For the most part, 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.
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.
Those two elements did most of the heavy lifting.
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.
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.
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
You can see from the Hendrix Guitar.com Rig page that Jimi used two 100-watt Marshall amps with four speaker cabs.
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:
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.
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.
Flickr Commons Image Courtesy of mirjoran