May 7, 2013 in Historic Fenders

Historic Fenders: Jimi Hendrix’s ’68 Stratocaster

hendrixstratSitting at the very top of the list of most famous guitars of all time is the the 1968 Fender Stratocaster of the legendary Jimi Hendrix. This was one of Hendrix’s favorite guitars. It became an American icon after he used it for his legendary performance at Woodstock in 1969. It is one of those American rock icons that makes little kids want to be rock stars.

Hendrix purchased the guitar from Manny’s Music in New York City in 1968. Its body was made of alder wood and its two piece neck was made of maple. The paint job was called “Olympic White.” Since he was a left-handed player, Hendrix famously had to flip the guitar over, reverse the nut, and string it backwards in order to play it.

It was an iconic moment in American music history when Hendrix took the stage on the third and final day of The Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in August of 1969. His setlist for that show featured a number of his most popular songs including “Foxy Lady,” “Voodoo Child,” and “Purple Haze,” but the most talked about song was his rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” It is also interesting to note that Woodstock was one of the few performances where Hendrix came back for an encore, which in this case was “Hey Joe.” This entire performance was caught on film and then shown in movie theaters across the country.

Hendrix gave his ’68 Stratocaster to his drummer, Mitch Mitchell, shortly after his final performance, which was at the Isle of Fehmarn in September of 1970. Mitchell says that he told Hendrix “I’ll have that guitar before you break it up.” and Hendrix replied “You got it.” Mitchell believes that the guitar was a gift to congratulate him on the birth of his daughter.

Mitchell held onto the guitar for a full 30 years before finally auctioning it off in 1990. He sold the guitar at a Sotheby’s auction to Gabriele Ansaloni. Two years after it was auctioned, the famous white Fender was sold to Paul Allen, who was CEO of Microsoft. It is rumored that the price was over $2 million.

The guitar currently resides at the Experience Music Project Museum in Seattle, Washington. In 2010, the museum loaned the guitar to Kenny Wayne Shepherd to play on The Jimmy Fallon Show and then for a live show that was part of the Experience Hendrix Tour, which Shepherd is a big part of.

Fender currently sells an American Vintage Hot Rod ’62 Stratocaster that attempts to replicate the original ’62 Stratocaster and includes a few Custom Shop upgrades. These guitars can be purchased new from Musician’s Friend for around $1700. This is a great alternative if you can’t afford the incredibly steep prices of the vintage Stratocasters. They also sell a Road Worn ’60s Stratocaster for under $1000 if you aren’t particularly partial to the exact year.

Below is a video from Hendrix’s legendary performance at The Woodstock Music and Arts Festival in August of 1969.

Buy a Fender Custom Shop 1968 Heavy Relic Stratocaster just like Jimi’s

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