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Guitarist: Jimi Hendrix
Effects used: Maestro Fuzz-Tone, Arbiter Fuzzface, Uni-Vibe, Vox wah, Octavia and more…
There’s no questioning Jimi Hendrix’s skills as a guitar player, yet the allure isn’t only in the notes he played, but the otherworldly sounds he conjured up.
A legendary live improviser, Hendrix was also fearless in the studio, using outboard FX and mixing boards almost as instruments. Fuzz, feedback, wah-wah, Leslie speakers/Uni-Vibes, tape echo and Octavia effects were all part of Hendrix’s palette, and there are literally scores of classic FX moments in the Jimi canon.
Listen to the stellar wah-wah signatures of Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (0:01 to 0:32 just may be the most famous wah guitar lick ever), the stunning third solo of All Along The Watchtower (from 2:16), Rainy Day, Dream Away (check the mimicking of speech from 3:12) and its reprise Still Raining, Still Dreaming, and, of course, on the whole of The Burning Of The Midnight Lamp.
Jimi once described wah-wah as sounding like, “that loneliness and that frustration and the yearning. Like something is reaching out” - with wah-wah, Hendrix undoubtedly connected.
His use of fuzz pedals went back even further. Late US bluesman Mike Bloomﬁeld recalled seeing Jimi using a Maestro Fuzz-Tone (as heard on the Stones’ Satisfaction) in the summer of 1966, while he adopted a Dallas-Arbiter Fuzzface from the pedal’s launch later that year: hear it sting on Purple Haze (straight from the intro) and Bold As Love (his soloing tone suddenly gets ﬁlthy at 1:51).
Then there’s the Octavia, purpose-built for Jimi by UK FX legend Roger Mayer. It ﬁrst appeared on the stinging outro solo of Purple Haze and can also be clearly heard on Little Miss Lover (from 1:19), One Rainy Wish (starting at 2:10), and the Band Of Gypsys’ Who Knows (from 6:28).
Hendrix used a real Leslie speaker for the likes of Little Wing, later adopting the similar-sounding and more portable Uni-Vibe on Hey Baby (from 0:12), Machine Gun (various points throughout) and his revolutionary reading of The Star Spangled Banner.
Add his command of volume swells, vibrato arm stunts, slides, slurs, siren noises and staccato passages and Jimi gave guitar (plus-FX) a whole new language. As The Who’s Pete Townshend recalled: “When he started to play, something changed. Colours changed. Everything changed.”