Published on August 27th, 2023 | by AlexandreG.0
The relationship between Jimi Hendrix and the revolutionary Marshall Amplifiers
Upon Jimi Hendrix arrival in London in 1966, he first encountered the revolutionary Marshall amplifiers. It didn’t take long for him to adopt the Marshall stack – a combination of the amplifier head and speaker cabinets – as his primary source of amplification.
Jimi Hendrix first encountered a Marshall amplifier in that year; famously, it’s said that Jimi visited Jim Marshall shop in Hanwell, West London, shortly after his arrival. With the buzzing British music scene gravitating toward the loud, gritty tones that the Marshall stacks provided, Hendrix was quick to adopt them as his primary amplification.
Marshall amplifier ‘stacks’ were revolutionary. Before this, amplifiers were smaller combo units. The stack – a combination of a head and one or two speaker cabinets – allowed for a louder, more powerful sound. Hendrix, known for his explosive live performances and extended improvisations, found in Marshall the sonic power to bring his musical visions to life. With a Marshall stack behind him, Hendrix had the artillery to change the very fabric of rock music.
Hendrix was not just about volume; he was about exploring sound. Using the natural overdrive and distortion of cranked-up Marshall amps, Jimi could produce feedback and sustain that became integral parts of his sound. The amplifier’s response to his playing dynamics, combined with his innovative use of effects pedals, allowed him to craft tones that were previously unimaginable.
While other artists like Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend were also using Marshall amplifiers, Hendrix’s use was transformative. He didn’t just play through a Marshall; he engaged in a dialogue with it. This became foundational to the ‘Marshall sound‘ we identify today – a sound defined by its rich overtones, roaring volume, and warm distortion.
It wasn’t only on stage where Hendrix relied on Marshall. In studio recordings, the nuances of his Marshall amplifiers can be heard. Listen closely to tracks like “Voodoo Child” or “Purple Haze”, and you can hear how the Marshall amp’s characteristics – its crunch, sustain, and feedback capabilities – are integral to the tracks.
Jimi Hendrix and his Legacy on Marshall Amplifiers
Jimi Hendrix died in 1970, just four years after his arrival in London, yet he left behind a legacy that few musicians can match. His relationship with Marshall amplifiers is a testament to how equipment can become an extension of an artist’s vision and creativity. The partnership between Hendrix and Marshall exemplified a perfect union of artist and instrument.
Jim Marshall once said of Hendrix, “He was the greatest ambassador we ever had.” While Hendrix’s time on Earth was short, his impact was seismic. His pairing with Marshall amplification was a cornerstone of his sound, and together they transformed rock music.
In modern times, when we see a Marshall stack on stage, it’s hard not to think of the wild-haired virtuoso Jimi playing his Fender Stratocaster in a blaze of psychedelic sound and fury. The connection between Jimi Hendrix and Marshall is emblematic of a time when rock ‘n’ roll was breaking all the rules, and it remains an enduring symbol of innovation and sonic exploration.
What Marshall amp did Jimi Hendrix use?
Jimi Hendrix experimented with a variety of amplifiers throughout his career, but his favorite was undeniably the Marshall Superlead Guitar Amplifier Head, also known as the Marshall Plexi. This amp became synonymous with Hendrix’s raw, powerful, and revolutionary sound. The Superlead’s ability to deliver clear tones at high volumes made it a perfect match for Hendrix’s style, especially during live performances where he often pushed the amplifier to its limits to achieve his distinctive overdriven sound.
Why did Jimi Hendrix use Marshall amps?
Jimi Hendrix, renowned for his pioneering guitar tones, favored Marshall amplifiers for their unique sound characteristics. Specifically, he opted for the Marshall 100w Superlead, drawn to its capacity to deliver a powerful overdriven tone complemented by a signature crunchy finish.
What amp did Hendrix use at Woodstock?
For his legendary Woodstock performance in 1969, Hendrix utilized the Marshall Super Lead 100. This iconic performance solidified both his and Marshall’s legacy in rock’s annals, with his rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” standing as a testament to the power of their combined might.
Who used the Marshall Super Bass?
The Marshall Super Bass was a favored choice among many iconic musicians, beyond just bassists. Notable users included John Entwistle of The Who, Paul Kossoff of Free, Pete Townshend during certain live settings, and even Jimi Hendrix on occasion. Its rounder tone made it appealing for both bass and guitar players, giving them a distinctive and powerful sound that was different from the Super Lead variant.
Exploring the relationship between Jimi Hendrix and James Charles Marshall
The bond between Jimi Hendrix and the founder of Marshall Amplification, James Charles Marshall, went beyond just artist and manufacturer. Jim Marshall often considered Hendrix as the brand’s best ambassador. Interestingly, they shared the same name, adding a unique dimension to their connection.
Jim Marshall often spoke highly of Hendrix, once remarking, “There have been many ambassadors of Marshall, but Jimi was and remains the greatest.” Conversely, Hendrix’s confidence in Marshall’s gear was evident when he once said, “This is the only amplifier that can put out what I put into it.“