In 1967, the Jimi Hendrix Experience made its first major American appearance at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival. Jimi Hendrix demonstrated his almost supernatural mastery of the electric guitar, punctuating the performance by setting his guitar on fire, swinging it wildly around and smashing it on the stage floor. Hendrix had issued a manifesto in music form, ushering in the modern age of the electric guitarist.

His creative use of the tools at his disposal set a precedent for tone crafting and sonic texturing that countless numbers of players continue to pursue today. Hendrix was able to vary his tones in seemingly endless ways that fail to sound dated decades later. With equal parts sonic braggadocio and understated elegance, Hendrix used his hands, his instrument, his effects, and most importantly his ears to concoct a brilliant synergy of sound and song rarely, if ever, equaled.

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Hendrix’s Monterey performance, we’ve created a special edition run of his favorite effects featuring iconic imagery from legendary rock ‘n’ roll photographer Gered Mankowitz. Below we take a look at how Hendrix used those effects to change the face of music forever.

Fuzz Face Distortion & the Gypsy Fuzz

With a Fuzz Face® Distortion, Hendrix could elicit an endless variety of tones by using different pickup combinations, manipulating his guitar’s volume control, and picking at different areas of a string. This unruly stompbox not only gave him a full-on primal howl with its burly, fat-sounding fuzz tones—it afforded him remarkably detailed clean textures as well.

The Are You Experienced album remains a shining example of Hendrix’s ingenious use of the effect. The song “Manic Depression,” for example, has Hendrix veer in and out of grainy yet-almost-twangy tones during the verses only to go to full-on meltdown during the solo with howling sustain and thick-as-a-brick midrange. By backing down his guitar’s volume control, Hendrix used the exaggerated treble bite and hyper-sensitive attack the Fuzz Face Distortion offers to enhance clean tones and make them really speak. Another example of this sonic yin-yang is, among others, “Third Stone from the Sun,” as it features some amazingly jangly chordal work as well as the insane sonic equivalent of WWIII, all achieved with help from the Fuzz Face Distortion.

Over the course of ’69 & ’70, Jimi Hendrix played several famous shows  using a particular Fuzz Face Distortion, red with  white knobs, that sounded completely different from the others in his arsenal. Whereas standard Fuzz Face Distortions tend to sound smooth and girthy—to varying degrees, depending on the transistor, of course—this mysterious pedal was snarling and aggressive in character.

The song “Machine Gun” from Band of Gypsys and the rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” from Woodstock demonstrate the uniquely biting tones of this particular Fuzz Face Distortion. In both examples, Hendrix combined the fuzz effect with his Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato to imbue his notes with an ethereal chainsaw quality.

That mysterious prototype has been lost to history, but our engineers pored tirelessly over all of the different customized circuit designs Jimi used over the years. They narrowed it down to a version of the Octavio® circuit that didn’t have the octave up signal. After making a few tweaks, they nailed the elusive sound heard on the aforementioned live recordings. For this series, we have dubbed it the Gypsy Fuzz.

Cry Baby Wah

Released in August of ’67, “Burning of the Midnight Lamp” is the first recorded example of Hendrix using a Cry Baby® Wah. From then on, Hendrix used the effect often. “Up From the Skies” from Axis: Bold as Love shows Jimi’s jazziest and most subtle use of the wah wah, adding quick, throaty sweeps to the tune’s hip chord voicings.

For the most part, Hendrix’s wah technique was extremely bold. Whether it was for propulsive rhythmic accents, as on the stinky funk of “Little Miss Lover,” or as a constant force on tracks such as “Still Raining, Still Dreaming” or “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return),” Hendrix managed to use the wah wah in cavalier, over-the-top ways without ever wearing it out.

Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato

With the release of Band of Gypsys in 1970, Hendrix managed to elevate another effect to hallowed status—the Uni-Vibe® Chorus/Vibrato. With its thick, smoky swirl, this effect’s complex “phasiness” throbs and undulates throughout the entire live album. Although Hendrix used the Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato on a handful of studio recordings late in his career, the track “Machine Gun” from Band of Gypsys stands as his ultimate statement with the effect. From the tune’s outset, Hendrix’s use of space enhances the spookiness of the Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato’s hazy modulation. As the tune ramps up, Hendrix ups the intensity and keeps it there, starting his solo with a single sustained note that tears right through your soul.

Hendrix’s legendary rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock stands as another iconic example of the Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato in action. As previously mentioned, he combined the swirly, chewy goodness of the Uni-Vibe Chorus/Vibrato with the snarling fuzz of his prototype Fuzz Face Distortion, sending millions into a psychedelic trance that some have yet to return from.

Octavio Fuzz

Hendrix used the Octavio® Fuzz for some of his prettiest passages as well as for some of his gnarliest. The song “One Rainy Wish” from Axis: Bold as Love definitely falls into the former category as Hendrix uses the Octavio to add a dreamy otherworldliness that enhances the tune’s sweetness.

However, “Who Knows” and “We Gotta Live Together” from Band of Gypsys find Hendrix eliciting barks, belches, and skronks as he unleashes a veritable clinic on using the Octavio Fuzz while playing double-stop 4ths and 5ths—he even throws in some wah wah for good measure. Listen to the end riff of “We Gotta Live Together” for even more stony low note howl.

The most famous Octavio Fuzz track, however, is undoubtedly “Purple Haze.” You can hear how Hendrix uses his pickup and volume knob settings as well as his picking attack to vary between different flavors of effect on different parts of the tune.

Jimi Hendrix was a master composer, interplanetary blues man, and sonic visionary. Without his assertive and groundbreaking creativity, the art of playing the electric guitar would look very different than it does today.