By: Rick Landers
As part of Guitar International’s interest in providing our new readers with a road map to our legacy interviews and articles, we are highlighting high reader interest content at our front gallery page for easy access. Jimi Hendrix consistently rates as the “Best Guitar Player” of all time by guitarist opinion polls and his guitars continue to draw interest of musicians around the world.
This legacy article discusses insights into the various Jimi Hendrix models that have been introduced by Fender Guitars in order to get Hendrix styled guitars into the hands of Jimi’s fans who play guitar.
By: Tom Watson
Over the 34 years since his untimely death in 1970 at the age of 27, the music of Jimi Hendrix has inspired legions of budding guitarists around the world. Though known to have occasionally played other makes and models, Hendrix is most closely associated with the Fender Stratocaster and that indelible association has done much to ensure the Strat’s reigning position as the instrument of choice for both amateur and professional musicians.
While Fender currently offers no “Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster,” between the years 1980 and 2002, seven different models were produced (not including special-order Custom Shop Master Built one-offs) by Fender-USA that directly or indirectly pay homage to the legendary guitarist.
This article takes a look at each of those instruments.
Note 1: Three of the instruments discussed are not, strictly speaking, “tribute” Stratocasters, meaning, they were not designed, produced, or marketed under license with the Jimi Hendrix Estate, nor were they ever represented by Fender as intended as a “tribute” to Jimi Hendrix.
The unlicensed models did, however, draw their inspiration from Jimi Hendrix and thus, indirectly pay tribute to him. The use of the word “tribute” in connection with the unlicensed models is simply the opinion of the author of this article and not the result of any statement from or action by Fender.
Note 2: Since the original publication of this article, additional information about the 1980 Hendrix Prototype Stratocaster (Number One below) has come to light. In short, the “mystery” of whether or not this model went into limited production after the creation of prototypes has been solved. You’ll find the answer in a newly added postscript at the bottom.
Also, in 2005, the Fender Custom Shop (Master Builder Dennis Galuszka) created a limited edition (100 worldwide) Reverse Proto Stratocaster that is essentially a recreation of the 1980 Hendrix Prototype. Information about this model is also included in the postscript at the end of the article.
Four of the instruments discussed are direct “tributes” to Jimi Hendrix:
These models were designed and produced under license with the Jimi Hendrix Estate. The other three, while drawing their design inspiration from Hendrix, make no reference to Jimi Hendrix on either the instrument or accessories.
The eight instruments presented below feature four different configurations.
It was the first Fender artist-related Stratocaster, or perhaps “artist inspired” would be more accurate since no connection to Hendrix by name or image appears anywhere on the guitar (the authorized and licensed Artist Series instruments didn’t begin until the Clapton Signature model appeared in 1988).
Secondly, the instrument’s design features mark a follow-up of the 1979 Anniversary Strat’s departure from the CBS norm – a return to the pre-CBS four bolt neck attachment and corresponding neck plate, and the abandonment of the “Bullet” headstock truss rod adjustment.
The departure from the then-current CBS design makes sense since the 1980 Hendrix Stratocaster was essentially modeled upon the 1968 Strat Hendrix played at Woodstock in 1969 (as were all of the tribute instruments discussed in this article except for the 1997 Fender Custom Shop Monterey Strat).
Modeled after a 1968 Strat but with a significant twist.
Unlike any 1968 production line Stratocaster, the 1980 Hendrix Strat joined a right-handed body with a left-handed neck. This configuration would appear again in the 1991 Custom Shop ’67 Reissue Stratocaster.
Why put a left-handed neck on a right-handed body?
1. Cosmetically, the upside-down-looking headstock is similar in appearance to Hendrix playing a right-handed guitar flipped upside down and played from the opposite side of the body.
2. Reversing how the left-handed neck is strung (the low E, for example, being where the high E would be on a left-handed neck strung normally), reverses the usual length of the strings and results in a somewhat different “feel” and, arguably, creates a difference in tone.
The differences are the result of a change in tension of the strings (apart from the G and D string which, being in the middle, aren’t really affected). For example, the low E, when strung in reverse, is now the longest string and subject to greater tension due to the increase in length. Conversely, the high E is now the shortest and its tension is less.
There is an element of mystery surrounding this issue. Author Tony Bacon, on pages 94-95 of The Fender Book, indicates that the guitar went into production and 25 were made. Others believe that it never evolved past the prototype stage (see “Story of prototype #1, below). When recently contacted regarding this issue, Fender-FMIC stated that in light of the events having taken place prior to 1985, it would be unable to supply a definitive answer.
According to John Page, former Fender Custom Shop manager, who was with Fender during 1979 and 1980, the “Hendrix Stratocaster” came about at the insistence of Mudge Miller, who was a Fender marketing representative at the time. Page recalls that while the instrument never really went into production, Miller got Fender to produce 25 units for a group of Fender dealers in Texas as a “special run”.
Page also believes that these 25 guitars may have had a circled letter “M” (for Mudge) on the headstock. This mark does not appear on three of the four prototypes believed to exist (it is unknown whether or not it appears on the fourth, the prototype possibly owned by a collector in Japan).
Last MSR Price: $1,500*
*Blue Book Publications, Inc.’s “Blue Book of Electric Guitars, 8th Edition”
Another source that indicates 25 or so of the 1980 Hendrix Stratocasters were produced.
From its owner, Hunter H:In the mid-’80s (summer of 1985 I believe), I stopped by my local vintage shop, Pete’s Guitars (my friend, the late/great Pete Alenov was a world renowned vintage dealer and a true pioneer, opening his shop in 1974 and catering to the Stones, Dylan, George Harrison, etc.) in St. Paul, Minnesota to purchase a 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG that I had been told had just come in on a trade. After arriving and finding Pete on the telephone, I decided to look around and see if the 61 Les Paul was hanging on the wall somewhere.
While searching, my eyes were immediately drawn to a very odd-looking Fender Stratocaster on display. I forgot all about the 61 LP and decided to pull down the Strat. I had never seen another like it….upside down headstock and an additional contour on the front (popup image) of the body.
The questions running through my mind were soon answered when I read the words “Original Prototype, Fender Musical Instruments, Not for resale”, stamped (inked) onto the back of the headstock.
By now Pete was off the phone and he asked if I wanted to see the 61 LP we had discussed. “No,” I answered, “forget the Les Paul. How much for this Stratocaster?” Pete went on to explain that he had talked to his personal friends at Fender and they had informed him that the guitar was supposed to be called the “Jimi Hendrix” model but, being unable to get clearance from Hendrix’s estate, a total of 4-5 prototypes were made in 1979-80 before the plans had to be abandoned. This one, he said, was marked #2 under the pickguard, being the second prototype made.
Being a huge “Jimi” fan I had to have it. “How much?”, I asked. $1,750 was his answer, exactly $500 more than the price of the 61 SG LP I had come to buy, and $500 more than I had with me. I immediately said, “I’ll take it,” and asked if a $1,250 deposit would hold it until the following Monday (this was on a Friday).
“No problem,” answered Pete, and we went to the counter to write it up (I still have the receipt). I was extremely excited about making the purchase and was very anxious to get to the bank Monday to withdraw the remainder of the funds and come back.
Meanwhile, the next night (Saturday), Stevie Ray Vaughan was playing at a outdoor festival called “Riverplace”. A good friend of mine had acquired backstage passes, which was pretty exciting, and I was equally excited about seeing the show.
SRV was red hot that night, I still get chills thinking of his performance – way over the top. At the end of the night, Stevie walked off stage and as the lights went down the crowd began to scream for “one more, one more”. Stevie walked back on stage with his back to the crowd and began to tweak his amp. Suddenly, he started the intro to “Voodoo Chile” and as he burst into the song he turned around to face the crowd.
I was stunned! Shocked! He was playing a Hendrix prototype exactly like the one I had just bought! I was thrilled! SRV has a guitar just like mine, I thought. How cool.
The following Monday when I excitedly walked through the door to Pete’s and saw the look on Pete’s face, I knew something was amiss. No…he didn’t, he wouldn’t, he couldn’t…”Look I’m very sorry,” he said, “but Stevie refused to take ‘no’ for an answer. He was not going to leave the shop without that guitar.”
As disappointed as I was I was also a big SRV fan I thought if he had sold it to anyone else… but certainly SRV was more deserving than I and maybe I’d find one in the future.Fast forward 15 years to 2000. I somehow ( to this day neither of us has any idea how we were first introduced) found a gentlemen/police officer (thanks again, John) in NYC who had a long time ago acquired a 1980 Fender Hendrix prototype!
He described the guitar as being in excellent condition, and also said the guitar had survived a fire in which just about everything in the building was destroyed except this instrument! He also said he had and would include in the sale a “brand new” 60s Vox Wah pedal and about eighty, super rare, early Jimi Hendrix albums including some impossibly rare bootlegs.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money to buy it all at the time and he informed me that he was going to try selling it online!”Oh no!”, I thought, it’ll be gone forever. I looked for it online but was unable to find it. I called John and he informed me that because the back of the headstock read “Not for Resale” the auctioneer had immediately (1-2 hours after posting) canceled his auction! I asked if he would be willing to hold it for me until I could get the money together and he agreed.
Almost two years later I had finally saved enough money to get the guitar, albums, and pedal, and called John. He still had them! I couldn’t believe it. I made arrangements for payment and delivery and anxiously awaited the arrival.
When I opened the case I was stunned! It was absolutely beautiful! The finish had turned a golden “butterscotch” color and the neck had taken on a golden almost “aged” look, maybe the result of the fire? I’m not sure. Maybe it was the batch or mixture of nitrocellulose lacquer used the day they finished it. Maybe, but it looks great and is very unique – I have never seen another like it.
I then noticed something else that was unusual. The headstock only had one string tree. In the Andre Duchossoir book I had, there were pictures of two of the other known Hendrix prototypes, SRV’s and collector Perry Margouleff’s, and I could see in the pictures they both had two string trees.
Now, if mine had two and the others had just one, I would think maybe someone added one to mine, and if just one of the others and mine had one I would think someone added one to the other guitar, but they both had two and mine had only one.
Curiosity was killing me so I carefully removed the pickguard screws and peeked under the pickguard. There, plain as day, was a stamp that said #One! I almost fell over! What could be the only thing better than owning the number two Hendrix prototype that SRV had acquired instead of me?
One thing…owning #1!
Voodoo? There’s more to the story. Part of the reason it had taken two years to put the money together for the guitar was the fact that my wife and I were expecting twins. A couple months after I got the guitar the twins (Hunter and Hailey) were born on October 3, 2001 – on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Birthday!
There are numerous articles and videos of Stevie playing the 1980 Hendrix prototype and he considered it one of his favorites with good reason. He used it mostly when he played Jimi Hendrix songs but it also was the main instrument when he played…. get this…. “SUPERSTITION” and when he played “Willie the Wimp”.
I think because of the fact that they were prototypes, they were probably “handmade” and a lot more time and consideration went into making them. I never had the chance to sit down and play Stevie’s, but this one is the pinnacle of Fender Stratocaster tone and playability, and definitely the very first and original Fender Jimi Hendrix “Voodoo” Stratocaster.
[Images: All images in this section (above and below) of Stevie Ray Vaughan by Michael Insuaste, copyright 2004, all rights reserved, courtesy of Hunter H. All images in this section of the 1980 Hendrix Stratocaster (including popups) are of prototype #1 belonging to Hunter H, courtesy of Hunter H.]
Fender-USA’s second Hendrix-related Stratocaster, this time a Custom Shop model. As few as ten of these models may have been produced.
The similarity of the ’67 Reissue to the 1980 “Hendrix Stratocaster” is apparent. Note though the use of the “transition” logo on the Custom Shop ’67 Reissue headstock (popup image) and the CBS-style logo on the 1980 model, an appropriate difference since only the “transition” logo was used in 1967.
As with the 1980 version (and the 2001-2002 ’68 Reverse Headstock Stratocaster), neither the name nor image of Hendrix appear on the instrument, Certificate of Authenticity (popup image), or accessories. The older version of the Custom Shop logo appears on the back (popup image) of the headstock.
Last MSR Price: Unknown
Sunday, June 18, 1967. Third and final day of the Monterey International Pop Festival. Included on the bill that night: the Who, Buffalo Springfield, the Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin. But before the Who take the stage, a then relatively unknown 24-year-old guitarist delivers a feast of sight and sound that, in an industry whose marketing departments today churn out “legends” monthly, is nothing short of mythical.
Jimi Hendrix sets the music world on fire.
“Hardly anyone in the States had ever heard of Jimi Hendrix before he played at Monterey. When he triumphantly made his grand exit from the stage, he left behind far more than the smashed bits of his smoldering guitar. He violently carved an immortal legend of himself across the face of Rock. The vision of Jimi that still remains is one of an eternally young god, kneeling before the inferno of his sacrificial guitar, beckoning the flames higher with his magic fingers.
From that moment on, music irrevocably moved forward, pushing electric guitar into the fore, transforming it into a raw instrument of unlimited power. Guitarist Pete Townsend of the Who perfectly described what it felt like performing after Hendrix at Monterey: “We came on after him, and all I could do was just stand there and strum.”
In 19971, the 30th anniversary of “The Summer of Love” and the Monterey Festival, the Fender Custom Shop created the Jimi Hendrix Monterey Pop Festival Stratocaster, featuring the artwork of Pamelina H, (who, coincidentally, was at the 1967 Festival, though seven-years-old at the time).
The artwork for the limited edition (210) Custom Shop guitar was based on the Fiesta Red2 Stratocaster Hendrix, also a visual artist, had hand-painted and played (and burned) during his Festival performance. Pamelina H studied the Festival video and the first rendering of the guitar she presented to Fender was a close representation of the original.
Fender, however, asked her to “Pamelina” it, which she did, smoothing out the graphics and adding the Hendrix “backstage pass” that appears on the front body (certainly not to be found on the original – it incorporates a photograph by Ed Caraeff [above] of Hendrix burning the guitar). The final design was approved by Janie Hendrix on behalf of the Jimi Hendrix Estate and the project received the advice and support of Lou Adler and Howard Frank of the Monterey International Pop Festival Foundation.
In addition to the instrument, which is patterned on a Custom Shop 1965 “transition” Strat, the limited edition package included a flight case, a plush-lined white suede leather gig bag with beads and tassels reminiscent of the era, a guitar strap styled like the suede gig bag, a period-correct bridge cover, a laminated “backstage pass” like the one on the body of the instrument with the addition of the guitar’s limited edition number (“XXX/210), and a metal and leather folder containing the Custom Shop COA and an 8″x10″ photograph of Hendrix playing the original instrument.
Last MSR Price: $6,999*
*Blue Book Publications, Inc.’s “Blue Book of Electric Guitars, 8th Edition”
Note 1: Although Fender’s formal announcement of the Monterey and Tribute Stratocasters occurred in July of 1996, neither instrument became available until the following year.
Excerpt from a Fender press release:July 12, 1996
Fender Musical Instruments and Experience Hendrix, L.L.C. (the family of Jimi Hendrix) have announced an agreement to release two special Jimi Hendrix model Stratocaster guitars in 1996 and 1997. These are the first Fender guitars to be authorized by the late rock guitarist’s estate since his untimely death in 1970.
The two companies will also co-sponsor a nationwide Jimi Hendrix Electric Guitar Competition, culminating October 19th at the Jimi Hendrix Tribute Concert in New York’s Madison Square Garden. The backdrop for the event will be the week long Jimi Hendrix Festival occurring in New York October 13th-20th.
This fall, Fender will unveil the first limited edition (200) Jimi Hendrix Model Commemorative Stratocaster built by the Fender Custom Shop in Corona, California.
This guitar will honor the late guitarist’s explosive performance at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. According to Fender’s Joe Carducci, “When Jimi first walked on stage at Monterey on June 18, 1967, he received a lukewarm reception from the audience. But by the time he’d finished his performance, the crowd had gone wild with enthusiasm and Jimi had changed the course of rock ‘n’ roll history forever.”
In early 1997, Fender will begin production of a “Tribute” Stratocaster to be made in the company’s Corona, California factory…
Jimi’s sister, Janie Hendrix-Wright of Experience Hendrix, concluded “Jimi really loved his Fender Stratocaster. They were much more than just another guitar to him…they were definitely his instrument of choice. It’s only natural that we would have an association with Fender. We are really looking forward to working together with the people at Fender.”
“For almost 30 years, Jimi has been unofficially associated with Fender Stratocasters and has influenced countless thousands of guitar players,” observed Jack Shelton, senior vice president of marketing at Fender. “I think nearly every electric guitar player thinks of Jimi whenever they see a white Strat. He’s made a huge impact on our company and on the world. We’re very honored and excited to be able, after all these years, to officially recognize Jimi’s contributions.”
Note 2: During his Monterey Pop Festival performance Hendrix also played a black mid-60s Stratocaster with a maple fingerboard, often seen in photos from the performance. The hand-painted “Monterey Strat” was Fiesta Red. Hendrix over-painted a large portion of it in white and then applied his artwork.
In the late 1960s, Jimi Hendrix single-handedly stretched the sonic possibilities of the guitar and, in the process, changed rock music–forever. In his gifted hands, the instrument became a major vehicle of expression. It talked, cried, exorcised and exulted as he glided with exuberance and ease from searing, blistering, electric blues to feedback-laden, free-form jazz to smoothly crafted torch ballads.
In honor of the guitar-wielding legend, Fender Musical Instruments and Experience Hendrix, LLC (the family of Jimi Hendrix) have just released the Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster. “Modeled after the same Strat that Jimi played at his historic performance at the Woodstock Music Festival of August 1969, the instrument is bound to delight generations of guitar players and music history enthusiasts for years and years,” noted Jack Shelton, senior vice president of sales at Fender.
For starters, the Jimi Hendrix Stratocaster, which is built in Fender’s factory in Corona, California, is a left-handed model strung right-handed and reversed, with the strap button on the lower horn, so that right-handed players would appear as Jimi did when looking at themselves in the mirror.
The guitar, which is available in Olympic White, also boasts a maple neck with a large late-60s-style headstock, classic Schaller “F” tuners and woven strap. The icing on the cake, however, is the pickup configuration–three reverse staggered vintage Stratocaster pickups that are positioned perfectly for boning up on Jimi Hendrix classics such as “Wild Thing,” “Purple Haze” or even “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Last MSR Price: $1,600*
*Blue Book Publications, Inc.’s “Blue Book of Electric Guitars, 8th Edition”
Notes: The 1997 Hendrix Tribute Stratocaster introduces a feature that will reappear on both the 1998 Voodoo Stratocaster and the 2000 ’68 Reverse Headstock Strat: a relationship between the bridge pickup and the strings that is the reverse of the norm. In the case of the Tribute Strat this relationship is achieved by reverse stringing the instrument with no change to the bridge pickup itself.
On the Voodoo and the ’68 Reverse Headstock, it is accomplished by a combination of reverse stringing and reversing the angle and pole staggering of the bridge pickup (these two models are otherwise right-handed bodies).
This changes (reverses) the traditional relationship between vibrating string and pickup pole. For example, the low E string now vibrates over the pickup pole that otherwise would be below the high E string, and vice versa. It is believed that this reverse relationship produces different tone characteristics – a somewhat brighter bass and warmer treble, a difference that some believe contributed to the “Hendrix tone”.
Fender’s Jimi Hendrix Voodoo Stratocaster® recreates the sound made famous by the voodoo music master himself–Jimi Hendrix–for the righthanded player. The Voodoo Stratocaster has a right-handed alder body, a one-piece maple neck with reverse headstock, 21 medium jumbo frets, vintage pickups with reversed staggered pole pieces and reverse angle bridge pickup, a right-handed vintage bridge, rosewood or maple fretboard, and vintage “F” tuners. Comes factory equipped with genuine Fender strings for optimum tone and performance.
Guitar players universally agree that Hendrix achieved his signature sound in part because he was a left-handed guitar player who played a right-handed Stratocaster strung left-handed. The reverse bridge pickup angled down towards the bass string produces a unique sound that differs from a standard Stratocaster bridge pickup.
The low strings are much brighter and more articulate and the high strings are warmer and fuller.When a right-handed guitar is strung lefthanded, the change in string tension and the reverse staggered pole pieces on the pickups have a direct effect on the tone, which is how Hendrix made his high strings scream and achieved pure, clear tones on his low strings.
Since it’s a challenge to play a guitar body that’s upside down with all the knobs and the tremolo in the way, Fender made it easy for the right-handed player to comfortably obtain the Hendrix sound. Everything on the Voodoo Strat is designed to give all the sonic benefits of playing an upside-down Strat like the original guitar that Hendrix used, only on a right-handed body.
Last MSR Price: $1,349*
*Blue Book Publications, Inc.’s “Blue Book of Electric Guitars, 8th Edition”
Notes: Available with either maple or rosewood fingerboard. Features the same image of Jimi Hendrix (shown above) laser-engraved on the neckplate as the Hendrix Monterey and Tribute Stratocasters. Headstock logo decal is the “transition” style.
Although the 1968 Strat Hendrix played at Woodstock had the larger, black, CBS-style logo, the “transition”-style logo is still period correct. 1968 was the year in which Fender switched from the “transition” logo to the CBS-style, so guitars from 1968 can be found bearing either, depending upon their month of manufacture.
Also, while production of the Voodoo Stratocaster most likely began in 1997 (and most, if not all of them, bear a serial number on the back of the headstock that begins with “TN7″), they were not available until 1998.
Fender discontinued production of the Voodoo Stratocaster in 1999, but in 2001 introduced this model which, for all intents and purposes, is a Voodoo Strat minus the laser-engraved Hendrix neckplate. These models also have serial numbers that begin with “TN7″.
Last MSR Price: $1,428*
*Blue Book Publications, Inc.’s “Blue Book of Electric Guitars, 8th Edition”
Note: Like its predecessor, the Voodoo Stratocaster, the ’68 Reverse Headstock was available with either a rosewood or a maple fingerboard.
Monday morning, August 18, 1969, James (Jimi) Marshall Hendrix takes the stand at the Woodstock Festival and delivers a performance on his 1968 Olympic White Stratocaster that will start a new chapter in the history of the electric guitar. A new chapter in the history of music.
In 2002, the Fender Custom Shop, under the direction of Fender’s Mike Eldred, created four “clones” of the guitar Hendrix used in his historic Woodstock performance. Only one was made available for sale to the public. Of the other three, one was presented to the Hendrix family, another was presented to Seattle’s Experience Music Project Museum, and one was kept by Fender.
2003 Fender Frontline Catalog (page 16):
In celebration of what would’ve been Jimi’s 60th birthday on November 27,2002, the Fender Custom Shop, along with the Experience Music Project [current owner’s of the 1968 Hendrix Strat], partnered up to “clone” the prized Stratocaster that he played that day – “the White One” as it’s referred to by most Strat-oholics. This was the guitar that, as Mitch Mitchell puts it, “He used to take back to the hotel with him.”
The guitar was taken out of its alarmed display and weighed, measured, taken apart, photographed and dissected in every way so that 4 guitars could be duplicated. EMP and the Custom Shop filmed all of this process.”We measured the output of the pickups, the neck shape, everything. In my 24 years in this business, I have never experienced (no pun intended) any guitar with that much vibe”, says the Custom Shop’s Mike Eldred.
“It was really intense when they were taking it out of the display! Everyone was just watching, waiting, not saying a word, and they were filming the whole thing. And when they were putting it back, I felt this overwhelming sadness because no one would ever do that again.”
Last MSR Price*: The only one of the four made available was released to the public in an auction held by Cooper Owen in London, May, 2003, and sold for approximately $11,000 U.S.
[Image: Fender (FMIC) CEO Bill Schultz holding one of the Woodstock Clones. From left to right, John Page (former Fender Custom Shop manager), Bill Schultz, and Mike Eldred (former Fender Custom Shop manager now responsible for Custom Shop marketing). Copyright 2003, James V. Roy.]
Strat fans can thank performer John Mayer for Fender Master Builder John Galuszka’s 2005 Custom Shop recreation of the 1980 Hendrix Prototype. It was Mayer’s taking his 1980 Hendrix Prototype to the Custom Shop that inspired Mike Eldred to do the limited edition of 100.
The run was assigned to Master Builder Dennis Galuszka, who discusses the 1980 prototype’s recreation in an interview on the DVD that comes with the Reverse Proto Strat.
The recreation is “on the money” according to Galuszka except for not having the original’s “prototype” stamp on the back of the headstock, most likely the result of Fender’s legal department (despite the fact that Fender’s product page currently claims, “The one-piece maple neck has a reverse late ’60s-style large headstock with the word “Proto” stamped on the back and ’70s “F” tuning machines.”).
It’s possible that the Custom Shop initially planned to completely recreate the 1980 Hendrix prototype including the prototype language stamp on the back of the headstock instead of simply putting the Custom Shop logo and Dennis Galuszka’s signature and that Fender’s legal department vetoed the idea after the website and sales literature were released.
In fact, it’s believed by some that several of the early 2005 Reverse Proto Stratocasters were built with original-looking prototype stamp language on the back of the headstock, though the majority of the run did not have it.
It should also be noted that the COA included with this model calls it a “79 Reverse Proto Stratocater” as opposed to a 1980.
Last MSR Price: $8,000*
I was involved in the May, 2003, auction of the Hendrix Woodstock Clone (the only guitar of the four made that was offered to the public), by way of representing a collector in the bidding. Unfortunately, we lost the auction when I lost my Internet connection. I’ve since stayed in touch with the winner, a gentleman in the United Kingdom, who told me that last year he sold the guitar to performer John Mayer, whose name you’ll see again below.
Over the almost three years since the above article was written, I have received email from a number of Strat collectors around the world regarding their ownership of a 1980 Hendrix Prototype, one of whom owns two of the prototypes. At first, this simply increased the mystery as more and more prototypes surfaced and no one encountered a non-proto production model.
I also learned that performer John Mayer has (or had) at least two of them (possibly three or more). By the end of 2005, I could account for about ten of the prototypes, but still no production model had surfaced.
Then, last year during another conversation with John Page about this model, the light finally went on and the mystery of the missing production units was solved: Fender created 20-25 (no one’s really sure of the number though it’s usually cited as 25) and they were all marked as prototypes. The answer makes sense since the point of the run was the creation of promotional instruments to be given away and not sold.
Meanwhile, more of the protos continue to surface – a week ago a collector in Australia emailed me about a dealer in Texas who had come across one in very good to excellent condition.
I’ve also received email from a number of Strat collectors about other Fender models they believe pay tribute to Hendrix, which were Custom Shop one-offs or Made in Japan models. Since my original interest was in U.S.-made and publicly offered instruments, I wasn’t inspired to increase the number of “Fender pays tribute to Jimi Hendrix” models covered by this article until the Custom Shop’s production of the Reverse Proto Stratocaster in 2005.