Sound Like Jimi Hendrix: Amp Settings, Gear and Effects


Jimi Hendrix was one of the most iconic guitar players of all time, and he had a really unique tone that’s instantly recognisable, but hard to replicate. In this article, I’ll take you through how to sound like Hendrix including what guitars, amps and effects he used, and tips to set up your amp (plus some presets for popular songs) even if you don’t own the same equipment.

Keep in mind that it’s near impossible to sound exactly the same as Hendrix, however, this article will help to get you a lot closer to achieving his iconic tone.

Just here for amp setting presets? Scroll down to get plenty of examples of amp settings to start with to try and nail the tone on the most popular Jimi Hendrix songs.

The Quick Guide

To sound like Jimi Hendrix, use a guitar with single coil pickups, and a fuzz pedal run through a Marshall Plexi style amp. If you don’t own this equipment, you’ll need to EQ the amp so that it focuses on the mid-range and try and reduce some of the warm and fullness of the humbuckers.

This article is split into the following sections to help you on your journey to achieving the Hendrix tone, no matter what equipment you currently own:

  • Rig Rundown
  • What is the Hendrix Tone?
  • Guitar Settings
  • Amp Settings
  • Common Problems and Fixing Them
  • Playing Tips

Jimi’s Rig Rundown

Before we jump into the amp settings, I wanted to quickly run you through the guitar, amp and effects which can be used to get as close to the Hendrix tone as possible.

Don’t panic if you don’t own a Strat and a Marshall, you don’t need to shell out several thousands to get them. In the next section I’ll talk about setting up your amp and guitar to achieve the closest tone no matter what equipment you own.

But in order to understand how to set up your rig, it’s good to know what Jimi used, and how this created the tone so you can do your best to emulate it.

Fender Stratocaster

Jimi Hendrix is most associated with a Fender Stratocaster, and the brand make a signature version of the model. It has an alder body, maple neck and fretboard, 6-saddle American Vintage Synchronised Tremolo and hand-wound ’69 Strat single coil pickups.

The tone wood, 25.5″ scale, bolt-on neck and the ’69 Strat single coil pickups produced a bright and snappy tone, with emphasis on the upper-mids and treble to produce a crisp tone.

Another thing to note is that using a specific string gauge also helps you to achieve the Hendrix tone. Here’s what they are:

  • Low E: 038
  • A: 032
  • D: 026
  • G: 015
  • B: 013
  • High E: 010

The High E, B and D string gauges are typical of what you’d find in most 010 gauge string sets, whilst the G, A and low E strings are lighter.

You can listen to more about this in the video below.

Marshall Valve Amplifier

Jimi Hendrix was one of the first players to use Marshall amplifiers. They produce an overdriven tone with a crunchy quality and work really well with fuzz pedals and he famously used the Marshall 100w Superlead model. For those on a smaller budget, the valve DSL series is a great option, whilst the JTM series is awesome if you have some more cash to spend.

Pedals

To achieve the Jimi Hendrix tone, you’ll need the help of some effects pedals, or alternatively you can use built-in amplifier effects if yours offers them. Here are some of the most common effects and the best pedals to simulate the Jimi Hendrix sound.

  • Fuzz: he famously used the Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face. Today, you can pick up a Dunlop Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsys to produce a very similar effect.
  • Wah-Effect: the Vox Wah is the best option for this, and you can hear the wah-sound demonstrated in Voodoo Child.
  • Octave: an octave was famously used in “Purple Haze”. He famously used an Octavio pedal which combines the fuzz and octave effect. Something like the Electro-Harmonix Octavix is a great option.

Affordable Rig Rundown

Here is a list of equipment you can get on a smaller budget to sound as close as possible to Hendrix. All the images link to Amazon so you can check the current prices, and there are also text links under each image.

Take Home Points

The Stratocaster tone is key

Use lighter gauge strings on the G, A and low E

Marshall amps, ideally Plexi are best

Important pedals to use are a fuzz, wah and octave

The Hendrix Tone

The Hendrix tone is difficult to characterise as it is truly iconic, but there are a few features to pick out which will help you achieve it:

  • Fuzzy overdrive
  • Boosted upper mid-range
  • Twangy quality

To achieve the fuzzy overdrive tone, your best bet is to use a fuzz pedal, and a valve amp, but if you don’t own them, then skip ahead to the “amp settings” section for some tips. The best way to achieve the twangy quality to the tone, is to use single coil pickups and the string gauge described in the section above.

Now let’s talk about the guitar settings and amp settings you can use to sound more like Hendrix, no matter what equipment you own currently.

Guitar Settings

Before you head over to your amp, consider your guitars settings, and by this I mean the pickup selector, tone and volume controls. Usually it’s best to have the volume and tone controls on full for most electric guitars, but the pickup selector can be more tricky.

If you have single coil pickups on a Stratocaster, it’s miles easier. Hendrix often used the neck pickup only (position 5), or the neck and middle pickup in combination (position 4), so start with this. If you have a Telecaster with single coils, then selecting the middle or neck position on your guitar is usually the best option.

If your guitar has humbuckers, it’s harder to achieve the right tone. Humbuckers naturally sound more full and warm than single coils, so you need to tame them. Often, you will need to select the bridge pickup, or the middle position, to try and bring some brightness to the tone. If neither sound spot on, and you need something in between, then try using the bridge pickup, and roll down the tone control slightly.

If your humbuckers have a coil split function, then now is the best time to use it to try and achieve more of that single coil twang!

Remember that you can also adjust your amp settings to achieve the closest tone possible, and this will yield better results so don’t worry if it doesn’t sound right yet.

Amp Settings

The key to making your amplifier sound more like Hendrix’s is to dial in the Marshall Plexi tone. This is characterised by the following:

  • Distortion, but only at high volumes
  • Lots of midrange to give it a full and cutting tone
  • Boosted upper-mids/ treble to provide clarity

You can achieve this by dialling in specific amp settings, or by using a pedal to simulate it. Something like this Wampler Plexi Drive on Amazon works well.

If you’re just relying on your amp settings, I can’t give you the magic number to dial in the perfect tone, because every amp sounds different.

As a really rough starting point, have your bass on 4, middle on 8 and treble on 6. Then adjust from there.

If you are using a fuzz, you can run it though the clean channel on your amp, have the gain on low, and play around with the volume to achieve the right level of distortion. If you don’t have a fuzz pedal, then you can try setting the gain to around 4-5, and then increase the bass slightly.

Here are a few more points to help:

  • On a Marshall amp, you might not need the mids to be as high, and you might need to increase the bass more if it doesn’t sound right.
  • On a Fender amp, it is likely you will need to increase the mids and decrease the bass and treble more.
  • On a Vox amp, you may need to reduce the mids and the bass.

If you’re struggling with this, then either skip ahead to the “common issues” section of the article for some troubleshooting advice, or check out these guides to amp settings of various brands that I’ve written. They’re particularly useful if your amp has different controls to the regular bass, mids, treble and gain knobs.

Amp Settings for Popular Songs

Like I said earlier, giving magic amp presets isn’t going to help you all that much, and following the tips in the sections above, and in the section below (common issues) will help you the most. However, I understand that sometimes a starting point can be helpful, so I’ve created some example settings for 5 of his most popular tracks.

These settings apply to amps without a fuzz pedal. If you’re using fuzz, then decrease the gain to compensate.

All Along the Watchtower Amp Settings

  • Gain: 4
  • Bass: 5
  • Middle: 6
  • Treble: 6

Purple Haze Amp Settings

  • Gain: 5
  • Bass: 5
  • Middle: 6
  • Treble: 7

Hey Joe Amp Settings

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 6
  • Middle: 7
  • Treble: 6

Little Wing Amp Settings

  • Gain: 2
  • Bass: 4
  • Middle: 7
  • Treble: 7

Voodoo Child Amp Settings

  • Gain: 7
  • Bass: 6
  • Middle: 8
  • Treble: 5

Common Issues

If you’re struggling to dial in the tone you’re after, and you’re not using a fuzz pedal and single coil pickups, then you certainly won’t be on your own.

Even if you have the right rig, it can be hard to nail the specific sound, so here are a few common issues and adjustments you can make to try and fix them. Try one adjustment at a time, rather than adjusting everything at once so you can pinpoint the problem.

Remember to check out the amp settings guides for different brands listed earlier in the article for some useful tips and translations if your amp doesn’t have standard bass, mids and treble controls.

Muddy Tone

  • Decrease the bass
  • Decrease the gain
  • Increase the treble

Thin and Brittle Tone

  • Increase the mids
  • Increase the bass
  • Increase the gain
  • Decrease the treble

Flat Tone

  • Add some reverb
  • Increase the mids
  • Increase the treble

Playing Tips

Getting the right guitar, pedals and amp, and nailing the tone, aren’t the only things you need to get right to sound like Jimi Hendrix. He was one of the most skilled guitar players on the planet, so brushing up on your skills and technique will make all the difference, way more than having the right equipment.

Here are some techniques you’ll need to master to play like Hendrix:

  • Double-stops
  • Trills
  • Slides
  • Vibrato
  • Bends
  • Whammy bar

I’ve got an article listing 100 songs to improve various playing techniques, so check it out if you want some great practice songs.

I’ll also leave you with this short Rob Chapman YouTube video about how to play in the style of Jimi Hendrix.

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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