Jimi Hendrix, known for his innovative guitar playing style and legendary performances, crafted a unique sound that still influences musicians today.
One integral aspect of his iconic tone was his choice of guitar strings. Through careful selection and experimentation, Hendrix found the perfect combination of string gauges that allowed him to create his distinctive sound.
It’s essential to understand the role of string gauges in a guitarist’s setup, as it can greatly impact the tone, playing style, and overall performance. In Jimi Hendrix’s case, his preferred string setup contributed to his unparalleled expressiveness and musicality.
By delving into the specifics of Hendrix’s string choices, fans and aspiring guitarists alike can learn and appreciate how his gear choices played a significant role in creating his timeless sound.
Key Takeaways on What Strings Did Jimi Hendrix Use?
- Jimi Hendrix used specific string gauges to craft his unique guitar tone.
- Hendrix’s choice of strings impacted his playing style and expressiveness.
- Gear, including guitars and strings, played a crucial role in shaping Jimi Hendrix’s iconic sound.
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Jimi Hendrix’s Preferred String Gauges
Jimi Hendrix, a legendary guitarist, was particular about his guitar strings and their gauges. His preferred set of strings were the Fender Rock ‘n’ Roll 150 strings, which came with gauges of .010, .013, .015, .026, .032, and .038. These string gauges played a significant role in shaping his signature sound.
Occasionally, Hendrix would switch one or two strings in the set, further customizing his guitar setup. According to his guitar tech, Roger Mayer, Hendrix’s choice of string gauges helped even out the guitar’s response from string to string, significantly contributing to his iconic tone.
Mayer also mentioned that Hendrix wasn’t using a flat-radius fretboard but rather a curvier one.
Although Hendrix predominantly preferred medium-gauge strings, his playing style was physically demanding, often requiring multiple sets of strings in a single session. This led him to experiment with various gauges, which ranged between .010 and .042.
Jimi Hendrix’s iconic sound was heavily influenced by his chosen string gauges and the customization of his guitar setup.
It was the combination of the Fender Rock ‘n’ Roll 150 strings and slight adjustments that helped him achieve a balanced response across his guitar and ultimately become one of the most influential guitarists of all time.
Impact of String Choice on Hendrix’s Sound and Style
Role of Pure Nickel Strings
Jimi Hendrix was known to use pure nickel strings on his guitar, which significantly impacted his sound. These strings tend to have a warmer and smoother tone compared to other string materials such as nickel-plated steel. Their unique tonal qualities provide a perfect foundation for Hendrix’s distinctive style.
Influence on Playing Style
The choice of strings, particularly the pure nickel ones, allowed Hendrix to execute expressive techniques, such as bends and vibrato, with greater ease.
The natural elasticity of these strings made it easier for him to manipulate notes and create his signature sound. The softness of pure nickel strings also requires less finger pressure, which lets the guitarist play longer without fatigue.
Contribution to Signature Sound
Jimi Hendrix managed to create a signature sound, partly due to his specific string choice and how they influenced his playing style. The pure nickel strings contributed to the sustain and volume control he achieved, making it easier for him to create subtle dynamic changes by adjusting the guitar’s volume knob.
Moreover, these strings played a crucial role in shaping the way Hendrix’s guitar interacted with his effects, particularly distortion, fuzz, and feedback. The warm tone of the pure nickel strings complemented the aggressive sound produced by his choice of amps and pedals.
This perfect blend of string material, playing technique, and equipment formed the foundation of Jimi Hendrix’s iconic sound and style.
Notable Guitars and Their Strings
Jimi Hendrix was well-known for playing right-handed Fender Stratocasters upside down, as he was left-handed. He mainly used Strats with rosewood fretboards from 1966 to 1968, before switching to maple fretboards in October 1968, until his death.
On his Fender Stratocasters, he used Fender Rock ‘N’ Roll Standard 150 light gauge strings, with the specific gauges being:
- .010 for the high E
- .038 for the low E
This light-low, heavy-high gauge setup allowed Hendrix to create his unique playing style and sound.
Gibson Flying V
Aside from the Fender Stratocaster, another iconic guitar that Jimi Hendrix often favored was the Gibson Flying V. The string gauges he used on his Flying V were likely similar to those that he used on his Stratocasters, considering his preference for the light-low, heavy-high setup.
However, the exact string gauges used on his Gibson Flying V are harder to pinpoint in the provided search results.
Effect of Gear on Hendrix’s Tone
Pedals and Effects
Jimi Hendrix heavily influenced the world of guitar by utilizing a wide array of pedals and effects to create his unique and iconic tone. Some of the key effects in his rig included the wah-wah pedal, Octavia, Uni-Vibe, and the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face. He mastered the use of the wah-wah pedal to create those expressive and dynamic sounds that have become synonymous with his playing style.
The Octavia effect, designed by Roger Mayer, added harmonics an octave higher than the original note, giving Hendrix’s playing a distinctive, otherworldly quality. Moreover, he frequently used the Uni-Vibe pedal to mimic rotating speaker sounds, creating a hypnotic and swirling effect.
The Fuzz Face, another essential part of Hendrix’s arsenal, delivered the aggressive and saturated overdrive that’s closely associated with his lead guitar sound.
In addition to his arsenal of pedals, Hendrix’s choice of amplifiers also played a crucial role in shaping his tone. He was known for using Marshall amplifiers, with the famous Marshall Super Lead 100 head and accompanying cabinets as his preferred setup. This combination resulted in a roaring, powerful tone that suited his playing style perfectly.
Experimentation with amplifier settings allowed Hendrix to achieve exceptional levels of distortion, sustain, and feedback control. He often combined different amps and cabinets to further refine his sound, adding layers of complexity to his already innovative tone.
The combination of pedals and effects, such as the wah-wah, Octavia, Uni-Vibe, and Fuzz Face, along with Marshall amplifiers, contributed in creating the legendary Jimi Hendrix tone. His innovative use of gear and continuous experimentation led to a sound that resonates with musicians and guitar enthusiasts even today.
Jimi Hendrix’s String Legacy in the Guitar World
Strings Used by Other Guitarists
Jimi Hendrix is known for using Fender Rock ‘N’ Roll Standard 150 light gauge strings on his Stratocaster, which had a unique string setup with gauges .010, .013, .015, .026, .032, and .038.
This combination of light-low, heavy-high gauges has influenced the string choices of numerous guitarists in the decades that followed.
For example, Stevie Ray Vaughan, a renowned blues guitarist, used heavier strings and tuned down half a step, akin to Hendrix’s approach. Similarly, David Gilmour, the Pink Floyd legend, opted for a custom set of strings that were a hybrid of light and heavy gauges, allowing for smoother bends and a powerful rhythm tone.
In addition to Stratocaster enthusiasts, Les Paul players have also felt Hendrix’s impact. Slash, the Guns N’ Roses guitarist, has been known to use heavier strings on his signature Les Paul, allowing for more aggressive bends and a richer tone, a quality which could be attributed to Hendrix’s string preference.
Impact on Guitar Manufacturing
Jimi Hendrix’s unique string setup not only influenced guitarists but also had an impact on guitar manufacturing throughout the 20th century.
Ernie Ball, a prominent guitar string manufacturer, introduced their Slinky line of strings that offered a similar combination of light and heavy gauges, catering to the needs of guitarists who wanted more flexibility and tonal variety.
Fender, the brand synonymous with Hendrix’s beloved Stratocasters, capitalized on the increasing demand for varying string gauges and offered guitars with different bridge configurations to accommodate these preferences.
By popularizing the unconventional combination of string gauges, Jimi Hendrix changed the guitar world. His experimentation presented an alternative path to countless guitarists and inspired manufacturers to adapt their offering to cater to the needs of players looking for more unique and personalized sounds in their music.
Frequently Asked Questions
What gauge strings were preferred by Jimi Hendrix?
Jimi Hendrix was known to use Fender Rock ‘n’ Roll 150 strings, which had the following gauges: .010, .013, .015, .026, .032, and .038. These gauges allowed for a balanced sound and easy string bends during his performances.
How did Jimi Hendrix set up his guitar strings?
Hendrix was a left-handed guitarist who played a right-handed Fender Stratocaster in reverse, meaning he flipped the guitar and restrung it accordingly. This unique setup contributed to his incredible musicianship and distinct sound.
Did Jimi Hendrix use custom or standard strings?
Jimi Hendrix primarily used standard Fender Rock ‘n’ Roll 150 strings. However, his guitar technician, Roger Mayer, mentioned that Hendrix would occasionally switch one or two strings depending on the situation and desired sound.
What was Jimi Hendrix’s guitar action like?
Hendrix’s guitar action (the height of the strings above the fretboard) was relatively low. This allowed for easier fretting and faster playing, without sacrificing the tonal quality he was known for.
How did string gauges affect Hendrix’s sound?
The choice of string gauges played a crucial role in shaping Jimi Hendrix’s sound. Lighter gauge strings, such as the .010, .013, and .015, provided easier bending capabilities, while the heavier gauge strings, like the .026, .032, and .038, added warmth and a fuller sound to his guitar tone.
What was Jimi Hendrix’s typical guitar tuning?
Jimi Hendrix often used standard tuning for his guitar (EADGBE). However, he was known to experiment with different tunings to achieve a variety of sounds. One notable example is his use of DADGBE tuning, also known as drop D tuning, on songs like “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”.
My name is Howard Matthews and I have been playing the guitar since I was knee-high. My parents like to joke that I was pulling the strings even before I was born. In fact, one of my earliest memories is sitting on the couch with my dad’s guitar, wreaking havoc on the chords.
Now, 40 years later, I can attest that I play them much better than I did back then. I have followed in the footsteps of both my parents – much to their delight – and have been the main guitarist in my band for the best part of three decades.
Music has always been my passion, and until recently my life has been so consumed with it that I haven’t had a moment to have a breath (and I wouldn’t have it any other way)!