Jimi Hendrix amp settings aren’t terribly difficult to figure out, seeing as how guitar players have been building on his innovation and sound for decades after his death.
He’s certainly one of the greatest of all time and, as a result, many guitarists have imitated his sound.
If you’re wanting to play Purple Haze or Voodoo Child, what are the best settings to use?
We’ll start by taking a look at Hendrix’s gear from 1969 and what I used to craft the tone with my own rig.
What Hendrix Used
- 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
- 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
If you were looking for something even modestly complicated, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Hendrix used Marshall Superlead amplifiers, fuzz effects and little else.
In total, 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 overdriven 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 JamUp app to illustrate below.
Jimi Hendrix Amp Settings
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 Face pedal (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 you 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.
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff
Combing 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 and make sure the amp settings match up.
You don’t need a Marshall to make it work.
Got more info on the Jimi Hendrix tone?
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Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of mirjoran