Jimi Hendrix amp settings aren’t terribly difficult to figure out, especially when you consider that guitar players have continued building on his innovation, sound and style, even decades after his death.
He’s certainly one of the greatest of all time and, as a result, many guitarists have imitated his tone.
If you’re wanting to do the same, perhaps to play Purple Haze or Voodoo Child, what are the best settings to use?
We’ll start by taking a look at some supplemental resources, Hendrix’s own gear from 1969 and what I used to craft the tone with my own rig.
Hendrix-Style Guitar Lessons
Want to put your new Hendrix settings to work?
There are a couple of great Jimi Hendrix courses over at Guitar Tricks, which you can try free for 14 days. That's plenty of time to make it through all the Hendrix material.
Anders Mouridsen's course on Hendrix embellishments. (Check it out)
In this course, Anders Mouridsen goes into extensive detail about Hendrix's guitar tone and how you can dial in something similar (good supplemental material for what we cover in this article).
The second course focuses on the Hendrix style as a whole, going into lots of detail concerning Jimi's bending technique, pentatonic soloing and chord arrangements.
Joe Delia's course on Hendrix technique and theory. (Check it out)
If you want to know more about the full membership, you can checkout my Guitar Tricks review for all the gritty details.
What Jimi Hendrix Used
As for the amp settings, I think it's helpful to get a feel for what Hendrix was playing back in the '60s. Guitar gear was vastly different then, which means the way we approach our own rig as an emulation tool should be informed by a knowledge of Jimi's physical setup.
Though I suppose you could easily summarize his rig by focusing on tube amps and fuzz pedals.
Those two elements did most of the heavy lifting.
- Marshall Superlead “Plexi” Heads (100 watts)
- 1968 Fender Stratocaster
- Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face
- Vox Wah Pedal
- Univox Univibe
Jimi Hedrix's 1969 guitar rig. | Image via Guitar.com
What I Used
The gear I have to work with is vastly different. Though with the info I gleaned from the Guitar Tricks course and the settings I've compiled in this article, I was still able to get fairly close.
- 2004 Fender American Telecaster
- 2005 PRS CE 24
- Line 6 Spider IV 150-watt Modeling Amp
- Morley Steve Vai Wah Pedal
- Boss DS-1 Distortion
Now, back to Hendrix's gear.
One thing that clearly marked his setup was its simplicity.
If you were looking for something even modestly complicated, you’re going to be disappointed. That is, unless you have a thing for RadioShack-style cable splitters and coiled guitar cables.
Hendrix used Marshall Superlead amplifiers, fuzz effects (mostly the Fuzz Face) and little else.
He had two of these amps and a stack of Marshall speaker cabinets to go along with his fuzz and wah pedal.
Hendrix is showing up everywhere these days | Flickr Commons Image via Roel Wijnants
When I was dialing in settings, I used a Boss DS-1 distortion to mimic the classic fuzz tone Hendrix used. It's not perfect, but fairly close since the DS-1 has more of a vintage lean to its overdrive.
Since we don’t have a lot of consensus on how Hendrix had his EQ set, some speculation is necessary.
I’ll use the Amplitube 4 app to illustrate below.
Jimi Hendrix Amp Settings by the Numbers
If you want to get your distortion from your amp and not a pedal, turn the gain knob up to around seven or eight to mimic the saturated distortion tone that Hendrix was known for.
Here’s how I’ve set the rest of the EQ:
Hendrix used a high gain amp model with a fuzz distortion and some extra bass in the EQ | View Larger Image
How your amp’s gain will serve the Hendrix sound is hard to tell, because Hendrix generally got his distortion from the classic fuzz sound (more on that below).
Aim for a heavy distortion that still has some classic rock tonality pushing through.
Hendrix played with a lot of distortion, but he didn’t sound "heavy" the way modern guitar players do. There was still a nice balance in his EQ between highs and lows, whereas today's guitar players tend to gravitate towards distortion with more bass and low-end punch.
Make sure you find that balance when considering how much gain to dial in on your amplifier or pedal.
Gain: 7 / Bass: 8 / Mids: 5 / Treble: 5 / Reverb: 3
Jimi Hendrix Effects
Dunlop eventually released a Hendrix signature version of the Fuzz Face.
“Wish I had an EHX pedal down there..” | Large Image
Despite the fact that Hendrix never used the big muff pedal, it’s a fairly accurate representation of his distortion.
Either one can generate an extremely authentic Hendrix-style fuzz.
Combining the above dials with a Marshall amplifier and one of these two pedals is your best bet for getting an accurate Jimi Hendrix sound.
If you have different gear (like I do), spend some time adjusting the dials on your distortion for high gain and an even balance between the bass and treble end of your EQ. Also, make sure that you don't overpower or "cloak" your amp's tone with your pedal.
Settings for both should be complimentary.
Got more info on the Jimi Hendrix tone?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below if you know something I don't.
Insider info, thoughtful contribution or any kind of "hey, what about this" thoughts are all beneficial to me and future readers.
You can also use our contact form if you prefer to reach out privately.
Could you use more gear help?
Producing “great tone” is a worthy pursuit, but not always an obvious one.
We all own a unique collection of gear that seems to sound different all the time. That’s normal, but still something we need to learn to deal with.
We need to learn our gear.
If you want to access some resources that will help dealing with a specific tonal pursuit, piece of gear or other questions related to your rig, I’d recommend giving Guitar Tricks 14-day free trial a test run - there’s no obligations and you’ve got nothing to lose - except two free weeks of one of the most comprehensive and thorough guitar education websites in existence.
You’ll learn a lot and get access to a number of other resources that all guitarists can benefit from.
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of mirjoran