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by Jim Button October 18, 2021 4 min read

If there's just one moment in rock history that will be remembered forever, it's got to be Jimi Hendrix's earth-shattering appearance at the Woodstock festival on 18th August 1969, where his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner featured divebombs, screeches, wails and dissonance evoking the horrors of the ongoing Vietnam War.

Hours of delays over the weekend meant that his headline set didn't begin until the Monday morning, when many of the 400,000-strong crowd had already gone back home. But those who hung around for a glimpse of the world's biggest rockstar at the time were treated to a sublime set from a new band which represented a transition from The Experience to the later Band of Gypsies.

The Gypsy Sun and Rainbows

Jimi had put together an expanded band especially for the Woodstock festival. It included Mitch Mitchell on drums, Billy Cox on bass, Larry Lee on rhythm guitar, and Juma Sultan and Jerry Velez on percussion. He introduced them to the weary audience as "Gypsy Sun and Rainbows".

The Gypsy Sun and Rainbows had reportedly struggled to come together as a cohesive unit during brief rehearsals, making Jimi's Woodstock appearance even more impressive. That they seemed so at ease on stage together when it counted is surely a measure of their prowess. Jimi even broke his high E string during Red House, but continued to play the rest of the song unfazed with his remaining 5 strings.

Despite this extraordinary musical display, Jimi Hendrix's guitar gear at Woodstock was pretty straightforward and reflected his typical touring gear of the time. As such, it's a pretty simple job to get ballpark Jimi tone - although recreating the magic in his fingers is another thing altogether!

Jimi Hendrix's Guitar Gear at Woodstock

  • 1968 Olympic White Fender Stratocaster
  • Marshall 100W 1959 JTM100 "Super Lead" amps
  • 4x12 Marshall stacks loaded with Celestion Greenback speakers
  • Vox Wah
  • Modified Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face
  • Shin-Ei Uni-Vibe
  • Shin-Ei Uni-Vibe expression pedal

What Amps Did Jimi Hendrix Use At Woodstock?

Jimi used Marshall 100W 1959 JTM100 "Super Lead" amps at Woodstock, each perched atop a 4x12 stack loaded with Celestion Greenbacks. These amps were the 100-watt version of the JTM45.

What Guitar Did Jimi Hendrix Use At Woodstock?

Jimi used a 1968 Olympic White Fender Stratocaster at Woodstock. It has a maple neck and - like his other Strats - he played the right-handed guitar upside down and strung it "left-handed" using a custom set of string gauges: .010, .013, .015, .026, .032 and .038. 

Hendrix famously tuned his guitars a semi-tone down, to E♭, which not only gave a heavier sound and helped with big string bends, but also offset potential issues with having longer bass string lengths and shorter treble string lengths as a result of stringing "upside down".

The Stratocaster Jimi used at Woodstock is now on display at the Museum of Pop Culture (formerly the Experience Music Project Museum) in Jimi's hometown of Seattle.

Jimi Hendrix's Pedals Woodstock 567x1024 | Boost Guitar Pedals

Jimi Hendrix's pedals at Woodstock were simple yet effective. Credit: Allan Koss

What Guitar Pedals Did Jimi Hendrix Use At Woodstock?

Jimi's Woodstock pedalboard was pretty simple: a Vox Wah, modified Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, and Shin-Ei Uni-Vibe with its expression pedal.

Vox Wah

Jimi's Woodstock wah pedal is a subject of heated debate: some argue it was an early Vox Clyde McCoy wah modified by Roger Mayer, while others say that it was a Vox V846 Sepulveda wah modified by Dave Weyer.

Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face

Hendrix used a red Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face at Woodstock. His pedal technician, Roger Mayer, had begun modding Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Faces for him in 1967 and was infamously dismissive of the unreliable nature of the early germanium-based units.

Although there is no consensus on what was inside the red Fuzz Face pedal Hendrix used at Woodstock and elsewhere, the chances are it was a modified silicon Fuzz Face circuit - although some sources indicate it could have been a modified Octavio circuit instead. 

Shin-Ei Uni-Vibe

Woodstock was the first public outing for the Shin-Ei Uni-Vibe as part of Jimi's guitar rig, and it sounded immense and otherworldly when combined with his wah and fuzz pedals. It was subject to a light "tune-up" by Roger Mayer but was not modified like his other pedals.

Get the Hendrix Woodstock Sound

The Marshall

Pretty much any Marshall or Marshall-style valve amp will get you close to Jimi's Woodstock sound, although of course a JTM45 or even JTM100 would be the best choice for accuracy.

The Formula B Super Plexi is a pedal that does a great job of mimicking the sounds of a raging Marshall JTM45. It even features a boost channel that you can drive into the "Plexi" channel, or vice-versa.

The Wah

Any vintage-style wah should do the job; bonus points for picking up an actual vintage Vox wah.

The Fuzz

The Fredric Effects DuoFace is a solid and cleverly packaged interpretation of the classic Fuzz Face. It incorporates both germanium and silicon circuits so that you can easily switch between the two types of transistor. The DuoFace is a great pedal for playing around with the two different circuit types to really nail down Jimi's Woodstock tone.

The "Vibe"

The Formula B Vintage Vibe MkII is one of our most popular pedals, and it's easy to see why: it's a rock-solid Univibe-style pedal in a much more pedalboard-friendly package. Handmade in Italy, the components are top-notch and it sounds fantastic. It even features an input for an expression pedal.

Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock Setlist

  • Introduction
  • Message to Love
  • Hear My Train a-Comin'
  • Spanish Castle Magic
  • Red House
  • Mastermind
  • Lover Man
  • Foxey Lady
  • Jam Back at the House
  • Izabella
  • Gypsy Woman
  • Fire
  • Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
  • Stepping Stone
  • The Star Spangled Banner
  • Purple Haze
  • Woodstock Improvisation
  • Villanova Junction
  • Hey Joe

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