I will start off by admitting that I am not a Jimi Hendrix disciple and have therefore not spent countless hours searching for the Holy Grail of trying to duplicate his tone. I am, however, a fan of his music and of commemorative and signature model guitars in general. As such, the Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster checks the all the boxes for me. It gives the nod to the artist without being a direct, scar for scar replica of any of his guitars. That being said, I won’t deny having hooked the guitar up to a wah pedal and playing the obligatory “Voodoo Chile” riff.
The reverse headstock is aesthetically pleasing, also changing the string length by having the low E-string wound to the furthest machine head. The reversal of string length is also reported to have an effect on the feel of the perceived tension of the strings while playing, by making the bass strings more taught and the trebles a bit looser. This is not immediately apparent to me because the guitar ships with 0.10 gauge strings, as opposed to the default 0.9’s that Fenders usually ship with and instantly feels different to most “out the box” Strats. The pickups are “American Vintage 65” with the bridge pickup at a reverse angle, to emulate the tone achieved by playing the guitar upside down. That difference is subtle but the treble strings are not as bright or as sharp as with the traditional pickup angle. The engraved commemorative neck-plate is also a nice cosmetic trimming, adding to the uniqueness of the guitar. The “C” shaped neck is comfortable to the fretting hand and the maple fingerboard gives the desired bright, tonal snap.
Overall it is a well-constructed, comfortable guitar with a great tone. The one I tested was Olympic White but it is also available in black. Currently retailing for R25995, makes it marginally pricier than the average Mexican made Fender but it does compare to the American Special series, which is in a similar price class. It is certainly a great guitar for Hendrix fans or for a player who is just looking for a good quality Strat with a twist.
By Michael McAuley – Guitar and Bass Specialist at our CT City store