The early days

Supro Ozark 1560s

Jimi’s first guitar was a 1957 Supro Ozark 1560s that his father bought for him in 1959. It was purchased at Myers Music in Seattle for $89

The Ozark was made of mahogany, but was rather slim, at just 1 and 3/4 inch thickness. The neck missed a truss rod, therefore it was unstable and difficult to adjust string height. It had two screws fastening it to the body, with one of them it was possible to adjust the angle of the neck relative to the body, compansating for the lack of a truss rod.

The neck had 19 frets with a scale of 24 inches. It had one single coil pickup, and a wooden bridge, that was not perfect for sustain and tone. Jimi restrung the guitar for lefthanded playing, as he would do with his later guitars.

The guitar was stolen from the bandstand at Birdland Club, Seattle in 1960. It was never recovered. Jimi was playing a gig there with The Rocking Kings when it happened. It’s whereabouts is not known, if it even excists at all.

Silvertone Danelectro

 Jimi owned a one-pickup 1956 model of the Silvertone Danelectro. It was one of the guitars that he had the longest, it stayed with him several years. He called the guitar «Betty Jean» after his girlfriend, and left the guitar with her mother when he went off to the Army in 1960.

He asked his father to send him the guitar a while after he got to Fort Bragg. He wrote: «I hope that also you can send me the guitar as soon as you can. I really need it now. It’s over at Betty’s house, her mother and her grandmother write me all the time.»

This was the guitar he jused with The King Kasuals, and he seemed to always pawn it just before a gig, so that the other bandmembers would have to reposess it. Because he played lefthanded he had to have this special guitar.

When he left the Army in July 1962, there was a problem. The guitar was now owned by someone else. Somehow or another he managed to get the guitar back. He kept it until he traded it for an Epiphone Wilshire.

Ibanez 1860

Jimi traded his beloved Danelectro for an Ibanez electric. He got $20 for the Danelectro. The Ibanez cost $95.87, but he wasn’t able to make the weekly $10 installments, and he voluntarily returned the guitar to the shop, Collins Music Store, Clarksville Tennessee.

Epiphone Wilshire

Jimi bought a new Epiphone Wilshire for $65. It had a mahogany body, and two P-90 pickups. It was a 1961 or 1962 model.

Epiphone was Gibsons budget line of instruments, and the Wilshire was in the SG line of instruments. It had the Gibson Tune-O-Matic bridge for precise intonation, seperate controls for volume and tone for each pickup, and a vibrato arm. It had double cut-away, and 22 frets.

Fender Duo-Sonic Blonde

The Fender Duo-Sonic, together with the single-pickup version the Musicmaster appeared in 1956. It wa a short-scale instrument, scale length 22 1/2 inches. It has two Telecaster-style control knobs controling both pickups, volume and tone. It has a combined bridge/tailpiece with three adjustable saddles.

Jimi aquired this Fender Duo-Sonic just before he started palying with the Isley Brothers in 1964. It was a blonde early sixties edition with a rosewood neck.

The guitar was stolen during a tour with the Isley Brothers, and O’Kelly Isley bought Jimi a Fender Jazzmaster.

Fender Jazzmaster

O’Kelly Isley bought Jimi a sunburst Fender Jazzmaster in 1964 when his Duo-Sonic was stolen. He also jused it with Little Richard in late 1964 and early 1965. It had soapbar single-coil pickups that produced a warmer, not so trebly, sound.

The Jazzmaster was introduced in 1958 as a top of the range instrument, meant to top the Stratocaster. It was sort of a flop, because it didn’t become near as popular as the Strat or the Tele, for that matter. The pickups are often confused with Gibsons P-90 pickups, but the Jazzmaster pickups sounds quite different. They have a piano-like sound, and has more treble than P-90s

Jimi pawned his Jazzmaster in October 1965 to pay the rent.

Fender Duo-Sonic Sunburst

Curtis Knight bought Jimi a sunburst Fender Duo-Sonic as a gift. Knight got the guitar in exchange for refunding an airline ticket for a friend. Jimi played this guitar with Curtis Knight and the Squires.

Jimi traded this guitar for the white strat he brought to England with him. He traded it in Manny’s Music in New York, and the shop assistant was Jeff «Skunk» Baxter later of Steely Dan.

Hendrix’ Duo-Sonic stayed behind when he left for England, and legend has it that it later came into possesion of Patti Smith, and Tom Verlaine borrowed it to use it on the recording of «Little Johnny Jewel».

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