Amp Sim like STL AmpHub or Positive Grid’s BIAS FX 2 is going to be the quickest way to unlocking a Hendrix-like guitar tone without spending thousands of tube amps and cabinets.
Hendrix was one of the first guitarists to extensively use effects pedals to shape his sound. Some of the most iconic effects associated with Hendrix include:
The Vox V847A Wah pedal is closely associated with Hendrix’s sound, particularly in songs like “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” Its expressive, vocal-like quality is integral to replicating Hendrix’s tone.
The Fuzz Face, originally by Dallas-Arbiter, is synonymous with Hendrix’s driven, aggressive lead tones. Modern equivalents like the Dunlop Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini recreate this sound in a pedalboard-friendly format.
The Univibe pedal, known for its lush, swirling chorus and vibrato effects, was used by Hendrix to add a psychedelic flavor to his sound, as heard in “Machine Gun.”
An octave fuzz effect, the Octavia was another key component of Hendrix’s sound, adding a distinctive doubled tone, particularly effective for solos.
Beyond gear, capturing Hendrix’s sound also involves mastering his playing techniques, including:
- String Bending and Vibrato: Hendrix’s expressive use of bends and vibrato added emotional depth to his playing.
- Thumb-over Technique: Hendrix often used his thumb to fret the lower E string, allowing for fuller chord voicings and easier access to melody lines.
- Use of Feedback and Controlled Noise: Hendrix was a master at using amp feedback and guitar noise as musical elements, contributing to his dynamic soundscapes.
TL;DR: How To Sound Like Jimi Hendrix – The Essentials 🎸✨
- Guitar: Fender Stratocaster, flipped for left-hand play 🔄 For budget-conscious, go with Squier Bullet Stratocaster
- Signature Touch: Reversed headstock & bridge pickup for unique tone 🔄🔊
- Amplifiers: Marshall Super Lead for iconic overdriven sound 🔊💥
- Accessible Amps: Marshall DSL Series for versatile tones 🎛️
- Effects Pedals:
- Wah Pedal (Vox V847A) for expressive sounds 🎤
- Fuzz Face (Dunlop Mini) for aggressive leads 🐻
- Univibe for psychedelic swirls 🌀
- Octavia for octave fuzz solos 🚀
- Techniques: String bending, thumb-over fretting, feedback control 🤚🎶
- Key: Combine gear with Hendrix’s playing style and tuning for authentic sound 🔑🎵