How to Sound Like Jimi Hendrix (on Budget Guitar Gear)

This article focuses on gear, not technique. You can devote many years to trying to learn Jimi’s style and play like him, but this is more about getting a guitar rig that will get you close to recreating the Jimi Hendrix tone at various times in his career.

In short, this is about capturing a tone similar to Jimi Hendrix. It’s not about playing like him.

Also, note that this is a basic list of gear that will get you close to 80% of Jimi’s tone. He was well known for trying many different techniques and gear throughout his brief career. This list covers the gear you will need to get something close to 80% of his tone. It covers the core of his sound but not every flourish, so to speak. Basically, this is not an exhaustive list for gear collectors and Hendrix aficionados. This is a list of inexpensive gear to use if you want to capture tones close to what Hendrix is most known for.

Now that the preliminary disclaimers have been dispatched, on with the list…

First up on the list is Jimi’s choice of guitar. While Hendrix is known to have played a Gibson Flying V on occasion, he is most known for playing a Fender Stratocaster.

“1969 Fender Stratocaster, original pick-ups, maple neck, strung upside down for a left-handed … genius, Jimi Hendrix.”

Ford Fairlane

If you want your tone to sound like Jimi, it’s essential to use a strat. As mentioned above, Jimi did play other guitars at times, but he’s so well known for playing a Stratocaster that it’s downright iconic. And the fact that Jimi played a right-handed strat that he strung upside down is so legendary it’s become a cliche (as evidenced by the quote above)

DENMARK - SEPTEMBER 03: Photo of Jimi Hendrix 10; Jimi Hendrix KB-Hallen Copenhagen September 3 1970 (Photo by Jan Persson/Redferns)

DENMARK – SEPTEMBER 03: Photo of Jimi Hendrix 10; Jimi Hendrix KB-Hallen Copenhagen September 3 1970 (Photo by Jan Persson/Redferns)

If you’ve got the money, then by all means go for an American made Fender Stratocaster, but the Mexican made is half the price and sounds just as sweet.

61awxcmla2l-_sl1500_Next up on the list is Jimi’s choice of amplifiers. He’s most known for two: The Marshall stack, and the Fender Bassman. Either one of these will set you back thousands of dollars if you go for the authentic. Lucky for you, modern technology makes it possible to achieve fairly accurate Hendrix like tone at a fraction of the price (and volume).

Marshall DSL15C

Marshall DSL15C

The best choice here is all tube, and for the budget conscious buyer that means the Marshall DSL15C DSL Series 15-Watt Guitar Combo Amp. It’s 15 watts of Marshall crunch and searing lead tone at just under $600.

Fender Bassman

Fender Bassman

That covers Jimi’s high-decibel, hard rock sound from such classics as Purple Haze, Foxy Lady and most of his early and mid-sixty’s sound. For his softer, more blues based side (think Electric Ladyland, especially “Voodoo Chile”) you’ll want the Fender Bassman tone, but that’ll set you back a bit more.

The Fender Mustang II

The Fender Mustang II

So, if you’re like me you’ll want something not too expensive and versatile. One of the most inexpensive and versatile amps on the market today is the Fender Mustang series. I recommend the Fender Mustang II V2 40-Watt 1×12-Inch Combo Electric Guitar Amplifier as the budget friendly option with enough bang for playing solo or small gigs. The Fender Mustang amp is a modeling amp, so it uses onboard software to model various other amplifier models and cabinets and does so convincingly. Just dial up a Marshal Plexi or Fender Bassman and voila!

The next piece of the Hendrix tone puzzle is the effects chain.

Jimi’s favored effects pedal were Fuzz and Wah, and later some Chorus/Vibe.

Hendrix Fuzzface

Hendrix Fuzzface

If you’re shooting for the authentic Hendrix Fuzz tone, you’ll want to check out the Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Distortion. If you want a good approximation for a few bucks less, check out the Dunlop FFM1 Silicon Fuzz Face Mini Distortion.

Dunlop Fuzzface Mini

Dunlop Fuzzface Mini

Jimi’s favored Wah pedal was the Vox Wah V847A, which is still available today.

VOX V845 Classic Wah Wah

VOX V845 Classic Wah Wah

Another favored sound of Hendrix in his later career was the Octave Fuzz (think “One Rainy Wish” from Axis: Bold as Love). A good choice today is the Electro-Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz Pedal.

Electro Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz

Electro Harmonix Octavix Octave Fuzz

Lastly, if you’re searching for the Hendrix “Star Spangled Banner” from Woodstock or “Machine Gun” from Band of Gypsys you’ll want to

Dunlop M68 Uni Vibe

Dunlop M68 Uni Vibe

use a Univibe pedal. The best bang for your buck here is the Dunlop M68 Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato.

 

 

 

Pro Tips.

Here are a few bonus pro tips for nailing the Hendrix tone.

Strings.

Jimi preferred light strings, and according to Eddie Kramer, sometimes even banjo strings. This will definitely help you with bending notes. The great thing about strings is that they are probably the cheapest change you can make. Two great choices are Electro-Harmonix NIC9 Nickel Wound Ultra Light Electric Guitar Strings and D’Addario EXL120 Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Super Light, 9-42.

Cables.

Jimi preferred coiled guitar cables. Why is this worth mentioning? Because coiled cables in Jimi’s day had a bigger effect on tone than cables today. Coiled cables in the 60’s remove a lot of the higher frequencies which reduces the brightness you hear. This is especially important with single coil pickups, as are found in Stratocasters – Jimi’s cable choice likely mellowed the tone of his strat in ways modern cables do not.

Playing tips.

I said this post wasn’t about how to play like Hendrix, but here are some super-simple tips that are easy to implement and best of all – free!

Tune half-step down.

Hendrix tuned his guitar a half a step down (Eb Ab Db Gb Bb Eb). If you don’t follow suit, you won’t sound quite right for the Hendrix tone.

Pickups.

Use the middle or neck pickups as Jimi rarely used the bridge pick up.

Also, he favored rolling back the volume knob on the guitar for to get a “clean” tone, as opposed to a foot switch or channel swap…

This is all done with modern, inexpensive off the shelf gear so what you’ll get is a close approximation… not magic bullet solution…

e n j o y!

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The Best College Dorm Room Amps – Under $120

Whether you’re looking for a quiet practice amp to bring to your college dorm, or just something that won’t wake the kids at night you’ve come to the right place. This list has everything from silent pocket amps to small, portable practice amps and everything in between – and all for under $120! (most things are well under $100).

Silent amps

I know what you’re thinking: Silent amps? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of an amp?

Well, the amps on this part of the list are silent to everyone but you!

VOX amPlug headphone only amps

The VOX amPlug headphone amps have been around since 2007, but they’ve recently gotten an overhaul. The new G2 versions feature an improved analog circuit, 9 effects (3 chorus, 3 delay and 3 reverb) and a fold-able plug to make it stow more easily in the pocket.

AC30

vox_amplug_ac30The VOX AC30 amPlug models the vintage AC30 top boost sound used by so many British bands in the 70’s.

Click to check the current price

Classic rock

vox_amplug_classicrockThe VOX Classic Rock amPlug models the classic UK 100 w amp sound. (think Marshall stack)

Click to check the current price

 

Metal

vox_amplug_metalLastly, the VOX Metal amPlug models the high gain US amp sound. (Think Fender Supersonic, Mesa Boogie and Peavey).

Great for lead tone, not so great for clean. 😉

Click to check the current price

CONCLUSION

PROS:

  • 2AAA batteries (Can use rechargeable).
  • Small enough to fit in your pocket.
  • 3.5mm input AUX jack so you can pipe music into the amPlug to play along to.
  • Surprisingly true tonal rendering for the style (i.e. AC30 sounds like a vintage AC30…).
  • Built in effects (chorus, delay and reverb).
  • Less than $40.
  • It’s an amp that can fit comfortably in your gig bag, making storage a non-issue.
  • Dead simple to use.

CONS:

  • No external output beyond headphone jack (difficult to record or play back for others).
  • Limited styles. (Compared to the digital modelers on this list which have 100’s of tonal possibilities).
  • No rhythm tracks.
  • Limited effects.

iRig

irigiRig is the ultimate in portable amp modeling and recording. About the size of an iPhone, the iRig sits between your guitar and your iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Mac and select Android devices as well. Using IK Media’s AmpliTube multi-effects processor, you get:

• An integrated music player
• A dedicated recorder
• A tuner
• Large collection of digital models of amplifiers and stompboxes – vintage and new.

PROS:

  • Tons of realistic amp and effects modeling.
  • Easy to record what you play.
  • Send your output (raw or modeled) to an external amplifier.
  • Completely silent when using headphones, so you won’t wake your dorm mates (or the kids!).

CONS:

Requires a smart phone or tablet, so this is an awesome add-on but not the complete package.

Click to check the current price

Digitech Element XP

digitech_element_xpThe Digitech Element XP is a stompbox on steroids. Not as portable as the VOX amPlugs or iRig, but smaller than most practice amps (except those on this list below).

The Element XP at a glance:

• 58 effects (12 amps, 9 cabinets, 37 stomp boxes)
• 100 factory presets
• room for 100 user presets (edits to the factory presets)
• 20 tone/fx bank combinations
• Built-in chromatic tuner
• Built-in expression pedal – for Wah effect, volume swell, overdrive boost, etc..
• Power supply included
• 45 High quality drum patterns
• 1/4″ a guitar input along
• Stereo 1/4″ output jack
• Aux In to jam along with your favorite songs

PROS:

  • You get a ton of features and modeling capability in a relatively small and inexpensive package.
  • Recording is easy since the stereo line out can be run into another amplifier or mixer for direct recording.

CONS:

  • Not quite as portable as the iRig and amPlug.
  • Can be easy to get lost in effects and amp tweaking for the novice.

Click to check the current price

VOX stomplab IIG

vox_stomplab_iigThe Vox StompLab IIG (A.K.A. Vox StompLab 2G) is much like the Digitech Element XP, except perhaps a bit easier to use and built with metal housing.

Features include:

• 100 presets categorized into styles such as rock, blues, metal, and pop.
• Easy to use and intuitive interface.
• 103 types of modeling effects.
• Edit and save 20 of your own user models.
• Battery (4 AA) or AC adapter powered.
• Tuner.
• Headphone out line.

PROS:

  • Easy to use, despite the large array of models and effects.
  • Solid, yet compact build.

CONS:

  • Not as complex or versatile as the Digitech Element XP
    Not as simple to record as the iRig
  • No looper or rhythm samples

Click to check the current price

Zoom G1Xon

zoom_g1xonThe Zoom G1Xon Guitar Effects With Expression Pedal.

• 75 effects, including distortion, compression, modulation, delay, reverb, and 14 realistic amp models
• Built-in expression pedal for overdrive, volume control, wah-wah, or filtering
• Onboard chromatic tuner and Looper
• 68 rhythm patterns
• Separate input jacks for connection of guitar and personal music player, plus an output jack that can be used with amplifier or headphones
• Runs on 4 AA batteries or optional AC adapter, with alkaline battery life of 20 hours

PROS:

  • Has rhythm generator and looper, making it fun and easy to creating your own backing tracks to jam over.

CONS:

  • Not as solid looking as the Vox Stompbox IIG.
  • Looper only has a 30 second buffer.

Click to check the current price

QUIET COMBO AMPS

You may be surprised to learn that many major amp manufacturers today have a battery powered, mini version of their amps available. Most run on a single 9-volt battery, others on the standard AA size.

Marshall MS-4 Micro Stack Amp

Marshall-MS-4-Micro-Stack-AmpThe Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is what it sounds like – a miniaturized Marshall Stack.
At a glance:

  • 1w battery powered guitar amplifier
  • 2 independent speaker cabs – each with a single 3? speaker
  • Amp head with Gain, Volume and Tone controls.
  • Powered by a single 9v battery or optional AC power adapter
  • Headphone jack

The Marshall MS-4 Micro stack is small and stands only 9 3/4? tall, and is switchable between Clean and Overdrive modes.

Click to check the current price

Fender Mini Tone-Master

Fender-Mini-Tone-MasterThis is a miniaturized version of the classic Tone-Master and Fender does a great job of keeping true to the authentic Fender details here – cab corners, retro grille cloth, and vintage white control knobs.

At a glance:

  • 1w battery powered amplifier that features two 2? speakers.
  • Gain, Volume, Tone and Power controls.
  • Powered by single 9V battery (included), or AC adapter

Click to check the current price

Fender-Mini-57-Twin

This is quite simply a battery powered, highly portable version of the original Fender ’57 Twin Amp.

Fender-Mini-57-Twin

At a glance:

  • Completely captures the vintage 50’s look with its miniature chicken head knobs, down to its tweed covering and brown grille.
  • Made of real wood and not plastic.
  • 1w battery powered guitar amplifier with twin 2? speakers.
  • Built-in distortion, Power, volume, and tone controls.
  • Runs on a single 9V battery or power adapter.

Click to check the current price

The VOX MINI3 G2.

The Mini3 might just be the ultimate battery powered modeling amp – It’s powerful enough for street performances or picnics with the family or wherever, and check out the features:

VOX_MINI3_G2_ivory

  • Based on the VOX Valvetronix family of amps and includes a new Bassilator circuit that provides richer low-end frequencies.
  • 8 editable effects.
  • 11 amp models.
  • A direct line connection for ultimate clean tone, or portable PA!
  • powered by 6-AA batteries or AC adapter.

Click to check the current price

Vox-AC1-RhythmVOX

The AC1 RhythmVOX is a great battery powered practice amp AND also a rhythm box too!

At a glance:

  • 66 Rhythm/Song Patterns for rhythm practice and experimentation.
  • A host of song style beats.
  • Configurable beat patterns, tempo and volume.
  • Gain, tone, and volume controls.
  • Headphone jack.
  • Aux In jack – to jam along with your CD or MP3 player.
  • A pair of 3? speakers.

Click to check the current price

Orange Micro Crush

The Orange Micro Crush CR3 is all Orange, from the woven grill to rubber footstools and trademark Orange finish. it’s also wood, and not plastic.

Orange-Micro-Crush-CR3

At a glance:

  • 3w battery powered amp.
  • Single 4? speaker.
  • Clean and Overdrive channels.
  • Tone control.
  • Chromatic tuner.
  • Headphone jack
  • Runs on a single 9v battery or AC adapter.

Click to check the current price

CONCLUSION

PROS:

  • Each has a headphone jack, so you can practice without waking the neighbors but also has a speaker (or 2) so you can play without headphones.
  • The run on batteries, so you don’t need to worry about an outlet or power strip and can take it anywhere.
  • Very portable

CONS:

  • Not as fully featured as some of the modeling boxes on the list (eg: iRig, Digitech, Stomplab and Zoom)

THE LEGENDARY PIGNOSE 7-100

The Pignose 7-100 is a unique looking and playing amplifier. It’s genius is its simplicity. It has a single knob that looks like a pig’s nose and is located on the front. That one knob controls the power, volume and distortion. It works with your guitar’s volume knob too, so the tonal possibilities are surprisingly diverse.

pignose-7-100

At a glance:

  • 5w amp with 5″ speaker.
  • Runs on 6 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter.
  • About the size of a shoe box and weighs around 5lbs.
  • Hinged design and can be played either fully closed, wide open or at any point in between.
  • It also has an open space inside that can be used to store the AC adapter or guitar cable when not in use.
  • A preamp out jack which makes it possible to play the Pignose through a larger and more powerful amplifier (or PA) or straight into a mixing board.

The Pignose 7-100 has a distinctive look and sound that is like no other. It’s stylish and funky, and is definitely a conversation starter.

Read the full review here

Click to check the current price

 

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